Screenplay Literary Element Notes That Every Writer Must Have

 

“CHARACTERS NEED TO BE COMPLEX, CONSISTENT, AND NEED TO CHANGE”

When people need to be consistent – they are to a end. People are more consistent than not  e.g. Darren- a character gets more impatient every time someone tries to get over on him or doesn’t give him respect and he does it every time.  e.g.  Hailey- a character gets mad at me when she does something she doesn’t like and she does it every time.  So traits have to be consistent, so they sound real.

People are like a box, we see e.g. Darren  or e.g. Hailey at work as just “one side of a cardboard” as to say we don’t see the other side. He (Darren) or she (Hailey) would only be a cardboard character,  when they don’t have same personality trait. Darren or Hailey tell us more about themselves and we see more of the other side. Darren or Hailey change and  tell us about their history and we learn more and see more than just one side of the cardboard.

Exposition – is the background information needed to see the charcters in context. explanation of a specific topic, basic facts of setting and character are made known  detailed

used to explain something difficult that is made clear after explanation (The concept of exposition is parodied in the Austin Powers movies with the character of Basil Exposition, who provides all the essential plot information.)

Transition  – is the the image,symbol and dialogue that joins paragraphs together. a transition is a change from one scene to another.

Traits in character influences roles(the jobs darren or hailey pick as according to their character traits and get higher in position that way.) and Characters in roles greatly influence and strengthen their traits.( by doing same job, they harness their ability)

You should know what Darren has in his frigerator and what Darren would get his girlfriend  for Christmas. Does Hailey have a birthmark? Does Hailey have a scar along her eye? does Darren have a hole where his pierced ear was? These questions must be asked.

Too many characters can dilute the theme.

Read CHEKHOV  FOR GUIDANCE ON CHARCTERS.

What is going on inside the characters head at any time? after dialogue, before dialogue? What feeling is Darren having right now? What feelings is Hailey having right no? Is it fear, anger, greiving, repressment, judgement, wonder?

SETTING

 In a action description paragraph should include enough detail to let readers and watchers picture the scene but only use details that push the story along and add to the story.dont use extra words.

USE ALL OF THE SENSES IN A DESCRIPTION OF THE SETTING IN A ACTION DESCRIPTION PARAGRAPH – (FEEL THE SETTING, TOUCH THE SETTING, SEE THE SETTING, SMELL THE SETTING)

POINT OF VIEW

It is the narration a story is told in. Choose Third Person Omniscient – THE NARRATOR KNOWS EVERYTHING, ALLOWS YOU TO EXPLORE ALL CHARCTERS THOUGHTS AND MOTIVATIONS.

DIALOGUE

Hemmingway is good for dialogue, get two characters together and talk about something but never reveal the real subject and you have dialogue. the readers are guessing what the hell are they exactly talking about?

character change is important because all human beings face change and the feeling it takes on over you through the character.

Develop character – don’t just merely have your character announce important plot details – sounds cardboard.

FIRST TEN PAGES

THE HOOK Gets reader interested, use metaphors. Example “ the neighbor practiced  scream therapy in the shower everyday. watchers and readers are left with what is “scream therapy”

SET MOOD AND TONE- TELLS THE AUDIENCE WHETHER THE MOVIE IS GOING TO END HAPPY OR SAD OR IF THE MOVIE CAN GO ANY WAY. THE GENRE ( GENERIC-APPLIED TO A WHOLE THING. IS THERE A GENERIC MESSAGE HERE? ) IS ESTABLISHED

DRAMA AND TENSION(OPPOSING EXTERNAL FORCES AND INTERNAL FORCES) IS CREATED WITH CONFLICT -(TROUBLE IS INTERESTING, PERSON AGAINST OTHER PERSON), SETTING,(CONFLICT IS INCLUDED IN SETTING) AN INCITING INCIDENT MUST BE INTRODUCED RIGHT WAY. EXAMPLE ( KNOCK, KNOCK NEO : MATRIX)

START WITH COMPLEXITY- INDIVIDUAL PROBLEMS.

WHAT IS THE CHARACTER THINKING ABOUT NOW? FEAR, REPRESSION,

WHAT HAPPENS TO HER DRAMATICALLY ON THE WAY TO THE GYM?

WHAT IS SHE THINKING ABOUT? (NARRATION)

WHAT DOES SHE DO, OR WHAT HAPPENS TO HER? (ACTION DESCRIPTION PARAGRAPH, DIALOGUE)

ALWAYS THINK ABOUT GOING FROM SHOT TO SHOT WHEN A NEW SCENE OCCURS, NEW ACTION PARAGRAPH

WHAT IS SHE THINKING ABOUT IN THE GYM? (NARRATION)

WHAT DOES SHE DO, OR WHAT HAPPENS TO HER? (ACTION DESCRIPTION PARAGRAPH, DIALOGUE)

SHE HAS TO BE IN THE SITUATION THAT SHE HAS TO GO TO THE GYM, BUT SOMEONE IS TRYING TO STOP HER.

WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO THESE PEOPLE IN THE FIRST FIVE TO TEN MINUTES?

A DRAMATIC FILM BETTER HAVE A SERIOUS OPENING.

ABOUT THE CONFIDENCE MAN CHARACTER

VICTIMS OF SCAMS USUALLY DON’T GO TO POLICE BECAUSE OF A PROBABLE SKIRTING THE LAW IN DEAL.

