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Don’t Get Stuck on an Unresolved Plot Point

Filed under: Dan Bronzite's Script Tips by Dan @ 1:38 pm on July 19, 2011

Writers’ Block.  It’s a killer.  We’ve all been there, happily tapping away at the keyboard at our latest and greatest movie script in a creative stream of consciousness when suddenly we reach a dead end. A brick wall faces us and we have nowhere to turn.  We try idea after idea but nothing makes any sense.  We start to get frustrated but can’t give up because it’s such an important scene.  Damn!  We have to solve this.  The pressure mounts.  And mounts..  But nothing.  Nada.  Zip.

“What am I gonna do?!” we think or perhaps exclaim out loud.

The whole script hinges on this particular plot point or piece of dialogue. If we can’t solve this we might as well trash the script.  Oh my God, I’m never gonna get that friggin’ Oscar! Okay, okay, calm down. Really, dude.  Take a breath.  It’s not that bad.  There is a solution.  All hope is not lost.. even though it may feel like it.

So, the solution.. what is it?  Simple. Actually, there are three:

1.  STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER!

That’s right, folks, sometimes we get so caught up in the moment and our own self-imposed frustration that our mind ceases up and can’t process clearly.  The best thing to do in those situations is to take a break and do something else.  The script’s still going to be there when you get back.  I usually make myself a coffee and watch some TV.  Other times I take out the trash or put the washing on.  Whatever.  It doesn’t matter.  It’s simply the fact that you focus your mind on something other than writing for a while and this unclogs everything and gets the creative juices flowing again.

It works.  Trust me.  Been there, done that.  In fact, most of my best creative writing ideas have come away from the computer.  It’s the same principle as setting yourself a problem to solve as your head hits the pillow at night and then waking up the next morning with a clear head and 90% of the time a solution.  Somehow our subconscious brains keep on working behind the scenes and help us out.

2. MOVE ON TO ANOTHER SCENE

That’s right.  If you can’t figure out the solution just move on to the next scene or rewrite an earlier scene.  It’s the same principle yet again. By doing this you will be opening your mind to new ideas which will undoubtedly present themselves once you have disengaged from the stumbling block in question.  Sometimes focusing on another issue is the answer. Sometimes you may not get an answer right away but don’t stress yourself out by creating even more pressure, that’s just counterproductive.

3. REWRITE THE SCENE FROM A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE

Your third option is to rewind a few pages and then attack the troublesome scene from a new angle.  If the hero in the original draft jumps into his car and goes to the bank in order to confront his adulterous wife, maybe he is forced to take the bus because his car won’t start.  Maybe he has an accident on the way and ends up in the emergency ward.  Maybe he gets to the bank and she’s not there.  You see where I’m going here?  All of these ideas will give you new avenues to explore and whether or not they will end up in the final screenplay is not the point, it’s the process that is important.

Montage Sequence – Friend or Foe?

Filed under: Dan Bronzite's Script Tips by Dan @ 1:17 pm on June 29, 2011

Instead of writing a bunch of short scenes with little or no dialogue as separate steps in your story, why not group them together in a sequence and count it as one scene?  This way you can still give the audience the information they need but you compress the method in which you reveal it – adding pace to your story.

Okay, you say, we’ve seen this a zillion times in movies.. and it’s called a “montage”.  A sequence of shots, typically put to music to show the condensed passage of time.  It’s a screenwriting device that sometimes helps a script and sometimes, as with all over-used devices, hinders it.  Just like anything you do when creating a screenplay you have to make sure that every story, character or stylistic element is justified.  That means, asking yourself the question “Does it make sense to have this here?”.

The typical use of a montage sequence can be seen in movies like The Karate Kid or Flashdance – whereby the central character has to learn how to do karate or how to do a complicated dance routine.  If the scenes were played in real time the audience would be sitting in the movie theater for weeks and would probably be a little bored.  Similary, if you just jump to the scene where the Karate Kid does the “crane”, the climax wouldn’t have any impact and we’d be asking ourselves how in hell did this scrawny little kid suddenly know how to do such an amazing karate kick!  It just wouldn’t be believable.

