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Be Bold With Your Screenwriting

Filed under: Dan Bronzite's Script Tips by Dan @ 2:32 pm on November 16, 2011

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.

Structure Vs Free-Form Script Writing

Filed under: Dan Bronzite's Script Tips by Dan @ 2:07 pm on November 6, 2011

Screenwriters, novice and pro, will inevitably have their own contrasting methodologies for writing a screenplay and you will often hear conflicting rules to adhere to from prominent screenwriting gurus on how to write a script.

So what is the best way to write your movie?

Should you plan every minute detail or simply unlock your mind to a cinematic stream of consciousness and go with the flow?

Well, I would suggest the answer is both!

When I first started out as a screenwriter I would get an idea for a story or sometimes simply the opening scene, a great ending or even a cool set-piece somewhere in the middle of act two and then jump into the script.  I wouldn’t even use a computer but instead write it all down with a pen on a lined pad.  In fact, I wrote my first ever script that way and it was optioned and while it never got produced it did prove to be a great writing sample and clinched my first spec sale and multiple assignments.

Since my first script I have written many without a coherent plan and many with a fully-structured outline – so what have I learned from the experience?  Well, “free-form” script writing typically means many more rewrites because these scripts inevitably need a lot of editing to cut out the flab, and a lot more scene shuffling, because the scene to scene plot progression and character development was not planned at the beginning.  And with the outlined projects?  They of course still require rewrites, but much fewer and the central storyline and character journeys in these screenplays were always much clearer from the start which meant that theme could be expressed through dialogue, action and visuals more instinctively.

With all these lessons learned, and after many development meetings where I had to present my ideas for rewrites, I ultimately invented my own screenwriting software Movie Outline specifically for screenwriters to outline a story before diving head first into a screenplay.  I discovered that free-form screenplay writing without following a proper structure sometimes pays off, and other times it doesn’t.  I also learned that you can still free-form your script during the story planning stage and the scene writing stage and it’s just as satisfying and rewarding.

Outlining and structuring my story is now instinctual for me as a screenwriter and it has made me a better writer.  It has also made developing a script with producers, directors and executives a much easier process, especially when you are trying to communicate your ideas for project changes.  So now, even if I get a great idea for a movie and want to start writing I don’t immediately leap into the script, I let the idea gestate and then start planning the story.  Sometimes I may write a scene if I have to get it out of my head and then plot where that scene can take me but I’ve managed to strike a balance between creativity and methodology and this is the key.. for me.

My advice for first-time screenwriters who are about to launch into their first screenplay is try to find your own balance between free-form writing and a structured approach.  I do recommend outlining your story first but try not to initially get too caught up on the “three-act” blueprint, any particular structural paradigm or too much detail. Allow your story and ideas to flow and then go back to what you’ve written and change it around if necessary.  Cut scenes out, combine scenes, clearly define your act breaks and don’t let formulas hinder your creative juices on the first pass.

This initial process helps you discover your own voice and style, and trust me, it’s better to write something crap on a blank page rather than stare at it all day or plan, plan, plan – sometimes used as an excuse by writers to procrastinate. As you become more accustomed to the screenwriting process, outlining and structuring will become second nature and crucially you will be able identify flaws in your script during the planning stage rather than waiting for someone to point it out to you at the end.

The Selfless Hero

Filed under: Dan Bronzite's Script Tips by Dan @ 2:04 pm on October 27, 2011

When we think of a hero in a movie we immediately assume we are talking about the central character otherwise known as the Protagonist, but many stories conceal a multitude of heroes, often unsung, in secondary, supporting roles that are just as important to the narrative and Protagonist’s psychological development and physical journey.

Think of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original “Star Wars”. He is a hero in his own right because he allows himself to be slain by Darth Vader in order to push Luke Skywalker toward the next stage in his journey. Without this sacrifice Luke would depend on his mentor to see him through the final conflict instead of believing in his own inner strength.  And that is the key to a good hero.  Someone who sacrifices their own needs – or indeed life – for the sake of the greater good.

When constructing a story, writers typically focus on the central plot and central character, and this normally results in villains and secondary characters entering the stage simply to support what has already been established.  This can inevitably lead to two-dimensional characters that become sounding boards or vessels for exposition, and a central storyline that makes sense but is unfulfilling to an audience.

Instead, try introducing well-defined, three-dimensional characters with their own lives and stories outside of the main plot and then weave these secondary stories around the central storyline, and design some of the Protagonist’s story choices around the secondary characters.  This may not always work and you should obviously never lose focus of the principle story and character but the process will open your mind to new avenues and hopefully create a more rounded and engaging narrative.

