Screenplays


These are five feature-length screenplays varying in scope of ambition.

Screenwriting is extremely complex in one respect and annoyingly simple and forumulaic in another. One has to have a strong initial idea with a robust plot and well drawn characters. Whether it is the plot driving the action or more reliant on character development, this will shape the feel of the whole story.

Generally most screenplays can be characterised by genre in some very real way and there are certain expectations of an audience as to how genres are depicted, More fundamentally there are many rules which have to be observed with a three, four or five act structure and a set of moments or points where these transition. Vital to any drama whatsoever is the establishment of a conflict between elements in the story, usually between the protoganist who must have a goal and an antagonist who acts to prevent that goal from being achieved. The antagonist may take many forms and may not even be a person and the conflict may be external and physical or internal and more cerebral.

There can be multiple stories running in parallel, each with their own conflicts and story arcs, but all these stories must have some kind of resolution towards their conclusions. Most interesting stories play with these rules and even go out of their way to break them but it is the existence of the rules that makes unorthodox storytelling in this format possible. One has to be aware of all conventions to creatively manipulate them successful. Analysis of poor screenwriting almost always reveals a lack of ability to respect the rules, whilst the very best scripts play with them, innovate them and knowingly so to an educated audience.

The scene is the building block, the description must set the mood and the actions of the players must be made clear for those further along the production process to be able to transform the screenplay with an understanding of its essence. Dialogue is perhaps the singular most distinguishing feature of the format and it has to be written with great awareness of the state of the character at any given point in the story. Spoken words must be written to illuminate the inner world of the character and as an expression of that character.

Screenwriting is very hard to do well, but when it is, the effect is one of great simplicity. Editing, rewriting and ironing out of problems means it is very time consuming and there is little chance the work will ever make it to a screen. Only for the brave and/or delusional!