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JLaPomaBY MARDIE SCHROEDER

From the November issue of The Writer’s Life.

At our October meeting, speaker Jonathan LaPoma presented points to consider on screenwriting.

You need strong characters. People have to care about them. What are their inner and outer goals? What’s going on underneath? And goals can change.

You need a theme. It should be concise, structured, and short (100 pages). If you have these, then you have a story.

When getting started, consider working in layers, i.e. rough drafts. Just get the ideas down, and don’t try to write it perfectly at first. Consider the ending first and work backward.

Dialog should move the story forward, communicate information, create conflict, and move the audience to tears, laughter, or other emotion. Dialog should reveal the characters in the way they speak. Don’t have huge chunks of dialog (3 lines max). Show and don’t tell. Do as much as you can without dialog. Don’t repeat anything the audience has just watched happen onscreen.

Being Successful

Write a great script. Enter contests, competitions, and go to film festivals (a great way to network).

Write a short film. Horror and thrillers are easier to get produced than dark dramas.

Learn how to pitch your work. Research production companies that film your kind of script. You don’t need an agent.

Final Note

No matter how well crafted the script, it will end up entirely different on screen once the director, producers, actors, and others put in their two cents’ worth.

Resources

  •   Story by Robert McKee
  •   The Screenwriter’s Bible by David Trottier
  •   Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
  •   Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman

Websites

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