How to Write a Movie Script Worth of Filming
Everyone admires cinematography, but can you imagine yourself amovie script creator? Though writing assignments of students of various disciplines may intersect, it is highly unlikely that an engineering student will be tasked with creating ascreenplay. Indeed,this assignment is predominantly forthose who aim to master film studies and become screenwriters in the future. However, arts and literature students can also take cinematography courses, learning how to write a movie script. After all, such a creative task verges upon fiction writing, as a good movie script can also turn into a book and vice versa.
Perhaps, you will wake up one day, saying, “I want to write a movie script to surpass Tarantino”. If it genuinely reflects your passion, there are chances you will succeed if you do your best. Nevertheless, the fact is that such an assignment is not for everyone, even though it may be fascinating to imagine yourself a scenarist of your own movie. Not so many people like producing even 5-page essays, while a screenplay is rarely smaller than 50 pages. Quite the opposite, it can consist of 150 pages, and even more. Obviously, before the major creative process starts, you have to ponder on the work’s framework and its overall plan. The following guidelines will help you sense “the upcoming birth” of your inner script writer.
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Choose the Genre that Reflects your Passion
Mere willingness to write a movie script is not enough. Choosing a genre should be your initial priority. If you are about to start writing your first screenplay, then you should dedicate some time to exploring genres. While it is almost impossible to work within the only one genre, be careful with fusions, as those amalgamations should be logical, even if you play with juxtapositions. Beginners should not indulge in too complicated surreal storylines; remember, even David Lynch had film script mistakes, and you have not achieved your own cinematic success yet.
Once you specified your genre or genres’ fusion, dedicate some time to watching movies with similar ideas. You can analyze motion pictures, writing down the stories’ structure, focusing on arresting twists, as well as the most unexpected elements. However, the process of analysis should be your means of comprehension and inspiration – not imitation.
Thinking about the most suitable genres, it can be also mentioned that an Italian playwright Carlo Gozzi and then a French writer Georges Polti indicated the existence of 36 major storylines or dramatic situations – it can be applicable to both book writing and script composition. The particular situations that can be used in your screenplay include a madman and his victim stories, love/vengeance crimes, fantastic discoveries, murder mysteries, adventurous enterprises, pursuit of happiness (the ideal) storylines, etc.
If your scenario is inspired by a book, you have to ponder on the specifics of its adaptation. Will your movie be loosely based on it or will you take the major idea but demonstrate your unique authorly vision? The core mistake is to think that knowing the book plot to make your scenario is a less complicated think to do. The truth is, a witty adaptation is as difficult as writing your screenplay from scratch.
Transformative Ways of the Protagonist
The movie will always have its protagonist. Even if it is centered around an avant-garde idea to create a motion picture “without characters”, the protagonist will still exist, just not in the human or animal form. A single room, an empty town or nature itself can also be a central character.
Even if you do not intend to make an art film or transcend surreal dimensions, creating your analogy to something like “Mulholland Drive”, reflecting on the role of your protagonist should be a separate elaborate process. The audience will be more compelled if you demonstrate the unusual transformation of the main hero, his advancement, self-fulfillment or degradation. Your character should be given a mission or a peculiar state of mind to make the viewers follow his steps absorbedly. You can also transform your protagonist into an antagonist or a villain, which can be a part of your fundamental plot twist.
Antagonists and Villains Come from Real-life Chilling Stories
It is interesting that in order to construct an antagonist or a villain, many screenwriters seek inspiration from bizarre stories of criminals or aggressive mentally disabled people. While you may not have access to the archives of the nearest lunatic asylum or prison, the Internet has an abundance of resources on multiple psychological disorders and unusual crimes committed throughout history. Hence, it is not necessary to read Sherlock Holmes or analyze Jekyll and Hyde split personality, as reality is satiated with dramatic and tragic cases that can be perpetuated in your movie.
Decent Structure to Prevent Plot Fractures
While you may have an original vision, being eager to immerse in experimental cinema, it is unadvisable to break the typical film script structure right from the start, when working on your debut. After mastering standard three acts, you can indulge in experiments.
At first, you introduce your protagonist, then you gradually open the villain’s part; the third connecting element is a rabble-rousing or unexpected event that leads to peculiar changes, confrontation, dramatic conflicts, predetermining the whole plot development. Your audience should sense that something is constantly going on. The major focus should be on cause and effect regarding everything that happens with your characters or around them.
Film Script Format is even Trickier than that of the Book’s
Keeping in mind that your movie script can be read by cinema connoisseurs and professionals, such as agents and producers, it is ridiculous to use fanciful fonts and different colors. The screenplay should be comprehensible, and nothing should distract your readers’ attention.
Therefore, there is a variety of helpful tools that will make your writing look decent. You can use Scrivener, Movie Magic Screenwriter, Celtx and Final Draft during the initial stages or while proofreading your work.
If you are a student on a budget, the above-mentioned software might be expensive. Thus, there is an option to use a simpler tool called Trelby for free. Only if you are a superb writer, you can still use Microsoft Word for screenwriting purposes. Anyway, your final draft should be edited in one of the professional tools specifically aimed at the movie script enhancement.
Visual Aesthetics Should Tell the Story Before Your Characters Say Something
Though we tend to imagine the events, settings, and characters while reading books, visualization in a screenplay is much more important. The question, “How to write a script for a movie?” can be answered briefly, “Write it by dint of vivid images”. Indeed, the film should embody visual aestheticism. Every minor detail should be described in such a way that a reader will be able to imagine it perfectly before he watches the movie.
Even when you create dialogues between your characters, you must do it in such a way that a screenplay reader sees their body language, gestures, mimic, and even discerns a manner of speaking. Correspondingly, depict the details of your heroes’ appearance and clothes. It is also essential to portray their feelings, emotions, and states of mind. If your audience feels what your character feels, then you coped with your task!
The setting should also be lucid and picturesque unless your movie technique is to reflect vagueness, making up ambiguous or dualistic symbols. Despite your intention, the successful movie script comes alive when the camera is switched on.
Last but not least, you will realize that screenwriting is your piece of cake if your primary 10 pages are perceived by your critics in one breath. Remember, comprehending how to write a good movie script is only the first step to your success, as truly devoted scenarists turn cinematography into a lifetime project.