17 Writing Tricks to Help Get You Through Your Screenplay
Scott Myers and the Go Into The Story blog is a tremendous resource for screenwriters, regardless of whether you’re an amateur or a professional. Over the past few years Scott has been writing about simple tricks that can help get you unstuck when you’re writing your screenplay. Most of them are straightforward, but a few are a little unorthodox. There’s a good chance you’ve heard some of them before, but I’ve compiled a list of 17 tips that Scott has shared on his site.
- Say all of your dialogue aloud to make sure it works and each character is distinguishable.
- If you’re stuck on a scene, close your eyes, open a completely new document, and begin free associating without thinking about the words you are typing.
- Start writing and reward yourself with snacks after a set period of time.
- Set a deadline.
- Create an argument between characters if a scene feels flat and contains a lot of exposition.
- Get up out of your chair and go do anything else and come back to it.
- Instead of watching a movie, listen to it.
- Transcribe a few well-written screenplays to get a feel for the writing if you are struggling. It’s a technique F. Scott Fitzgerald used with Charles Dickens novels.
- Write one page per day and after four months you’ve written an entire feature film.
- Altered states can help free your mind. If you’re the clean-living, non-alcoholic type, going for a run or meditating can produce the same effect.
- Unplug your internet.
- Do anything that makes you extremely uncomfortable, like taking your laptop into the freezing cold or writing immediately when you wake up without doing anything else.
- If you already know how it’s going to end, don’t finish a scene from the night before so that you can get your creativity flowing the next day and push right into the next scene.
- Make a collage of photos that relate to your story or resonate with you in some way.
- Put your script away and don’t read it for two weeks after finishing the first draft.
- If you’re having trouble envisioning a character, imagine a famous actor in the role and write for that person.
- Adopt a different writing persona by pretending you are someone else while writing. This will help you approach problems in a different way than you yourself normally would.
If you asked me to pick a favorite one, I’d probably have a difficult time, but I have one of my own to add that has always worked for me when I’m feeling stuck or uncreative. If a scene or a particular character is giving me a tough time, I go take a shower to clear my mind. At some point during that shower, my mind will come back to the script and I’ll usually have an answer for whatever was giving me trouble in the first place. This works because it’s one of the few places a person can be truly alone with their thoughts away from technology and other people. As someone who writes for a website, unplugging the internet can be a tall order, so physically putting myself in a place where I don’t have access to it helps me clear my mind. You could accomplish the same thing by going out for a swim in a pool — as water itself is both physically and psychologically cleansing.
If you’re not already reading Go Into The Story every day, you’re missing out on a lot of great screenwriting advice and inspiration. You should also follow Scott if you’re on Twitter as he is constantly giving out wonderful nuggets of information and advice.
What do you guys do when you’re having trouble with a scene or you just can’t sit down and write?
[via Go Into The Story]
- Use Screenplay Format Limitations to Define Your Writing Style
- What Hollywood Script Readers Really Think About Your Screenplay