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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.

Getting into a routine can help with screenwriting

Filed under: Screenwriting by admin @ 9:15 am on May 25, 2011

You might be desperate to get your screenwriting ideas noted down and formed into a completed work. After all, if you are successful, you may reap considerable rewards both financially and in terms of your levels of personal fulfilment.

But as with most things in life, the process is not straightforward. It takes a considerable amount of time and effort to complete screenplays, usually including many drafts of your work before you’re happy with it. Of course, there are ways of making the task easier. For example, you can invest in reputable screenplay writing software. This software makes structuring your ideas much more straightforward and means you will not veer away from the accepted industry format.

However, there is more to screenwriting than this. One way in which you can increase the chances that your creation will be completed is by ensuring you get into a routine. It is no good simply waiting until you feel inspired and energized before you sit down in front of your computer.

Instead, you must be disciplined and organized and have a routine in place that you rarely deviate from. It is only by operating in a structured fashion like this that most people find they are able to push ahead with the project.

It takes a certain kind of single-mindedness to be a success in the screenwriting field and you must not consistently let procrastination get in the way of your work – although let’s face it – we all do it sometimes!

So, once you have your screenplay writing software installed and clear ideas in your mind about your creative direction, you might well benefit from developing and sticking to a firm schedule.

Write the Movie You Want to See

Filed under: Screenwriting by admin @ 3:21 pm on January 8, 2011

If you want to know how to write a script, you should have a firm idea of what it is you actually want to achieve. When it comes to writing, you should aim to create stories which you would want to read yourself. For example, one reason J.R.R Tolkien wrote was because nobody else was writing stories that he wanted to read.

While he specialized in short stories and novels, you could apply the same technique to screenwriting. Perhaps you have visualized a scene or heard a line of dialogue you know would work beautifully on screen. Or maybe you have a theme or setting you would love to see at the heart of a film, which no-one else has tried. In this case, why not write it yourself?

No doubt you will have watched movies in the past and told yourself that you could do better. Screenwriting can be easy to talk about but is difficult to do well. Whatever you do, you need to be sure that you are writing something you believe is worth your time. If you do not, then why should anyone else believe it is worth any of theirs?

As with most creative endeavors, you will learn how to write a script better the more you do. Of course, it will take a lot of time and effort to create a script which is up to scratch, but screenwriting should be something you enjoy. And the better you get, the more rewarding it will be.

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