Friday, December 7, 2012

The Last Word by Tom Lazarus

Tom Lazarus. The Last Word: Definitive Answers to All Your Screenwriting Questions. Studio CIty, Ca.: Michael Wiese Productions, 2012.

It is important to develop the main “A” story. The story should be hidden. A serious mistake is to concentrate on presenting the backstory, setting up the story, and focusing on presenting the backstory, setting up the story, and focusing on composition. Lazarus recommends presenting the main story upfront before showing the backstory and any necessary exposition.

Actors should be described visually, showing a reader what is shown on the screen.

It is better to have the main character cause events, rather than having events occur independently from the main character or by “acts of God”.

When writing an adaptation, concentrate on the script. Do not sacrifice the script for adhering to the original source. It is better to take “poetic license.”

The antagonist should develop and progressively worsen. The antagonist should have an arc.

Dialogue should be appropriate to the character. Consider the education level, geographic location, and background of the character.

Backstory is often not needed in scripts.

A script has to be true to the original idea and reach the idea’s potential.

Beginning a script with the climax seldom works. The viewer had yet to appreciate the characters.

How shots are filmed are to be left to the director. They are not part of the screenplay. Any descriptions should make sense visually.

Capitalized words in scripts should be used for the first tie when a character is mentioned, for sounds, for opticals, and for titles.

The protagonist has to be the heart and soul of the script.

The main character must undergo changes, evolve from them, and have a character arc.

Avoid having a minor character that take the scene’s center away from the main character.

Write original scripts and avoid cliches. Keep the protagonist proactive throughout the script.

Write face to face discussions rather than conversations by phone, letter, or email.

Characters’ emotions should resonate through the script.

Description should describe what is important.

Dialogue should sound authentic when spoken.

The viewer should learn things as the protagonist leans them, not beforehand.

Dream sequences often make an audience feelIt as if they’ve been fooled.

It should be determined if an establishing shot will be establish any location charge.

The main story must be a part of useful information moving the story forward in every scene. No scene should not be shown that does not accomplish this.

It is better to use an action or dialogue rather than exposition.

Scenes are often better when shorter, often 1 to 2 pages. A key scene could be 3 or more pages. None should be more than six pages.

Do not write something already familiar to audiences.

Scripts should have a narrative pull that keeps readers reading the script.

Avoid writing “on the nose”. Write as people speak, not what they think.

Stories unfolding only around the main character, called a closed story, are usually better than doing otherwise.

The use of parentheses in screenplays is only for explaining dialogue.

Stories should resonate.

“Writing is rewriting.”

The “old model” is to use 30 pages to establish characters, backstory and the environment. Now it should be 3 to 5 pages with 10 pages maximum as audiences should understand that all quickly and appreciate reaching the story.

Write to always be increasing action rather than writing to fit a formula.

The screenplay’s title and the screenwriter’s name should be on page one. Then comes “FADE IN.”

Each scene needs a slugline that include “EXT” or “INT”, the location, and time of day.

Time deadline is often an effective means of increasing drama in action films.

It often takes about ten great scenes to create a good movie.

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