What are some of the better tips for writing a good script?

Writing a good script requires careful planning, effective storytelling and attention to detail. Here are some tips to help you in the process:

Know your story

Before you start to write, have a clear understanding of your story’s premise, characters and main conflicts. Develop a strong outline or treatment to guide your scriptwriting process. Understand the core themes and the desired emotional impact you want to achieve.

Create compelling characters

Develop well-rounded and relatable characters that audiences can connect with. Give them distinct personalities, goals and flaws and ensure their actions and dialogue are consistent with their motivations and background. Memorable characters help to drive the story forward and keep audiences engaged.

Focus on structure

The structure of a story is crucial in scriptwriting. Familiarize yourself with popular storytelling structures such as the three-act structure or the hero’s journey. Establish a clear beginning, middle and end, and ensure your script has a well-defined setup, conflict and resolution. Use plot points, turning points and well-timed reveals to maintain the audience’s interest.

Write visually

Scripts are blueprints for visual storytelling. Use descriptive and concise language to paint vivid images in the reader’s mind. Use the show rather than tell cliché whenever possible. Use action and visuals to convey information and emotions instead of relying solely on dialogue. Visual storytelling makes scripts more engaging and appealing to readers and potential viewers.

Master dialogue

Dialogue should be natural, engaging and purposeful. Each character should have a distinct voice, reflecting their personality and background. Keep dialogue concise and avoid excessive exposition. Use subtext and conflict within conversations to create tension and depth. Read the dialogue aloud to ensure that it sounds authentic and flows well.

Maintain pacing

Keep your script’s pacing in mind. Balance slower, character-driven moments with faster-paced, high-stakes scenes. Avoid unnecessary scenes or dialogue that do not advance the story or reveal character information. Create tension and suspense by strategically placing conflicts and obstacles throughout the script.

Edit and revise

Writing is a process of rewriting. Once you have a draft, revise and edit your script multiple times. Polish the dialogue, tighten scenes and eliminate unnecessary elements. Also, seek feedback from trusted readers or fellow writers and be open to constructive criticism—don’t take their criticisms personally. Revise based on the feedback to improve your script’s quality.

Formatting and presentation

Learn and adhere to industry-standard script formatting guidelines. Properly formatting your script makes it easier for producers, agents or readers to navigate and understand. Presentation matters, so ensure your script is free of grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and inconsistencies.

Study successful scripts

Read scripts from successful movies and television shows in your desired genre. Analyze how those scripts effectively engage the audience, build tension or develop characters. Understanding what works in scripts already established can help you enhance your own writing skills.

Find your voice

While learning from established scripts is valuable, don’t be afraid to develop your unique voice and style. Infuse your script with your own creativity, perspective and experiences. Embrace your strengths as a writer and find ways to make your script stand out. Find and employ your individuality; otherwise, it’s just another script.

And remember, writing is a craft that requires years of practice and persistence. Keep honing your skills, seek all the feedback you can find and continue learning from the work of others.

ON WRITING Writing Prompts

A List of Common Mistakes to Avoid When Writing

There are several common mistakes to avoid in your writing to ensure clarity, coherence, and overall quality. Check these out for some of them:

Spelling and grammar errors: Proofread your work carefully to eliminate spelling mistakes, typos, and grammatical errors. Incorrect punctuation, subject-verb agreement, and tense usage can weaken your writing.

Lack of clarity: Ensure your writing is clear and easy to understand. Avoid using ambiguous or vague language that can confuse your readers. Lose the verbosity and ambiguity. Be specific and precise in conveying your ideas.

Weak or repetitive words: Avoid using weak or overused words that can make your writing sound bland. Look for opportunities to use stronger verbs and descriptive language to engage your readers.

Lack of structure and organization: A well-structured piece of writing is easier to follow and understand. Ensure your writing has a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. Use paragraphs and headings to organize your thoughts effectively during drafting.

Lack of focus: Stay focused on your main topic or argument. Avoid going off on tangents or including irrelevant information that distracts readers from your main point.

Inconsistent tone or style: Maintain consistency in the tone and style of your writing. Ensure that your writing matches the intended audience and purpose. Switching between formal and informal language or varying the tone too much can disrupt the flow of your writing.

Lack of proofreading: Neglecting to proofread your work can result in overlooked errors and inconsistencies. Always take the time to review your writing before finalizing it.

