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04/26/2006 - THE MYSTERY OF SCREENWRITING
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There is no great mystery to screenwriting. Just as there is no great mystery to losing weight or getting out of debt.

You want to lose weight? Eat healthy and exercise. Cut out all the "good" stuff from your diet. The sweets, chips, booze: you know what I'm talking about.

You want to get out of debt? Let's see? Spend less. Don't spend what you don't have. Get rid of your credit cards: you know what I'm talking about.

Want to write a script? And not necessarily even a good one. Do you want to just FINISH a script? Well, let's see. Keep turning out pages until you write the final FADE OUT. THE END

Of course, then you'll start the rewrite and make it better. And do a few more revisions and polishes to make it as good as it can be.

But finishing that first draft of a script-short or full-length-has no mystery.

Find a story with an interesting main character who has a compelling problem. Give him/her good, smart, intelligent dialogue along with enough obstacles and complications to make him struggle (because the more he struggles the more we'll root for him). If it's too easy we don't care. You want us to care.

Give him not only an external conflict, but an internal conflict as well.

Start him off at one place and by the end of the script put him in a different, presumably better, place.

Give him intriguing characters to play off of. We want him to have conflict with them. Conflict comes from dialogue and situation. If your characters are "just talking" it's boring. If they're talking about something over which they disagree, it's not boring.

Give us a satisfying ending. Not necessarily a happy ending, but satisfying.

With a script you have no control over actors or a director. The script is entirely your responsibility. You take all the credit or the blame.

Ultimately, as others have said, writing a screenplay (or anything) means sitting down and doing it. With a good story and appealing character it becomes "easier."



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