Be Honest. Is Your Screenplay Entertaining?

March 14, 2011 at 7:48 am

Be Honest.  Is Your Screenplay Entertaining? | Screenwriting Blog

WORKING HARD TO GET IT RIGHT

It’s been a while since I’ve written a screenplay with large amounts of action.  Actually it’s been a long while.  I think that’s the number one reason why I wanted to follow up my last drama with something a little more explosive and fun.

So I started developing my take on the superhero genre.

Most of my screenplays begin with a concept and then I build characters from there but this one was different.  I started with a group of characters and to date, I’ve spent most of my time developing their stories.

Slowly, the action sequences have begun to emerge that compliment and enhance the story but a problem arose.  I’m definitely thrilled with the characters I created but some of the action sequences lacked that certain spark.  Quite frankly, they weren’t very good.

So I stepped back and went through my rough outline and it isn’t nearly as good as it could be.

Honestly, it’s just not entertaining enough.

BREAK DOWN YOUR SCRIPT

Your first idea isn’t always the best.

New stories are extremely fragile and sometimes, it can be difficult to let go of scenes early on.  I wasn’t happy with the direction my script was taking so it was time to get back to basics.  Time to break things down and figure out what my story is about.  I’ve learned over the years that taking the time to regroup and try different things NEVER hurts your script in the long run.

What’s the worst that could possibly happen?  You come up with a terrible idea?  Discard it.  The only real issue is falling into a never ending circle of doubt.  A cycle full of second thoughts that leaves you wondering if the story will ever get over the hump.

What I like to do is break down my young story and set aside my assets.  What are the assets of my script?

  • I have a group of interesting characters with solid backgrounds that people will relate to.
  • I have a high concept premise with an indie approach that I’m excited about.
  • I’ve got a unique style that I can’t wait to explore and develop further.

I knew I had enough elements to create a story I believed in.  A story I was passionate about but my first approach left me feeling like I was lazy.  There were tons cliches and things I’ve seen on the big screen before.  The action scenes had zero emotion and I realized that I strayed from my original vision.

I had a great foundation and I screwed it up.  It HAD to be better.

DON’T GET DISCOURAGED

This is a crucial moment when you are creating something new.  Do you abandon it and try something else?  Or do you put in the work until it’s right.

It all starts with a vision of what you want to create.   Even if you aren’t happy with your first approach, there’s nothing stopping you from rethinking things.  Look at elements from a different perspective.  Change things.  Create.

Be interesting. Be entertaining.  Get to work!

BUILD YOUR SCRIPT BACK UP

Break the cycle of doubt.

While I was contemplating the script, I decided to write a short screenplay I’ve been developing for a while.  It’s another story filled with action and I wanted to get a few action heavy scenes written for practice.

You have to remember, a good action scene in your mind means nothing if you can’t visualize it on the page.  While I was writing the script, I started remembering everything I love about action movies.  I love the suspense and thrills.  The script was entertaining.

With my confidence restored, I returned to my superhero story with renewed dedication and passion.  I started a new notebook and wrote down the elements that carried over from my first attempt.

Then I started again with a new direction I was playing with in my mind.  At first, I didn’t think it was going well at all but then it hit me.

THE CLICK

Nothing excites me more than the moment something CLICKS in a story and everything makes sense.  The biggest problem my story faced was a lack of clear motivation for my villains.  It appears I’ve solved that problem.

All of the sudden, some of my old ideas make a lot more sense.  Combined with my new approach, I truly think I might have something now.

However, I don’t want to get ahead of myself.  A lot of research and work goes into a screenplay and I’m still at the beginning.  There is a long road between my rough ideas and the final draft.

It’s a road full of challenges that I can’t wait to take on.

THE LESSON

I think people confuse writer’s block with doubt sometimes. You feel like your story isn’t good enough and continue to come up with new ideas until something clicks and you can get to work.  This often works but you can still salvage an idea if you are honest with yourself.

I’m okay with admitting my original ideas weren’t the greatest.  It’s tough to admit to but it helps.  Instead of forcing things to work, think of it from a different perspective.

Give yourself the chance to write something entertaining.