Poor sentence structure: Pay attention to sentence structure to ensure readability. Avoid run-on sentences or overly complex sentence structures that can confuse readers. Vary the length and structure of your sentences to create a more engaging flow.

Ignoring feedback: Feedback from peers, editors, or readers is valuable for improving your writing. Be open to constructive criticism and use it to enhance your work.

Lack of revision: Writing is a process that requires revision. Avoid the mistake of thinking your first draft is perfect. Take the time to revise and edit your work to refine your ideas and enhance the overall quality of your writing.

By being mindful of these common mistakes, you can strengthen your writing and create a more compelling and polished piece of work. Good luck!


Are You Really Ready to Submit Your Script?

If you have a script that you would like a production company to consider, it’s important to note that production companies typically have established processes and guidelines for script submissions. Here are a few general steps you can take to increase your chances of getting your script noticed:

Research: Familiarize yourself with the production company’s previous projects and the types of films they tend to produce. Ensure that your script aligns with their areas of interest and expertise.

Polish your script: Before submitting your script, make sure it is properly formatted, well-written, and free of any errors. Consider seeking feedback from trusted peers or professional script readers to improve its quality.

Query Letter: Craft a compelling query letter that introduces yourself, summarizes your script’s premise, and explains why you believe the production company would be interested in your project. Keep the letter concise and professional.

Contact Information: Ensure your contact information is clearly provided in your query letter and any other materials you submit.

Industry Connections: Networking and establishing connections within the film industry can help get your script noticed. Attend film festivals, screenplay competitions, or industry events where you may have the opportunity to meet industry professionals, including producers, agents, or executives who may have connections to a production company.

Script Contests and Fellowships: Consider submitting your script to reputable screenplay contests or fellowships. Some competitions and programs offer opportunities for script exposure and industry recognition.

Online Platforms: Utilize online platforms specifically designed for script submissions, such as the Black List or InkTip. These platforms provide opportunities for writers to showcase their work to industry professionals.

Remember, getting a production company to review your script can be highly competitive, with no guarantees. It is essential to have patience, persistence, and a belief in your work. It’s also worth noting that production companies’ submission guidelines and preferences can change over time, so it’s important to research and stay up to date with their specific requirements.


What is Dystopian Fiction? Five Characteristics and their Importance

Dystopian fiction offers a speculative glimpse of the future, one often of a cataclysmic decline with characters battling their way through environmental ruin, technological control, and government oppression. As a sub-genre of science fiction, the popular dystopian novel can challenge readers’ views of current social and political climates, offer warnings, and in some instances, inspire action. But how is dystopian fiction determined? First, let’s define the difference between a utopian and a dystopian world.

What’s the Difference Between Utopia and Dystopia?

When Sir Thomas More coined the term “utopia” in his 1516 book Utopia, he was inadvertently shaping centuries of genre. With the advent of Utopia, which was about an ideal society on a fictional island, the dystopia concept was born.

Unlike utopian literature, dystopian literature explores and warns of the dangerous effects of created political and social structures on humanity (Hugh Howey’s Wool Trilogy), what leads society to its totalitarian outcomes, and the difficulty of correcting the situation. Often there’s no way back, and the character’s needs are stripped down to their basic elements of survival (Aral Bereux’s J Rae Books (Watcher Series)).

Utopian literature, on the other hand, often focuses on the individual and societal cost of maintaining a perfect world. Usually, one individual’s sacrifice is necessary for the utilitarian society to flourish (Ursula Le Guin’s The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas), or there may be a hidden secret that must never be revealed (Arthur C. Clarke’s The City and the Stars and Childhood’s End).

What Is the Significance of Dystopian Fiction?

Margaret Atwood once said, “If you’re interested in writing speculative fiction, one way to generate a plot is to take an idea from current society and move it a little further down the road. Even if humans are short-term thinkers, fiction can anticipate and extrapolate into multiple versions of the future.”

The significance of dystopian fiction in literature can vary from educating and warning humanity about current social and political structures, to reflecting an author’s beliefs on the pitfalls of society (H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine), to critiquing behaviorism (Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange) and cautioning on oppressive regimes (Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Orwell’s 1984).

