Sometimes screenwriting problems can be solved by going back to the basics. that come from the ancient prophets.
Are you familiar with Bible code? Scientists have studied the ancient manuscripts and are now suggesting that the Holy Scriptures were written in a special code that predicts the future. Key wars and political events are, apparently, accurately predicted in the Bible.
It wasn’t until I dwelt on this fact that I realised that there was in fact a key bit of Bible code that predicted the plight of screenwriters in the 21st Century.
You’ve heard the famous Biblical quote about the Creation?
We hear these words: “In the beginning was the word”
This oft-quoted phrase has hidden significance for screenwriters. All movies start with words. There you have it: A Biblical ordination when you start a story.
So how did God solve His screenwriting problems? All movies start with words! And those words are tangible evidence that a movie idea is taking physical shape.
Christians believe that God cared so much about the Word that he sent his Son to the world to become real flesh and blood. Not an idea but a physical manifestion. And you don’t do that unless you believe in the power of the Word. And believe in your own ability to express yourself.
In fact, every filmmakers, screenwriter, novelist and storyteller should start and end with “The Word.” Because the Word is the Alpha and Omega of screenwriting – of storytelling. Without it, nothing can be made that could be made in your story. At least, not at the rate and quality that it can be done WITH the Word.
And what “word” is this I’m referring to?
Words are your building blocks. Your words change worlds. Your words that transform. Your words create mind pictures. Your words draw people into your story.. Words that bridge the gap between your audience’s deepest hurts to their greenest pastures. And because this is the movies we are talking about – the words that create images in the minds of the reader.
Allow me to get biblical for a minute:
A good writer knows how to use The Word and can learn to monetise their work. Like the Good Shepherd, a writer using the right words can lead their readers as sheep to greener pastures. As sheep follow their leader, a reader needs to trust you, the writer. You as a writer-shepherd earn their trust when they follow you and the story world’s you create.
Learn how to feed your audience – your readers, your sheep. Discover how to care for them and how to get them to follow your story by using words. A successful writer skilled with words can take their readers to a promised land flowing with milk and honey. A land where their issues are resolved with the stories you tell.
It might much easier than you may think. Have a look at these proven steps.
7 Ways A Writer Handles Screenwriting Problems
When you have the idea for a story you need to get it out onto paper – to make it flesh and blood. To make it real. And until its on paper it isn’t real.
1.Chosing the concept and genre
There is nothing deadlier than a drama. And the reason for that is because all stories are dramas. And it is really hard to tell what a movie is unless you specify the genre. Choosing a genre is the quickest way to let readers know what your story is about. Study films in the genre that best suits your story.
Choosing the correct genre is likely the most important first step for your story.
2. Choosing the social stage
Your story’s social stage will let people know a great deal about the main characters and how they will react. The four key story worlds are: Wilderness, Village, City and Oppressive City. I wrote a blog post on how the social stage works.
3. Managing Social Media Data
When the Cambridge Analytica scandal hit, people like me were amazed and appalled and amazed how people could be manipulated by key words on the internet. Of course this is the secret tool Donald Trump and the Brexit political campaigns were able to succeed. By targeting people’s preferences they were able to message them directly with influence-bending messages.
Not to be out-done, Raindance tutor Kira-Anne Pelican analysed the dozen key characters in popular movies, and by scraping the internet using the same processes as Cambridge Analyica was able to predict the box office successes of major Hollywood movies. She calls this process deep characterisation. Where the characters themselves are so firmly implanted in the pubic’s mind that they readily respond to them. Another key point is how the characters grow and develop. Again social media profiles respond to these trends.
Taking this a step further for screenwriters and filmmakers, she has proven that by using a few of these iconic characters in your story, no matter how humble the budget, will enable you to drive eyeballs to your movie using the power of the internet. And the amazing thing for independent filmmakers and storyteller is this: This software is totally free to anyone with the savvy to use it.Kira- Anne Pelican has developed two powerful classes explaining how this all works. Evening class: Moneyball for film investors and filmmakers Weekend Masterclass: Deep Characterisation – a weekend class where the iconic character types are explained with many examples of how these characters are shown in practise.
4. Considering the role of violence and sex
Every line in your script or story should be brimming with violence. Remember the three different types of violence: Physical violence which I personally loathe and abhor sociological violence which tracks your characters rise and fall through different social structures liker rich to poor; and psychological violence where the main character’s core beliefs are challenged.
Think of words like brutality, clash, confusion, disorder, struggle, duress, fury, passion, tumult, foul play and rage.
Writers and storytellers merit the attention of the audience through skilful use of violence (and sex).
5. Considering your audience
At all time you must consider your audience. I am I not talking about the demographics of the audience. rather, It’s about the relationship between you, the writer, and they, the reader. Getting this relationship into focus will truly help you to get your story written. Here is a blog post I wrote a while ago that will help you, and will also explain the writer’s leap of faith.
People never remember information. People will remember anything emotive. The real trick of a storyteller is to make them squirm or laugh – depending on the story. I am not going to try and be an expert on writing emotion on the subject on his website. But my good friend William C Martell is. He has written 20 produced films, And he also has written widely on the subject on his website.
I was recently in Japan and gave a weeklong workshop to twenty Japanese storytellers. At the end of the workshop I asked the group to tell me what they thought would make a great story.
An elderly fisherman was a participant in a week-long sort workshop I gave in Japan. At the end of the week I asked the group to explain what they thought made a good story. The fisherman was an accomplished screenwriter. Over 50 of his scripts had been turned into Yakusa movies – one of them was bought by Tarantino who turned it into Kill Bill. When his turn came he said, through an interpreter: “Elliot-san – our bodies are 75% water A good movie forces your body fluid out of an appropriate pore”
7. Sell that screenplay
God can’t really advise on selling your script, but I have been involved in quite a few! There are some really important assets and strategies you need to prepare before you can expect someone to buy your script. Read about them here.
Now, let’s start getting that idea out of your head and onto paper. It doesn’t take long at all to get the handle of these. And they will become your greatest tool in feeding your sheep.
Photo Credit Jay Brooks / BIFA 2015
Elliot Grove is the founder of Raindance Film Festival and the British Independent Film Awards. He has produced over 700 hundred short films and also five feature films, including the multi-award-winning The Living and the Dead in 2006, Deadly Virtues in 2013 and AMBER in 2017. He teaches screenwriting and producing in the UK, Europe, Asia and America.
Elliot has written three books which have become industry standards: Raindance Writers’ Lab: Write + Sell the Hot Screenplay, now in its second edition, Raindance Producers’ Lab: Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking and Beginning Filmmaking: 100 Easy Steps from Script to Screen (Professional Media Practice).
In 2009 he was awarded a PhD for services to film education.