Treat every character as a hero, even the villains.  That’s right, villains are heroes of their own stories.  When we think of Alan Rickman’s enigmatic villain Hans Gruber in “Die Hard” we see a guy who wants to steal money and kill whoever gets in his way.  But perhaps there is more to his story than we know?  Perhaps the screenwriter explored a complex backstory for Gruber that never made it to the big screen – because it was unnecessary for an audience and would more than likely be overly expositional – but knowing about Gruber’s childhood and experiences may have helped shape the part.

I am sure that Alan Rickman didn’t just read the role as a villain and that was that.  Like all good actors, especially those who believe in “the method”, he may have tried to find a spark of humanity in Gruber, something he could use to justify Gruber’s actions.  Maybe Gruber’s father used to work for a big conglomerate like the Nakatomi Corporation and that they fired him and it lead to the break up and suicide of his father.  Gruber would of course never reveal this to his accomplices but for him, the heist meant more than money.  It was revenge and closure.  A salute to his father.

By understanding that EVERYONE in a movie has a story to tell and a life beyond the bounds of the movie screen and pages of a screenplay we can begin to view each role, from hero to grumpy waitress with only three lines, with the respect they deserve.  The truth is, that grumpy waitress is the way she is because her boss is a jerk, she has no love life and is working three jobs so she can afford to look after her sick mother.  She is the epitome of the “selfless hero” – but we’ll never know.

Nuvotech’s Creative Writing Software Now Available from Best Buy and Amazon in Canada

Filed under: Press Releases by admin @ 1:30 pm on October 20, 2011

UK technology company Nuvotech today announced the availability of their popular creative writing software Movie Outline 3 and Script It! to Canadian customers through Best Buy’s Canadian online store.

“We’re very pleased to offer Canadian writers the opportunity to order our software from within their own country with free shipping — and from one of the world’s most trusted brands.” comments Dan Bronzite, produced screenwriter and CEO of Nuvotech.

Visit BestBuy.ca to order Movie Outline 3 or Script It! today and write your own Hollywood Blockbuster!

Movie Outline 3 is also available from Amazon.ca, as is Script It!.

About Best Buy

Best Buy is Canada’s fastest-growing specialty retailer and e-tailer of consumer electronics, personal computers and entertainment software.  Best Buy offers consumers a unique shopping experience with the latest technology and entertainment products, at the right price, with a no-pressure (non-commissioned) sales environment.  The Company is committed to kids and communities, supporting non-profit organizations that help youth develop their skill set, discover their talents and sustain a lasting interest in education.

About Amazon

Amazon.com, Inc.is a multinational electronic commerce company headquartered in Seattle, Washington, United States and is the world’s largest online retailer.

About Nuvotech

Nuvotech Limited is a software and Web 2.0 services company based in London, England. It was founded in 1999 by produced screenwriter and director Dan Bronzite to publish innovative software and services for the creative industry. Its most recognized brands are Movie Outline a cross-platform screenplay development application and Hollywood Script Express a script copying, copyright and delivery service in Los Angeles.

High Concept Movies

Filed under: Dan Bronzite's Script Tips by Dan @ 2:01 pm on October 17, 2011

For some screenwriters, penning an original high concept movie is the holy grail.  And that can be a good thing or a bad thing.  These days, the majority of Hollywood high concept movies seem to focus on the concept and leave out those little things like character development and basic storytelling.  I think the root cause of this boils down to the eternal struggle of many screenwriters which is whether to write for love or write for money.

If we’re fortunate enough to have a well-paid “day job” and this fulfills us then we probably aren’t worrying about paying the bills and so have the freedom to write movies that we want to see or simply embark on stories that we are interested in exploring, without the terms “marketable” or “box office success” influencing us.

But for the vast majority of writers, we do have to pay the bills and so there inevitably comes a time when somebody, perhaps a friend or agent says to us.. why not write something that is going to sell? And they have a point.  Sometimes you have to remember that screenwriting is a business as well as an art form and that people, including you, need to make money.  The problem is, if we set out to write a script purely to sell it, our heart and soul – two key prerequisites for any successful writing endeavor – may not be invested in the project one hundred percent and as such it may ultimately lack passion.

But you can still be interested in writing a commercial film and develop great characters and an original, engaging story without feeling like you have betrayed your artistic integrity.  Perhaps you really want to tell one story that is close to your heart and have shopped the idea around for a while but nobody seems interested.  It doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea or it won’t sell, but maybe you need to make your mark with another project first and then use the success of this to garner interest in your personal project.  It’s also about timing among a multitude of other factors.

The problem is, some writers never think about writing what they know and don’t want to tell personal stories, they just want to make money and become famous.  And most of these writers think that writing a high concept blockbuster is the solution.  Well, good luck to you.  Go for it!  It may work.  But I personally think you should strike a balance in your writing between commerciality and originality.  And when I say originality I don’t mean an original high concept movie I mean an original voice.

