According to stats from the Writers Guild of America, there are approximately 50,000 screenplays submitted for registration each year.
Film producers consistently complain about the lack of entertaining screenplays. A script that’s neither provocative nor engaging is the number one barrier to a successful screenwriting career.
Does this mean that the film industry’s arteries are being clogged with mindless drivel guaranteed to induce sleep?
Not necessarily so. Mindless drivel can actually be the motherlode of interesting ideas that you can use to write saleable screenplays – even if you consider yourself boring.
I believe that creating exciting stories can come from any corner, from writers from every walk of like. Look at the boring Bronte sisters and the stunning works they created.
If you do want to turn mindless drivel into an exciting story, here are some hints and tricks that will help you bridge the gap:
1. Be Helpful
Whatever your dull and boring day job, there must be something you know about that might be genuinely useful to your audience. The trick is, how can you find out what your audience is really interested in.
Narrowing down your audience is one way to be able to identify a need. Filmmakers also use the tool of genre. For example, if you are interested in horror, can you identify something that horror fans might want or need to know about that experience? Can you find something from your own life that might make them better prepared to handle that experience?
Sometimes the title of the film will offer a hint that you can use to give a hint to your audience as to the nature of your advice. A quick IMDB search using the words ‘ways to…’ yielded dozens of results. everything from ‘How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days’ to ‘100 Ways To Murder Your Wife’
2. Be Micro
Once you have identified your audience it’s a lot easier to keep them interested. Zoom in on details. Show us minutae. This doesn’t mean you speak with monotomy. It does mean that you can focus on a detail and demonstrate your geekiness with professional-level detail.
3. Find your voice
It’s not about being a big-shot. It’s about being yourself. Trust your instincts and find your voice – even if it’s one your fear might be boring. In life we respond to real people and cringe at pretense. So too at the movies.
Write like you talk, not like you’ve just ingested a thesaurus.
4. Funny is money
Rowan Atkinson has based his entire career on boring characters. His London 2012 Olympic skit was not only a study of boredom but was hilariously funny. Use yourt own boring habits and exagerate them as Rowan Atkinson has done.
5. Newsjacking works
Do you remember in elementary school where your teacher spoke in analogies to explain important concepts to you? This is how newsjacking works: using current affairs as a metaphor for your ideas. We use this principal a lot at Raindance to great success. We hi-jacked the media hysteria about Andy Murray’s Wimbledon final to create interest in a Raindance event.
6. Write pictures
Whatever you are writing about, write in word pictures. Make your readers see what you are talking about. If you can do this, you are more likely to get the producer’s cheque.
While we are sat it, a good knowledge of how movies are made is another great asset to a screenwriter, and knowledge that is pretty easy to acquire.
7. Write short
Remember that one of the most boring things anyone can do is to drone on and on about something.
Use your eye to break up chunky paragraphes into easily digestible paragraphs. Use character directions to break up big speeches.
If you can nail these skills you can really make headway with your film and your career. As you can see, there is nothing terribly demanding in any of these areas – it is however, hard work!
Yours in filmmaking