So it is clear that in this example that a montage sequence is necessary.  But the problem is, we’ve seen them done so many times it forms a part of our instinctive cinematic language.  This can be a good thing, because we know what’s going on and don’t have to be educated – we just accept it.  But conversely, it doesn’t really break any boundaries for the cinematic art form and can often be the choice of a lazy writer.

If you decide that a montage sequence is absolutely the only way you can convey your character’s emotional or physical development in a short passage of time then go ahead, use it, but try to be innovative.  Maybe don’t use music.  Or perhaps use split-screen so the events unfold in condensed time in parallel to real-time events. Maybe you could even disguise the sequence through other techniques such as CGI, voice-over, flicking through pages of a book.. who knows, that’s up to you.

The point is, whatever screenwriting device you use from your creative writing toolbox, don’t be lazy.  Always force yourself to find a creative solution to your storytelling and never settle for something because it’s the easy option.

Remember the Golden “Rule of Three” for Writing

Filed under: Dan Bronzite's Script Tips by Dan @ 1:11 pm on June 9, 2011

I know some of you writers out there – yes, you know who you are — don’t like rules and formulas and are ruthlessly resistant to following any kind or paradigm in your script writing efforts but the simple truth is that patterns and methods exist in life and art and often it is the artist’s task to present them in such a way so that they enhance the drama but do not stand out like a sore thumb.

Even Gene Kelly used technique.. He didn’t just wake up one morning and do a back flip but he was such a master at his craft that he made every dazzling move look seamless and effortless through years of practice and applying technique to creativity.

The job is the same for the writer.  To create a story that has technique and intention yet uses tried-and-tested screenwriting devices where necessary and the writer’s skill to present the events that unfold in an organic way so that we, as an audience, hook into the plot and the characters that inhabit the depicted fiction world before us.

So with that in mind, you, as a screenwriter, must learn that the “rule of three” doesn’t just apply to telling jokes.  That’s right, you don’t have to be a comedian (but it sometimes helps) to use this technique in your own scripts to make your narrative and character development have more impact.

In order for an audience to remember an important piece of information or to fully understand and identify with your screenplay’s clever third-act twist, you first have to set it up, then you remind them (usually in a subtle way) and then you make that jaw-dropping pay-off!  And it doesn’t just apply to your overall act structure but also to scenes and the dialogue within them.  Just as a witty one-liner may have a beginning, middle and end, so does a monologue, a heated dialogue exchange, a fight and a car chase.  The rules appear everywhere to varying degrees.

A crude example would be your hero entering a trendy club and noticing an ornate bowl of nuts on the bar.  He takes one as he asks the bartender some questions.  Then during the middle of the scene a seductive woman approaches him and they exchange some dialogue.  He’s not interested but as she departs she mentions how the nuts he’s eating contain germs since people don’t wash their hands.  As we approach the end of the scene, the hero comes face to face with the person that has been following him all day and they have a fist fight while everybody around them watches on.  The hero ultimately wins by reaching behind him, grabbing the bowl of nuts and slamming it across the guy’s head.. maybe even ending the scene with a witty retort about how the woman was right and that the nuts are bad for your health.

Setup. Reminder. Pay-off.

Now, would the scene work as well with only the first and last visual of the nuts?  Or perhaps just the last? No. One – Two – Three. Simple yet extremely effective.

Conflict is the Key to Writing a Good Story

Filed under: Dan Bronzite's Script Tips by Dan @ 1:05 pm on May 19, 2011

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.

Stick to your strengths when screenplay writing

Filed under: Creative Writing,Screenwriting by admin @ 9:11 am on May 18, 2011

If you want to make it big in the world of screenwriting, you are by no means alone. Whether you are a student of creative writing or a budding hobbyist this potentially lucrative industry proves a draw for many hopefuls. For this reason, it is vital you play to your strengths when working out how to write a script. It is only by doing this that you stand a chance in this competitive environment.

For example, you might be tempted to create funny screenplay scripts because there is often a high demand for sitcoms and comedy movies. After all, everyone likes to laugh. However, if comedic writing does not come naturally to you, this strategy could prove disastrous.

Being able to produce scripts that are amusing requires a certain kind of skill and this is arguably something that cannot be learned. Some people seem to be born with it, while others are not. Of course, if you are lucky enough to fall into the former category, you may well benefit from trying your hand at funny screenwriting, but if this style is not one you can get to grips with easily, you might be better off focussing on other genres.

