This is the thing. A helluva lot of drafts – novels or screenplays – have chapters, scenes or even just plot beats that go on FAR TOO LONG. Yet the notion of a *perfect* story keeps us wanting more.

Asking ourselves as writers what we want the reader or viewer to get OUT of the individual scene, plus HOW it relates to the overall narrative, helps us stay on track and ensure we can cut the flab from our structure.

So, remember:

Keywords: ON POINT.

START LATE FINISH EARLY

Like this post? Then please check out my books, HERE and share on your social media profiles. Happy writing!

In the wake of #OscarsSoWhite and The 88th Academy Awards round the corner, now seems a GREAT time to be talking about improving diversity in Hollywood!

As any regular Bang2writer knows, B2W is always up for diversity, especially when it comes to female characters, but also marginalised voices in ALL spheres, including (but not limited to), BAME, disabled, and LGBT people – in front AND behind the camera.

So many thanks to DuSable Productions who have been in contact with this VERY eye-opening infographic, below!

As I mention in my book, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, we hear ALOT about this mythical demographic of 15-25 year old white males being the most sought-after movie-going audience. However, in recent years research has shown this is NOT the case when it comes down to what’s being spent – and by whom. Time for Hollywood to reflect this?

So DO make sure you check out DuSable Productions’ current screenwriting competition: they’re seeking diverse writers for a movie project. Full details under the infographic. Good luck if you enter!

diversity infograph-2
DuSable Productions has launched a screenwriting competition, seeking a writer of diversity to develop a film adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Ira Berkow’s non-fiction book: “The DuSable Panthers: The Greatest, Blackest, Saddest Team from the Meanest Street in Chicago.”

Winner will receive $5,000 writing stipend and will develop the screenplay with the rest of the Production team. To enter, send an original screenplay to the link by March 25th, CLICK HERE.

For more information, check out www.dusableproductions.com.

Like this post? Then please check out my books, HERE and share on your social media profiles. Happy writing!

Everyone’s familiar with the writing adage “Write WHAT You Know”, but not everyone thinks about how WHERE they know can help their writing, too. So when Richard suggested looking at storyworld in this way, I jumped at the chance for a guest post … Over to you, Richard!

Why you should write WHERE you know

Reason Number 1: The setting is your story’s principal supporting character

Traditional writing wisdom says writers should write **what** they know. ‘What’ you know informs the storyline of what you write. But that maxim overlooks the fact that the action (and the inaction) of any story occurs in a setting. That setting often has such a fundamental role in the story that it can assume the function of a character.

Whether writing a crime novel or a screenplay, the writer who ignores this does so at the risk of reducing or even eliminating the credibility of the story being told. When the setting fails, the action IN the setting also fails.

Reason Number 2: The credibility of your story depends vitally on the credibility of the action *in* the setting

Actual case in point: a crime drama set around a tobacco plantation. In one crucial scene, the writer had a wildfire racing through the tobacco fields, stalemating a tense encounter between the protagonist and the antagonist. An exciting scene, but its inherent impossibility completely destroys the credibility of the scene, and of the writer. Why?

It would be obvious to anyone who has ever seen even so much as a picture of a tobacco field that they are kept well-cleaned of grasses and weeds, and the big, green plants themselves could not be made to burn short of dropping napalm on them. There is just no way that a grass and leaf-fed wildfire would go through a tobacco field, and the writer obviously was writing neither ‘where’ he knows, nor what.

Reason Number 3: The setting of your story directs the nature of the action that takes place within its boundaries

The setting of a crime drama can be as broad as the middle of the wide open ocean; as focused as the swimming pool in “Diabolique”; as confusing as the car-parks in any number of television and cinema presentations; or any combination of these characteristics. But in all cases, it is the essential and detailed nature of the setting that determines the actions that are possible and so it essentially directs the actions of the characters that function within it.

