I never get tired of attending screenwriting classes. I still believe it’s important to remember the basics no matter how long you’ve been doing something. I’m still starting out as a screenwriter and I’ve taken advantage of the techniques used by the teachers or speakers in the classes I’ve taken. I used their techniques, combined with what I’ve learned in the past. Honestly, I still haven’t figured out the best way to write scripts because I’m still learning new things everyday.
There are people I go to every time for writing guidance, Christopher Vogler and Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey, Jacob Krueger and his 7-Act Structure, Ellen Sandler and her book, TV Writer’s Workbook. My mentors from AAU have also taught me techniques that I still use until now. I’ve also attended Q&As and talks from writer/directors who have talked about their writing processes.
But all of them have one thing in common: they put importance in character development. After all, a movie is basically about a person, a character’s journey. You, the writer, definitely have to spend time getting to know your character. You need to humanize your characters and make them complete instead of a stereotype and a cliche. Most of the time, when I struggle with story development, it’s because I still don’t know my character that well. The Script Lab has a great set of questions to develop character. It’s lengthy but it’s tremendous help.
Another process that I do, besides character development, is outlining. Not a lot of writers outline. But I believe this process helps me focused in one direction, especially when I have a deadline. I usually write several scripts at the same time so outlining helps me avoid going off too far from the story. And it helps tremendously, when I write a visual outline, when I start to write the script already. It cuts down the writing time because there’s already a detailed description of how the scene will look like already written.
But like I said, some people use outlines, some people don’t. I envy those people, wish I could write as freely as that, but I like having and working on the structure of an outline.
Which technique do you use? How do you get to know your characters? Do you outline or prosper with free writing? Let’s discuss and share ideas!
On my next post, I’ll mention some of the books that I love about screenwriting, TV writing and filmmaking in general.
In the meantime, happy writing!