The Importance of Understanding the Storyline

As a writer the primary goal is to illicit emotion in the mind of the reader. The screenwriter has the same goal.  It is vital to writing a successful screenplay to not forget that the main goal is the same is any other piece of writing. The question to ask yourself is whether you are focusing to much on the formatting and on the painting the picture for the movie element that you have forgotten to develop a successful story plot. As a screenwriter it is very important to  paint a picture in the mind of the reader, because the intended medium is the screen. It is no good for a producer to enjoy a screenplay if they can’t envision it as a successful movie. However, it is important to not just jump into the story plot without a well structured story. It easier said than done to layout a good structure for ninety plus pages worth of writing. I believe I can layout a few useful tips.

First I find it important to at least have a beginning middle and end structure. If you are writing a ninety page screenplay the first twenty to thirty pages should favorably set up the basis for a good story. Start the screenplay out with a bang or an interesting situation or conversation. Maybe try having your main character even propose an interesting question. There is a lot of room for creativity here. The only standard for the beginning is that there is a situation that grabs the attention of the readers. The middle section in this should be sixty to seventy pages and the end section should be around thirty pages. During the middle section it is crucial to build upon the beginning, and to take your readers on an emotional journey with the main character or characters. The middle section should leave the readers emphasizing with the main character and should culminate in one final event at the start of the end section. This event will not be your resolution it should be the climax of the story and it should result in a series of events and actions that sum up the story. It is important that the sum of the story leaves the readers thinking, well answering the majority of the main questions. The reader should be able to be satisfied with the ending, but I find that in most great literature the reader is sort of frustrated with the ending. What I mean by this is that in most great works of literature, the authors answer the majority of questions, well not leaving complete closure. The lack of closure ends in a lasting impact on our lives and minds. These great authors  also tend to end things in a way that reader does not wish it to end. This typically adds an extra sense of reality to the story.

Next it is important to spread the action out in such a way that there is no boring section in the screenplay. Especially if you are writing an action screenplay; well it is important to spread the action, it is also important to not just have there be constant action. There should be sufficient explanation of the action, and just enough so that the reader can sort of settle into there chair and think the story over a little before another action scene is thrown there way.

Finally, it is extremely essential to be real and relatable as an author.  I found as I was editing Reaching The Start that there were some quirky things that I didn’t realize to be quirky at first. I found it necessary to cut some scenes that were to corny or unrealistic and didn’t help the story.  I also found it necessary to keep some scenes, because they were needed to keep things real and also keep a bit of comic relief. When telling a story always keep your personal voice. Practice making sure you can get readers involved by authoring short stories. If you write amazing short stories,  how marvelous could it be if one of those stories were expanded?


How I wrote my first screenplay with no prior experience

I always loved authoring amazing short stories as a young boy, but I never thought that I would ever write a screenplay. One day I was inspired to make a book I was reading, The Hittite Warrior by Joanne Williamson, into a movie. With no experience or knowledge of the subject I began to write a movie script, or what I thought was a movie script, based on this book. It was not long before I figured out that I was doing it completely wrong; there were all sorts of formatting rules and guidelines you had to adhere to. Also if I continued with writing the movie script on the book, I would have had to purchase the rights from the author. Some might say that the desires of ones heart are revealed in their dreams. That was completely true for me, I actually dreamed up the basic story of Reaching The Start! After dreaming up the idea of Reaching The Start, I set out to write an original screenplay. With no idea of exactly how to write a screenplay, I set out to Barnes and Noble to find a book on screenwriting. At Barnes and Noble, I found maybe the most helpful and important book I have ever read in my life: Writing Screenplays That Sell. The book is written by Michael Hauge, a story consultant and author who has worked on films starring Will Smith, Julia Roberts, Robert Downey Jr., Jennifer Lopez, Kirsten Dunst, and Morgan Freeman. After reading the book, I downloaded a free Open Office Screenwriting format, and I got to work immediately. After putting together a brief outline, I found it was best to start with a beginning and end and let my imagination flow in the middle. The only thing that stayed the same ended up being the beginning. After writing the initial twenty pages, I decided to take a whole different direction with the story. My advice to young authors out there is to let your imagination carry the story. Make a rough outline, but don’t be afraid to make changes to the initial story plot when needed. Obviously your story must still make sense and seem to flow in the end, but most of the time the way you originally dreamed the story won’t work or make sense. Don’t be disappointed when that happens, just be flexible. The way I wrote Reaching The Start was through countless hours of pondering the plot and letting the story take me where it wanted to take me. In order to write an impactful story down on paper, I find that it is important to literally live the story in your mind.