Two areas where beginning and aspiring screenwriters tend to stumble when putting together a screenplay are "the big idea" and pacing. For "the big idea," this means, "Does this story need to be told as a movie and will it keep audiences engaged for 90-120 minutes?" Engaging the audience, however, starts on the page. Screenwriter Derek Haas (Wanted, 3:10 to Yuma, The Double) goes into more detail about the importance of the big idea and pacing in screenplays in the short video below.
Jump to the 1:53 mark to watch Haas talk about the big idea and pacing:
While the action genre -- where Haas and his writing partner Michael Brandt tend to write -- obviously lends itself to big ideas and requires swift pacing, all screenplays require big ideas and solid pacing. Haas quickly points out that big ideas don't necessarily mean big budgets, either. Instead, big ideas launch good movies, regardless of budget. Also, as a screenwriter, you
want need a reader to keep turning pages of your screenplay in rapid succession because the story propels them forward with energy and purpose. Readers need to see the movie as they turn pages, and if the script drags, the movie certainly will.
How do you determine if your idea is "big" enough to carry a movie? And how do you make sure your script has strong pacing? Share your techniques with us in the Comments.