Thursday, July 30, 2009

A page from the screenwriter's playbook

Writer's Digest has a really great piece on doctoring your script. The advice applies to us.

Script CPR: Cut, Polish, Revise
February 11, 2008
by Aury Wallington
You don't have to be a script doctor to know how to fix a script that isn't working. Here's some first aid for scriptwriters.

You have a great idea for a screenplay, but when you sit down to write it, something happens. The ideas in your mind don't translate to the paper. The dialogue falls flat, the main character is boring, and you feel like you've heard every joke you're writing a million times before.

Before throwing down your pencil in disgust and giving up, try giving your script a little CPR. You can breathe life into a script that's not working with a few simple exercises that help you punch up uninteresting scenes, get past writer's block, and choose the best way to handle key moments.

SYMPTOM: A scene is too predictable. Your idea is fresh, but your treatment of it isn't. As much as you'd like to write a wildly original climax to your script, when you read it over, you realize you've seen it all before.

TREATMENT: Change your point of view. Before tackling a big scene, try writing it from the antagonist's point of view. Some of the most interesting scenes in The Silence of the Lambs are when we see the world through Hannibal Lecter's eyes. Let your bad guy have a voice; let a criminal say how he feels about the bumbling detective; let the snooty cheerleader complain about the geeky protagonist who asks her to prom; let the cheating husband justify his affair with his beautiful secretary.

Read the rest.

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