Better Screenwriting

Hal Croasmun has posted a useful list of screenwriting tips here. It’s not one of those content mill shortie lists; there’s some real meat here. Actually, it has 26 tips, taking into account a multi-part item, No. 9. A few samples:

  • 10. Have another writer write one of your scenes in a completely different way.

You often have no idea what you’re missing in a scene, even after you’ve rewritten it ten times. In fact, probably because you’ve rewritten it ten times.. Someone looking at that scene with fresh eyes may spot a dozen opportunities you’ve overlooked.

But what’s important is not that scene, it’s the process, discovering that you do miss chances, then learning to see your own writing with another’s eyes, unimpeded by its familiarity. Pretend you’re someone else and say, “What if this character, instead of helping the prisoner out of the cell, carries him? What if this gal says no, instead of agreeing immediately?”

If you’re not good at pretending you’re someone else, put the scene aside until you can see it anew. See No. 18, below, too.

  • 13. Stretch yourself: Give your character an unsolvable problem and then solve it.

I’ve actually done this exercise. My novel-in-progress, “Teniras, Mad Poet of Zaragoza,” has a hundred chapters. In each chapter, I get poor Tenirax into the biggest trouble I can manage. Then I end the chapter right there. In each new chapter, I get him out of the trouble I just got him into.

Now, when I paint any hero into a corner, I’m sure he will find a rope or a trap-door or a hidden exit or stilts or a chandelier or a beam or a vaulting pole or a fan to dry the paint or someone else’s shoes to get him out or….

  • 18. Take an acting class.

I’ve been thinking of doing this for a while. I guess I’d better follow Hal Croasmun’s advice (and everybody else’s) and do it.

See Hal’s entire list via the link up top.

 

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