Nothing in life is easy, so why should “movie life” be any different? Whether you are writing a drama based on true life events or a science fiction movie set on a distant planet, normally there is a common thread – characters. An audience has to identify with your characters in order to empathize with their plight and have an interest and emotional connection with their stories.
So making your characters real is important. And equally as important is making the situations they are in realistic. That’s why introducing conflict is critical to writing a screenplay. If your characters say, do or get what they want without any obstacles then it will not reflect real life and as such you will lose your audience.
Whether it’s a psychological obstacle or a physical one, make sure your protagonist’s journey isn’t simple. If they’re hungry and drive to the store for food, make the cops stop them for speeding or give them a flat tire. If they ask someone out on a date, make that someone already have a partner. If they want to say “I love you”, give them a reason for holding back and make the fact that they don’t say it at that particular time cause problems in their relationship.
Apart from drawing your audience into the story, using conflict also makes it more rewarding for your characters and the audience when the hero does finally get the girl or save the planet from imminent destruction. Having said that, don’t go overboard and make absolutely everything a battle of words or actions. Pick your fights and choose wisely otherwise it will feel equally unrealistic.
And a final point: ensure that some of the conflict you introduce works on the scene level with nothing to do with the over-arching story or theme — such as your hero having a bad day and waking up the next morning to find out he/she has run out of coffee — and also on the story and character development level, i.e. your hero is wounded in a fight scene making it harder for him to face the villain in the final showdown.
Script writing is a creative process and while you may not like the idea of analyzing your work, sometimes it is good to step back from your story and take a look at the narrative’s event to event causality so as to ensure it is believable and engaging.