Writing For Stage And Screen is perhaps one of the modules that are the most set apart from other areas of writing. Because, to write a script, you really need to focus on what an audience needs - especially with what they want to see. As research, I read the scripts for Mean Girls and Up. One film a teen comedy where the director is able to break the fourth wall, loosen the plot with jokes and cut from scene to scene in the name irony. The other is a carefully woven children's film which has been criticised by some, but has been a favourite for many.
As I am currently working on a script for one of my modules, it is a little difficult to show examples of the format here on Wix, but I can explain some of the most helpful processes that have helped me develop my story.
One process that I hadn't really thought about before was deciding to what extent each scene affects the character. Should these scenes come in a certain order or can you sew them in to guide your story? What I learned is that, in reflection to the nature of my story aka a tragedy, I would have to let the action and tension rest in order to build it back up again. Where before I was including non stop scene after scene of action, I have now changed it so my protagonist has a chance to reflect on his actions. This not only helps the flow of the story, but shows insight to my character development.
Another process of my storytelling was thinking about the conscious and unconscious needs of the protagonist. Before this module, I would never have considered this as something important to drive my story, but when it comes down to it, it really helps us, as writers, to develop a character and build a relationship with the reader. It gives the reader the idea that they feel a protective role over the character if the character themselves are unaware of his/her unconscious needs.
The final process I would like to talk about is developing a timeline which includes what may have happened before the story, and what will happen after the story. While it may feel repetitive to write a timeline, sometimes you are able to find plot holes, or, even better, find areas to work with that will thread their way smoothly into the rest of the story. In one of our classes, we were asked to think about what happened before the story began and how events in the past may have had an impact on it. And although by the time my script begins the protagonist is already past a major part of his life, I was able to sculpt the relationship between him and his mother a little more by thinking about what circumstances had led her to be the way she was.
The power of speech in a script is important, and it must say everything that we need to know without infodumping. It is almost like a puzzle and you have to figure out which pieces will fit together to make the rest of the image make sense. However, you cant just expect the best parts to fit together by force, and you might have to insert less colourful pieces within the exciting pieces to get a full picture.
Here is an example of speech.
‘Get off. I found it first’
‘I’m gonna tell Mum’
‘Well, let me see then.’
‘No. It’s mine’
‘I found it so it’s mine.’
‘If you don’t let me look at it, I will tell mum.’
‘Then neither of us can have it.’
‘Just let me see!’
‘No. You’re too little.’
‘Are too. Mum would kill me if she knew we’d been looking at this.’
‘I won’t tell. I promise.’
‘No. Just go away.’
‘I want to see!’
‘Great. Now you’ve ripped it. Thanks a lot.’
‘You broke it.’
‘No, I didn’t. You did.’
‘You’re so stupid. I’m definitely going to tell mum now’
‘She won’t believe you anyway. You’re a liar.’
‘She will. I’ll take this bit with me. She’s gonna be so mad at you.’
While we are unable to tell exactly what is going on due to the lack of narrative, we have a fair idea that there are two young people arguing over something they have found. Now, to me, it is obvious what is happening but that is because it is an already preconceived image in my head. However, for someone else, it may be different. For one, there are no names - which gives no indication of the gender, age or relationship. Two, the subject of this scene is a little ambiguous. Why do I not name anything or give out more information? Three, there is nothing to show the turn taking in talking.
Now, as annoying as this may be. It is important to remember that in real life, you do not get the advantage of knowing exactly what someone is talking about without asking for an explanation. And this is what we have to think about in scriptwriting. In order for the speech to be realistic, we must depend on the flow and release of information in speech. Otherwise, the characters will seem to be like audio narrators rather than the relatable characters we expect to see.