Feedback: Out Loud

The first time I had my screenplay read out loud, I immediately knew many of the things that had to change. Try it! Your Task: Get hold of a finished screenplay. Get a group of people (at least 2 others). Assign parts to each person and read the screenplay out loud. Finished? Now, have each person do a 10-minute freewrite answering the following questions: What are my impressions of this work? What do I wish was in it? What am I glad that was included? Share.

Someone Else's Action

“In describing action, don’t let it take longer to read than it would to do it on screen.”
- Hal Ackerman (Screenwriter, Author and Professor)

The Exercise

Watch an action movie of your choice.
Pick one scene and write the action elements using as few words as possible.

Made You Laugh

Focusing on comedies, let’s take a look at what makes you laugh.

The Exercise

Watch a comedy that you think is actually funny.
Watch it again.
On the second time through, note the jokes that made you laugh.

Journal

What are the common threads in the jokes that really make me laugh?

Happily Ever After

Let’s use the ending of a film to practice creating scenes. Your Task: Pick a movie – any movie. After watching it, jot down 4 alternate possibilities for an ending. Now, pick one of your 4 new finales and use standard screenplay format to write out one of these endings.

Being The Writer I Want To Be

What internal or external forces impede your ability to write? Our capacity to understand and permeate these forces can build our power as a writer.

The Exercise

List 10 things that stop you from being the writer you want to be.
Brainstorm three possible solutions for overcoming each obstacle on your list.
Plan a date on your calendar to work on one of these solutions.

The Producer Calls

A producer calls you. He wants to see you work on the fly. He wants to see how creative and sharp you can be. Your task: Come up with 25 original movie titles in 10 minutes.

Fear

Acknowledging our fears can release their grasp on our work.

The Exercise

A mind map is a visual display of images and words that flow from one to the next. To create one, draw a circle in the middle of a piece of paper. Write your topic in that circle. This is the center of your first hub. A hub is a collection of related words, thoughts or ideas. Thinking about the topic, brainstorm items around it. Then, grow your mind map by making any of the other words a hub and expanding on it.

Create a mind map that centers around the topic “my fears”

Journal

What does fear look like in my writing life?

Depth & Balance

Adding depth and balance to your characters will create a richer story.

The Exercise

Write a one-page essay about the emotional life of an over-the-top character from a comedy that you’ve seen.
Create a “Ten things I do for fun…” list for a character from a moving drama.

The Interview

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!

creative screenwriting exercises (Get the book for all 101 exercises)