Last week we reviewed the three basic elements to apply in order to become a successful screenwriter. The first was discipline which revolved mainly around sitting down everyday for an hour or less and write anything. Research has shown that a habit is picked up or broken after 21 days of repetition. With that in mind, if you do this for 21 days straight, you will notice that it will become second-nature to sit everyday and write. This may become more of a therapeutic hobby than actual screenwriting, but it will sharpen your word tools and writing flow. The second homework was observation. Listen, watch, touch, taste... let all your senses go wild and you will become an audience member and life will be a great movie for you to simply copy word by word and turn it into riveting screen material. The third element in become a good screenwriter was to understand that all human beings go through the same lives with minor variations and a story that would touch you would touch everyone else.
The mistake that many writers make is they write let's say a scene that is suppose to be moving. If they read it, they wouldn't necessarily be touched, but they feel that all the elements of "touching scenes" are there, so it should work. That's wrong thinking. If the writer replays the written scene in his head and he feels unmoved, then other readers will be oblivious to it as well. You could ask me, what if I had a pet whose name was Tom and he died in a tragic hit and run accident, and every time I watch Tom and Jerry, it brings a tear to my eye. Showing a character sitting on a sofa watching Tom and Jerry and crying his eyes out would not make any sense to anyone else. However, if you also show that the character's pet died and a few scenes later, show the T&J scene, I guarantee that it'll pull a few heart strings.
What if you surround yourself with the same types of people? What if they all look the same, use the same vocabulary, act alike... that wouldn't leave you much room for material would it? Before jumping to the easy fix of "start hanging out with different groups," I would like to encourage you to increase your observation skills. While a lot of people act the same way in public, if you observe more closely you will notice little personality traits that slip that distinguishes every person. While we may all have the same emotional makeup, we experience fear, sadness, joy, anger on different levels and we physically those emotions differently. It's those physical or business that you have to connect. If a person twitches, you have to find the source of the twitch. Perhaps he twitches out of fear or nervousness; perhaps it's the tingling feelings of joy that run jitters through his body.
If you watch a film like Shervin Youssefian's (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1352346/) Machiavelli Hangman (http://www.hangmanmovie.com) or Paul Haggis's Crash, you will notice that the characters display the same emotions but while one person may be silent when he's angry, the other screams and yells. If you concentrate on physicalities and inner emotions and you find where those two meet, you will be golden!
About the author:
Aaron Trinidad has worked as a writer
on various TV sitcoms, he's currently
taking a class in screenwriting in
New York. - Machiavelli Hangman:
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