HOW TO WRITE A SCREENPLAY
Here are some articles by screenwriters and consultants that are in our database that cover the craft of screenwriting. However, we strongly urge you to join SU and keep in touch as we continually update the archive with new content.
Setting the Tone with Style - I seem to write a lot about screenplays that break from the norm, or at least defy the standard Fields and McKee status quo. I don't remember how many screenplays have Syd Fields and Robert McKee sold. I'm not saying what they say doesn't hold valuable lessons within. I just wonder why so many of the most respected and acclaimed movies have screenplays that don't fit their molds. Most recently Big Fish, screenplay by John August based on the novel by Daniel Wallace, is a case in point.
Dialogue: Lesson One - A good line transcends time. A good line becomes memorable, it carries weight, and it becomes iconic. Look at the many lines that continue to carry weight, though the films are many years old: “Here’s looking at you kid,” “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn,” “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” I could go on, there are so many of them. Regardless, good dialogue will transform your script, it will give it life, and it will make it stand out, particularly to the reader.
Narrative & Premise A Case Study: THE MONUMENTS MEN - Back in 1964 a pretty good WW2 film called THE TRAIN directed by John Frankenheimer with a screen adaptation by Franklin Coen and Frank Davis (based on the non-fiction book Le front de l'art by Rose Valland) came out with a somewhat similar premise as THE MONUMENTS MEN, but different in focus which was key.
Top Tips about Antagonists - Why do we love to hate antagonists? In a successfully crafted antagonist the reasons are clear -- we understand their motives, we somehow relate to their actions, and we are drawn in because they are so plausible that we cannot believe what they are doing to achieve their goals.
In medias res - It’s a Latin phrase that translates in English as - Into the middle of events. And it’s a phrase all screenwriters should keep in mind when they write. It means: Get into a scene as late as possible and get out as soon as possible. Screenwriters who live and write by this rule will speed up the pace of their script, and reach a new level in their storytelling ability. Why? Because pacing is critical in achieving maximum impact in a story you are trying to tell… and sell.
The Screenwriters Success Formula - Wouldnt it be nice to come up with a formula that you could use to write, sell and get your screenplays produced? Well, guess what? There is a formula. A- list screenwriters use it all the time. Thats one reason they are A-list writers.