A few notes I made during the session with Simon Beaufoy at the London Screenwriters' Festival 2012.
Sometimes it's good to write what you know.
It can be equally as good to write about what you don't know.
In order to have a clear vision of the world you want to create. You need to do the RESEARCH.
No need to add specific music to a screenplay.
Being able to take notes and understand problem areas within a screenplay.
BE OPEN TO SUGGESTIONS!
Keep REFINING & TIGHTENING YOUR WORK.
Layer your scenes -- Make them rich.
What do I need my CHARACTERS to do within the context of the STORY?
What would they do in the situation and circumstances they find themselves in?
Character ACTIONS & CHOICES must be believable.
TRUST YOUR VOICE and the IDEAS in your HEAD.
A few notes I took from Kate Leys' session.
The central character must want something. They have a goal to achieve.
What are the stakes? They must be important to the main character.
Conflict -- As the story progresses, make things worse for the protagonist.
Take them out of their comfort zone.
How does the ending play out? Make sure it's an emotional ending and satisfying to the audience. Chances are the audience will remember the ending if it's good.
What's the central idea that holds the story together?
Who's story is this?
What do they want?
Why can't they have it?
What do they need in order to understand?
What does the protagonist get at the end that they did not have at the start?
10 things that can go wrong while writing a story.
Pixar's 22 Rules of Storytelling
I've been trawling through the internet and have come across the 22 rules of storytelling by Pixar as tweeted by Emma Coats. Everyone seems to jumping on the bandwagon and writing about them. So I thought, why not?
When it comes to animated movies you won't get better than Pixar Animation Studios. Barring Cars and Cars 2, they pretty much have cornered the market when it comes to animation. Although I will point out that Studio Ghibli are pretty close to being on par with them. But as far as staple animation goes, Pixar outshines most of its competitors.
I don't know why, but I just couldn't get my head around talking motor vehicles. Give me talking bugs, toys, fish, robots any day of the week.
Anyway, here are the 22 Rules.
#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.
#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.
#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
When it comes to learning about screenwriting and story structure, Pixar pretty much have it nailed.
Brave comes out on the 17th August.
Not sure which writers they have for Toy Story 4. But I hope they get Michael Arndt back on board. A great job on Toy Story 3.
42 Ways To Improve Your Screenplay
Go to Chris Jones Blog.
Welcome to Russell’s website. A storyteller who enjoys writing screenplays for movies. Even though the process is hard. It keeps his imagination working overtime.
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