For example, you may be much more suited to mystery writing, adventure plots, romantic pieces or something else.

Knowing how to write a script successfully is never easy, but as long as you stick to the styles you do best, you can optimize your chances. In contrast, if you step out of your comfort zone and try something you are not suited to, the chances are there will be other people out there producing better creations that yours. Weigh up the risks and think outside of the box by all means – but make the most of your strengths too when it comes to screenwriting.

Script It! Hits the Mac App Store

Filed under: Press Releases by admin @ 4:41 pm on February 18, 2011

18 February, 2011 (London, UK) — UK technology company Nuvotech announced today that its new cross-platform creative writing package Script It! for Mac and PC is now available on the Mac App Store. This coincides with the full boxed retail release of the software, allowing customers to have flexible purchasing options via multiple channels.

“We are delighted to launch Script It! on the Mac App Store since this gives Mac OS X users instant access to the software and instils consumer confidence in our company and products by its association with the Apple brand”, commented Evelyne Kennedy, Product Manager for Nuvotech.

Key Features

  • Fully integrated step-outlining and scene organization
  • Industry standard script formatting with auto-pagination and auto-complete
  • Script writing glossary with over 250 filmmaking terms and definitions
  • Character name generator categorized by origin, gender and meaning
  • Includes scene by scene story and analysis of Ghost, Spider-Man and Scream
  • Scratch Pad to manage script snippets, research, character notes and plot ideas.
  • Keyboard shortcuts for quick editing and auto-convert/auto-capitalization as you type
  • Export outline, script and notes to plain text, rich text, html and PDF files
  • Auto-backup, auto-save and unlimited undo/redo
  • 100% cross-platform – easily exchange files between Mac and PC

“Script It! helps you organize your thoughts and build your story and screenplay beat by beat, making the process of writing a script less daunting and more intuitive, especially for first-timers learning the craft.”
– Professor Richard Walter
Chairman of the UCLA Screenwriting Program.

Pricing

Script It! will initially be available on the Mac App Store at a discounted price of $49.99 for a limited time before it returns to its full MSRP of $79.95.

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.

Nuvotech Invites People to Unlock Their Imaginations with Script It! Creative Writing Software

Filed under: Press Releases by admin @ 7:14 pm on February 11, 2011

February 11, 2011  (London, UK) — UK technology company Nuvotech, known for its professional screenwriting software Movie Outline® and innovative cloud service for script copying and shipping Hollywood Script Express, today announced the availability of the much anticipated boxed version of its popular cross-platform creative writing package Script It! for Mac and PC.

This retail ready update also includes three scene by scene story breakdowns and analyses of Hollywood blockbusters Ghost, Spider-Man and Scream, and will be available both as a download and through retail stores and dot coms across North America, and – as a result of a new distribution deal – now also in the UK.

“Script It! was developed to help writers of any discipline organize their ideas and plan their story with ease, whether it be a novel, screenplay, stage play, pitch or presentation ”, commented Dan Bronzite, CEO of Nuvotech. “While designed for the formats of stage and screen, the software is extremely versatile and the tools included will aid any kind of creative writing.”

Key Features

  • Fully integrated step-outlining and scene organization
  • Industry standard script formatting with auto-pagination and auto-complete
  • Script writing glossary with over 250 filmmaking terms and definitions
  • Character name generator categorized by origin, gender and meaning
  • Includes scene by scene story and analysis of Ghost, Spider-Man and Scream
  • Scratch Pad to manage script snippets, research, character notes and plot ideas.

View features comparison between Script It! and Movie Outline 3 and download a free trial.

Educational Solutions

Script It! is ideal for students learning screenwriting because of its intuitive and structured approach to story development, which can easily be tailored into modules for teaching. The software is already being adopted by schools and universities, and Nuvotech strongly support this through affordable academic pricing for individual licenses and multiple seats for writing labs.

“Script It! helps you organize your thoughts and build your story and screenplay beat by beat, making the process of writing a script less daunting and more intuitive, especially for first-timers learning the craft.”

–- Professor Richard Walter, Chairman of the UCLA Screenwriting Program.

Pricing & Availability

Script It! is currently available from Nuvotech’s online software store, and will roll out across major retail and independent resellers over the coming months. The suggested retail price is $79.95.

