Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tinkering with your script/draft -- what to look out for

Alex Epstein, over at screenwriting blog Complications Ensue, has a new post up today about revisions and what goals you should keep in mind when tinkering with your work, be it a beat sheet or the script itself:
Your first stab at a scene will often be functional. It gets information across. It gets information into the hands of the characters. It puts characters into conflict.

Then see if you can tweak it to make it more specific to who these characters are. Can you accomplish the same plot goals by having the characters react in ways that only people with their specific flaws would react?

As I've said elsewhere, good dialog is when the character only says stuff that character would say; great dialog is when the character says stuff only that character would say.

This is the same thing on the scene level. Good scene craft has the characters doing and saying only things those characters would do. Great scene craft has the characters doing things that only those characters would do.

It's a tough standard, but I'm told that Jack Nicholson will do a script if it has "three great scenes and no bad ones."
Epstein makes some great points -- if you're a decent writer, your first stab at a scene or chapter will at the very least be, well, decent. But you will gain much more if you go back and work at it. Making the dialogue and actions key to the characters is challenging, but in the long run will make the work more memorable and effective. If your characters sound and act like everyone or anyone, your work will be bland and forgettable.

No comments: