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INFOGRAPHIC: Everything You Need To Know About The Screenplay

So, we have a new infographic on B2W today that will hopefully kickstart your new screenplay and/or keep it going, so you can get it written and revised and sent out. Let’s check it out …

What Should You Write About?

There’s some great tips here on adaptation. Though most screenwriters aren’t going to have the money for options on adapting bestselling books, they can still collaborate with authors (especially self published ones, though literary agents may pair scriptwriters with authors too – always worth asking! ).

Beyond adaptation, it’s always worth doing lots of work on your central concept (aka premise, controlling idea, seed of the story, etc) to avoid it being too samey. On the other end of the scale, if writers don’t do their foundation work, they may end up in what I call The Story Swamp, either because they grind to a halt or no reader knows what the hell the story is!!

To avoid both these things, make sure you write a logline FIRST to ‘focus in’ on your story, especially what I call ‘The 3 Cs’ – clarity, conflict, characters. Good luck!

How Long Should A Screenplay Be?

120 minutes is the ‘ideal’ length for a screenplay, but only in THEORY. Time is money, so the longer your screenplay is, the more expensive it is to make. This is especially important for us UK screenwriters to realise, where ultra low-budget indie movies are typically as low as 80-90 pages. I like the fact the infographic reminds writers about profit, too – after all, this is show BUSINESS. We may love story, but money IS  factor too, whether we like it or not. More about screenplay length, HERE.

The Rules of Screenplay Format

I always say that script format is the LEAST a writer can do. Obviously you don’t need to fret over it too much – just make sure it doesn’t interrupt the ‘flow’ of the read with daft, niggly things and reader pet peeves. But what are these?? Well, luckily it’s never been easier to find out! I’ve created a mammoth list of the various formatting issues I see on a regular basis – plus what to do about them! – called The B2W Format 1 Stop Shop. I keep it updated. Worth a bookmark!

Screenwriting Pitfalls

As I always say on this blog: there’s no RIGHT way to write a script, just multiple WRONG ways! I like what the infographic has flagged up here, especially the dreaded deus ex machina. Though these are rare are produced works, they turn up in spec screenplays ALL THE TIME.

Stories about writers are (usually) quite dull, not least because I read SO MANY of them. It’s worth thinking about yours will be differentiated from the rest if you’re going to try this one.

I like the term ‘micro-managing’ here – the notion writers tell characters how to stand, move etc in the screen I call FALSE MOVEMENT. These are not ‘true’ visuals and again, very dull.

I don’t like the idea voiceover is automatically bad. We see this advice given out A LOT, yet voiceover can be a brilliant tool. It is a considered risk, which is why you MUST do your research in depth if you’re going to use this device. Click HERE for more on this.

Lastly, I understand what they mean regarding ‘ban exposition’, but all stories NEED exposition (since ‘exposition’ refers to the background information needed to understand the story). I’d wager what they really mean is ‘ban BAD exposition’ – in other words, dialogue that feels ‘on the nose’, or various plotting contrivances. For more on how to use exposition well, CLICK HERE.

The Fundamentals Of Screenwriting

If this infographic has whet your appetite for finding out more about The Fundamentals of Screenwriting and how to apply them to your OWN writing, then CLICK HERE.

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