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character role functions

Case Study: All About Symbolism in ALIEN (1979)

Symbolism in Screenwriting Many spec writers want to introduce symbolism in their scripts. And why not? Sometimes the best writing we see “hints” at other things; there are multiple ways of “reading” it — and us screenwriterly types can pat ourselves on the back for “seeing” it. So Think LAYERS When it comes to symbolism of any kind, think LAYERS, like an onion. You can do this any way you want: visual metaphors, allusions, motifs, character traits. There are no rules, remember. However, the biggest issue I see when it comes to symbolism: It’s not clear what the screenwriter is… Read More »Case Study: All About Symbolism in ALIEN (1979)

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Personality Is Personality: Making Gender "Irrelevant" In Characterisation

Bang2write’s fab intern, the mighty Eleanor Ball has decided to tackle a BIG subject for her first official blog post – and why not? Please direct any questions, comments, etc to her here in the relevant section or over at Bang2writers. Enjoy! My script is about a group of girlies. People keep asking me if that would eliminate the male half of the audience. No, damnit! It’s an interesting challenge, trying to make a sitcom with mainly female characters appeal to all chromosomes, but it’s a shame I took it for granted that it would indeed BE a challenge. It… Read More »Personality Is Personality: Making Gender "Irrelevant" In Characterisation

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Nemesis

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I’ve fretting about the upcoming arrival of the bebe, aka MICROSPAWN. Not for any birthing trauma reasons (though that is obviously a *bit* of a factor!) but because of my family’s GROUP DYNAMIC. As one tweeter pointed out a while ago, introduce a new character too quickly MID-SEASON and it could lead to CANCELLATION! After all, like any good scriptwriter’s family, we all have our CHARACTER ROLE FUNCTIONS: ME – I’m the protagonist, **obviously**. There aren’t enough female-driven comedies/tragedies/action-adventures/horrors/dramas and though the genre mixing is troubling, I’m hoping it will settle down… Read More »Nemesis

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Characterisation: The Expected Vs "The Recognisable & Surprising"

In lots of scripts, characters all sound and act the same. I don’t mean they’re LITERALLY the same – most writers will go to some lengths to include *differentish* characters, especially in terms of dialogue – but strip away those idioms, different genders, colours, races, the way they dress or whatever and WHAMMO – the same characters I [and countless other readers] have seen before. I always think this is odd, because as writers we are confronted by the differences in people every single day: whether those people are in our own family, our neighbours, the parents at the school… Read More »Characterisation: The Expected Vs "The Recognisable & Surprising"

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4 Big Non Linearity Mistakes In Screenplays

Non Linearity is big news I’d venture for every ten spec screenplays I read, at least three will feature non linearity. Renowned non linear movies include Pulp Fiction, Memento, Twelve Monkeys, The Bourne Supremacy, Slumdog Millionaire, Groundhog Day and Premonition. Non-linearity sometimes finds its way into TV spec screenplays too  – particularly of the supernatural genre – usually in the form of flashback. (For the purposes of this post, note that when I say “non linearity”, I mean the “beginning, middle, end” will not necessarily be in *that* order). I love non linearity. Done well, it can really add a new… Read More »4 Big Non Linearity Mistakes In Screenplays

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Best Movie Heroines – The Case for Sarah from JURASSIC PARK: THE LOST WORLD

I often post here, there and everywhere about the veritable lack of decent female characters in movies and specs generally. So when my delightful stalker Jazz Juice emailed me this week and demanded to know who gets my vote as the “near perfect” movie heroine, I had no hesitation … And you’ll be surprised. NO, it’s not Ripley or any of her many imitators. It’s not anyone played by Judy Dench, Maggie Smith or Meryl Streep, either. In fact, she’s an oft-overlooked genre movie heroine… … It’s Julianne Moore as Sarah in Jurassic Park: The Lost World. Yup, you read… Read More »Best Movie Heroines – The Case for Sarah from JURASSIC PARK: THE LOST WORLD

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Guest Post: Characters On The Couch: Psychiatry & Screenwriting by Stephen Potts

Few writers make a living from their work: we necessarily have Day Jobs, and even if we don’t we have Other Lives to draw on. For more than 22 years my day job’s been in the NHS, as a psychiatrist, currently working with A&E and the transplant service. Until recently I kept this entirely separate from my writing (kids’ adventure fiction, drama for stage and radio, and now for the screen). I’m not sure why: maybe it just felt wrong to be stealing patient’s stories, however I dressed them up. But the more screenwriting manuals I read, the more psychiatric… Read More »Guest Post: Characters On The Couch: Psychiatry & Screenwriting by Stephen Potts

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Character Role Functions # 1: Male Lead

Music can be a very helpful inspiration to scribes when writing. I have been known to drive my family mad in fact with a particular signature tune, like this one when I was writing Eclipse: I had the song on repeat for weeks, maybe even months. Now, well over a year since I finished, Hub has banned that song from the car, the house — anywhere he’ll hear it, basically. Very often when I’m reading scripts, characters will sort of “blend together”: writers are often shocked to hear this response from me, especially as they will feel they have tried… Read More »Character Role Functions # 1: Male Lead

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