In the two crime dramas that I’ve authored (Flayer and Tallest), the setting is the area of southwestern Ontario, Canada, in which I have spent most of my life. I know the general area very well and some parts of it intimately. This facilitated action scenes that make sense. Anyone familiar with the area would be able to read either of those two works and identify that the action in one scene could be taking place on this person’s farm, or on that road, and so on. Other locations that I do not know so well are more general in description and function, but crucially do not exceed my actual experience of those places.

Love Crime Fiction in novels, movies & TV? Click the pic

Love Crime Fiction in novels, movies & TV? Click the pic

Reason Number 4: The most valuable and useful setting of any story is the one that is the most well-known to the writer

In order to extract the most value from the setting, especially in a crime drama, the writer must have intimate knowledge of that setting, whether it is real or imaginary. I argue every little detail that can interact with the other characters should be well-known to the writer.

No writer knows any setting so well as the one in which they live from day to day, unless it is an imaginary setting of his or her own “writer-as-god” design. In such a setting, details can be manufactured to suit. This no longer applies when the action is set in a real location. For those stories, the writer absolutely must know the place and the details of its structure. Particular actions that take place in both Flayer and Tallest are actions that I have seen or experienced first-hand in that setting, and that experience informs how they occur and how they are described in the stories.

Reason Number 5: The relationship of things in the writer’s most familiar setting is directly transferable to other settings in a way that maintains credibility

The finished representation need not be a faithful reproduction of the actual location, but the fictionalized location absolutely must function in the same way and reflect the nature of the actual location at every level of detail if it is to be credible.

It’s not that the actual specific locations of Flayer and Tallest are the only ones where the actions could take place. Their intrinsic value comes from the fact that I know and understand their relationship to each other in the area and so can orchestrate and choreograph the action within them to suit. Were they to be translated from their novelization format into a screenplay, it is that relationship that would be translated and made applicable to any location.

There is no requirement that the action must take place in the exact locality that was used in the books. But there is an absolute requirement that the relationship between the action and the setting must be retained. I could have written the stories to take place in a location such as New York or Birmingham, but since I have never been to either of those great cities millions of readers would recognize at once that I was making up scenes and locations. Even if I were able to reproduce the location accurately, with the correct streets and street views, the setting would still not ring true. It would lack any sense of the ‘feel’ of the location that would be familiar to those same readers.

Concluding:

I wrote where I know, because that’s something I can write honestly to deliver an authentic feel for the setting and its role in the story. That authenticity is what the writer must deliver, whether it is to readers or viewers, and it can only come from writing where you know.

——————————————–

BIO: Richard Renboog has perhaps the most eclectic background possible for a writer to have, having done just about everything from the cutting edge of scientific research to cutting grass in a trailer park. This lifetime of experiences informs both what Renboog writes, and where he writes. He resides now in Tillsonburg, Ontario, Canada, which will be the setting of his next crime novel. Find out more at his WEBSITE.

Like this post? Then please check out my books, HERE and share on your social media profiles. Happy writing!

“Show, Don’t Tell” gets a bad rap as far as writing advice goes because it’s become a “catch all” for just about anything a feedback-giver feels is “bad” prose or scene description. As a result, this note can end up being frustrating, rather than illuminating.

However, at its heart, it IS good stuff. It basically describes the sensation in the reader of feeling “placed away” from the events in the story. This is not dramatic, because the writer is not INVOLVING us *in* the story. Instead, it ends up feeling a bit, “And then … And then … And then …” either because the novelist is dumping a load of exposition on us, or because the screenwriter is telling us via character dialogue what’s going on.

So, remember:

Keyword: DRAMATISE.

SHOW DON'T TELL

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Probably the most talked about writing adage of all time is, “Write what you know.”

The phrase often causes confusion amongst writers. After all, if we ONLY wrote what we *literally* know, there would be no science fiction or fantasy, plus all Crime and Horror novelists and screenwriters would *need* to be serial killers! And that’s just for starters.

