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.
Can you defend the choices you’ve made in your own writing? Try it. Your Task: Take a screenplay that you’ve written. Pick out the major plot points and defend your decisions for the way you’ve written them. Write a short essay detailing the decisions you’ve made for the plot of your story and defend these choices against potential criticism.
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.
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.
Want to understand your character’s life? Create a timeline that details the major events in it.
Pick a character from something you’re writing.
How old are they now?
Make a timeline that spans from birth to their current age.
Notate major positive or negative impacting events in their life.
Write a sentence or short paragraph describing each event.
From your character’s perspective: My life is a series of…
“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)
Watch an action movie of your choice.
Pick one scene and write the action elements using as few words as possible.
It’s been said that a writers’ main tool is the question, “What if?” With this simple query, we can explore any ordinary event’s limitless plot possibilities. Your task: Get a copy of today’s newspaper. Read 5 articles with our question in mind. What if she stole the money? What if those soldiers were plotting something? What if that man was lying? Write out one movie idea for each article you read.
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.
Adding depth and balance to your characters will create a richer story.
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.
Usually, a movie’s plot is what draws me to it and its’ plot twists are what keep me there. Your Task: Watch 10 movies and identify the turning points in the plot. Answer these questions: How did these turning points happen? Was there a consistent theme from movie to movie?