An interesting protagonist (character) who wants something badly (objective) but who is having trouble achieving it (obstacles) and the story is worth writing because it illustrates some kind of universal message (theme).
- What is your story about?
- Love, death, jealousy, fear, separation, identity, loss, revenge, hubris . . .
- An audience must be able to connect.
- If you’re struggling with theme:
- What are the themes of your top five movies?
- Write them down?
- Is there a pattern to the kind of stories you’re drawn to?
- Perhaps this is the theme you should be trying to explore.
- Lack of clear theme
- Lack of characterisation
- Overly complex
- Inauthentic language
- Confusing/irrelevant dialogue
- A good idea that hasn’t translated to script (for all or some of the reasons above)
- And the old chestnut . . . too clichéd
Spike Milligan called cliché “the handrail of the crippled mind”.
- Who are they?
- What motivates them?
- What are they afraid of?
- How do they overcome that fear?
- Why do they overcome it?
- Develop a back story for each character even if it never goes into your script
- Give each of them a unique characteristic that identifies them from one another in the way they speak or move
- You should be able to hear their voices as you write
- THINK: Would they really say that?
- THINK: Would they really DO that?
- THINK: What would I do if I was in the same situation? (That’s what your audience will be thinking.)
- Keep your cast small
- Get to your inciting incident quickly
- Remember: the inciting incident should play on, or reveal the fears of the protagonist in some way.
- Think about films you’ve watched recently? What were the inciting incidents in those films?
- Pare down your dialogue
- Don’t have any character say any thing they don’t have to say. Ever!
- Character, setting, theme, dialogue and behaviour of every character should be congruent
- The language each uses should reflect their personality and preoccupations
- What figures of speech do they use?
- What metaphors do they employ?
- Can the audience hear/see what drives them from what they say (or do)?
- The setting and the theme should reflect in some way
- The inciting incident should reflect the protagonist’s fears and/or desires
The end MUST be the corollary of all of this.
- Is it believable? Or are you simply applying the tropes of movies you’ve liked before?
- How do you want the audience to feel?
- How do your characters feel?
- Get feedback
- Respond to feedback
- Focus on casting
- Edit edit edit your script until it is a pointed thing of beauty!