1.Open the phone book Yellow Pages to two random pages, and select two businesses. Move two characters from Point A to Point B by whatever means you invent. Invent a good reason for the journey. Reveal that intent skillfully. If it’s huge, understate it. If it’s trivial, exaggerate.
2. Pick one of the following topics and write a dialogue scene between those two characters, exploring and disputing the topic fully.
a. Standard shift vs. automatic transmission
b. Leaf blowers
d. Class seating on airplanes
f. Paying for cable TV
g. Burning CDs
h. Any other mundane topic in the world.
As in every good scene, use the interchange not only to explore the issue, but in doing so, reveal who the characters are, individually and in their relationship to each other.
3. Orchestrate part 2 into part 1 and write a sequence of scenes.
Research is a great way to learn more about our characters. Your Task: Pick a subject that your character is familiar with that you might not know much about. Research and list 15 facts on that subject.
You’ve finished a draft of your script! Congratulations. Now it’s time to re-write. Before you get started, get someone else to help you clear your thoughts. Your Task: Get Interviewed! Have a friend interview you about your script. Here are some questions: What do you like about your work? What do you want to change? What should never be changed? Why? How do you feel about writing? What about yourself as a writer? If you had to give up your script to a production company today, what would you be embarrassed about? What are you proud of? Hope that gets you started!
Running low on our own ideas creates the best motivation to ask our friends. Your task: Pick ten people you know and write a brief character description for each of them. Ask each of them what one defining moment in their lives was, and one character trait that changed in that moment. Write this as a character ark. For each character, write a paragraph-long plot summary for this event.
One of the best ways to learn is to practice! Your Task: Read Screenwriter John August’s blog entry, “How To Write A Scene.” Following the instructions (minus step 11), grab an article from today’s news and write it into a movie scene.
What is the thing or person that irks you most. Lawn
sprinklers that spot your car? TV Ads? War? Politics? People who apply
makeup while driving?
Write a furious diatribe against it. Attack it. Lacerate it. Vent your
spleen. This will be the document that ends the thing that you hate.
When you have done, write PART 2. With equal commitment, honesty, depth,
passion and insight, be an advocate for the issue you have just attacked.
If it was a person, write his/her character piece about you.
Here’s a test on creating effective character descriptions.
Pick ten characters you’ve seen in movies.
Write a 1-sentence description for each of them. Make it as accurate as possible.
Bring these descriptions to friends who have seen these movies. Can they guess who you’re referring to?
creative screenwriting exercises (Get the book for all 101 exercises)