Not too long ago, America was in an “Oscars” craze. Celebrities walked the famous red carpet, donned in clothes by the most fashionable designers. They were celebrated for their work in movies that gained worldwide recognition.
Among the many awards they gave out that evening, one of them was for “Best Original Screenplay.” A screenplay is the script of a movie, including the movement, actions, expression, and dialogs of the characters that you see on the silver screen. All of these things go toward telling a tale that captivates its audiences all over. In 2017, Jordan Peele won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his film “Get Out,” a novel story that weaves together horror, comedy, and social commentary. Other nominees were for “The Big Sick,” “Lady Bird,” “The Shape of Water,” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”
But what do all these movies have in common? They all started with a story to be told. Follow the tips below:
1. Develop a Protagonist that People Will Rally Behind
Stories need good protagonists. They need a person (or an animal with human qualities) to get behind. These people are usually good people with very human flaws, so you as a reader can relate to them. They are usually good — or have elements of good. Despite any sins or shortcomings, they are heroes in their own way, however mundane. Few people campaign for the villain.
2. Set the Scene
As noted above, screenplays aren’t just the words of the story. They include the movements, actions, and expressions. They also include the scene–where are the characters located? What’s around them? What are they interacting with? All these details go toward building the image in the reader’s head, a picture of exactly what the character is experiencing. It allows the reader to “live” in the character’s shoes. As every written word can be interpreted differently, it’s important to express in detail how words are being said. For example, how many different ways can your mother say your name? With anger because you didn’t clean your room? With joy because you finally came home from studying in America? With a curious tone because she’s trying to find you?
3. Create Drama
Stories about daily life are nice, but not a page-turner. The protagonist needs to have a crisis–a moment where a decision has the possibility of changing everything. The dramatic question: “What now? Is he or isn’t he?” The drama should be set up slowly, with the reader anticipating that a big event is about to happen but without the reader getting bored or overstimulated.
4. Giving Each Character a Unique Voice
Each person is different just like each character is different. People think and speak in very unique ways. Come up with a good plan for exactly who a character is–their interests, their quirks, their beliefs, and more–and make sure you stay “in character” each time.
No one ever became a good writer by hiding their work. Share your story with your family and friends and get their feedback! These are your readers and you will want to know what they think. Listen to their ideas and continuously work on your story until you are satisfied with your masterpiece.
To see what others are writing, visit the subreddit www.reddit.com/r/WritingPrompts for inspiration.