Every screenwriter wants to create an original, entertaining and memorable movie but that goal is often hard to achieve. There is no magic formula, no matter what anybody says. Yes, there are structural paradigms, specific working practices, character development methods and even screenwriting software but a good screenplay normally hinges on one thing and one thing alone – the writer.
Only the writer with his or her unique voice and original ideas can turn a run-of-the-mill story into a roller-coaster read with the potential to become a Hollywood blockbuster. As a screenwriter you need to fully invest yourself into your project heart and soul and push yourself at every plot and page turn. If you simply want to make some money or “be famous” then forget it. Don’t insult an audience with that kind of attitude, because if you don’t love what you’re writing, why should anybody else.
I’m not saying you can’t combine commerciality and a pay check with screenplay writing because you can, so long as you challenge yourself to remain as true as possible to your characters and theme along the way. That means BE BOLD with your creative writing choices. Try to engage your reader from page one. Throw them into the thick of your story as soon as possible and give them something compelling to chew over until the next big scene. Always punctuate your story with unforgettable moments that keeps them wanting more.
If you need to write a talking heads scene in a diner, try to be innovative. Hurl something at the audience they wouldn’t expect. If it’s an action movie, make the audience think that this scene is going to be about plot exposition without action then surprise them with a set-piece from left-field. If it’s a drama, create an out-of-the-blue confrontation between your Protagonist and an innocent bystander that shocks us and reveals an aspect of our hero or heroine we have not seen before.
You, as a screenwriter, are the God of your imaginary world. And as we all know “With great power comes great responsibility”.. so don’t waste it. Ensure that your creative writing choices have integrity. Keep your audience guessing. Make every scene the best it can be and not just a page filler because you’ve run out of fresh ideas or are just getting lazy. If you’ve received development notes from a friend, script consultant or development executive, don’t just write by numbers to please them. Take all feedback on board as a challenge to you as a writer to become a better writer and write better scripts. Be original. Be passionate. And most importantly, be bold.