So the next time you think about the concept of your next screenplay, think about where you are in your writing career and what may help you get onto the next rung of the ladder. If a high concept movie is the answer then great, write one but approach the genre with respect and don’t just see it as a potential pay check.  The idea is to apply all of the tools of the trade to your high concept project so it includes in-depth character development, clever plot choices and original dialogue.

How’s that for a high concept

Mixed Genres Can Lead to a Confusing Script

Filed under: Dan Bronzite's Script Tips by Dan @ 1:59 pm on October 7, 2011

Writers get ideas for movies in various ways.  Sometimes it’s overhearing a conversation on the bus, other times it may be a dream that inspires you to write a great opening scene.  Wherever the inspiration comes from, it’s always a good idea to follow it through, even if you don’t end up visualizing the exact idea you originally conceived.  But the problem is, sometimes we are so focused on the creative writing process that we forget to double-check we are making the best creative choices.

This can frequently occur when we are inspired by particular movies and want to write our own script in our favorite genre.  An example would be that you just saw a great heist movie and embark on the first draft of your screenplay.  During the course of writing it, you see a teen comedy and without realizing it that film influences the writing of your heist movie.  Now, it could turn out to be a really entertaining original screenplay, but it may also lose focus due to the fact that you are trying to follow two sets of rules: the first set of rules that apply to heist movies and their structure and the second set that apply to teen comedies.

You then finally reach the end of your first draft, read it through and think, damn.. it’s not working.  But why?  You developed all of the character arcs, ensured that the scene to scene plot progression, revelation and twists makes sense and ensured that the event to event causality also strengthens your story.  You clarified the theme in your head and made sure that it was expressed cleverly through dialogue, subtext and visuals but still, something isn’t right.

If this sounds familiar then take a step back and look at the genre you are writing.  Have you made a mistake by trying to inadvertently mix two into one?  Chances are that if you have to describe the script you’re writing in more than one genre then you may need to go back to the drawing board because a story that includes too many genres sets up conflicting expectations in an audience and will work against you.

There are no hard and fast rules, and as such, there are always exceptions but if you pitch your movie as When Harry Met Sally meets Jaws then trying to satisfy an audience on both the romantic comedy level of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins back girl and at the same time on the horror thriller level of boy and girl trying to save the community of a small town holiday resort from a great white shark, well, you can see how the water muddies.

What do you want your audience to be feeling, romance or fear? The highs and lows of a complicated relationship or the shock of a blood-thirsty predator ripping a human being in two?  Who are we meant to be identifying with?  The boy?  The girl?  The tourists or the shark?  What about the climax?  Is it when the boy and girl finally get together or when they finally kill the shark?  Maybe you tried to combine the two into an amazing romantic scene where they pull the trigger together and then kiss as the shark explodes!  Okay, so I’m being facetious but you get the point!

Good Screenwriting Means Being Original

Filed under: Dan Bronzite's Script Tips by Dan @ 1:56 pm on September 27, 2011

Sometimes we, as people and writers, get lazy.  It’s only natural.  Life can be tough.  Writing scripts can be hard.  Please.. my heart bleeds.  It’s time to take responsibility for your creative choices or lack thereof.  This laziness normally comes hand in hand with familiarity.  As soon as we become comfortable with the creative writing process, our screenwriter’s voice and all of the tricks, devices and structural paradigms that are involved, we tend to stick to what we know and settle for the easy option.

The good thing about being an experienced writer is that you can normally write your scripts a lot faster than when you first started but both novice writers and pros still make the same mistake, for different reasons, by making obvious choices in their dialogue, characterization and plot construction.  And writing scripts quickly isn’t necessarily a positive thing. Sometimes it’s good to chew over your narrative and really think about what you’ve written.

So with that in mind, from now on, I want to make sure you force yourself to be innovative. Okay, so apparently every story has already been told but don’t let that stop you from trying to add something new to the mix.  When you reach the next major plot twist or turn take a moment to brainstorm as many alternatives as possible, however crazy they may sound.  Don’t settle for clichés or tried-and-tested solutions.  Turn your original idea for the beginning or ending of a scene 180 degrees just to see where it takes you.  It may lead you nowhere or it may give you a great idea for another scene.  The point is that you won’t know without trying.

And the same goes for character development, talking heads and choice of locations. Always go that extra mile by building unique characters that sparkle, situations and dialogue that engage us and worlds we would love to escape to.  Don’t always settle for choosing an obvious character flaw for your protagonist, dig deeper.  Don’t always settle for the first witty retort that pops into your head because there may be a better one.

I’m not saying analyze every single creative choice you make as you write because that would naturally stunt your creative flow but in the moments following your stream of consciousness onto the page or even the next day, re-read the previous day’s work and make sure you have pushed yourself as a writer. You won’t regret it.

Nuvotech teams with the Dysfunctional Screenwriters Society

Filed under: Press Releases by admin @ 10:53 am on September 21, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA – The Dysfunctional Screenwriters Society has teamed with UK technology company Nuvotech, publisher of popular screenwriting software Movie Outline 3, to award winners of Power of the Pitch 3 copies of their story outlining and movie script formatting software Script It!

Power of the Pitch 3 will be held from 6pm-9pm on October 19th 2011, at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Nuvotech is a software and Web 2.0 services company based in London, England. It was founded in 1999 by produced screenwriter Dan Bronzite to publish innovative software and services for the creative industry. Its most recognized brands are Movie Outline a cross-platform screenplay development application and Hollywood Script Express a script  copying and delivery service in Los Angeles. Script It! is based on the same innovative writing methodology of “step-outlining” that has proved so popular with users of Movie Outline. This “sequence” approach allows you to plan the structure of your screen story and professionally format your screenplay step by step.

The Dysfunctional Screenwriters Society was started in 2009 by screenwriter, Keith Chamberlain for the purpose of providing aspiring screenwriters in the Philadelphia area, the opportunity to meet, network, and critique works in progress with other aspiring screenwriters. The Dysfunctional Screenwriters Society has amassed a membership of over 150 screenwriters in the Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware area and its group of participating individuals meet monthly to discuss ideas and exchange professional advice. Power of the Pitch is a biannual event designed to educate screenwriters how to pitch their respective television, film or web projects to directors and producers. The first two Power of the Pitches drew an estimated attendance of 75 people from all over the Tri-State area.

If you would like to attend this event or  join the DSS mailing list please visit The Dysfunctional Screenwriters Society.

To receive more information about Nuvotech products and services please visit Nuvotech.

Pacing is Often the Key to a Successful Screenplay

Filed under: Dan Bronzite's Script Tips by Dan @ 1:53 pm on September 17, 2011

To help you understand story pacing and how to write a script that keeps the reader turning the page it may help to think of your screenplay as a piece of music.  The music can be in any genre since most pop and rock songs share the same constant as is apparent in classical pieces – they all have a melodic rhythm with highs and lows. If they didn’t then essentially it would not really be called “music” but “noise”.

Let’s first consider a pop song.  Some start out loud and fast with an intro that reflects the chorus or the actual chorus itself and then dips to begin the first verse which is normally slower.  After this comes the bridge which steps up the pace a little leading us into the chorus.. and then this repeats until the end of the song.  About three-quarters of the way through there is normally the middle-8 section which is different from the verse, bridge and chorus in rhythm and melody and this helps break up the pattern before the last chorus.

All of these different sections of a typical song create pace, fast and slow, slow and fast and this pacing keeps us engaged.  Let’s not forget, a song is more than music, it’s a story in itself, whether it has words or it doesn’t have words.  Even classical music tells a story through the choice of instruments used, the melody and the arrangement.  That’s why it’s so natural to compare musical rhythm and pacing with script writing because they share the same core principles.

Another great analogy is the roller-coaster ride which also applies to movie making and screenplay writing. A roller-coaster also goes up and down.  Trust me, you wouldn’t go back to Six Flags theme park if all of the rides literally went from A to B on the same level at the same speed – would you?  No, they good rides create tension, anticipation and excitement through the design of the twists and turns, where they are positioned, the acceleration and deceleration, and the slow climb followed by the dip.  All of these ingredients combine to create “entertainment” for the participant and as a script reader or audience member you want to experience the same thrills when reading a script or watching a movie.

Remember, it’s your job as a screenwriter to keep the reader turning the page.  You have to build toward those key moments of heightened action or drama in your story and then follow them with a lull that becomes the beginning of the next big crescendo.  By visualizing your narrative in this way you will ensure that your script stands out and provides a roller-coaster read!  And if you want to analyze the pacing of your own creative writing projects, I recommend our screenwriting software Movie Outline 3 which includes a unique and innovative story pacing feature called FeelFactors.

Movie Outline Gets Thumbs Up From HubPages Review

Filed under: Script Writing Software by admin @ 2:03 pm on September 12, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, fellow hubbers, I’m proud to admit that I’ve just finished my first screenplay.

My third, actually, but with the others I gave up at around page 40 and dumped them in the ‘What was I thinking?’ folder back in the darkest recesses of my laptop.

So what made the difference this time? I can honestly say (and they’re not paying me) that it was Movie Outline Scriptwriting Software, a new-on-the-block screenwriting software system that helps you to build your screenplay step by step.

How is Movie Outline different?

The other screenwriting software systems format your work, so that your dialogue and direction come out in the standard industry format which ensures the felling of a good number trees. Movie Outline does this too, but it does so much more besides…

Click here to read the full review.

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