CONFIDENCE MEN ARE ABLE TO GAIN CONFIDENCE OF OTHERS, THEY ARE INTUITIVE, PATIENT, GOOD TALKER, INNOCENT THIEF,

THE NARCISSISTIC STYLE IS GOOD FOR A CON MAN BECAUSE HE IS CAUGHT UP IN HIS GRANDIOSITY TO CON, EVIL DEEDS ARE SEEN IN THE GREATER PICTURE OF GOOD.

Ask questions as a visual and entertaining way to express main character

STRUCTURE

After characterization, the writer must find a key scene as a starting point and condense all extra scenes and characters in the three act structure of a screenplay :

Write all you can and then condense lengthy novel or play scene into shorter scenes, combine if you have to minor characters into main character, add scenes to fill in plot gaps and rework beginnings and endings to achieve unity.

Hollywood films haven’t changed since 1917 with a linear cause-effect narrative built around a central protagonist and demonstrating a consistency of character, and the need for a successful resolution.

structure makes thing be read faster

STRUCTURE FOR THE FIRST ACT

Introduce hero Portray positive qualities Show hero’s flaw  Show  hero’s flaw in several circumstances  show how hero’s flaw hinders her and people around her  show how deeply ingrained her flaw is through narration or such express hero’s motivation and point of view INTRODUCE MAJOR CHALLENGE

STRUCTURE FOR THE SECOND ACT

Hero’s emotional reaction – who she talks to as well to cope.

CHARACTER CHANGES

Catharsis – Audience’s expectations have been built up logically and emotionally and then they are released. The audience leaves happy.- sudden emotional breakdown or climax that constitutes overwhelming feelings of great pity, sorrow, laughter, or any extreme change in emotion that results in the renewal, restoration and revitalization for living.

character change is important because all human beings face change and the feeling it takes on over you through the character.

sometimes change stays with you all the way to the end when small events explode into the discovery of  a change.

sometimes some movies have many up and down changes, and most movies have an event built up to the climatic moment of change.

a decision to change one line of dialogue may hinder whole scrrenplay and turn it around.

to surprise  the audience, provide characters and lay of the land with enough complexity  to prevent readers from predicting events too far in advance.

For high stakes – convince the readers that the outcome matters because someone that they care about could lose something precious.

THINKING UP SCENES

A way to think up scenes is to show effects of life changing events and see what struggle and drama it creates, include the role of the opponent.

a way to think up a scene : place Darren in a situation that they must get to the airport! however the cabs are striking and the subway isn’t working! How is Darren or Hailey going to get to the airport? What other obstacles are getting in the way

Idea for scene – woman points a gun at Hailey back and says give me your money in the bag or I will kill you.

another way to think up a scene is to find stories, irrational and strange and analyze the underlying meaning,

SCREENPLAY FORMAT

CUT TO : starts a new action description paragraph and the action that comes with it. This introduces a different time or place, as well as the scene heading or slug line.

You can describe INT AIRPLANE DAY and after action description paragraph put EXT AIRPLANE DAY and then action description paragraph.

A scene heading : INT GRAVEYARD EVENING – (SLUG LINE) ALWAYS CAPPED, you can use SUNSET, SUNRISE, DAY OR NIGHT as time of day.

THE CHARACTERS (HAILEY) ARE ALWAYS CAPPED the FIRST time you introduce a character (DARREN)CAP HIS NAME

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Put action description paragraph right before HAILEY OR DARREN talks in conversation. if characters are having ongoing conversation put (CONTINUING) under the character name(DARREN)

INTERCUT TO  when two simultaneous actions in two scenes are happening at same time.

A good use of introducing HAILEY, DARREN or any other character is by making the character turn on his answering machine that sounds his recording and his name

A long dialogue passage would be (split page option)

No bold or italic, just courier new- the standard.

First drafts will be sent out first always marked as first drafts.

(CONT’D) ON THE FOLLOWING PAGE SHOWS IT HAS ROOTS IN THE LAST PAGE –but some writers plan their page ends to avoid this.

Parenthetical were always used to express emotion, writers lately have been using them for brief bits of action  (Going up a stairway) or (Following him)  – they should also wrap to the following line.

To show Different Languages just do this:

JOE APRIL

SPEAK ANY FOREIGN LANGUAGES? (In French)

Why do you ask?

When someone is wearing something or using something, or eating or drinking something make it a BRAND NAME.

When words seem godlike they should be spoken in (V.O) voiceover; also used for what they character is thinking inside: their inner workings. The protagonists are often filled with their thoughts or story details.

Studio readers sometimes skip long descriptions and just read dialogue! so make it good.

Steer clear of adverbs as much as you can.

ENDINGS

THERE ARE 4 POSSIBLE ENDINGS

THE 4TH IS A REPEATING OF A JOKE, THAT SOMEHOW GOT A LAUGH SOMEWHERE IN THE SCREENPLAY. (A CALLBACK) ALSO A MONOLOGUE – A CHARCTERS COMMENTS IN THE END WITH LANDSCAPE IN THE BACKGROUND.

THE 3RD IS A NOTION THAT WE LEARN SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN ( A SEQUEL)

THE 2ND IS TYING EVERYTHING TOGETHER AND MAKING THE WHOLE MOVIE  MAKE SENSE.(MAKE SENSE) SYMBOLS CAN DO THIS  AN IMAGE FOR THE WHOLE PROCESS OF EVENTS.

THE 1ST BEST WAY TO END A MOVIE IS BY KNOWING THE CHARACTER, SOMEONE WHO WE CARE FOR, WHO WANTS AND NEEDS SOMETHING, SOMEHOW GETS IT IN A UNANTICIPATED WAY. (CHARACTER FUFILLMENT)

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