However, thinking about it metaphorically may produce disatisfying results, too. The notion that one HAS to be a woman (or vice versa), to write from the female perspective seems bizarre. As I am fond of reminding the Bang2writers, B2W has seen NO correlation between “good” female characters and the gender of the people writing them. I could say the same of race, class, disability, LGBT status and so on, too.

No writer is exempt from being *able* to write a story, but at the same time not all of us can automatically do a *particular* story or issue justice, either. This is why research is so crucial, as is ensuring we use multiple sources and not just one.

It’s also worth thinking about the level of complexity we need, too: we don’t want to overthink it, OR undercook it. Plus just because a particular character is an asshole, doesn’t mean the writer automatically is either (or vice versa!).

A writer doesn’t *have* to have lived something first hand to *get it* or to write about it. Empathy is the name of the game when it comes to writing.

Another key factor worth remembering is that sometimes, we must allow the marginalised to tell their own stories; other times the majority can help break down barriers, first. It’s a difficult balancing act, but one writers should contemplate.

So, remember:

Keyword: AUTHENTICITY.

WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW

Like this post? Then please check out my books, HERE and share on your social media profiles. Happy writing!

Infographics are a GREAT way to break down useful “How-To” pointers and content, so I’ve been asking the talented @edwinatyrrell to convert some of B2W’s most hit articles into visuals for Bang2writers.

Having already converted the How To Write Series Bible post into an infographic, Edwina has worked her magic again! It’s now the turn of the oft-hit 6 Tips For Writing A One Page Pitch For Your Novel Or Screenplay. In recent years, one pagers have become more and more important because initiatives, filmmakers, producers, agents and publishers may ask for them :

    • With your cover letter
    • On a script listing site
    • As part of a writing or filmmaking competition entry
    • As part of a writing or filmmaking scheme application
    • As part of The Package
    • At pitchfests
    • For initial queries/script calls
    • On a script listing site

… And MUCH more!! In other words, it NEVER hurts to have a great One Page Pitch ready to go, to help sell your novel or screenplay “off the page”.

If you want to see the original post the infographic is converted from, CLICK HERE or click the infographic itself. Don’t forget you can also download The B2W One Page Ref Guide (PDF) for free, HERE.

6 tips one papger

Like this post? Then please check out my books, HERE and share on your social media profiles. Happy writing!

SUBMISSIONS
Screenwriting Competitions can be an excellent way to ignite your screenwriting career. Benefits may include:
BUT … there are now so many screenwriting competitions, preparing submissions is time-consuming and can set you back quite a bit of $$££€€. So what’s a writer to do?
ANSWER: Have a competition STRATEGY covering the following four elements:

1. Selection

Anecdotal evidence suggests industry executives only take notice of the really big competitions, but these typically receive upward of 7,000 entries so odds of success are extremely low. Vince Gilligan of “Breaking Bad” fame got his break from entering a small, local contest, because one of the judges was so impressed he took him under his wing.
Moviebytes is a useful site for information on the various screenwriting competitions, but it is very US-centric. Use your favourite search engine to find out about more local screenwriting competitions. Then draw up a list of those you may be interested in entering this year.
This is likely to be a very long list! Narrow it down by working out what it is you want to achieve, from the list of possible benefits above.
Looking for networking opportunities? Select a competition attached to a festival, or with a swanky awards ceremony.
Looking for feedback? Select a competition that incorporates a free or paid script analysis service.
Looking for $$££€€? Select a competition that gives cash prizes.
You get the picture…  Some of the competitions I personally recommend include:

UK-centric:

BBC Writers’ Room submission window
BAFTA-Rocliffe submission windows
Euroscript Screen Story Competition (for Treatments)
Shore Scripts Screenwriting Competition
Screenwriting Goldmine Competition

US-Centric:

Nicholl Fellowship
Page International Screenwriting Awards
Final Draft “Big Break” Contest
Scriptapalooza Screenplay Competition
Blue Cat Screenplay Competition

