Craig Batty. Screenplays: How to write and Sell Them. Harpenden, Herts, U.K., 2012.
Screenwriting is creating writing, It is written in an active mode in the present tense.
Final Draft has a screenplay outline. A screenplay includes a slugline, or screen heading, indicating where a scene is set. The shows INT. for an interior setting and EXT. for an exterior setting. The screenplay continues with scene actions, or scene direction, character names, character dialogue, with parentheses underneath the character name to indicate how dialogue should be stated if not obvious for the dialogue, and scene transactions for specific effects.
Short films often present one emotion or one events with focus and often are experimental. Feature films explore more emotions and themes while remaining tightly focused, and usually are traditional yet can be experimental. TV series analyze more characters in more depth.
To find ideas, look around. A writer should consider what the write wishes to tell. There are no rules in developing ideas. One often analyzes possibilities and considers divergent ad convergent thinking. Process and process ideas. Tell and retell ideas. Consider unexpected situations. Determine important elements, themes, and capture imagination, style, and tone that will capture an audience.
Screenwriters often write a scene by scene step outline. They may write a treatment of a fully determined story.
“Casting the world” is when the author creates the characters, develops a protagonist, creates the antagonist, and develops the other characters and their relationships to the world and to each other.
“Structuring the world” is when the author creates the plot, emotions, arc, pace, and actions.
“Viewing the world” is creating the dialogue and determining how the words affect attitudes, perspectives, and topics.
“Theming the world” considers genre and how themes affect characters and how they communicates these themes.
Compelling screenplays are often unique or specific, vivid in detail, and authentic in internal logic.
Hone characters until they find their true voices.
The “defining problem” is what makes characters react that creates the story. “Power questions” consider characters and their desires, needs, dreams, rears, strengths, weaknesses, and problems.
“Backstory questions” give more details after characters.
Consider how characters react to each other, how others react to them, what their backstories are, what they wear and would not wear, how they compose themselves in situations, what their homes are like, what vehicles they drive, where they spend their earnings, their speech patterns, how they speak to those of higher social status, how they speak to people younger and less experienced, their vocabularies, culture, politics, religion, and what they don’t talk about.
Consider the cast design. Who is in conflict and who is friends with the protagonist, who likes and dislikes who, how are characters connected, what make them distinctive, ad what binds them?
The psychological work of Carl Jung and Rollo May examines character functions, how all characters reflect the protagonist, and the need of the protagonist to integrate the qualities of others to achieve goals.
Minor characters often illuminate either major characters and mirror the theme. They often create innovation.
Story structure is important and integral
A journey is both physical and emotional.
The three act structure is:
Act 1: Beginning / Setup / Establishment, including the inciting incident; which is about one fourth the screenplay.
Act 2. Middle / Confrontation / Complications; which is about one half the screenplay.
Act 3. End ‘/ Resolution / Re-establishment; which is about one-fourth the screenplay.
The inciting incident usually occurs in the first 10 to 15 pages.
The Tentpoles of a screenplay are Status Quo, Inciting Incident / Catalyst, Turning Point, End of Act 1, Act 2. Midpoint. End of Act 2, Turning Point, Hardest Choice, Climax / Final Battle, Resolution, and End.
Sequences in screenplays are establish the story, the inciting incident occurs, creating the plot goal, the the protagonist confronts the problem leading to the end of Act 1, the protagonist acts but the problem remains the protagonist tries harder but faces further obstacles as they stakes increase leading to a mid-point that often creates a new direction, the protagonist adjusts to the mid-point with a new plan, the new plan fails which ends Act 2 and shows the low point where all seems lost, the biggest battle involving the hardest choices creates the climax, often with a false resolution or unexpected twist, and the final resolution of action and emotion.
Alternate structure uses multiple protagonists and parallel stories.
Non-linera immersive storytelling may lack a main character lack a main plot, and have no cause and effect. The audiences becomes participant instead of observers.
Screenwriters must write visually. A screenwriter should think visually. Write in visual grammar including visual actions that give meanings to characters.
Consider setting locaitons that are appropriate to and could create some spice to a story.
A valued object is one that reflects the theme, is seen at least three times, charts a character’s physical and/or emotional growth and often creates humor.
A motif is a recurring image.
A screenwriter exploits the elements of the screenplay’s genre.
Theme is a statement of perspective or judgement.
The Central Dramatic Question drives the plot. The Central Thematic Question drives the emotion.
A scene presents actors and emotions, develops plot and characters, and is a unit of exchange where things occur.
A screenwriter should determine what drives a scene The scene must continue the plot. A scene allows the audience to live the story.
Scenes should often start as late and end as early as possible.
A screenwriter should consider narrative economy, flow, character, and justification when writing a sequence.
A screenwriter should consider focused, tight, and meaningful conversation. Often, write as little as possible to give the desired meaning. Avoid redundant words like “ well, so, ummm, but, yes, no, etc. Use expressive words like Really, It’ can’t be, Oh my God, Yes please, S/he said what, and This can’t be happening.