Archive for Characters
This is a great explanation of the traditional, three-act structure way to start your screenplay, illustrated with examples from Pixar movies, and focusing on how the process was applied to Toy Story 3.
The narrator is writer Michael Arndt, whose credits also include the wonderful Little Miss Sunshine.
My only quibble is that it suggests that this is THE way to tell a story, rather than ONE way to tell a story. Sure, it’s the most often used way but there are others and one of those may be a better fit for your story. Still, it’s important to understand this one so you can decide whether or not it is the right choice for your project.
As well as thinking about the construction of the overall story of a screenplay we have to construct individual scenes. A terrific resource in line with that is the New York Times feature, “Anatomy of a Scene.”
In the video below, the director Richard Ayoade narrates the opening sequence of the film, The Double, starring Jesse Eisenberg. You’ll see how much we manage to learn about the character without any dialogue.
My only quibble with this excellent regular feature is that I wish they’d invite the writer aboard more often.
Have a great idea for a screenplay? Congratulations! You are one step closer to having a great screenplay…but only one step. No less an authority than George RR Martin, author of the saga, A Song of Ice and Fire, which includes Game of Thrones, testified to this in a recent interview in Rolling Stone magazine:
“Ideas are cheap. I have more ideas now than I could ever write up. To my mind, it’s the execution that is all-important.”
He also downplays the importance of having a totally new idea:
“I’m proud of my work, but I don’t know if I’d ever claim it’s enormously original. You look at Shakespeare, who borrowed all of his plots. In A Song of Ice and Fire, I take stuff from the Wars of the Roses and other fantasy things, and all these things work around in my head and somehow they jell into what I hope is uniquely my own.”
Martin suggests that history is a great starting point:
“History is written in blood, a gold mine – the kings, the princes, the generals and the whores, and all the betrayals and wars and confidences. It’s better than 90 percent of what the fantasists do make up.”
Perhaps the moral is to steal your ideas wisely and apply your creativity not only to the story but how you tell it. One final encouraging word note from Martin:
“The big secret about writing screenplays and teleplays is that it’s much easier than writing a novel or any kind of prose.
Of course even if he’s right, that doesn’t mean writing screenplays is easy…
For more about this fascinating writer, here’s a twenty-one minute interview: