Writing The Screenplay

Although I don’t necessarily agree with Tudor Gates’ ‘this is my screenplay and I’ll write as much direction as I want to’ approach, in his book Scenario, he poses six kinds of questions that a screenwriter should ask themselves during the writing process. I have found these monumentally helpful in maintaining a concentrated focus on the key construction drivers during the extended writing process. Gates’ questions (verbatim) from his book Scenario (2002: p102) are:

1. Do you have a clear, well thought-out premise? Are you pre-plotting it?

2. Are there a protagonist and an antagonist who, in the course of their mutual conflict, will prove the premise? Are all your characters orchestrated to contribute to that same end?

3. What is the turning point in someone’s life that will precipitate the conflict?

4. Do your principal characters change? Is there pole-to-pole movement? Does the situation change? Are the transitions effected smoothly, and not jerkily?

5. Does your screenplay have a logical, dialectic basis? Does the story, through its characters. move from crisis to climax to resolution in a pattern of rising conflict?

6. Does your dialogue reveal the characters and, in so doing, progress the story? Does it sound natural? Is the sub-text sufficiently clear for there to be no confusion – except of course when confusion is required?

What other questions are helpful for a writer to ask themselves during the screenwriting process?

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