No film without script. But you already have one in your hands. Basically it’s illegible. Because they are not literary constructions, effects of style that the screenwriter proposes. It is an alternatively narrative and descriptive narrative, a bit like a theater text enriched with comments and intentions. It is an indicative document for professionals.
1. A scenario calls for a type of technical writing, detailed, intended for professionals
It is not written like a novel. One must be forced to think in pictures when writing a scenario.
It is a technical document intended primarily for the producer. Once validated, the scenario becomes the reference for all the businesses invested in the production of the film: actors, decorators. Reading must be fast and efficient. Simple direct and especially in the present. A scenario page should be approximately one minute of film. Let’s keep the adage of “William M. Ackers”, which should guide all writers: “If the camera can not see it, you can not write it”.
Detail as much as possible the elements of the decor, the gestures of the characters. Remember that all the details are useful to visualize the plans in detail.
Sometimes the inner voices (silent character whose thought is evoked) can play a role but the heaviness is often at the Rendez-vous. At the very least, this can serve as an indication to the actors.
It is the background that matters because if the screenwriter sometimes has specific intentions, the magic of the realization, an actor, a technical team can spoil or sublimate.
2. How to write a scenario?
First, the screenwriter must have a scroll of his film. For this, it is essential to write a summary of his scenario or a narrative diagram:
- – The idea of the film:
The idea of a film is a story.
- The documentation related to the subject
For example, the historical, sociological, social, technical reality of the plot. It involves the questions of decor and accessories, an immersion in the subject …
This is the unfolding of the story. It must be simple and direct, clear and present. She must compose a progression with a fall or a denouement. The scenario will be read by several trades, including producers, actors, managers, decorators … The scenario is primarily a working tool that must be precise to guide professionals.
3. The typical scenario structure or how to structure a scenario?
To caricature, but it is an idea commonly acquired since the good old Aristotle, the structure in three acts is welcome. It is not a condition sine-qua non, nor a pledge of quality but it allows to build a coherent architecture of film, recognized, appreciated by the professionals of the cinema.
Act1: Introduce and set the context
– Present characters in a universe. The goal is to arouse the interest of the viewer.
- Introduce conflicts, the disruptive element.
20 to 25% of the film duration.
Act 2: Setting obstacles and trials
- Determine the narrative arcs of the characters.
- Evolve the characters to solve the problem.
- Staging the obstacles crossed or insoluble: it is the knot of the plot that must lead to Climax: culmination of the scenario where the situation is at its peak.
60% of the movie duration.
Act 3: Resolving and resolving conflicts
- Show the ultimate confrontation.
- Solve the plot and conflict by a happy or unhappy ending.
15% of the movie duration.
4. How to make the layout of a scenario?
It is very formatted, organized, exhaustive and precise because it involves several trades (refer to two reference software CELTX or FINAL DRAFT to retrieve standard models).
4 Essential elements for a basic scenario should be mentioned:
- At the head of the scene number with precision of the time of day and space: Day, night or morning. We can be more precise: twilight etc …
- The description: What is happening in the scene?
- Right: name of the character who speaks and his dialogue with an indication (happy or depressed, sad … which will serve as a guide to the actors).
- Centric dialogue.
5. Some tips for the near-pros of the scenario:
– Two dashes for interrupted dialogue.
– Name of the main characters in capital letters.
– Sometimes the screenwriter can describe atmospheres and even technical intentions: Cut melted chained, definition of the frame, tracking, sounds (Tarentino is fond of it).
6. How to present a scenario ?:
- The dialogue continuity is the logical continuation of the scenario. It consists of scenes (usually a hundred or so for a feature film) all summarized in a synopsis that synthesizes the meaning of the scene.
- The note of intent qualifies the genre and style of film. This is important because belonging to a genre is essential as a benchmark for professionals. Unless you are the new Rohmer.
7. To build a scenario practical tips must be respected
- Pay attention to the linear consistency of the action.
- Change location for each new sequence.
- Write in the present tense.
- Detail as much as possible the elements of the decoration, the gestures of the characters.
- Remember that everything must be indicated to accurately visualize the plans.
Once your scenario is written, the final step remains: note of intent and technical breakdown.
8. How to write a good script: key principles (which will save you time)
1) It’s easy to have an idea. On the other hand, it is necessary to test it, to write it, to rework it, to test it for a simple goal: to know if it is a true idea.
2) An idea is not a scenario .. For an idea to begin to belong you must formalize it: environment, characters, plot. In a word: a beginning, a middle, an end … This formalization is essential for the idea to become yours, even to be protected.
3) The scenario structure is essential. It’s the construction, the unfolding that matters. The scenarios are so numerous that there is a good chance your subject has already been treated. On the other hand if formally your scenario respects the forced passages, you will force the respect of the professionals.
4) In the same way as the writing of a novel, writing a script must go through synthesis and extreme simplification:
- – Limitation of the number of characters.
- – Simplification of intrigues.
- – Portrait.
Whatever the purpose, it is better to do a permanent and recurrent pruning of what seems superfluous. Make it simple and pure.
5) A good script is also a personal scenario that mixes your experience and your feelings with the writing of a fiction.
The personal filter is therefore essential because it is what will make the originality.
9. Write a scenario: cinematographic writing is essential.
- Think about what the viewer sees and hears, not what is said. Everything is supported by the image and supported by dialogue.
- What scenes, what order, what logic? And this to arouse emotions.
- Thinking and designing with editing ideas, effects, timeline can be a profitable and constructive anticipation for the design.
- Generate tension, an issue for your hero. His invitation to share his adventure is the very source of public involvement.
The principles of identification or projection work on this logic.
10. Scenario: Writing a plausible not necessarily true.
Any fiction takes you into transposed worlds that are realistic, fantastic or fantastic. The further you are from the real world, the more credentials you offer become elements of credibility. So we can be crazy, yes, if we have previously defined the codes of this madness.
The job of screenwriter is also an ability and ability to handle a form of truth acceptable and accepted by the viewer.
11. Some key tips to revamp your scenario
- Go back on his work, refine it. Deconstruct it to put it back together, eliminate the superfluous.
- The writing of a scenario in the same way as the writing of a novel is a form of priesthood. Every form of pride must be banished and roll up his sleeves is imperious. Perhaps more than a novel, a scenario can be improved to infinity!
And beware, consistency is essential if you change a scene, make sure that the whole story does not collapse. Logistics is central in writing a scenario. Do not end up with one last puzzle piece that does not fit in the table
Finally the methodology, which can seem heavy and seem to slow down the process is essential
- Take time and let days pass before replay.
- Consult external opinions that are in the part (authors, moviegoers etc …).
- Correct yourself, annotate, comment. Check common criticisms of external readers.
And come back, come back, come back to optimize.