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.
One of the best ways to learn is to practice! Your Task: Read Screenwriter John August’s blog entry, “How To Write A Scene.” Following the instructions (minus step 11), grab an article from today’s news and write it into a movie scene.
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.
With the Internet around, it’s easy to forget other avenues of research. These other sources, however, can oftentimes provide more thorough information. Your Task: Re-acquaint yourself with research methods. One quick way to do so is to read this tutorial from the Houston Community College Library.
Pick two travel methods (boat, car, foot, helicopter or horse).
Write a one-page chase scene.
Switch the method of travel and write the scene again.
Relieve writer’s block by finding new stories to tell. If you’re not planning your own adventure, check out weird stories from around the world.
Navigate to an online search engine and query “weird news”.
Pick a site, then a story.
Imagine the actions and dialogue that make this story a reality.
Write a two-page scene.
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?
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?
Beyond storytelling, the screenplay is a map for actors and filmmakers. The screenwriter conveys creative instruction through action elements in the script.
You’ll need a partner.
Partner A is to instruct partner B how to put on a shoe (preferably one with laces). To do this, partner B must take off one of their shoes. They are also to pretend that they have never seen a shoe, don’t know what it is and don’t know what its various parts are or do.
Partner A needs to explain the process of putting on a shoe. Partner A should do this verbally and without pointing at the parts of the shoe. Every part of the explanation should try to be clear, verbal and effective enough to get partner B to get that shoe on.
How can language create and shape 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)
Watch an action movie of your choice.
Pick one scene and write the action elements using as few words as possible.