How to Write a Good Script
I wish I could lean over and tell all aspiring script writers that there is this one magic formula that you can follow to come up with the most word perfect script that was ever written. But like all crashing cold realities, an easy way out remains a myth. So here are ten points that can serve as guidelines, if you like, on good scriptwriting. Why ten? Well, nine seems too little and eleven would make it sound like a ramble. These guidelines have been formulated from a script writer’s humble experiences and they do say personal stories speak the loudest. Here they are:
- Write about a subject that comes from your own personal story: Your script will have a voice that rings true, that speaks to people. We all go through shockingly similar experiences. So moments that have enriched our lives, would be poignant moments in other lives too. And you know for a fact that your best friend’s romantic life is definitely more interesting than saving the world from bloodthirsty, green Martians.
- Sit back, relax and let your creative juices flow. Have nice cold lemonade: This really works. A script is more dynamic than a book. One needs to make the reader feel that what they are reading is what they are experiencing at that very moment. There is no time to grow on them and to mould them in. To create this, you need to be calm, collected and in control and spurt out dialogues that aren’t stilted or jarring leaving the reader to use your script as a sleeping pill substitute.
- Have a beginning, middle and an end: Getting your story under control is no mean task. Every script has a cunning habit of sneaking up on you unaware and running away out of control. Tame your imagination. Have a story where you can picture the set, the colors, the smells and the costumes. How old are your characters? Where do they come from? What makes them unique? Really sink into your protagonist’s shoes, get underneath their skin and the script will reveal itself to you.
- Find a way to break the writer’s block: There is an evil curse that has been passed down through time, to all writers. The deadly writer’s block. Have a game plan to deal with this. Have a place of escape where writing becomes pleasurable for you; take a break which will tune you back with your script, or the most powerful secret weapon of all - take a catnap.
- Keep your cats AWAY from your writing hole: This advice comes earnestly. Being pounced upon while you sit innocently at your PC typing away doesn’t help any script writer. Neither do un-relentless stares that only cats can give, that make you doubt all your abilities, your very existence even, constant demands for back scratches, water, food, for toys to be brought out; all which as a slave that you are, you are obliged to do (trust me, if you don’t, the aftermath isn’t worth it). If you don’t have cats; get one. They are the inspiration hub.
- Did I mention the cold lemonade and catnap?
- Editing the first draft: Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. (Yes, I meant three times. I’m not repeating for effect!) You sink more into your character’s story every time you rewrite a draft. A script is all about the character’s story and their voices. So writing again helps you hone into this better.
- Read it out to a cut-throat critic: Every script writer is advised to befriend a mean, vicious person who is willing to tear your script apart. Believe me, this is a much kinder suicide method than being mobbed and killed by hundreds later, which is bound to happen anyway. As they say, you can’t please them all. (I am sure the person who made up that saying was a brutally attacked scriptwriter). Remember, you are still the story teller. But an outside perspective always helps you see things which otherwise you would miss. Take criticism positively. Keep a note of all the sensible ideas. The pompous, grandiose, ‘Oh I know all about writing better than you ones; let them go with grace. Let sleeping fools lie.
- Set a D-day: Having a deadline really helps. I quote, “You can't just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood; Last-minute panic.” (Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes)
- And the most important one of all: Find your own set of rules! What do I look like? The grand script-master?
So follow these golden steps, and I guarantee a good script. If it doesn’t, didn’t you read the fine disclaimer print underneath?
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