5 Secret Techniques to Writing a Killer Script!

By Ronald K. Armstrong

Writing is not easy, especially writing screenplays. In fact, in order to get good, I recommend that you write as often as possible. I see too many screenwriters starting out with false expectations. They think that they will sit down and on their first past write a great film. In my experience, great films come from screenwriters who have not only written material many times before but their best works come from a number of rewrites.

I advise that if you want to be a great filmmaker then you should learn how to be a great writer. The filmmaker is the visual storyteller of the script. The problem is that in our era writing good scripts, especially on the indie level, is not taken seriously enough. Most aspiring filmmakers strive to mimic Hollywood blockbusters. So they not only copy ideas from Hollywood, which are usually bad and done by committee, but in doing so they fail to perfect their craft and find their own voice as a writer.

Here are 5 Secrets that I find common in really good scripts. Of course, these are not the end all be all secrets on this subject matter because it is so lengthy it would take publishing several books to cover the ins and outs of screenwriting. For more tips check out my YouTube channel: www.ronkarmstrong.com

1. Have a great inciting incident. The is the motivation for things to happen. It gets things moving and provides context for the rest of the film. This doesn’t have to be action packed but it does grip the reader or audience right away. It is the key element that will propel your protagonist and antagonist into action.

2. Make every page a cliffhanger or a page-turner. Now, I am exaggerating a bit, but a good screenplay should leave the reader on the edge of his or her seat. This means you should structure your scenes in such a way that not only keeps them guessing as to what happens next but creates a burning desire to want to know what happens in the next scene.

3. Tell your story visually. Too often writers try to explain everything through exposition. Instead, use symbolism and imagery to convey the meanings you are trying to communicate to the audience. Remember the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”? Well, try trimming down your dialogue and include more visual expression. For reference, check out the film China Town starring Jack Nicholson.

4. A really good script typically has a great and complex villain. In fact, the best films are the ones that have an antagonist that you love to hate. But you shouldn’t forget that their motivation for being the way they are shouldn’t be trivial. Too many films suffer from poorly written villains whose motives were unclear.

5. Have your protagonist be imperfect. In fact, the characters that are written the best are usually those fighting with inner demons. This forces them to go through some type of character arc which, when dealt with, gives them the strength to confront and be victorious over the antagonist.

Bonus Tip: Try telling your story in a nonlinear fashion. The problem I have with a lot of the films that Hollywood produces is that they presuppose that life happens linearly. When I saw Deadpool I wasn’t blown away by it but I loved the non-linear structure that they used. It made the film more interesting. Although this can be a powerful storytelling technique, it is not easy to do. So you should try writing a few stories with it to get the hang of it.

Don’t forget that once you have written your screenplay try and get some feedback. You might think it’s a masterpiece of literary work but others will give you more of an objective opinion. But, if you are really serious and want to master this craft, I really believe you should watch as many movies as possible to study the writing. Then write as many screenplays as you can. The more you write the more you’ll define your voice and style! Good luck!

Author's Bio: 

Ronald K. Armstrong is an award winning writer and filmmaker. For industry contacts, jobs, casting calls, and news sign up to his newsletter: http://bit.ly/ronkarmstrongtheinsider