Last week we reviewed the three basic elements to apply in order
to become a successful screenwriter. The first was discipline
which revolved mainly around sitting down everyday for an hour or
less and write anything. Research has shown that a habit is
picked up or broken after 21 days of repetition. With that in
mind, if you do this for 21 days straight, you will notice that
it will become second-nature to sit everyday and write. This may
become more of a therapeutic hobby than actual screenwriting, but
it will sharpen your word tools and writing flow. The second
homework was observation. Listen, watch, touch, tasteÖ let all
your senses go wild and you will become an audience member and
life will be a great movie for you to simply copy word by word
and turn it into riveting screen material. The third element in
become a good screenwriter was to understand that all human
beings go through the same lives with minor variations and a
story that would touch you would touch everyone else.
The mistake that many writers make is they write letís say a
scene that is suppose to be moving. If they read it, they
wouldnít necessarily be touched, but they feel that all the
elements of "touching scenes" are there, so it should work.
Thatís wrong thinking. If the writer replays the written scene in
his head and he feels unmoved, then other readers will be
oblivious to it as well. You could ask me, what if I had a pet
whose name was Tom and he died in a tragic hit and run accident,
and every time I watch Tom and Jerry, it brings a tear to my eye.
Showing a character sitting on a sofa watching Tom and Jerry and
crying his eyes out would not make any sense to anyone else.
However, if you also show that the characterís pet died and a few
scenes later, show the T&J scene, I guarantee that itíll pull a
few heart strings.
What if you surround yourself with the same types of people? What
if they all look the same, use the same vocabulary, act alikeÖ
that wouldnít leave you much room for material would it? Before
jumping to the easy fix of "start hanging out with different
groups," I would like to encourage you to increase your
observation skills. While a lot of people act the same way in
public, if you observe more closely you will notice little
personality traits that slip that distinguishes every person.
While we may all have the same emotional makeup, we experience
fear, sadness, joy, anger on different levels and we physically
those emotions differently. Itís those physical or business that
you have to connect. If a person twitches, you have to find the
source of the twitch. Perhaps he twitches out of fear or
nervousness; perhaps itís the tingling feelings of joy that run
jitters through his body.
If you watch a film like Shervin Youssefianís Machiavelli Hangman
or Paul Haggisís Crash, you will notice that the characters
display the same emotions but while one person may be silent
when heís angry, the other screams and yells. If you concentrate
on physicalities and inner emotions and you find where those two
meet, you will be golden!