What changes in your scenes when you reduce or expand them? Screenwriting books almost unanimously call for an economy of words — choosing your words wisely and using less to say more. Practice this. Your Task: Come up with a scene from a movie and write 3 versions of the same scene. Write the first one using a 1/2 page; the second one with 1 1/2 pages; and the third one using 3 pages.
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.
Sometimes we get so into the challenge of finishing our screenplays that we forget to go back and make sure our characters have a consistent voice. Your Task: Read a screenplay that you or someone else wrote. Get into the mindset of one character and read it thinking of them. While you read, consider what’s awkward, what’s natural, what their voice is and if it’s being followed throughout. How is the character real or superficial? What could make them more consistent?
Use transformational moments in your life to explore screenwriting structure.
List three transformational moments in your life.
Pick one incident and answer these questions:
What was your life like before the transformation?
What took place during the transformation?
What were the obstacles to transforming (both internal and external)?
How did you face these obstacles?
Name the people involved in this transformation.
What were their roles in your transformation?
What happened to them because of this transformation?
What was the outcome for you?
Create an outline of the specific incidents that occurred before, during and after this transformational experience.
Visualize a movie with each of these specific incidents as a scene in your movie.
What do I think about my movie? What am I leaving out? What can I add to make it more powerful?
Google has become so popular as a search tool that it often becomes the only instrument used when doing internet research. Expanding our horizons gives us more information from a variety of sources. Your Task: Read “Conducting Research on the Internet.” Now, using 3 methods from this article, research a random subject to come up with 5 facts.
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.
When I’m writing a story, I like to get descriptive. When I’m writing a screenplay, I try to narrow that long-winded drive into shorter sentences with fewer words. This gives the production crew an easier time in bringing the script to screen.
Go somewhere you want to write about.
List ten words that describe this place.
Narrow it down to three that truly capture the essence.
Write one descriptive sentence that shows where you are.
Create a mind map to help you brainstorm the structure of an idea. Place your story idea in the center of the mind map, and see what comes out.
Let’s change place around and see how it affects everything.
Write (or find) a two-page scene that takes place outside, in the sunshine.
Rewrite it three times — once while it’s raining; once while it’s snowing; and once at night.
Here’s another practice exercise for creating a scene. Your Task: Think of an incident that happened in your life where you were unsatisfied with the end result. Now, write a scene that goes through this incident. Change the scene to reflect the way you’d rather have this incident turn out.