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.
Characters. We spend hours trying to crack them, understand their ins and outs and what makes them tick. But when we hit the page to introduce them to the world...we're stuck. Character intros take a little bit of formatting, love, and wit. So if you’re struggling with introducing your babies, here are some quick tips to help you out.
Everyone knows the rule: Your first few pages need to grab the reader. But as a writer looking for a way in the industry, your first scenes MUST POP! An exec who reads everything under the sun doesn’t want to see a character go through their morning routine unless it serves the story. Because guess what, they’ve read 10 other scripts like that and they’re laying at the bottom of a trash can. Having a great opening will not only give you a better chance of a full read, but you’ll also stand up against the scripts of seasoned writers, who execs will trust way more than someone they’ve never heard of. So, if you’re struggling with crafting a great opening that’ll get you closer to your professional writing goals here are some tips that’ll help you get your baby right.
Writers tend to gravitate to one or the other when they come up with a new idea. Some can create complex characters but lack the ability to create meaningful conflict for the story to be interesting. While other writers can create high concept page-turning ideas but create one-dimensional characters, making the story fall flat. But great writers can execute both parts of the story to create a compelling narrative. These are the ones who are getting paid to create their own stories or help studios create theirs. So, if your stories are falling a little flat, let’s find out which type of writer you are and address the weaknesses to help you tell a better story.
Great stories are marked by change and one of the main ways to implement change in your story is by using character arcs. Arcs are essential story tools that directly or indirectly show change from the beginning to the end of the story. There are 4 types of character arcs: Hero’s Journey, Positive Change, Negative Change, and Flat Arc. By using arcs effectively, you will create engaging and 3-dimensional characters that push your story all on their own. So, here is a breakdown of each arc with examples that’ll help you implement them into your own story.
There is only one rule in screenwriting that you must follow. DON’T BE BORING. Telling a story from beginning to end isn’t enough to get your script bought or get you staffed. Your baby must entertain and compel the reader to finish or it’ll be tossed to the side with the rest of them. Using tools, devices and tricks will enhance the reading experience and increase your chances of meetings, competition wins, and purchases. So, let's talk about different ways to entertain your reader and make your baby as compelling as possible.
Movies and television shows are complex machines, and to learn how to create your own, you need to see the inner working parts of one that is fully functioning. The best way to learn how is to READ SCRIPTS. Binge watching Netflix is not enough to fully internalize what it takes to tell a great story. By breaking down a script to its bare bones, you’ll garner the ability to understand and tell stories just like your favorite writers. Here are some tips to help you break down your favorite movies and TV shows to see what makes them tick.
Shannan E. Johnson, CEO