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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.

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.

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.

The Power of the Flashback

Filed under: Dan Bronzite's Script Tips by Dan @ 1:14 pm on June 19, 2011

Flashback can be a clever device or it can be an annoying one.  If you use it sparingly and don’t rely on it too heavily to tell your story then it can really help with the revelation of subplot, the recollection of key past events tied into your current plot, and the resurgence of repressed memories – sprinkling a little style at the same time.

When learning how to write a script, think of flashback as just another weapon in the screenwriter’s armoury. Sometimes it may help you, other times it may just get in the way or over-convolute the story, but if you use it correctly this device can be a fantastic visual aid.  Don’t use flashback because you are lazy.  If you can find another way of telling your backstory then be innovative and pursue a more creative route that doesn’t rely on exposition.

Only use flashback if there is no other way to convey past events or if you feel that introducing flashback (or indeed flash forward) will enhance the piece in a stylistic manner.  Sometimes writers even use flashback to intentionally confuse an audience or lead them down a particular path so as to turn the tables on them later on.

A great example of this was in The Usual Suspects where Kevin Spacey’s character retold past events to the cop Chazz Palminteri.  We bought the story he was feeding us hook, line and sinker. And why not?  We had no reason not to believe that what he was saying was the truth, and the director also presented the backstory as the truth with no hint to subterfuge.  Then, right at the crucial moment in the third act, the writer and director pulled the floor out from under us and revealed that Kevin Spacey had been lying and that he was in fact the villain of the piece Keyser Söze.

Flashback, like any screenwriting device, such as voice-over, can be used or abused.  Good writers use it in a way that enhances the narrative and character development of a movie without relying on it to solve plot problems.  Great script writers find innovative ways to play with this cool device so that it feels fresh yet at the same time familiar. The trick is, striking the perfect balance.

Formatting is crucial in screenplay writing

Filed under: Screenwriting by admin @ 9:10 am on May 11, 2011

When you sit down to create a screenplay, there are many issues you have to bear in mind. Indeed, the process can be daunting. But as long as you are organized and know what you are aiming for, you stand a good chance of producing something you are proud of.

One of the most important issues when you are screenwriting is the way in which you present your creations. If you get this wrong, the sad truth is professionals in the industry are unlikely to even look at your offering. After all, they are busy people and they have to look through many scripts, so the chances are they will not waste time trying to decipher your screenplay if it isn’t set out as per the industry standard.

This is why using screenplay writing software can be so important. It helps you stick to the format required by those in the industry, including producers, readers, agents, actors and development executives.

By presenting your piece in the expected way, you help these specialists to envisage how the screenplay would come across if it was performed in front of the cameras.

Indeed, many experts agree that when it comes to screenwriting, the first ten pages are the most important. It is during these early stages that you have to succeed in grabbing the attention and approval of those analyzing the script. As well as getting your content right, this also means ensuring you are correct when it comes to your margin sizes, page numbers and arrangement of text, among other things.

Without using screenplay writing software, this can be exceptionally difficult to master.

Screenwriting Myths Debunked

Filed under: Screenplay Writing Software by admin @ 3:15 pm on February 28, 2011

A lot of talented writers make the mistake of giving up on a career in screenwriting before they even get started. Much of this lack of belief stems from the numerous myths surrounding the world of screenwriting, which discourage people from chasing their dreams.

The majority of these myths are completely baseless or outdated, as the world of screenplay writing could well be more open than you think:

-    You don’t have to be famous or already working in the movie industry to get a screenplay noticed. Production companies and television networks are constantly on the lookout for new talent with fresh ideas and perspectives. Plenty of successful movies were conceived and developed by new writers without any prior industry affiliation.

-    It doesn’t matter if you struggle to come up with completely new and unique ideas. The truth is that a one of a kind concept is extremely rare and seldom necessary. Many exciting and successful screenplays have been based on works of literature, TV shows and even other movies. As long as your screenplay is well-written and has a coherent storyline it has every chance of getting industry recognition.

-    Don’t worry if you’ve never written a script before. Everyone has to start somewhere, and as with any new activity, the best way to improve your technique is through assisted practice. Even if you don’t know exactly how a screenplay should be set out, there are many useful tools that can help you. Screenwriting software can guide you on those first steps towards writing a structured story that meets industry requirements.

Getting Started on a Screenplay

Filed under: Screenwriting by admin @ 3:03 pm on February 7, 2011

Writing a script is a dream for many people. You might be an excellent writer who has come up with an innovative concept, but have no idea where to start. With research and practice it’s possible to learn how to write a professional-quality script. Here are some tips to get you started:

- Before putting pen to paper, you should read as many screenplays as you possibly can. This will help you to pick up basic screenwriting skills, such as how scripts are constructed, the kind of language that is used and how directions are written. As a general rule, you should only include as much detail as is absolutely necessary.

