October 4, 2010

Four Ways to Improve Your Screenplay (from John August)

One of the more popular screenwriting blogs out there, Johnaugust.com is (fittingly enough) the site of screenwriter John August (Go, Big Fish, Corpse Bride). It lives up to its tagline, "a ton of useful information about screenwriting." Occasionally John records a "scriptcast," which is a video tutorial dissecting and improving a short scene. I recently found his scriptcast on writing better action to come in handy for my own project, but he's recorded several, and I would expect that one or more of these could apply to your own screenplay.

I took a couple of screenwriting classes as an undergrad and I've read several screenwriting books since, but every script has its own unique set of challenges. With our project 3rd Rail, we were faced with a problem of verbosity; we needed to cut a lot of nonessential direction and blocking in order for the script to read more smoothly (and more quickly). 3rd Rail will be fast-paced and entertaining, and it should read in a similar manner; thus we cut 20 pages from the weighty 145-page draft we'd been shopping around previously (and rewrote a few episodes as well). I mention that I found John's action tutorial to be handy, but his scriptcasts are all good examples of changing a scene for the better -- mostly through semantic changes and pacing tweaks, as opposed to re-writing the scene from the ground up. The changes might not seem to be a night-and-day improvement -- that is, until you rewind the video and re-read the first version, which always pales in comparison to the revised page.

1. Write better action

2. Write better scene descriptions

3. Write better scene openings

4. Write better dialogue

Catch these posts in their entirety by heading over to the 'Scriptcast' category on Johnaugust.com (and the rest of the site is more than worth subscribing to, as well).

Your Comment

3 Comments

Thanks for the info. The site looks great.

October 5, 2010 at 11:27AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

1
Reply
Cinoom

Love John August.

Thanks for the post!

October 6, 2010 at 2:42AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

0
Reply

These are awesome! I wish he'd do more of them.

October 6, 2010 at 4:56PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

0
Reply
Chad Hugghins