I’m in the process of editing, polishing the fourth draft of my WW2 screenplay, thanks to some great tips from my writing friend, Adrian Austin. Here are a couple of sets of storytelling rules that I’m using to edit. I’ve also learned a lot from another great teacher, Ellen Sandler, on editing. She would set up a see-saw for every scene, based on the progress of the main character. Up, down, and neutral. If too many scenes in a row were down, then the script is going to be a downer. Let the character win something occasionally. If there are too many ups, the audience could turn off the main character because she’s “arrogant for winning too much”. If there is a neutral scene, then perhaps that scene needs to be reworked. The character (hence the story ) isn’t progressing, and the audience will get bored. And when audiences get bored, they go channel surfing.
For more information go to her website/take a class/read her book! http://www.sandlerink.com >>
I hope these tips can help any writers out there. They are sure helpful for me.
Directors Notes from Stephan Elliott (as told to Sheridan Jobbins) simple things, which really help to shorten and sharpen a screenplay:
1: Make every line count. Aim for a fast, well-paced read. If you question whether a scene or dialogue is necessary – it’s not.
2: Tell your story, not your director how to direct.
3: Parenthesis direction above dialogue should never go over a single line. Don’t tell your actors how to act.
4: When meeting new characters, give one clear thing for the reader to hang on to about about them, then get out.
5: Create segues between shots so the end of one scene blends into the start of the next. “Hear it here. See it there.”
5a: Match movement from one scene to another. A hard cut works, but a smooth connector keeps the reader’s attention travelling.
6: Know your ‘tone’ and keep it consistent: You may mix genres, but don’t ever mix tones.
7: Don’t give up your characters for a joke. That’s not funny.
8: A scene that is over two pages, is a long scene. It better be worth it.
9: BEWARE OF TELEVISION. Anything that can be shot in a wide shot and two close ups is dead.
10: Your character’s ‘voice’ is a matter of nationality, dialect, age, career, interests and education.
10a: Keep grammar and slang consistent for your individual characters.
11: Single word lines of dialogue like, ‘Yeah’, ‘Maybe’, ‘Fine’, ‘What?’ can be summarize in the description.
12: Be aware of things that effect your censorship rating: swearing, sex, drugs, violence, smoking. Ensure they do what you want them to.
13: Films is a visual medium. What can you do to show what a character would otherwise say?
14: Cut to the chase.
15: Shut up. Sometimes a film script just needs a little ‘air’.