Also consider competitions related to Film Festivals, especially Cannes, Berlin, Sundance, Austin and Nashville, and genre-specific competitions, such as the various Screencraft contests.
Jameson First Shot gives you the opportunity to make a short film with Kevin Spacey’s Trigger Street Productions, starring an A-list actor. Last year it was Adrien Brody. This year it will be Maggie Gyllenhaal. MORE: How to win screenwriting competitions

2. Budget

Few competitions are free. Those that are typically have a nationality or residency requirement, often because there is some form of subsidy from taxpayers’ money. The BBC Writers’ Room submission windows are an example of this.
Other competitions have a sliding scale of fees, with the amount you pay increasing as you get closer to the deadline. These fees can quickly add up to a substantial sum, especially if you submit several screenplays in the ‘late’ window.
Decide how much you can set aside to spend on screenwriting competitions this year. Depending on how much you have to spend, you may have to prioritise which ones you enter, which will further shorten your list.
WritersandFilmmakers.com_-_Screenwriting_Circuit2

3. Calendar

Screenwriting competitions take place throughout the year. The ones you select will depend on whether you have polished material ready to submit or not. Ask yourself, “Will I be able to complete my screenplay and put it through a rigorous review and re-drafting process in time for the deadline?”
Set yourself stretch goals, but be realistic. MOREVisual Guide For Screenwriting Comps & Initiatives by WritersAndFilmmakers.com

4. Preparation

By now, you should have a shorter list of competitions to submit to. It’s time to put your best foot forward.
Polish your script
Don’t fall at the first hurdle by presenting a script that is full of typos and in non-standard format. You may think you’re too much of a storytelling genius to bother with such niceties, but the readers you have to get past certainly won’t. Preferably you will have gone through several drafts and even employed the services of a script reader such as Lucy V. Hay herself (whom I wholly endorse and recommend!).
– Check the rules
Don’t let your entry be disqualified on a technicality. Competitions vary as to whether cover pages should include personal details or not and the naming conventions of files. If the rules are silent on this topic, then include your personal details and include both your name and script title in the file name.
Make sure you know what you’re signing up for. For example, some competitions have exclusivity rules – if you win another competition while your entry is under consideration, that may disqualify you from further advancement.
– Technology
Don’t leave it to the last minute to find out if you can fulfil the format requirements or not. A writer I know missed a deadline because they could not convert their script into a PDF file.

– Additional Requirements

Most competitions require your logline, and some may require a short synopsis or writer bio. Have these written in advance, rather than cobbling something together as you go through the process of uploading your script. MORE: 8 Useful Tips To Win Screenwriting Competitions

Ready to submit?

———————————————–
BIO: KT Parker is a screenwriter and producer. She is currently producing her play, “The Chamber Of Beheaded Queens”, for the Page To Stage Festival in Liverpool (April 2016) and will shortly be off to Hollywood for the awards ceremony of Final Draft’s “Big Break” Contest, having won the period/historical/war category with her screenplay “A Face To Paint”. Check out her crowdfunding campaign, HERE.

Like this post? Then please check out my books, HERE and share on your social media profiles. Happy writing!

8 things readers

1) A Rock Solid Concept

Without a great concept, you have NOTHING. A great concept is the very foundation of any successful story. If you’ve written a screenplay and can’t really work out what it’s about, at grass roots level? No one else will, either! This is why it’s a great idea to road test and bomb proof your concepts FIRST. So what are you waiting for?

2) Great Visuals

Look, we all *know* screenwriting is a visual medium … So why are so few specs in the pile actually visual?? It’s because spec writers are not investing in their scene description. As a result, the prose in their screenplays ends up turgid and prescriptive. Nooooooooo!

You MUST ensure your writing is as visual as possible to gain the reader’s real consideration. Scene description is, in real terms, the MOST IMPORTANT (yet underestimated) part of the process. This means that if you can get to grips with it? You immediately catapult your work to the TOP of the pile!

