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.
Sometimes, seeing where other people have taken an idea can inspire us with new ways to develop our own. Your task: Make a list of five things you are passionate about. Identify as many movies you can think of that cover the first item on your list. Do a 5-minute free-write with the starting sentence, “Stories can be…”
Written/Contributed by Hal Ackerman
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.
It’s time to listen.
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?
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.
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?
Written/Contributed by Hal Ackerman
Two cars, a sports car and an SUV arrive at the same parking spot. Write the scene or sequence of scenes in
a. A Romantic Comedy
b. An Action Adventure
c. A Film Noir mystery
d. Science Fiction
You may change the vehicles and characters inhabiting them as you please.
Your agent just called. You’ve got a meeting with a major studio exec in half an hour. Your problem: You haven’t written the pitch yet. Your task: Pick the best movie you saw this month. Pretend it hasn’t come out or been sold yet. In half-an-hour, write a one-paragraph synopsis, a one-sentence log line, and two movie titles you can compare it to (for example: It’s Rambo meets Bambi).
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.
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.
Dialogue can be used as an exposition of character. It can also be used to advance action. Advancing action moves the plot forward from one scene to the next. Your task: Write a 2-page scene where dialogue is used to advance action.