How To Write A Great Screenplay

By on May 18, 2016
How To Write A Great Screenplay - Writer's Life.org

Writing a fantastic screenplay involves a great deal of skill.

However, when looking at successful scripts in more detail you will discover that a great deal of those which have gone on to win awards such as Oscars of BIFA’s actually contain many similarities.

So if you aspire to write a great screenplay, read on! Here you can discover the key ingredients every screenplay needs in order to make it truly great.

Keep your storyline clear.

Your screenplay should have a single motive line, this is not to say the plot cannot be diverse and interesting, but the basic motive must be consistent throughout, otherwise you’ll confuse, and ultimately lose your audience.

Heroes which must overcome a problem

Everyone loves a hero with a struggle, one that they must overcome in order for there to be a happy ending. This is a common device employed in many stories. However, many of the great screenplays in fact multiply the hero’s obstacles so they have one main problem to overcome i.e. defeating the villain, but also a second struggle which is more subtle and perhaps not known at the beginning of the story.

Excitement and action

When we go to see a play or movie we want to be removed from the mundane, the ordinary. Action that takes place in a great screenplay must take us out of the routine of our daily lives. We want a story where we must suspend our disbelief and truly immerse ourselves in another world.

Start big

Every successful screenplay has a strong opening, one which immediately captures the audiences attention and makes them want to know more. The whole story of a screenplay is going to be played out in around 1-2 hours, so you need to quickly set the scene, introduce your characters and set the themes and tone for what is to come.

Be ambitious

All the best movies tackle big ideas and concepts that inspire and move their audiences. Emotional connection plays a big part in whether or not we love a movie. If it made us laugh until we cried or cry until we laughed - those are the ones that we remember, and recommend to others.

Make sure the structure is solid

The story has got to hold up. Whether you are writing a romance, a comedy or an action-packed thriller, whatever you do, make sure you pay attention to your story. Each line should drive the story forward, and be used cleverly and enhance the action. No word is a wasted word in a screenplay, and the best writers know this and thus make use of every single one.

Have a satisfying ending

All good screenplays have great endings, that doesn’t mean they have to end happily, they simply have to end well. Leaving your story open ended, or letting it trail off, or stopping when many of the stories plot points are left unresolved will leave your audience feeling cheated, so make sure there are no loose ends.

These tips are useful to follow if you are hoping to write a great screenplay. There is nothing more exciting for a screenplay writer than to see your name up there on the big screen, so keep working at it and it could well happen for you!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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