If you want to level up your screenwriting, then script writing websites are a great way to get ahead (and stay ahead) of the pack.
If you’re a film enthusiast or watch a movie here and there, I’m sure you have a list of memorable films and ones that were just meh. Take Black Panther for instance, despite the hype that it caused us to have as we waited for its release, I didn’t feel like it met the expectations I had.
Yes, the plot developed beautifully, and the characters played their part elegantly. But there’s something it lacked, especially the ending. I can’t put my finger on it. I can still remember being seated at the movie when it was over, and they had turned on the advertisements, confusion sets in, and I couldn’t quite get that it was over.
The amusing bit is that I wasn’t the only one in a daze when the lights finally came on – we were all waiting for something more. Hopefully, we will have a more developed sequel (if the directors are planning on it).
A well-written script helps your video content to get the message across effectively. It’s what grabs the attention of the audience. We don’t have to understand it fully, but we need to want to see more of it. Just how Inception did it.
If you have an interest in writing a screenplay, you can try using a script writing website. It could be to stay up to date with the latest in the industry, get sound advice or access to tools that will make your work easier.
Turning Beautiful Prose into a Great Script
There seems to be a considerable amount of contradicting tips on how to write a screenplay. Screenwriting need not be abstract, confusing or vague.
Below are script writing tips and tricks that work. Enjoy!
1. Write visually
Treat your script, as you would writing a poem. In that, you use as few words as possible to build your story. That means, if you need to move the story forward, then don’t waste time describing setting or action more than you need to.
Use two line in each paragraph to describe the action. That’s what the best screenwriters do, and in doing so, they still give a lot of information about what is to appear on screen. Use verbs that paint a picture.
Evocative verbs describe what we hear or see on the screen. Help us picture it in our minds. Use short sentences and terse descriptions.
Don’t waste time on things that we won’t see on screen. Use the actions of the characters to convey their emotions and feelings. This is because the real actions of the characters matter more than what they say.
A good example comes from the infographic below with top 5 best screenplays of all the time and names of the greatest screenplay writers.
2. Create a three-way triangle of conflict
Once you have the idea of what you want to write about, flesh out the concept. That means you need to get started on outlining all the details of the plot that are necessary. Use the personality traits and personalities of the characters to guide the story.
It would be better if you had an antagonist and protagonist that stakes character. Doing this will help you create a strong concept. Even expert online screenplay writers demonstrate this in their writing. Focusing on the conflict drives the drama.
Your goal should be to give just enough detail to move forward with the story. The audience won’t be as engaged with the production if you spell out every little thing for the viewers. Follow the concept of “Enter late, leave early.”
In that, you eliminate unnecessary elements in the story. You want to engage the audience by making room for them to catch up with what’s going on.
3. Use clever dialogue over prose-y speeches
Don’t confuse a script for a play. Quick exchanges back and forth, make smart conversations. It keeps the story moving. If the text moves fast, so does the story. Which, in turn, translates into an entertaining film.
Make your characters dance around the important topics they are talking about, using subtext. We don’t need to know what they’re feeling or thinking. It’s much more exciting when we have to uncover it, through their actions and talk.
You should also use dialogue to set your characters apart. They should not all sound alike. You achieve this by differentiating how, what, and why they say something.
Start by fleshing out the primary objective of each character. It doesn’t have to be what the characters want in the story – it can be about life, too. It is what affects the way they approach different situation and characters.
4. Scenes should be about revealing Information
Many people frame their scenes on a conflict between the protagonist and antagonist. It shouldn’t be the case with every one of them. Use your scenes to reveal information that will direct strife and conflict.
Use the eight dramatic principles to keep the audience engaged and move the story forward. Reveal a new piece of critical information. It should be something you want the audience to take away from the scene.
It should include a goal relating to the primary objective of the protagonist. Ensure that the structure mirrors the conventional 3 act structure. Try to add some stakes or conflict.
Don’t forget to include visual action and find a balance between it and the dialogue. A scene must also contain a critical choice that will help move the story forward. Include a change, where a scene that starts with a negative charge end on a positive one, and vice versa.
The final principle is the advancement of the story. This is critical – things should always be moving forward and the conflict should generate this movement.
5. Complicate everything but the story
A single page of your screenplay is a minute of screen time. Allow your narrative to take its simple but beautiful course. Pay attention to how you develop the plot, characters, or describe dialogue.
Everything else can be complicated but not the story. Keep it interesting by layering the characters, follow a simple structure, use crisp, subtextual action lines, and dialogue.
Use the theme of the story like an argument. Whereby, the stakes character represent the “good”, antagonist “bad”, and the protagonist, “unknown” side. Slow down time by leveraging suspense in how you write.
Take each line as a new angle of the camera. Don’t forget to think through your sequences. They are sort of independent from the central conflict and focus on a particular character. It should have a starting, middle, and finishing point.
6. Keep the Audience in mind
This rule applies to any and all content you may produce, for eyes other than your own. Keep it, in the back of your mind, even before you start writing your screenplay. The first question to ask yourself as you formulate your ideas is the kind of people who could be willing to pay to watch it.
The best script writers create pieces that appeal to a mass audience. Script writing websites are key here. These websites will give you direct links to some of the best screenwriters who have ever lived. If you have little idea of who the target audience could be, you may need to re-think that idea. Maybe make a few changes here and there.
You also need to determine whether writing a script is the best medium to share that story. Put yourself in the shoes of the studio executive, if you have to, it will keep you ahead of the game.
Remember to develop the story in a manner that will engage and resonate with the audience.
7. Cut any dead weight
More often than not, the first draft is never ready for production. Go through the ideas you have put on paper and identify the parts, sentences, or words that need to be eliminated. It could be in the form of weak links, repetitions, unnecessary details, and more.
It doesn’t hurt to get other people to proofread it for you. Ask people who will offer you constructive criticism and not flattery. You need the cool, hard truth and you should be able to take it.
Take time away from the script to recharge, before you start editing with a fresh perspective. Be open to changes and learn to let go. If a scene distracts from the main plot, cut it.
Viewers lose interest in films that confuse them. Don’t rely too much on the dialogue in the story to tell your narrative. This tends to make the content bland.
Put your focus instead, on visual storytelling. Consider rearranging scenes for better pacing. It could change the effect the film has on the viewers.
Script Writing Websites – Conclusion
In The Godfather, Mario Puzo says, “Great men are not born great, they grow great.” You don’t need to be a great screenplay writer to get it turned into a movie. It takes practice to become the best, and that means, you need to start. Remember, everyone starts somewhere.
Modern screenplays use set pieces as expressions of their external-ness. They are high-impact sequences that are interesting, big, hilarious, captivating, and theatrical. It can be either or all of them.
Some call set pieces, “trailer moments”, and Deadpool 2 has quite a good number of them. Remember to stick to the universal format of writing a script. Using improper formatting may keep the film producers from taking a few moments out of their precious time, to go through your material.
Watch out for spelling and grammar mistakes, too. How you write demonstrates the level of skill you have in scriptwriting. Make a good first impression.
Did we miss out any screenwriting tips? Let us know in the comments just below here.