When we think about our favourite movies, it is the rich and engaging story lines and the captivating characters that made them memorable. There are, of course, other important elements at play, such as costumes, settings or a favourite actor that is part of the film. But the core of any movie is the script, which is the vessel for the storyline, the conflict, the characters and the dialogue, and details a visual translation of those ideas. Without a good script, there is no great movie!
Script writing is a skilled art, but often a forgotten ingredient in the silver screen success story. If you’re looking for a different avenue through which to enter the film industry, here’s a rundown of the essential components of a script and essential script writing elements.
Choosing a genre – Directors and producers choose films on genres, and most of the public categorise or base their film preferences around these different groupings. Deciding on a genre for your script is essential in selling your work and giving it structure and genre characteristics to follow.
Idea – As with any creative work, the success of a story rests on a good idea. The good news is that there are good ideas everywhere! Whether they are drawn from personal human stories or from the depths of your imagination, there are interesting ideas all around us. Browse magazines and newspapers, consider the intricacies of everyday life and think outside the box to develop the concept and idea behind your story.
Scenes – Breaking a story down into scenes is an essential component of a script. Writers need to develop engaging scenes that flow well and clearly signal the desired changes in time, mood or different story lines. It is important that this progression can be easily followed by an audience.
Dialogue – Writing good dialogue is a difficult challenge. It must communicate your idea effectively and support the action of a scene. More importantly, it must flow in a natural, unscripted manner.
Format and structure –Dating back to Aristotle, the 3-Act Structure is the basis of all storytelling. There is a beginning, middle and end. Usually there is a catapulting incident which sets up the drama and conflict of the story, and two subsequent turning points ending with a climatic finale. The format in which the script is written is also important. Scripts have to look a certain way and it’s important that your script is presented in a professional manner that makes it look like it comes from an industry ‘insider’. Finding out the script format of the genre and style you’re writing for is crucial before submission – you don’t want your scrip to be discarded because it is written in the wrong format.
If you have a creative, imaginative mind and a good grasp of the written word, script writing could be a perfect career or hobby for you. There are a range of script writing courses available to teach you the necessary skills and give you appropriate practice, guidance and experience before putting your ideas and work out there. An integral aspect of script writing is mastering the written word, including punctuation, spelling, proof-reading and structure. There are a number of other courses (such as proofreading courses) that can further develop these skills.
Still keen on pushing your script writing talent further? You should get some media qualifications behind you. Try studying something that interests you, it will help keep you focused throughout your course.