Sophistication is the crucial element in many of today's best films as well, take Inside Man and Black Swan for example. So when you've begun learning how to write a screenplay, you'll want to keep the following concepts in mind to help bring that element of sophistication to your script.
3. Bad Guys Want To Be Heroes Too
Okay, that may be a little over the top, but the days of the villian simply wanting to take over the whole world and kill everybody in it or cover the world in complete and utter chaos is over, that is unless he's somehow concocted a truly intellectual reason for it that's even somewhat plausible . Ideas anyone? The reason for all of this is because we're all too smart now and we know that even "good" people can make some terrible mistakes, go crazy and have nervous breakdowns, so called "bad people" can be insane but not totally evil and let's not forget, total insanity itself isn't the absence of thought, but a tragic diversion in logic. So when it comes to creating your screenplay's antagonist and you want to keep things smart, a simply concept to consider is "the bad guy thinks he's a good guy".
(This "Bad Guy" topic and the creation of a totally evil character "fit for the 21 century" could very well see it's own article in the future because much more can be discussed about it, so keep an eye out.)
4. Everyone Needs A Different 'Voice'
As a writer you have your own voice, as a screen writer however you need to develop an ear for how different kinds of people talk so that you can provide your various characters with their own "voices" and individual ways of expressing themselves. Their 'voice' will be dictated by their particular way of feeling and looking at things as well as their upbringing, influences and environments. Take an interest in both unique and normal everyday people and study how they talk, the kinds of words they use, the rhythms they speak in and what they choose to say and not say. Making a practice of doing this will enable you to help bring your characters to life for the people who read your screenplay.
5. Importance Of Plausibility
Plausibility in a film is critical to maintaining an audience, you never want to remind your audience that they're watching a "movie", you want them to experience, "live" in your story from it's beginning and till it's end. And if you have sequels in mind, you want your audience to naturally start being pulled into the next chapter when the first film is over. One of the ways to achieve this is by taking all the significant elements in your script's storyline, whether they be things, places, occurrences or people/animals/creatures and build them into the story as soon as possible. If they don't just "pop" up in the script in the very moment they're needed, it'll feel more 'natural' and 'true' to the audience and help to allow the action to flow seamlessly from one part of the story to the next.
6. Conflict And Multi-Level Story Structuring
Conflict is the 'meat and potatoes' of any quality screenplay or story and it's not just about the "bad guy versus the good guy". Conflict has three major forms:
- protagonist versus another character (whether this character is a person/being or animal)
- protagonist versus him or herself
- and protagonist versus the environment or situation
If you haven't decided on what kind of conflict your story should include or revolve around it's a good idea to consider including some form or other of all of them. Why is this? By throwing in as much conflict as possible you'll be able to naturally develop a multi-level story structure for your script, easily facilitate greater character development and introduction as well as keep the audience enthused in your story. However, just like you need to introduce important 'positive' story elements early in your screenplay, you have to make sure and create a smooth 'natural' transition for your conflicts or 'problems' as well. Be careful not to throw too many obstacles in your protagonist's path without giving them a plausible way out though, as you don't want to chase your audiences attention away.
The Best Books To Read If You Want To Learn How To Write A Screenplay
If you want to write screenplays or you are already in the middle of one and find you're having problems here are my favorite books on screenwriting as well as a mention on my favorite author on screenwriting, the renowned Syd Field.
- Ben Brady's The Keys to Writing for Television and Film: This book may be out of print but it's approach to screenwriting theories is timeless regardless of it's references to some of our favorite older films and sitcoms.
- Ben Bova's The Craft of Writing Science Fiction That Sells: Many aspiring screenwriters don't realize that the short story is the closest written medium to an actual film. Unlike a novel, a short story has to have a similar Act 1, Act 2, Act 3 structure and due to it's much shorter length the way the various elements (characters, character development, conflict, story, etc) are handled is practically the same as how they are treated in a screenplay. The beauty of Ben Bova's book is that he uses several of his expertly written short stories to very clearly illustrate how to do this.
- My favorite author on Screenwriting is Syd Field, he is the very best with his writer's block proof advice and the problem solving techniques provided in his very easy to read books. Some really great titles by Syd Field are: The Screenwriter's Workbook, Selling A Screenplay : The Screenwriter's Guide To Hollywood and The Screenwriter's Problem Solver : How To Recognize, Identify and Solve Screenwriting problems.
Also, after reading this article on how to write a screenplay, if you're interested in a career in film hop on over and check out the Hollywood Film Institute's free filmmaking 100+ video collection by Dov S Simens. In these free videos he provides a lot of no-nonsense advice and secrets about the film industry that every aspiring film professional should know. Just click "Web Film School" (my affiliate link) and scroll down the page to start learning more about the film industry, screen writing, directing and more.
Haven't read Part 1 of this article? You can read it at: