Know how to make your script memorable? The answer may surprise you.
I use soap operas as the ultimate example of bad screenwriting. Why? Because in a soap opera a character named Tiffany will say, “I am so furious at Todd. I’m going to go over there and give him a piece of my mind!” Cut to Todd’s. The doorbell rings, Todd answers it and, guess what? That’s right. It’s Tiffany. And, that’s tight, she comes in and yells at Todd.
There are no surprises in soaps. In fact, the events that do occur do so after months of painstakingly unsuspenseful buildup. When the Writers Guild goes on strike, the soaps are the only series that aren’t affected much. Actors have told me how the fans come in and write the scripts during the strike, the actors improvise a bit, and no one complains about loss of quality. Because there are no surprises. The fans know what’s going to happen as well as the writers themselves.
“It’s maddening, what some writers do when it comes to wasting opportunities for surprise,” says Lisa Fonti, screenwriter and part time webmaster for Bestsnoringmouthpieces.org. “I watch so many films that could have written things with so much more craftiness, and yet, they don’t.”
The best practice for us, as writers, is, as Lisa says, to surprise the audience. It is the magic of sleight of hand. It is why Pulp Fiction was such a hit. It gave us setups that we have seen many times and made us expect certain events to follow others, and then took wildly unpredictable left turns. Pulp Fiction is raunchy and raw and ultra-violent, too much for many viewers. But looking beyond that to the story, Read more about Clear Originality Makes Your Script Pop »