- Read every book and reliable online resource on screenwriting techniques you can find. Books are particularly useful for learning how other screenwriters work and what the nuances of a successful screenplay are. Make sure that when looking online for information, you opt for advice from reputable sources as otherwise you may find bad advice which can hinder your progress. We have a great resource section packed with useful articles to help you along your screenwriting journey. These articles and other advice could also give you the inspiration and belief needed to take the first steps on your screenwriting journey.

- Before beginning work on your final script, you should learn how to write an outline of your story, as this will make it easier to keep the dialogue flowing naturally throughout. By taking time to map out the direction of your plot, you’ll find it easier to write a script that is exciting, fast paced and interesting.

- Invest in some screenwriting software. Producers and agents are unlikely to even look at a screenplay that isn’t correctly formatted, and screenplay writing software will help you get it right. Screenwriting software will also aid your attempts at producing original dialogue and developing three-dimensional characters.

Turn Your Idea into a Saleable Script

Filed under: Screenwriting by admin @ 4:00 pm on January 27, 2011

If you want to learn how to write a script, you are probably already aware that you will be up against stiff competition in the writing industry. However, while there may be thousands of aspiring screenwriters out there, it does not mean your screenplay won’t stand out from the crowd. There are numerous things you can do to ensure you prove to industry experts that you have the talent and professionalism to have your screenplay produced.

Start by reading screenplays. As you do this, you will find that you become more familiar with the format and language of professional screenplays. Screenplays are always written in the present tense, unlike novels and short stories, which can use a variety of tenses. They also use sparse description to create an image as economically as possible.

To make it in the movie business, you have to use proper screenplay formatting. If you want your script to look its best, use screenwriting software to format your scripts. This will be a vital investment which could give your career a major boost. Readers in the industry are used to screenplays which follow an accepted format and layout.

Another technique many screenwriters use is to outline your stories. Script writing software allows you to do this in an easily organized manner, instead of the traditional index card method. Outlining will let you play around with your scenes, and find the best timeline for your story. Then you can use script writing software to develop it further, and craft a professional screenplay.

Don’t Settle For The Obvious

Filed under: Screenwriting by Dan @ 5:20 pm on January 21, 2011

All too often writers, especially experienced writers, get lazy. They get comfortable in their own writing shoes with their tried and tested screenwriting habits and while this makes knocking out a screenplay a hell of a lot easier than it was when they first started writing.. back in the day, it also sometimes leads to stale material and obvious choices, whether that be for dialogue, characterizations or plot.

So the next time you sit down in front of your computer, take this advice, if you want to know how to write a script: Don’t take the obvious option! If it’s easy to come up with then chances are maybe the audience would have expected it too.

For dialogue, acknowledge your initial idea for a witty retort then step back, chew it over and play around with a few more by turning the dialogue on its head and experimenting with something you would not normally write or that particular character would not typically say. Even if it doesn’t work at first the process will get you thinking and open your mind up to new ideas to make the dialogue fresh and less “on the nose”.

And for plots, instead of surging from one chase scene to an action-packed confrontation between the hero and villain, why not insert something unexpected into the mix? Or create a surprising chain of events and progression of scenes that keep ‘em guessing! In short: lead the audience down a familiar route and then turn your story 180 degrees. If you do this your script will be less predictable and it will leave your audience begging for more…

Why You Need Screenwriting Software

Filed under: How to Write a Script by admin @ 3:35 pm on January 18, 2011

Getting to the top in the movie world can be tough, but you can rest assured that all your hard work will be worth it once your screenplay is in the hands of the right people. However, writers should strive to learn more, read more and take all the help they can get along the way in order to develop their skills and acheive their dream.

If you are a scriptwriter, there are plenty of things you can do to make life a little easier. You may want to look into working methods of top scriptwriters, which may give you some ideas to improve your work. You may also want to try screenwriting software, which is used by many successful professional scriptwriters.

Right from your first try, scriptwriting software can make a huge difference. Why? Its simple. If you fail to send your scripts in the recognized format, you might be finished before you even start. All that hard work will be lost. There is a fair chance that you already know how to write a script, but this may not be enough if you want to make it in the movie world.

When you combine your natural talent for scriptwriting with an amazing screenplay writing software packages, you will stand a better chance of getting your script onto the right Hollywood desk. You may want to look into some of the working methods of top writers here.
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