3) A Fantastic Opener

Most screenplays do not start well. In fact, they barely start at all – someone just strolls in and starts talking. YAWN!

Remember, screenwriting is a VISUAL MEDIUM, so we need a great OPENING IMAGE to start this story off, okay? Try and match that great opening image with your story, genre and tone. So, if it’s a comedy, think of something funny. If it’s a Horror, think of something scary or sinister. A thriller, something exciting. But DO beware of those clichés in the first instance, too – readers rarely forgive them in the first ten pages.

4) Lean And Focused Structure

Yes, yes, we know: Beginning – middle – end. Set up and pay off, it’s very simple … But if it were easy, everyone would be able to do it! And fact is, everyone can’t do it.

This means that if you want to put yourself and your writing HEAD AND SHOULDERS above most of the pile, you gotta really get to grips with structure. It doesn’t matter how you do it … No reader cares whether you use Save The Cat, The 3 Acts, The 5 Acts, The Mini Movie Method – **whatever**! Just make sure you nail structure.

5) Dramatic, Non-Static & SHORT Scenes

Most scenes in spec screenplays are boring. They’re usually centered around talk, so there’s no sense of movement, so the scene feels “static”.

Or the scene description is crammed with “fillers” and what I call “false movement” – moving eyebrows; hands on hips; walking towards windows, for no real story reason. Guess what? Creates the same problem as the overly talky scene – it feels STATIC again!

What’s more, the average scene in the spec screenplay is simply FAR TOO LONG. Think as a rule of thumb: upto 1 page for “ordinary” scenes; upto 3 pages for “extraordinary” scenes. Boom! MOREAre You Making Any Of These 20 Killer Errors In Your Screenplay’s Scenes?

6) Intriguing Dialogue (that doesn’t take over)

Great dialogue can be a real delight. What’s more, it is celebrated by actors and audience members alike, so it’s not difficult to see why the average spec screenwriter wants to be the next Sorkin, Whedon, Cody, Tarantino, Ephron or *whomever*.

But it’s important to remember dialogue is massively overrated. The average spec screenplay is quite literally bloated with it – writers could cut half of it, or even TWO THIRDS and it would do the same job.

So don’t indulge your desire for dialogue: instead, think about how your dialogue PUSHES THE STORY FORWARD EVERY SINGLE TIME IT APPEARS … Because if it doesn’t? It needs to go.

7) Good Characterisation

We often hear about “good characters” from social media. There are loads of arguments (especially on Twitter) about who is the best or worst and why.

Don’t fall into this trap and start thinking like a layperson. You are a writer. A “good character” then means a character who has:

–   a discernible role function

–  a discernible, believable and authentic motivation and/or arc (as appropriate)

Both of the above must fit the STORY. That’s it.

Yes, you may want to consider other factors – ie. diversity (and as any longterm Bang2writer knows, I’d encourage anyone to do so), but ultimately good writing is about “a good story, well told”, NOT politics. Forget this at your peril.

8) An Awesome Writer’s Voice

It comes down to this. We’ve got enough vanilla screenplays. We want to be certain only YOU can tell this story. So what are you waiting for?

Get writing!

Like this post? Then please check out my books, HERE and share on your social media profiles. Happy writing!

3 questions your writing MUST answer

Bang2writers sometimes write to me, asking if I can tell them whether it’s “worth” them continuing with a project, or even writing altogether. But my answer is always the same: if YOU feel it’s “worth” it? THEN IT IS. If you don’t, then it’s not! Simple, really.

But often, those writers don’t really mean the above. What they mean is, “How can I TELL if my project or my writing *could* get any traction with agents, publishers, producers [and so on]?”

Well, it’s good news. You totally CAN tell “upfront” if your writing is “worth” pursuing and all it takes is answering three (not so) little questions … Here they are:

1) Can you pitch it?

