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?
Poll a few people with the following questions:
What’s your favorite action movie?
What are two specific things you like about this movie?
What’s your favorite scene?
What’s your least favorite action movie?
What are two specific things you disliked about this movie?
What scene(s) made the movie bad?
Find and watch a couple of these movies. Pay close attention to the specific scenes mentioned.
What are your impressions of the movies you saw?
Do you share the opinions of the people you polled?
What have you learned about writing action?
When developing an idea, two good questions to ask are: Has this been done before? If so, how is my project unique? Your Task: Research your idea. Check out the IMdB search function and do a word search in the “plots” category. This will search the plot summaries of the movies within the database.
Write the full name of your character down the left side of a page, one successive letter on each line. On each line, write a true statement about the character (or from his/her voice) beginning the first word of each line with each successive letter of the character?ÇÄôs name. So for a character named Holmeyer:
He lives with a rabbit
Ebbs when he should flow
Yearns for love
Runs from life
Try it with all your main characters. (Try it with your own name)
Have you ever seen Ghost in the Shell? There’s a contemplative movement in the second act where the main character watches the city go by. It’s a perfect example of place as action. The pensive main character is taken away by place in a moment that gives the viewer a chance to reflect on the action and philosophy in the movie. Are there other examples of place as action? Can place move the plot forward?
Brainstorm five movie scenes where place is a defining factor in the scene.
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.
creative screenwriting exercises (Get the book for all 101 exercises)