Reading the trades is one of the most important but also forgotten aspects of becoming a professional screenwriter. If you don’t know the ins and outs of the industry you’re trying to be successful in, you’ll be lost when you get the chance to sit in a meeting with one of the top dogs in Hollywood. So, let's take a look at what the trades are and why they are important.
Sometimes we get lost in our stories, our wonderful imagination runs wild with characters ideas, individual scenes, and crazy plot twists leaving us with a perfect and beautiful world in our head that is so vast that we can’t get everything onto paper. But that's where TV Bibles come in. TV Bibles are documents used in the TV world to sell a series, but using the concept for features and pilots before outlining can make the writing process more efficient by forcing you to go deep into your story.
All stories start from somewhere and that somewhere is your inciting incident. Think of the inciting incident as the big bang of your story. It catapults your characters into the plot, introducing new characters, worlds, and conflict. Every story must have an effective inciting incident, so if you're wondering if yours is getting the job done, let's take a look at some inciting incidents of current stories that send their characters into a world full of conflict, drama, and change.
Whether on the page or on the screen, stories that fully envelope an audience all have a strong and compelling world that their characters live in. Whether it be location, time period, or industry, the believability of your world will make or break your story. Here are some tips to help you turn a narrative into an immersive experience.
Flashbacks can be a very powerful device. They make us relate to the character by bringing us into a character's past so we can understand their actions and motives. But if used incorrectly, they will interrupt the narrative flow of the story, slow down the pacing and draw the reader out of the story. Flashbacks can be difficult to pull off. So if your story could use a trip down memory lane, here are some tips to help you out.
You can have great characters, engaging plot, phenomenal dialogue but without a strong theme your story may feel like something is missing. The theme is the underlying subject of your story and without one, you’ll fail to make an emotional connection with your audience, which is the reason we write stories in the first place. So if you're struggling with adding a theme to your script, here are some tips to help you out.
Show don't tell. The screenwriting golden rule. We hear it all the time, but what does it really mean? Show don’t tell means showing your character’s emotions and thoughts through action. It turns your script from a didactic sunday service to a shootable and visual masterpiece. So, if you're getting notes back saying show don’t tell or want to understand how to apply the rule, here are some tips to help you to go from preacher to professional screenwriter.
A story's ending is the most important part of the experience. It's what an audience will leave with when exiting the theater or when a television series comes to an end. Crafting an ending that serves your story is a difficult process, so here are some tips that may make closing the curtain a little easier.
Most screenwriters jump straight into features or pilots when they start their journey of learning how to write a script. But an alternative to starting your screenwriting journey is to write a short film. Tackling a 90+ page feature or writing a tv pilot that sets up an entire series can be daunting and difficult for new writers. While telling any kind of story is difficult, a short film forces you to keep things small, intentional, and visual, which are tools you must master in order to become a professional in this business. So, let's go over the how and why, you should try writing short films.
Some may hate to admit it, but EVERYONE loves a great villain. Darth Vader, The Joker, Michael Myers, Thanos, Hannibal Lecter. But how can we get our OWN villains on the list? How can we craft compelling, crazy, sadistic characters that push moral boundaries and make us think about humanity in a different way? It's easier than you think and trust me, you don’t have to take trips to the dark side. Let's look at some ways we can create a compelling villain to lift our stories off the page.
Shannan E. Johnson, CEO