Masters tales

Screenwriting 2

Wednesday 13th February 2013

It’s time to actually put pen to paper and the first thing I get to decide is how to write something that happens in the story via narrator speak. I don’t want a voice over so I have to tell the story by writing a small plot…

It’s difficult – more difficult than I thought. The myth surrounding the house in the movie has got to be told but in the story it is inferred and in a movie you can’t infer. You have to show. So I’m having to create a group of small characters that have only one purpose – to tell the audience about this myth.

So I’m writing my first couple of pages, but the first ten have to have a hook. In screenwriting one page = one minute. So the first ten minutes has to have something dramatic happen. Have a look at some of your favourite movies and you’ll find they all follow the same formula; in “Deja Vu” a ferry blows up, in “Jaws” the first victim dies.

These ten minutes are part of the thirty that create the set-up. The part of the screenplay that makes up these points:

  • Introduce the main characters
  • Establish the primary environments
  • Convey a distinct mood or atmosphere
  • Establish the time period
  • Illustrate a routine or way of life
  • Provide any relevant back story (events that transpired before the story began)
  • Introduce the antagonist

And end it with a plot point, or a hook. In “Deja Vu” the lead agent is told ‘he can save her’ and in “Jaws” Richard Dreyfus arrives to find the bay turned into a shark-fest with one shark being caught, although ultimately the wrong one. Everything I’ve read suggests that the first 30 pages or Act 1 are important as this is the bit most agents and producers will read. If by the end of this they don’t know who the main characters are of what they want then the screenplay gets filed in a large reject pile.

Consequently I find that I’m questioning every sentence that I’m putting down. Does this further the plot? Is my character reacting right? The doubts are huge. BUT I’ve decided to just write it and see how it goes. After all, is that not what editing is all about?



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