How to turn a boring script into an interesting one
Writing screenplays for films is one of the most desirable jobs for writers. Screenwriting is quite different from writing a story or a novel, and it can get quite frustrating at times. A film script needs to be engaging and keep all the narrative elements in place. If you think your script is veering towards mundane, keep reading to find compelling ways to make it interesting.
Keeping the main plot simple
An engaging script usually has an uncomplicated plot structure. A strong and catchy introduction to the script captures the attention of the audience from the start, and a thrilling conclusion makes the script memorable. A deviation from either of these might make the script fall flat. You can play with the narrative of the plot with flashbacks, flash-forwards, and the introduction of non-linear elements, but these need to be done while keeping the main plot steady.
Show, don’t tell
Screenwriting is more about visual storytelling, rather than describing them with long conversations. The audience will be much more engaged with the script if there are more visual details. Too many long conversations make the script clunky, causing the audience to lose interest quickly.
Avoids too many dialogues or action description
While reading your own screenplay, if you notice too many paragraphs of dialogues, cut most of it out. The general rule of thumb of a properly formatted script is to avoid dialogues that are more than 5 lines long, as it tends to become a ‘speech’. Too many ‘speeches’ will bore the reader, as the characters have to talk through long tedious explanations of an event or another character.
Similarly, large chunks of action descriptions will bore the audience, and too many parenthetical actions will limit the range of actors. Just write the visual action the audience will see on-screen or the words the actors say. Leave the rest to the director and actors.
You want your audience to root for your protagonist, and despise your antagonist, to make them engage more with your script. Interesting backstories of characters, few quirks, mannerisms, flaws, phobias and dark secrets,add more reality and make the reader empathize with the characters. Whatever background or personality traits you write for a character, remember to keep it consistent, especially if you are writing for a TV/web series.
Make your script short and vertical
It is a good idea to stick to a page limit while writing a screenplay. The audience is unlikely to engage with a script that is too long or too clunky. Movie scripts should ideally be limited to 100-120 pages, while TV episode scripts can be anywhere between 55-65 pages, depending on the length of the episode. While formatting your script, break up the densely packed paragraphs into two or three sentence paragraphs, or keep more white space on both sides.
These are a few tips and tricks that will significantly improve the quality of your script, and keep it away from the large pile of rejected scripts in a producer’s office.