Script Writing 2: The Next Step

by david layzelle 9 months ago in business

Understanding story

Script Writing 2: The Next Step
Tip 1: Don't Write it by Hand!!!

Okay, I admit it—I did it just to see if anyone was actually reading;


/anˈtaɡ(ə)nɪst/ - noun

a person who actively opposes or is hostile to someone or something; an adversary. "he turned to confront his antagonist"

Meanwhile, over on the synonyms side is;


/prəˈtaɡ(ə)nɪst - noun

the leading character or one of the major characters in a play, film, novel, etc. "the novel's main protagonist is an American intelligence officer"

So, while you may have spent the last week telling people, onerously as it turns out, that antagonists are the good guys, I’m here this week to clear it all up, and tell you that you are wrong, though, in fairness, it was probably on the basis of my casual use of English. It’s not a usual trait of mine, being wrong, and as I say, I did it to see who was really awake.

So, with that little faux pas out of the way, we can continue with art of creating not only a script, but a script that someone – hopefully Steven Spielberg or some such—wants to buy with the view of making it their next major hit movie.

You may recall that we discussed log lines last week and the need to construct something that describes your film in not more (usually) than 20 words. The log line is the first thing that the agent, producer, or director will see, and needs to whet their appetite. It needs to sell your concept in a nutshell, and hopefully that concept is sufficiently strong to attract interest. You may remember that my log line was:

Doomed love briefly flourishes as Governments’ recklessly pursue the goal of becoming the first nation in space.

So, there are a number of elements in that one small statement that describe what is going to happen in the movie, and what it is fundamentally about. So, reading that, we know that:

  • It focuses on the early space program,
  • It involves more than one nation,
  • There is doomed love

That’s quite a lot to build a story around.

The early space program in any country was populated with heroic types, determined to risk everything to be a member of the space-faring elite. In America, space exploration began with the Mercury program, which saw John Glenn become the first American in space, not long after Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Nasa Quickly cemented their achievements with the so-called Mercury Seven, and followed this with the Gemini and Apollo programs that would eventually see humans on the Moon. The soviet side is less well documented, but that is where the power of the scriptwriter really lies.

Biopics are okay—there is a current slew of them focusing on 60s and 70s rock acts—but they are lazy film-making, and generally don’t have a large dose of jeopardy… you are aware that a story should have a whopping portion of jeopardy, aren’t you?

Okay, storytelling 101. To be a story, rather than a collection of words, a book, a film, a play etc. needs to have three distinct elements;

  • A situation,
  • A jeopardy
  • A resolution

Imagine a situation—any situation. It could be that a small American seaside town has a thriving tourist trade, or a skilled scientist has developed a way to recreate dinosaurs. Those are good situations. Then you need to add jeopardy; a giant shark threatens, or the dinosaurs escape. What is left is that the threat has to be nullified in some way, such as by killing the shark, or getting all the humans to safety from dinosaur island—that is the resolution, and all stories must have those parts!

So our situation becomes the fact that there is a space race going on between two countries; America and Russia are the favorites, but, since it is a work of fiction, it could be the UK and China, or Australia and Saudi Arabia, and creating that initial scenario is going to be the main thrust of our next foray into script writing… check back soon!!

david layzelle
david layzelle
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david layzelle

Scriptwriter, entrepreneur, philosopher, rocket scientist...what's not to like?

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