5 Characteristics of Dystopian Fiction

Oftentimes, dystopian novels focus on central themes that generally fall under these categories:

1. Government control

Specifically, there is either an authoritarian ruling body or simply no government. The most obvious contemporary portrayal of the government control feature is Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy.

Collins’ The Hunger Games takes place in a future nation built on the ruins of North America. The fictional Panem is ruled by President Snow’s totalitarian government, the Capitol. Just as our own society amasses vast amounts of wealth into the top one percent, Collins’ Capitol holds most of Panem’s wealth and uses this to control its citizens.

Each year, two children from Panem’s 12 poverty-stricken districts are mandatorily selected to participate in a televised death match called the Hunger Games.

George Orwell’s 1984 also presents the reader with a world under complete government control, known as the omnipresent surveillance of Big Brother, which enforces complete control over the citizens of Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia – the three inter-continental superstates remaining after a world war.

2. Loss of individualism

The dangers of conformity are often written into classic dystopias such as 1984. How should the needs of society as a whole compare to individual needs? Authors writing in the dystopian genre will need to keep this question in mind.

Two examples are Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, written in 1953, and Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We.

Artist: Mike Winkelmann

Fahrenheit 451 explores the censorship of books in a future society where increased technology and mindless entertainment dominate. The idea? To save the citizen from the misery of thinking freely, critiquing life, or being creative.

We, written in 1920, follows a spacecraft engineer living in One State. The citizens of One State wear uniforms and are referred to by number and are forever refused privacy or individual belief.

3. Environmental destruction

Often set in places that are inhabitable, the dystopian environmental story documents a warning of impending doom and destruction.

The one dystopian novel that comes to mind when discussing this characteristic, is Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Written in 2006, the post-apocalyptic tale documents a father and son’s journey of survival to a more hospitable environment in which to live after an extinction-level event wipes out their old life.

James Dashner’s The Maze Runner series also chronicles the events of how a world is destroyed by solar flares and coronal mass ejections. In the first book, a group of teenage boys are stuck in The Glade and have to find their way out of an ever-changing maze.

4. Technological control

In a dystopian novel, the advancement of science and technology goes far beyond providing tools for improving everyday life. In this particular take on dystopia, technology is depicted as a controlling, ubiquitous, and inescapable force that creates fear-mongering tactics and a subservient culture. Oftentimes, the government can be seen herding the people like sheep.

Two standout authors capture this terrifying characteristic in the form of authoritarian bureaucracy: Huxley and Philip K. Dick.

Philip K. Dick’s 1968 short novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? takes place in a post-apocalyptic San Francisco where android robots are indistinguishable from humans, and mass extinction has led to artificial animals. Although it is supposed that the main character hunts down rogue AI before they can assimilate into society, the novel leaves the reader wondering if the protagonist is himself a sophisticated android hunting down the lesser AI and if humanity was in fact driven to extinction.

Philip K. Dick also warned of artificial intelligence advancements in Minority Report, where the Department of Precrime looks into the future to arrest potential criminals before they actually commit a crime.

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World was written in 1932 and explores the dangers of advancing technology too quickly. In the novel, the ruling World State uses powerful artificial reproduction conditioning technologies to control its citizen classes and their actions.

All three books have since been adapted to film and streaming services.

5. Survival

Dystopian and even utopian worlds require some level of survival to be built into the narrative in order to resonate with their audiences. Innate to the dystopian world are its inhabitants fending for themselves after a complete or almost complete destruction and devastation of their world.

One instance of survival is found in the pages of an early Stephen King novel, The Running Man. Written and first published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman in 1982, the novel takes place in 2025 and follows the story of an impoverished man living under an oppressive government. The protagonist is to compete on a life-threatening game show to earn money to care for his family.

In the renowned Lord of the Flies by William Golding, a group of schoolboys finds themselves abandoned on a tropical island after their plane is shot down. Conflicts naturally emerge between the boys as they struggle to build a civilization and fight for survival. This dystopian novel has been widely distributed among literature programs for decades.

The warnings that dystopian fiction provides are the ultimate What Ifs of literature and narrative. The speculative glimpses of futures down the road, as Atwood explained, are a reflection of centuries of storytelling, often encompassing myth and morals to serve as a warning. As a sub-genre of science fiction, the challenge to a reader’s self-reflection is obvious and should inspire action, or at least, some level of growth as we question our own ability to survive while maintaining our integrity and more importantly, our humanity.