NEWSFLASH: Pitching is about concept. This means your concept has to GRAB someone. It’s the only way, because whomever you’re pitching it to – whether via a cover letter or query email; or at a dedicated pitchfest; or in a meeting, etc – has not read your screenplay or novel yet.

So, you have to have a GREAT idea and pull them in with it, to stand your best chance of getting a script request or your work read. A great concept really IS the difference between the IN tray and “move to trash”! Le duh.

But lots of writers get very het up about concept. They’ll say “it’s the execution that counts” and that as long as writers use their “own authentic, unique voices”, it will all fall into place. If only!

These are the facts: if you can’t “sum up” what your story is REALLY about? Then you don’t know what your story is. If you don’t know what your story is, in your OWN WRITING, then no one else will either.

And guess how alluring that is, to a prospective agent, publisher, producer or whatever? (HINT: not very).

2) Do you know your characters?

No, I don’t just mean your characters’ names and life histories. I’m talking about WHO they are; WHAT they’re doing in the story; plus WHY … If you don’t know this, then maybe they shouldn’t be in the story at all! YES, REALLY!!

i) Role Function vs. Motivation

It’s not difficult to see why writers tie themselves up in knots over characterisation. Most writers know WHO their characters are, but where many get confused is over character role function and motivation. So here it is, broken right down to base level:

a) Role function: what a character is DOING in a story, plus WHY

ib) Motivation: what a character WANTS in the story, plus WHY

ii) “Is *good* characterisation about change?”

Some writers get confused about whether their characters – particularly protagonists – *should* change? The answer? It depends. HERE’S WHY.

Rey_Mary Sue_NO

Is Rey From THE FORCE AWAKENS A Mary Sue? No of course not, but CLICK THE PIC for why it doesn’t even matter …

iii) Including The “Unusual”

Some writers want to write marginalised characters into their stories, particularly female ones. This means they may unwittingly waltz straight into the major pitfalls, such as writing tired stereotypes or even just “the usual”.

When you want to write a character that’s different to the norm, you HAVE to do your research. You have to work out WHY you’ve loved some and despised others. You have to see where things have changed and which remain the same.

iv) Contrast Can Be Key

One element of characterisation rarely considered by writers is contrast. Sometimes it can pay dividends to have two characters that perform the same or similar role functions, but in different ways. This can add to or underscore the the theme, message or moral of your story, though this is not the only benefit possible.

Characterisation is a complex thing …

But so is an audience’s understanding of your character. You also have to appreciate that however carefully you construct your character, things beyond your control (especially in a collaborative industry like filmmaking) may interfere with your vision.

What’s more, there will always be someone who hates your character. Why? You might have screwed it up, but more than likely your version just doesn’t fit that audience member’s vision of who that character “should” be. This is because everyone’s vision of what makes a “great” character is different. That’s just the way it is!

3) Is it entertaining?

Look, there might be a gazillion blog posts and memes dedicated to various academic, social justice and fan theories, but when it comes down to it, it’s about entertainment, NOT theory.

If they’re any good, movies, TV series, novels, web series and social media channels will launch a gazillion “thinkpieces” and ideas. Some might praise the story in question; others might condemn it. Some will be in the middle. Whatever the case, people are talking about the story because it has entered their psyche in some way, for good OR ill. That’s the point of stories!

One thing that should be remembered however is your audience. You need to work out who your audience is for your story and target them accordingly BUT – and this is a huge but! – you should NEVER talk down to them. Audiences are not stupid. They are more media literate than ever before. Audiences nowadays simply will not tolerate clichés, obvious exposition or simply boring stuff that’s been done waaaaay too many times!

So, we’re back to rersearch again. You have to know WHY you’re writing this screenplay, or this novel. You have to know what stories your audience liked before yours; you have to know what cam before, but crucially how yours is different, too. Because why would we want a story that’s ALREADY been told??

Good luck!

Like this post? Then please check out my books, HERE and share on your social media profiles. Happy writing!

B.O.S.H

QUESTION: What is a B.O.S.H screenplay?

