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16 Screenwriting Tips And Tricks

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by Script Reader Pro in Screenwriting Tips/Hacks
April 13, 2013 3 comments
top screenwriting tips

Our whole philosophy here at Script Reader Pro is based around making screenwriting as simple as possible for the aspiring screenwriter through screenwriting tips and tricks, theory hacks, practical exercises and “no-nonsense” advice.

With this in mind, we thought it’d be a good idea to create a blog post round-up of some of our best screenwriting tips and tricks all in one place.

The truth is, there’re an awful lot of bad script writing tips and tricks blog posts floating around out there.

Advice that says you shouldn’t ever use camera angles in your description, that a scene should always contain a protagonist with a goal, and that a screenplay is made up of just three acts.

And they’re just the ones that jump immediately to mind.

It’s time to get down to brass tacks. Screenwriting needn’t be that vague, confusing and abstract. But with the amount of contradictory screenplay tips online it often seems so.

We’ve broken down this list of script writing tips and tricks posts into seven key screenwriting areas:

Concept, Theme, Characters, Plot  / Structure, Scenes, Dialogue and Description. 

Concept Screenwriting Tips

Tip #1: Use a three-way triangle of conflict between protagonist, antagonist, and stakes character to create the strongest concept possible.

Read more about how to do this here: How To Create Movie Ideas That Will Get You An Agent

Tip #2: Always force your protagonist into action at the end of Act 1, rather than let them drift into it.

Read more on how to do this in our step-by-step guide: How To Write A Logline

Theme

Tip #3: Think of theme in terms of an argument: the protagonist represents the “unknown” side, the antagonist the “bad” side and the stakes character the “good” side.

Read more about how to strengthen your theme here: Screenplay Theme De-Mystified

Character

Tip #4: Make your characters feel real by adding a surprising contradiction to them. 

Read how to create 3-dimensional characters here: Why Creating A Character Bio Isn’t A Good Idea (and what to do instead) 

Tip #5: Always make sure your characters feel real.

Read how to do this here: Screenplay Character Development Tips on How to Write Believable Characters

Tip #6: Map your protagonist’s character arc to every major plot point in your screenplay. The Call to Action, Act 1 Break, Midpoint, Act 2 Break and Climax should all be big moments that clearly demonstrate where the protagonist’s at on the arc.

Read how to show character arc through plot points here: Character Arc & Demystifying A Character’s Wants & Needs

Structure / Plot

Tip #7: Add two extra plot points to Act 1 of your script: an Inciting Incident (possibly) in the first scene, and a Big Event around page 17 — the thing that spins the protagonist’s world out of sync, forcing them to make a decision at the end of Act 1.

Tip #8: Follow these 12 specific script beats in Act 1 to really set up the conflict in your screenplay and make it as strong as possible.

Read what these 12 specific screenplay beats are here: 12 Act 1 Script Beats You Should Include In Your Script

Scenes

Tip #9: Stop framing every scene you write in terms of “protagonist vs. antagonist.” In reality, many scenes are more about revealing information that direct conflict.

Read more about this here: Why Most Script Writing Tips On How To Write A Scene Are Wrong

Tip #10: When it comes to writing a scene, there are 8 Core Principles you should follow. Every well written screenplay scene—especially the big ones at major plot points—contain 8 dramatic principles that best move your story forward and keep the audience engaged.

Read more here: The 8 Dramatic Principles of Writing a Scene

Tip #11: Improve your scene description style by comparing it to the pros

Read how to do this here: Screenplay Scene Description: Amateur Writers Vs. Pro Writers

Dialogue

Tip #12: Learn how to dramatically improve your script dialogue by reformatting screenplay transcriptions. This simple hack will get your fingers into the rhythm of writing professional sounding dialogue in less than a month.

Read how to do it here: The #1 Script Dialogue Hack Nobody Talks About

Tip #13: For all you comedy writers out there, steal jokes from the web to boost your script’s humor level.

Read how to do this here: How To Write Comedy Scripts With Woody Allen Level Wit

Tip #14: Eliminate on-the-nose dialogue by replacing all instances of explanation with action. Whenever you have a character explain something, check to see if the information would be better conveyed through a short, visual scene.

Read more about this and other subtext hacks, here: On-The-Nose Dialogue: THE Best Way To Eliminate It

Writing Style/Scene Description Screenwriting Tips

Tip #15: Compare good and bad versions of scene description side-by-side to really see what great writing looks like.

Read examples of this here: Screenplay Scene Description: Good & Bad Versions From Famous Movies

Tip #16: Leverage suspense in your writing style by slowing down time, and thinking of each line as a new camera angle.

Read how to do this here: How To Leverage Suspense In Your Writing Style

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We hope you enjoyed this screenwriting tips round-up and will take a moment to check out our upcoming online screenwriting course called ScriptHackr that contains many more screenwriting tips and tricks you’ll wish you knew years ago.

screenwriting tips

3 Comments
  1. Jeremy says:

    Nice tips. Thank you for sharing.

    1. SRP says:

      You’re welcome Jeremy!

  2. Jack says:

    Thanks, I love these. #4 really hit home for me.

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