Screenwriting - Week 1

wide open with opportunities

I’d like to say screenwriting 101, but I feel I have to start lower than that, which is fine, because, as you know, I enjoy a challenge.

There are some distinct differences between writing a story and writing a screenplay. It may seem like a screenplay is all about dialogue, but it really isn’t. The visuals form the basis and dialogue fills in the blanks. If you watch many movies you’ll notice that, for the most part, the dialogue is limited. It may seem like normal, everyday speech, but again it really isn’t. Rarely does one person go on an extended monologue, usually it’s a back and forth between two or more people, and then not in very long sentences either. If there is an extended monologue it often becomes a voice-over as images of what the person is talking about flow past on the screen.

I’m not at the point yet in this screenplay project where I’m starting the actual script writing; I’m still in the input and learning stage.

First, I collect all the bits that have to go into the story, then I organize them in some order before I write an outline, which is really the barest of story structures. It’s where I’ll break the story into three parts, beginning, middle and end, and where I’ll note the major turning points or plot twists that keep the story moving forward.

Based on the outline I’ll write a treatment, which in essence is a short story and that’s where I’ll apply my short story skills. This I will send that to my client along with a list of major characters in the story and the names I will have picked for them.

My client will read these materials and make notes on them and suggest changes (hopefully not too many) and mail it back to me, at which point, if there aren’t too many changes, I’ll start the process of actually writing the screenplay. As in, the first draft!

And in my free time I’ll be reading 'The Screenwriter's Bible'  as well as actual scripts to immerse myself in the art of screenwriting, starting with the shooting script from Christopher Nolan’s film “Inception”. I’m sure this whole experience will change my movie viewing.