Attending good workshops is a great way to learn the art and craft of screenwriting, and you also can learn a lot by watching good and bad movies.
Watch once for enjoyment, then once or twice more for analysis. Here are some of the questions to answer:
- How does the film pull in the viewer in the opening scenes?
- How soon do we understand whose story it is? How is that conveyed?
- How soon do we know the basic dramatic conflict? How do we know it?
- How soon do we meet the opposing forces? What makes them more complex than just plot devices?
- What do we feel about the protagonist at the start? In the middle? At the end? If this changes, how does the script achieve that?
- What revives or renews our interest in the middle of the story?
- What emotions does the film arouse and how?
- If there’s a strong subplot, how does it relate to the main plot?
- When the film is over, what are we still thinking about? How does it create that lingering interest?
- When a film fails to do one of these well, consider how it could have been done better. This process becomes your never-ending film school.
(Jurgen Wolff’s screenwriting blog is at www.ScreenwritingSuccess.com, where you can sign up for his free monthly Brainstorm creativity e-bulletin. His most recent books are Your Creative Writing Masterclass and Your Writing Coach, both published by Nicholas Brealey and available from Amazon and other booksellers.)