10 Script Writing Tips

Earlier this year, the RevPub team volunteered to read scripts for a local film festival’s screenwriting competition. As we approach our second year as readers, I wanted to share some things I learned about screenwriting while reading the good, the bad, and the ugly.

1. Keep it simple. I cannot stress this enough. Don’t overcrowd your story with too many characters, locations, or plots. Think about some of the best movies and what makes them the best. Most good movies focus on one or two main characters and a handful of minor characters, and their story.

2. Don’t describe the characters in great detail. This is what the crew is for. The casting director will pick who plays what, the costume designer will dress them, the actors will bring the characters to life. Only mention physical appearance if it’s essential to the story.

3. Select a central location and work around that area. Scripts that bounce from place to place drive me nuts. It’s hard to remember where the characters are and why they are there. Pick a central location, and use the area around it, but try to stay central. For example, if it’s set in a school, keep it at the school – not the school and all the kids’ homes.

4. Start with a bang. Scripts that set the scene for paragraphs on end will bore the reader. Begin the script with action or something interesting that immediately grabs the reader. Set design will create a scene, so you don’t have to ramble about what it looks like. If it’s a forest, for example, just say a forest. We know what a forest looks like.

5. No stupid dialogue. I cannot tell you how many times I groaned reading dialogue. Dialogue should move the story along, not slow it down. The things said should be important for character and plot development, and each character should have their own voice. Keep it conversational, but make sure what they say is important to the plot.

6. Remember everything matters. I once had a professor say everything in a movie had a purpose. As I’ve watched movies since then, I realized he was right. Every prop has a purpose. Every character needs a reason to be there. Every word should serve a purpose and not just fill space.

7. Avoid adjectives and adverbs. One of the worst lines I read was “[Katie] flings her dainty wrists haughtily.” Enough said.

8. Balance dialogue and narrative. The best writers used both and not equally. It depends on the story, and both are important. Make sure you aren’t rambling on or slowing down the story with either.

9. Have people read it. Give it to your friends and family before finalizing it. Have them read the first 20 or 30 pages, and get their feedback. If you’re on the right track at 20 pages, the rest should be fine. Also, have a proofreader read it to ensure correct spelling and grammar – these errors can distract the reader and show the writer doesn’t care enough to fix the little things, so they probably won’t accept feedback well.

10. Have fun! Have fun writing, and let your story come to life.

You’re Next and the Family Reunion

Most of us have been there. You’re about to meet your significant other’s family for the first time – the parent(s), sibling(s), and maybe even their significant others. It can be pretty stressful because you want them to like you and feel like you fit in. After all, once you meet that special someone, you become part of their family.

What if you met the worst family ever? In 2011, a gem of a horror movie came out entitled You’re Next. The premise is pretty simple: An estranged family reunites to only serve as a hunt for three paid killers. I won’t go into the little twists and turns, but fair warning, this post contains spoilers!

I love this movie for two reasons: the family dynamics and the main character, Erin (Sharni Vinson), who reminds me of what Katniss Everdeen would act like at 28 years old in the same situation.

The movie’s trailer misleads the audience to think this is a home-invasion movie, and I once heard it was supposed to resemble The Strangers. Not even close. If you like traditional slasher movies, you’ll enjoy this gorefest. It’s not scary in the least. You’re Next is a slasher movie with multiple killers, one with good reason, and she’s creative.

Here’s the family breakdown:

2 parents + 3 sons + 1 daughter + 3 significant others

  • Parents have a distant, practically loveless relationship.
  • The siblings hate each other.
  • The daughter is the princess, the sons are jealous of each other and tolerate her.
  • Everyone argues about stupid stuff and judge one another, even though they all have problems and baggage.
  • The siblings never say a single nice thing to one another.
  • What’s better, this family is normal by today’s standards. They represent most families in present-day America (aka not perfect).
Photo by soundofmusic.hubpages.com

Photo by soundofmusic.hubpages.com

And I wanted them all to die. Aside from Erin, the entire cast deserved to die due to either stupidity or sheer a-holeness. They are horrible people in the ways they treat each other, especially the two brothers who plan the “let’s kill our parents and siblings to inherit all the money” idea.

Thankfully, Erin survives by taking the “bad guys” out. She’s smart and sweet, but doesn’t mess around. She takes control of the situation, and truly wants everyone to survive – until she finds out the truth. Then she doesn’t care; she only wants to survive, and she effs them up. She uses what’s available and gets out alive. She is the classic final girl.

you're next

Photo from parade.condenast.com

Before attending a family reunion, here are the takeaways:

  • Ask your significant other if they’ve been raised in a survival camp.
  • Don’t invite them if a) they have and b) your family hates one another.
  • If you hate your family that much, just stay away. It’s better for everyone.
  • If you must gather, then don’t stay in a big house with lots of windows and doors. That’s what hotels are for!

Artist Spotlight: Blake Best

We at RevPub love music. It’s pulled us through good times and bad, and there’s truly nothing better than a good concert. This month, we’re spotlighting Nashville-area musician and guitar instructor, Blake Best. Be sure to reach out to him and show your support!

blakebest

Contact info: Best Guitar Instruction, 615-406-7268, bbbest1085@gmail.com

Instruments played: Acoustic guitar, electric guitar

RevPub: How long have you been playing, and what made you want to play music?

I have been playing guitar for 15 years. My parents were both avid music fans, and my father was a professional guitarist, so I grew up surrounded by music.

RevPub: What is the most important thing to you in regard to your music?

The most important thing to me is for my music to retain my thoughts and feelings. I write music for me, and I always have. It just happened that others appreciated it and felt a connection to me through it. I also play multiple styles, which has helped keep me versatile and has kept my creativity flowing. I toured for five years as a member of a signed and well marketed metal band, but never gave up playing the rock and alternative music that defined me in my formative years.

RevPub: Who/what are your biggest influences/motivators?

What a question! There’s so many…Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, TRUSTcompany, Adam D and Joel of Killswitch Engage, Boston, Alice in Chains, Robert Englund (an actor but one of my greatest creative influences), my Mom and Dad, and my fiance Lisa. She has always been supportive of me and of my music career. She is my soulmate and encouraged me to continue on my musical journey.

RevPub: What are the most important things you’ve learned throughout your musical career?

Patience and gratitude. The music business is a cut-throat industry full of hard knocks and bumps. I strongly believe that if you’re patient, you’ll get your chance to show everyone what you can do. I also believe gratitude is important. Be thankful of everyone who supports you, because without them, what would you have?

RevPub: Why is music such a big part of your life and who you are as a person?

Music is just part of who I am; it’s natural to me, like breathing. I’ve always found music to be a source of comfort and peace, and I enjoy sharing this with others. Though I enjoy playing and recording and being involved in the music industry, I began teaching guitar in order to share my passion for music in a way I could never do as just a performer. Teaching is a way for me to ensure that others have the opportunity to enjoy music as much as I do. Hopefully, my sons will want to learn so my musical legacy lives on!

Lost Boy, Lost Girl