Very often I’ll read a whole screenplay in which scenes kind of **run into** each other. A scene happens … followed by another scene … followed by another … and then another. You get the gist.

It’s not that it’s a BAD screenplay either, it’s just that the structure could be leaner and the events that happen need to build up more “obviously” – the scenes don’t feel “linked” enough to contibute to the narrative as a whole.

Sometimes, screenplays go B.O.S.H randomly, usually somewhere in the middle but occasionally “upfront” (ie. I’m “waiting for the story to start” or at the end, as if the writer has suddenly gone “Eeek! I need to wrap this baby up!” and then writes any old thing to push through the resolution of the story.

ANSWER: So put simply, B.O.S.H stands for “bunch of shit happens” (or “stuff”, for my less profane Bang2writers!).

Obstacles, Set Up, Pay Offs

We all know that structure is paramount to screenwriting. Whatever structural method you use (and seriously, no one cares which), it needs to work, plain and simple. But *how*?

Good structure is about OBSTACLES. In other words, your protagonist needs something, so stuff gets in his/her way (including the antagonist). They’ve got to climb over these obstacles to get what they need.

However, we also know the resolution, conclusion, Act 3 (or whatever) must have the HIGHEST PEAK of the story – this will be where you PAY OFF everything you’ve SET UP.

all the same

All the obstacles the same size? NOT DRAMATIC

Hurdles Versus Walls

Runners have to jump over hurdles, right? But usually, those hurdles are the same size. This is because what is being MEASURED is *not* the runners’ ability to get over those individual hurdles, but the time spent doing it.

It’s the exact opposite with screenplays. 

Good writing ESCALATES

It’s as simple as this: stories that don’t go anywhere are boring. In fact, they’re barely stories. We’re simply being asked to look at *something* or *someone*. This can work for a matter of seconds, sure – but for sixty or ninety minutes? Definitely not. Hell, looking at something where nothing happens gets boring within about a minute! Yes, that fast.

Check out this bunny:

Why are animated gifs like this so popular on the web? It’s very simple. It’s usually one (or both) of these things:

i) Cute animals.

ii) Cute animals doing something.

The gif posted here clearly does both of these things: cute bunny? Check. Cute bunny masters the stairs and gets a treat at the top! AWWWWWW. Double check. We’re impressed such a tiny animal can get up so many obstacles in its path, so we’re pleased it is rewarded .

LESSON 1: Gifs are just seconds long, so simply looking at cuteness works. 90 minutes of a bunny sitting there in  front of us would be DULL.

LESSON 2: The most popular gifs tell a STORY.

So what’s the conclusion, here in relation to our screenplays? This:

i) Protagonists need an aim (ie. like the rabbit getting a treat)

ii) Obstacles in the way of that need to be big (like each step on the stairs)

iii) Escalation elicits an emotional response (“Awwwww, bunny got his treat”)

correct

Obstacles in your protagonist’s path should get STEADILY BIGGER

A note on TIME

Unlike gifs however, we don’t want our protagonist to get what s/he needs in the fastest time possible.

A novel, movie, TV show, even a webisode will have a set amount of time in which s/he has to perform the task. So instead, the protagonist must go through more and more difficult obstacles as the alloted time progresses.

Drama comes from conflict, so you have to make every obstacle in your protagonist’s way steadily bigger (ie. more difficult). So rather than hurdles, think of your protagonist having to “climb walls, each bigger than the last”.

So the key is remembering that all the obstacles up against your protagonist can’t be the SAME SIZE.

Concluding:

If you want to avoid your screenplay becoming entirely B.O.S.H (or you want to iron out a sequence of B.O.S.H events *somewhere* in your script!), then you need to ask yourself about the ORDER of the “walls” in your protagonist’s way. Sometimes we accidentally put scenes in the “wrong” place and all it takes is a re-order … and suddenly it’s much more dramatic. Try it!

Like this post? Then please check out my books, HERE and share on your social media profiles. Happy writing!