Screeplay writing

GV Rama Rao By GV Rama Rao, 1st Jul 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Columns & Opinions

A screenplay is a shorter, easier and more remunerative alternative to writing a novel. However, it needs special technique of formatting.

Objective.

The ultimate objective of most of the bloggers is to break out into the big league and write a bestseller. The dream can be extended to winning a prize of repute and seeing a reputed director converting it to a blockbuster movie. Only writers in a self-denial mode can deny this. Although writing a book is not difficult, the subsequent process of finding an agent, publisher, marketing and other nitty gritty for its success is a long drawn process. My blog WW Fair explains how aspiring writers are exploited.

Alternative.

The aim of this piece is to highlight screenplay writing as a viable alternative to writing a bestseller. A screenplay is a series of scenes that carry the story forward. It sets the scenes, describes the settings, introduces the characters and set the stage for the story. It is normally 120 pages long as each page represents one minute on the screen and in rare cases may extend to 135 pages. Screenplays exceeding the industry norm never stand a chance unless they are exceptional. It is half the job of writing a novel.

Common factors.

Both forms of writing need a novel plot, a new, powerful story that hooks the reader or the audience and strong characters that keep the audience glued to their seats. A protagonist and villain--someone who stands in the way of the hero achieving his ultimate aim are essential. The buildup of the conflict with interesting scenes and finally the resolution of the conflict in the end are no different. The hero and the villain should be well-rounded characters, and the aim/goal of the hero should be laudable and well defined. The more troubles the hero is put to before he achieves his aim the more intriguing the story will be. The ending or the climax is essentially the same, and a twist of the tale would give added value to the story. Most of the movies have a happy ending as the audience likes to leave the movie hall in a happy mood.

Differences.

First, the screenplay does not need colorful or exotic prose. In fact, such prose is abhorred. The screenplay essentially consists of action, dialogues and special effects, special computer-aided graphics. Some music and narration in the form of voice over may be added. Secondly each page may be only less than hundred words and not four times the figure required for a novel. Where there are more dialogue and less action, the word count of the page may be even less. Thirdly, grammar is not a stringent requirement as most of the dialogue doesn’t adhere to the rules of grammar. The characters need not speak grammatically correct English at all times. The characters, often, cut some words and add some profanity or slang or invective as the situation demands. Thirdly, there is no need to explain the POV or point of view and who is speaking the dialogue as each dialogue is marked under the name of the character speaking it.

A novelist embellishes his novel with interior monologue and explains the turmoil going within a character. All this is unnecessary in a screenplay as the director and actor interpret the dialogue, emote and enact a scene.

A screenplay is always a visual medium. It is, therefore, short and employs the technique of ‘show and not tell.' If the writer of a novel were to use this admirable technique throughout the novel, it becomes unwieldy. Then again many a MS is rejected because it contains more tell and less show.

The dialogues need not be long. Instead, they should be crisp and identical to the way people in such vocations and situations speak. However, this needs considerable observation and listening to live conversations of people similar to the characters in situations as shown in the scenes. A good use of the jargon will make the dialogue authentic.

One of the greatest advantages of script writing is the tense. It is always written in the present tense and takes the mickey out of using the correct tense- a bugbear for many writers. Action is in real time. Scenes of what had happened earlier can easily be shown as flashbacks or in the form of montages.

Formatting.

A screenplay is formatted in an entirely different way. A comprehensive study of this method of writing is essential before writing it. Industry people don’t even look at screenplays not adhering to the standard format. One can learn this formatting online thanks to several free websites, or join a workshop, or get a degree from a University. Lastly one can purchase the software that gives all suggestions and prompts.

Marketing.
Here again one has to find an agent and convince him that the screenplay is likely to make a blockbuster movie. Since the number of writers using this format is, less the chances of finding an agent are better. If the screenplay sells, the writer is on his way to success. A screenplay can be adopted either for a movie or for a TV serial or episode and has a greater market. Lastly it is more remunerative.

Wikinut writers.

I, therefore, appeal to all writers at Wikinut to learn the technique of writing a screenplay. Here is wishing you all the success.

Disclaimer.
It’s not the intention of this writer to give the impression he is a reputed screenplay writer. It may be noted the author is also a beginner and is learning the ropes of writing in this format with a fond hope to knock at the gates of Hollywood in the next few months.

Wikinut is the best place to post your initial screenplay or any other form of writing and get a feedback from an informed, friendly community of writers.

Tags

Blockbuster, Character, Characters, Climax, Hero, Heroes, Plot, Plot Line, Remu, Screen, Screen Play, Screenwriter, Screenwriting, Tv Series, Tv Show, Writing, Writing Skill, Writing Tips

Meet the author

author avatar GV Rama Rao
I am a retired naval officer and a published author with three books to my credit. I am a winner of nanowrimo competition for 2008,9, &10. I like humor best..

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Comments

author avatar Phyl Campbell
2nd Jul 2014 (#)

You explained the concepts very well. Well done!!

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
2nd Jul 2014 (#)

My dear Phyl.
Thanks for your comment.

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author avatar Dagny
2nd Jul 2014 (#)

This sounds interesting. I am intrigued. :)

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
2nd Jul 2014 (#)

My dear Dagny,
Welcome to my pages here. Try this as you are good at dialogues.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
2nd Jul 2014 (#)

am so glad you shared this GV...perhaps I should start writing such...although already a screenwriter is putting together one on my Cosmic Creation epic and it is fantastic...thank you very much...

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
2nd Jul 2014 (#)

My dear Carol,
Thanks for your comment. You're a natural, gifted and prolific writer. It would get you riches.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
3rd Jul 2014 (#)

Thanks for this useful share, GVR. It is taken as the preserve of the few but the rewards and also disappointments can be high! In Indian films not difficult to distinguish between a hero and a villain! siva

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
3rd Jul 2014 (#)

Siva,
Thanks for your comment. Some writers have the skill to make it difficult to the audience to spot the villain till the end. Alistair Maclean's novels and movies is case in the point.

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author avatar Carol
7th Jul 2014 (#)

Very interesting , many thanks.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
7th Jul 2014 (#)

My dear Carol,
Thanks for your comment.

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author avatar Kingwell
13th Jul 2014 (#)

God share my friend.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
13th Jul 2014 (#)

My dear kingwell,
Thanks for your comment. Let's keep God out of this, shall we?
Just kidding.

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author avatar madathil mhanian
25th Sep 2014 (#)

sir good morning i came to know about you through your comment on my blob( sorry blog) about wristwatches. your article on screenplay is very informative. thank you and keep writing. wishing you many 'ports' of arrival in your writing sails. ahoy.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
25th Sep 2014 (#)

My dear mhanian,
Welcome to my pages and thanks for your comments.

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author avatar madathil mhanian
25th Sep 2014 (#)

thank you for the information about nanowrimo as well.

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author avatar viewgreen
22nd Oct 2014 (#)

Great article and very informative... Surely, for me myself still feel awkward to write a novel. Thank you for sharing this valuable information's sir.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
23rd Oct 2014 (#)

My dear viewgreen,
Don't feel diffident. Learn the art of screenplay writing online and have a go.You never know the talent dormant in you.

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author avatar Sangeeta Manocha
29th Jan 2015 (#)

Great piece of advice, well explained. Thanks for sharing the info.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
29th Jan 2015 (#)

My dear Sangeeta,
Welcome to my pages and thanks for your comment.

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