Writing Advice Wednesday
It’s exercises like the one below that form part of my One Hour Screenwriter course, which will help you write an entire feature film script in 22 weeks. You can purchase it at the shop here. You can also read testimonies here that show my methods have worked for a variety of different writers.
This week, it’s time to let it all out…
Writing what is said and what is revealed
Write a dialogue between two people in a grocery store. They only have enough money to buy one small container of ice cream. They will have to share the treat.
Quickly write their argument, debate or negotiation with each other over which flavor to purchase. But allow the characters to talk only about the ice cream choice. Let everything else lie just below the surface of the conversation.
What flavor is each person’s favorite? What can you tell us about their philosophy of life as they debate the relative merits of their personal choices?
How does one person try to persuade the other? What tactics and strategies are used? How does the other person respond? How is each choice defended or promoted?
How is the flavor finally selected? What does their argument say about their relationship and relative status or power? Are they equals? Are they partners in crime? Are they in love? Are they friends? Are they competitors? Are they afraid of each other?
How can we intuit information about their relationship in their manner of debating and selecting the ice cream choice?
What flavor is finally purchased? How was it selected? Who won the battle? What was the final deciding factor? Why?
What are the consequences? How does this choice affect their relationship? How can we figure this out by how they respond to each other in the final purchase process and aftermath?
Arguments about seemingly mundane or insignificant things are a good way to show who a character is underneath his or her façade.
A personal and very specific argument about ice cream or whose turn it is to walk the dog can reveal volumes about who someone is, what they value and what kind of relationship they have with someone else.
Use this technique to show us what is under the surface of your character.
Describe a scenario in which your character argues with someone about an insignificant matter that reveals larger issues and looming power conflicts below the surface.
Video Essay of the Week
This week’s writing exercise is all about the control of information, as is Alex Garland’s sci-fi masterpiece Ex Machina. Lessons From The Screenplay tells us more:
Let me know what you think of this week’s writing exercise by emailing me at ETBHelp@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you as we go forward with more of these writing exercises. Next week, it’s time to think about other people and not just yourself…
Until then, remember- all you need to do is Get Started and Keep Going!