Monday, June 11, 2012

The Creative Screenwriter by Zara Waldeback and Craig Batty

Zara Waldeback and Craig Batty. The Creative Screenwriter: Exercises to Expand Your Craft. London: Meuthuen Drama, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2012.

This book encourages screenwriters to be dutiful in upgrading their abilities. Increased expertise provides insights on overcoming difficulties. Creative forces should be sharpened to improve writings. Stories should be analyzed and weaknesses should be improved upon.

The authors observe that creativity involves a freedom of ideas within limits.  They recommend writing down all kinds of ideas and then sharpening the best ideas.  A writer should consider experiences that were particularly engaging as subject ideas. Writers should tell stories and consider what they hear.

Writers block can be overcome by deliberately writing badly. In fact, the goal then is to write as badly as possible Writing things we shouldn’t often leads to something creative.

Screenwriters should guard against choosing stories that are so common that they wont excite an audience. They should stay attuned to new ideas that may occur or  become known in one’s surroundings. Consider how introducing other characters may change a story and the relations between characters. Switch roles of characters and consider those possible consequences. Discover what works best.

A story requires development. Find a “Creative Dramatic Question” that creates desires for characters and develop a dramatic story. Analyze the story for problems. Resolve the problems. See that the story will hold an audience’s interest. Most screenplays have 30 or more beat points. There must be conflict. The story must progress logically an enthusiastically. Reconsider the story for new ways that make them more dramatic. The audience should appreciate the story, its characters, and how the story progresses.

Characters should fit well into the story. There should be a clear protagonist.  The characters require emotions and should grow emotionally during the story. The protagonist needs some reason to react to a story.

Characters must react to other characters. There must be conflict with an appropriate antagonist.  The antagonist must create obstacles to a protagonist’s goals. A catalyst creates a new situation that changes the principal character. This alters characters and their relations. Screenplays often show situations as viewed differently by different characters. This affects how they interact with others as situations alter. Sometimes the presence of an unseen character offers insights.

The protagonist requires a character arc derived from a serious fo events that creates an emotional realization. This realization results from the inciting incident. All characters are changes by these events. Those changes result from growing problems, increasing drama, and severe challenges that bring about rewarding resolutions of all problems.

Screenwriters should examine alternatives in the structures of screenplays. There can be more than one protagonist or several stories.  Reexamine the beginning and consider if it starts at the best time or place. Examine if the Central Dramatic Question works. See if audiences get the best initial impressions of characters.  Make characters more sympathetic by placing the in greater trials. Be certain important information is provided.

Opening with a voiceover often results in an audience immediately bonding with the narrator. This can be a tricky but useful device if the narration either bonds the audience to a central there or if the narration contains information that rewards the audience later.  The story must end in a manner with which the audience considers apparent and with which the audience identifies. Twists to endings can work but twists that do not seem to follow the previous actions can fail.

Some scripts take familiar themes of stores and reset them in new locations with different characters.

Dialogue has to be appropriate for a character at that time.. They should be reveal inner thoughts. The screenplay should be appropriate for its genre. Genres can be mixed but may face confusion that loses the audience. Genre can create a mood.

Rewritings should refine the screenplay. Check that each scene fills a need. Conflict and action should build with increasing complications.

Movies, being visual, require visual depictions. Screenplays show characters doing things. Audiences prefer seeing things shown to them rather than having dialogue describing it.

Rewrite to sharpen dialogue. Create dialogue that reveals emotions and information without directly stating it. Often a silent reaciotn of some sort can be very informative.

Consider how to best present subtext in dialogue.

A screenwriter should recognize and develop one’s own voice. This voice can change over time, yet it, or its distinguishing difference, can find new appeal.

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