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The Ingredients of Screenwriting.

The Top 20 Ingredients To Ensure Your Recipe For Success.

Screenwriting is a lot like baking a cake. Wait, stay with us...

At the start, you have your separate ingredients but when the cake's ingredients are mixed, your batter is ready. Then it's time to place your batter in a sturdy tin and bake. Once the batter is baked, each ingredient has mixed together, transforming into something else, something new, something tasty (if you've done a good job). Then you can decorate it any way you like.

Much like a cake, the elements of a good screenplay should be indistinguishable from each other by the time it reaches the reader. The aim is for all of your ingredients to be bigger than the sum of their parts. You want your reader to be tasting the heady mix of your complimentary ingredients rather than thinking 'I can taste the egg in this'.

Aim for:

More this

And less this

Buuuut we all know that recipes can go wrong. Two people can follow the same cake recipe and come out with two completely different results. It takes years of practise and learning from trial and error.

Only an experienced baker doesn't always need to follow a recipe because they've learnt what works - they understand the foundation. They know the rules so well that they can start to break them and get inventive.

Unfortunately it's all too common for newbies who don't know the rules to make them up, resulting in a 'cake' like this one...

Ok, you get it, your screenplay is the cake. So let's talk about screenplays!

Writing a screenplay is a challenging task that requires a combination of creativity, storytelling, and technical skills. That is why Script Stable have collected the top 20 ingredients to keep in mind when crafting your screenplay:

Concept: A great screenplay starts with a strong concept that is original, interesting, and compelling.

Characters: Characters are the heart of any screenplay, so it's important to create characters that are well-defined, relatable, and memorable.

Dialogue: Good dialogue is essential to bring your characters to life and move the story forward. It should be natural, engaging, and reveal something about the character.

Plot: A well-crafted plot is essential to keep the audience engaged and interested in your story. It should have a clear beginning, middle, and end, and a satisfying resolution.

Conflict: Conflict is what drives the story forward and keeps the audience invested. It should be organic, realistic, and provide a clear obstacle for the protagonist to overcome.

Theme: A good screenplay should have a clear theme that ties everything together and provides a deeper meaning to the story.

Tone: The tone of your screenplay should be consistent throughout and match the genre and style of the story you're telling.

Structure: The structure of your screenplay should be well-organized and easy to follow, with a clear progression of events and character arcs.

Setting: The setting of your screenplay should be well-defined and provide a clear sense of place and atmosphere.

Visuals: A screenplay is a visual medium, so it's important to think about how your story will look on screen and include clear, descriptive visuals.

Pacing: The pacing of your screenplay should be well-balanced, with a mix of slow and fast-paced scenes to keep the audience engaged.

Foreshadowing: Foreshadowing is a great tool for building tension and creating a sense of anticipation in your screenplay. If you know there will be a big reveal, you can sprinkle subtle clues throughout the script to foreshadow what's to come.

Subtext: Good screenplays often have layers of subtext that add depth and nuance to the story and characters. Subtext in dialogue not only helps to create realistic characters, it also helps to foreshadow.

Symbolism: The use of symbolism can add a deeper layer of meaning to your screenplay and make it more memorable.

Humour: Humour is a great way to engage the audience and keep them invested in your story. Even if it's not a comedy - real life contains humour, so your characters should experience moments of it, even if it's subtle.

Emotion: Emotion is what connects the audience to the characters and story, so it's important to create moments that evoke a strong emotional response.

Action: Action is an essential component of many screenplays, so it's important to write action scenes that are exciting and easy to follow. Description should be active and in present tense, without writing camera angles to explain what we're seeing.

Suspense: Suspense is a great way to keep the audience on the edge of their seats and build tension throughout your screenplay. Don't give everything away too quickly - elude to what's coming.

Surprises: A good screenplay should have unexpected twists and surprises that keep the audience engaged and guessing. Your surprises need to make sense to the story though - they can't be random.

Resolution: A satisfying resolution is essential to bring your story to a close and leave the audience with a sense of closure and satisfaction.

Aaaaannnd there you have it. Your screenwriting ingredients are waiting in the cupboard for you to get started.

Ok, so that might seem like a lot... and that's because it is. But you don't have to focus on ALL of the ingredients at once. The perk of screenwriting is that you can edit. Unlike baking, you can add and take away as you please - you don't have to throw the whole cake out if it's bad. Writing is rewriting, so even if the first draft of your script is a mess (and it probably will be) you can go back and fix it. Again and again until it's brilliant.

Be patient. It's ok if your first few attempts look like this:

It might seem time consuming (welcome to the screenwriting world) but this is how you'll learn and improve.

Any questions? Pop them in the comments and we'll answer them in future articles.



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16 views1 comment

1 Comment

Mar 06, 2023

Great insight and inspiration.

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