The worst thing that could ever happen is not to finish.
This post is not about screenwriting. I am not a screenwriter either. It started one raining evening in Copenhagen when I asked myself “How to improve my writing skills?”. Once again, I found myself at the point where I felt to wrap my thoughts into a blog post, but had no idea where to start, as I got lost in the ideas that were bombarding me from everywhere. Perhaps you also have found yourself in a similar situation. I’d love to hear more in the comments.
What is close to blogging? You guessed it – screenwriting. You can dedicate your life to screenwriting. It is a real profession. Like any profession, it offers best practices, rules to follow and avoid, and, what was important for me, how to approach writing as a professional. In addition, it offers a clean, minimalistic form with a structured line of action that hits right on target, without mumbling and clutter. Everything minimalistic always appeals to me.
This is where I decided to dig. The book I started with is “Save the Cat!” by Blake Snyder. This is a modern classic. The author suggests this is the last book you’ll ever need, but also recommends classics such as “Story” by Robert McKee and “How to Write a Movie in 21 Days” by Viki King. Excellent books that are already waiting for their turn on my desk.
You Need a Logline
A businessman falls in love with a hooker he hires to be his date for the weekend. – Pretty Woman
A logline is as important as a good idea or title. Make your readers decide from the title what you are writing about. Make a logline to pitch their attention.
It should tell them what it is. All you need is one or two sentences that define the theme of your story. A logline should hook attention, intrigue, provide ironic or provocative hook to stimulate interest. Remember, emotions is the key.
You Need a Structure
Screenwriting is like solving a puzzle – the more stories you break, the better you get.
After a logline, decide on style or genre. Keep a blogroll – a list of blogs that resonate with you. Identify their mechanics and storytelling rules. Analyze structure and form as if you were cracking magician’s secrets.
Write like that, but different. With time you will develop your own style.
You Need Persistence
The first draft of anything is shit.
Finally, be prepared for a lot of rewrites and edits. Remember that writing is an iterative process. Reserve some time between edits to clear your mind and refocus.
Don’t rush. Take your time. Enjoy the process, not the result!
“Save the Cat!” – Recap
Movies are so much about what happens that we must learn about characters by what they do, not by what they say. In a good movie, information does not come out in dialog, it comes out in what’s happening now. Show, don’t tell!
What is it ?
On the importance of the idea, title, and logline.
Give me the same only different.
On the importance of the genre.
It’s about a guy who…
On the importance of the hero. How to make your idea work better, define your auditory, and complement your logline.
Let’s beat it out.
On “Blake Snyder Beat Sheet” – the 15 beats found in a successful movie.
Building the Perfect Beast.
On a creative process of sketching a story out of scenes, their purpose and structure.
The Immutable Laws of Screenplay Physics.
On screenplay rules that Blake would prefer not to break (for no good reason).
What’s wrong with this picture?
On how to fix common problems and improve your script.
Final fade In
Professional advice how to get into the business.