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.

Script It! Scriptwriting Software Released

Filed under: Press Releases by admin @ 4:37 pm on September 13, 2010

September 13, 2010  (London, UK) — UK software publisher Nuvotech today launched a new “lite” version of its popular professional screenwriting software Movie Outline®. This new cross-platform creative writing tool is aimed at the first time writer who needs the ability to outline their story and format their screenplay but cannot stretch their budget for the professional features of its big brother application.

“We realized that in these tough economic times many of our potential customers wanted a way to outline and format their movie projects but simply could not afford the price tag of our professional application”, said Dan Bronzite, CEO. “While Script It! does not have the many powerful story structuring, character development and import/export features of Movie Outline 3, we believe that it is the perfect choice for novice writers keen to make the transition from their regular word processing software into a tailored solution.”

Same Concept, Lower Price…

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.

New Features

Although Script It! doesn’t have many of the “pro” tools of Movie Outline it does have a few new handy features including an enhanced interface design with more work space, a “Glossary” with over 250 screenwriting / filmmaking terms & definitions, a “Character Name Wizard” with over 140,000 first and last names that can be filtered by gender, origin and meaning, and a “Scratch Pad” that allows you to organize your notes in one place and categorize them into folders such as story ideas, research, character notes, plot lines and script snippets.

Learn more about Script It! or download a free demo.

Pricing and Availability

Script It! will initially only be available as a download from the Nuvotech Software Store for $79.95.

About Nuvotech

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.

Movie Outline 3.1 Screenwriting Software Released

Filed under: Press Releases by admin @ 3:05 pm on February 18, 2010

February 18, 2010  (London, UK) – UK technology company Nuvotech today launched a comprehensive free upgrade to its popular script and story development package which now boasts even more powerful features including import and export to Final Draft® 8 and scheduling. 

Nuvotech announced that although the new version includes over 100 new features and improvements and is much more extensive than an regular update, it was pleased to offer this release as a free upgrade to existing users of Version 3. “Our customers are very loyal and only ever have positive things to say about Movie Outline”, commented Dan Bronzite, CEO. “As such we would like to give something back in appreciation for their help in shaping the product and the direction of its future evolution.”

Import & Export Upgrade

With Version 3.1 writers now have even more document sharing options available that include the ability to open and automatically reformat PDF files, import to and from Final Draft 8’s new XML file format (.fdx) , and export to scheduling format (.sex) that can be opened by most of the leading production management programs such as Movie Magic™ and Gorilla. Users can also display, print and export scene numbers.

Full Script Mode & Scene Cards

One of the most requested features from existing users was to have the ability to edit a full screenplay while retaining a project’s step structure. To address this the new version has introduced a powerful new editing mode so writers can have the best of both worlds and work in a methodology that suits them. This new mode also displays a scene list that helps you navigate your script and displays “scenes” instead of “steps” in its virtual index card organization tool.

Hollywood Script Express Integration

Version 3.1 now integrates direct access to Movie Outline Software’s unique online screenwriting service that offers intellectual property registration and professional script copying and binding with same-day courier delivery within Los Angeles and express shipping to any international destination. “This integration will assist writers from concept to submission so that Movie Outline becomes a key tool throughout a project’s development” states Product Manager Evelyne Kennedy. “Our aim is simple: to make the writing process as effortless as possible and by offering users the ability to upload a script and have it in the hands of a producer the same day is just another step toward that goal.”

Download a Free Trial or view the Product Tour.

Educational Solutions

Movie Outline 3 is ideal for students learning screenwriting because of its intuitive and structured approach to story development which can easily be tailored into modules for teaching. The software is already being adopted by schools and universities across North America and Europe and Nuvotech strongly supports this through affordable academic pricing for individual licenses and multiple seats for screenwriting labs.

Pricing and Availability

Movie Outline 3.1 screenwriting software will initially only be available as a download from the Movie Outline website but will shortly be released through retailers worldwide including the Apple Store, CompUSA, Amazon, Fry’s Electronics, Micro Center and The Writer’s Store. The suggested retail price is $199.95 but competitive upgrades are available and registered users of any previous version can upgrade for $49 through March 31st.

About Nuvotech

Nuvotech 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 and delivery service in Los Angeles.

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