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Imagination to Paper

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  • Imagination to Paper

    How to begin the script writing process

    Starting the Process

    Many of us continually muse ourselves with film ideas that never get out of our heads. We can't help it, it's part of being a filmmaker. Once an idea sticks, it can be a grueling process trying to get it on paper. From my experience, beginning with character development can be a useful tool. Begin to imagine the characters in your story. Write them down. Give them a name (even if it will change) and a back story. Where were they born? How did they grow up? Try to give as much detail as you can about each character and how they will interact with each other. Not only does this get the creative juices flowing, but it will keep your characters rich with depth. We have all seen that film where we are not so sure who or why a character is there. It is important to have fully developed characters in our stories to move along the plot with full purpose and intent.


    Once you have fleshed out the characters, create an outline of your film. Don't worry if there are missing parts (we call the “meat”) just begin to gain a sense of story line and plot. Even if you only get as far as a location in the outline, your brain has already begun the process of mapping out your story in a linear fashion. What is the pivotal point in your story? Is there a great loss or transformation? Do two lovers meet? Where? Imagine inviting your characters to dinner. What are they wearing? How do they speak. What are their mannerisms? Will they all get along? The more you work to create full characters outside of your writing, the more you will have a full understanding of who they are and how they play an important role within your story. I have gone as far as taking an afternoon shopping at a goodwill as though I was each of my characters. What they would wear, what they would buy for their home or office.


    After you complete this process, your imagination will begin to create the “meat.” Sit down and begin to imagine the opening scene. The very first thing your audience will see and hear. This first thirty seconds of your film is crucial. It is the beginning of a journey that your audience has agreed to participate in. Your audience has taken time out of a busy day or a weekend day filled with a thousand moments of every day life. This first moment, your film opens them to a different way of seeing the world. It carries them elsewhere. How does your film feel in the opening scene? What kind of world are they entering? How quickly can you pull them into the world of your story?
    As it comes to you, write, write, write. You will have many drafts of your script, so pay no attention to format or grammar. I personally like the scriptwriting program Final Draft. Especially pay no mind to budget. Write as if you had 10 million dollars, all the locations you could want and all of the actors your heart desires. You have all access to planes, cranes and automobiles. After you have fleshed out your opening scene, worry no more about linear writing for your first draft. Write scenes as they come to you. Something may inspire you on an afternoon, to write a scene that takes place much later in the story. Go where the inspiration leads you. Never push away the muse because you haven't gotten to that part of the story yet. You never know if something isn't hiding in the inspiration that aids in three other scenes or a new development in a character. Since films are rarely shot in linear fashion, you would have to imagine they are rarely written that way either.Just let the creativity flow and you are on your way to draft one!

    Tiger Moon
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