Creating and filming your movie begins with a great screenplay. But writing a screenplay can have its own set of issues. Sure, it’s great when inspiration strikes and everything “just flows” but that’s never the case most of the time. Any writer will attest to this. Most of the time, it’s a lot of revising, going back and forth, deleting and editing.
A good movie, no matter how visually impressive, can fall flat if the plot and sequences of the story fail to take hold of the viewer. To help avoid this, it’s important to ask four important questions as you’re writing the screenplay.
Knowing the answers to these questions will boost your confidence and help improve your screenplay right away.
What’s Going To Be Your Opening Scene?
The opening sequence should be the one scene you constantly go back to rework over and over again as you write the screenplay. Sure, it’s easy to get attached to your first idea. And for many screenwriters and filmmakers, this is the hardest to overcome. They usually want the first opening sequence they come up with to be the one that ultimately makes it to the final cut. But like anything, your first idea won’t exactly be your best one.
As your screenplay develops, you’ll find the opening sequence might not do anything for you. At worse, it might pull away from the movie. So, take your time when coming up with the opening scene. Go back to it every now and then as your screenplay develops and don’t be afraid to discard old ideas and replace them with better ones.
Who Are Your Characters and What’s Their Motivation?
Your characters shape your story and will make viewers care about the story you have to tell. Depending on their role, they have to be likable, hateful, vile, funny or enjoyable from the audience’s perspective.
For most writers, it’s helpful to have a detailed character sheet listing the likes, dislikes, personalities, favorites and other details about the character. This way, as they continue with the story, they can easily see how the character will react. Each character in your story needs to be fleshed out. They need to be characters with clear motivations, fears, worries and even goals.
Take your time in doing this. Know them inside out by understanding what makes them tick or what triggers them to action. How can they evolve within the span of your script to become the character you’ve envisioned.
What’s Your Climax?
Some writers prefer to begin writing with the climax in mind then working their story from there. The climax is one of the most important parts of your story. If not, THE most important. This is where all of your story builds up and leads to. Hence, fleshing your climax ahead of time can help create a coherent story.
What’s the Main Point of Your Story?
It’s easy to get lost in the details. The setting, language, tone, characters and more can easily distract you from seeing the big picture – the main point of your story. Even though creating your characters and building a climax is crucial to your screenplay, getting too mired in the details can make you forget the whole point in the first place.
You’ll benefit by creating a plot outline before you begin. Create a timeline of the plot points and work to fill the gap in between. Make sure to pay attention to details without losing sight of the big picture. It’s a balancing act of sorts but when you get it right, it can pay off in the quality of your finished screenplay and eventually, your film.
Creating a screenplay means investing time and plenty of thought in your story. Answering these four questions and building your screenplay around them can go a long way in ensuring your screenplay will translate well in film.
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