Script DevelopmentScript development is the difficult process a script writer goes through to create a script and improve it overtime to make it the best it can be. It involves developing a location, characters a story that will keep theaudience hooked. A good script will include a “problem” for the protagonist to overcome and should alsoinclude a conflict which makes it difficult for this character to overcome that problem and this shoulddevelop over time. For example in Back to the Future, the problem is that the protagonist has been sent backin time 30 years to the year 1955 and he needs to get to the future to save another character, the conflict isthat the time machine requires plutonium or another source with a lot of energy which was hard to find in1955. Then in the middle of the story there should be a “turning point” where this problem changes and thestory can take a big twist. The turning point in Back to the Future comes when the protagonist’s mother (as ateenager) begins to fall in love with him instead of his father of the past and if his mum and dad of the pastdon’t fall in love, he will no longer exist because it will change the future. These are all things which need toincluded in a script in order for it to be a good script.“The script development process starts either with a Screenwriter writing a spec (self-financed)screenplay for sale to a production company, or with a Producer commissioning a Screenwriter to write ascreenplay based on a concept, a true story, an existing screenwork (for example a cartoon or TV series), oranother literary work (such as a story, novel, poem or play).” (Online)
Three Act Story StructureIn almost every good script, there is a three act story structure which divides the story up into thebeginning, middle and end of the story. For example in a 2 hour film, the first 30 minutes would be thebeginning, the 30-90 minute hour is the middle and the last half hour between 90 and 120 hour minutes wouldbe the end.‘We’ve heard about this three act story structure where a story can be broken down into the beginning, themiddle and the end.’ (Online)The beginning being the part of the story when the scene is set, we see the location and what it is like and wemeet the main characters and see what they’re like, see the protagonist, the antagonist (if there is one) andwhich of the other characters are allies/friends and which ones are not. The problem should slowly build upover the first part of the film and should become apparent to the audience by the end of that half an hour. Themiddle section is where the problem is engaged and shows us the journey that the character to goes through toovercome this problem and we find out why it’s difficult for them to do it, within the middle section should bethe turning point where the story takes a big twist. Then the end is where the character uses their abilities tofinally overcome this problem and draw the script to a close. This three act story structure is said to be used inalmost all scripts/stories just because if a story is good, it will stick to this structure and be difficult to avoid‘But as far as stories working, you basically can’t usually get away from that three act structure and havingthose turning points in the right place and a bad script will somehow miss those or they’ll be out of balancesomehow’. (Online)
Making An Interesting PlotIn order for a script to be good, the plot must be interesting and keep the attention of the reader. Things that make an interestingplot include: conflict, decision making by main characters, consequences of characters actions and sympathy. Conflict is one of themain elements of any script and it’s very important that it’s in there in order for the script to be good. Conflict usually means thingslike problems that need solving, obstacles, threats, decisions and challenges. A conflict is the main part of a story and is what itusually revolves around, the main character is always presented with something that maybe they want to do or it might need to bedone for other people’s sake and there is always something preventing this from being done. For example, in the film FerrisBueller’s Day Off, the main character (Ferris Bueller) wants to have a day off school and do something more exciting with hisfriends, after faking illness to his parents, the main obstacle stopping him from doing this is the school principal who is suspiciousof the character and tries to catch him truanting. Ferris has to overcome this obstacle and make sure he leaves no evidence that hewas faking illness in order to enjoy his day off to the full and have no consequence. There are many different ways to interpretconflict within scripts however.‘All drama depends on conflict. That is not the same as saying that drama depends on people shouting at each other. Generallyspeaking, people shouting at each other should be avoided – most people have enough argument in their lives withoutwatching other people bawling their heads off’. (Book, page 22)Decision making within scripts is very important, dramatic tension is held if story changing decisions are made by maincharacters, it is the opposite if the story develops through coincidence and eventually it just won’t be a story anymore. The mainthings of decision making are that the audience sees the main character with a problem and options available to change theproblem, they need to see which decision the character makes and then show the outcome of that decision. It is said that it’s bestwhen there are as many obstacles as possible and as many decision’s as possible for the character to make. Accidents such assomeone’s car breaking down when they’re in a rush to get somewhere can lead to new decision’s for the character to make suchas choosing between waiting for someone to fix his car or getting a lift from a stranger who could be dangerous. Howeverdecisions should be made by the main character, the stranger in the car should have the intention of hurting or killing the man butshould not be left with the decision of whether to do it or not‘Dramatic tension is held if the story develops through decisions made by the main characters. It is not held if the story developsthrough coincidence and arbitary accidents. When that happens it ceases to be a story and becomes a succession of incidents’(Book, page 24)
Making an Interest Plot: ContinuedConsequences of action: cause and effect: a plot relates to cause and effect in the way that one thing happens and because ofthat, something else happens, things for the characters to deal with. This is good for showing what kind of your character your characterbecause the reader can see how they deal with these situations. What the character does determines what will happen later in the storyand moves it on.‘The King died and then the Queen died. That is a story. The King died and the Queen died of grief. That is a plot.’ (Book, page 24)Creating sympathy is basically having a sympathetic character in your story. It’s always good to have at least one sympathetic characterwho is slightly different from the rest and is more relatable to by the audience. Readers like to know who they can identify with and whoto cheer for. It’s quite normal for characters like this to start off as a sympathetic character and then later reveal themselves to be more abit more vicious or short tempered. The essential thing is that right from the start the audience can recognize who the sympatheticcharacter is even if he does turn out to not be as nice as he appears.‘You can, of course, show a pleasant character and later reveal a vicious side to his nature – and you can have a vile person who turnsout to have all kinds of redeeming features. But at the beginning of the play we need to establish something, or somebody that theviewers can care about.’ (Book, page 25)Something else that helps is avoiding certain types of plots that can just ruin a story. The first is known as ‘the idiot plot’. The idiot plot isbasically script editors being lazy, it is when they make it so a plot can only when characters who are obviously quite smart, do stupid orout of the ordinary things in order to make something else happen. An example would be if a character such as Batman rescued a hostageand them left them open to criminals while he goes to do something else to move the plot on and the hostage would be re-captured. Thesecond plot to avoid is scenes that go nowhere. It basically means only make scenes that are going to move the story on and don’t makescenes that basically just repeat the plot, if it’s unavoidable then the scene should be cut if it doesn’t take anything major out of the story.And finally, plots should never lose their tension, the reader always wants to know what’s going to happen next.Idiot Plot – ‘Dr Who was always a terrible culprit here – the Doctor and his assistant would be clinging to each other in some noisomeunderground cave system, we would all know they ought to stay together, but surely enough the Doctor would say: ‘I’ll be back in aminute’, and wander off on his own, leaving his assistant to be captured and held prisoner for the next four episodes. In Dr Who this wasexpected, it was part of the formula, but it is basically very lazy plotting. (Book, page 25)
Pitching a ScriptPitching a script is an effective way to sum up your script to someone you want to sell it to and briefly describe it to them and makethem want to read it. There are different methods of making your pitch effective and attracting the buyer however. First thinghowever is that if you’re pitching, your script must be good, a good pitch will not improve your script. Your pitch has to be goodbecause investors/government funding bodies etc see loads of scripts every week, you have to make your pitch and script stand outand get the investors attention.‘If youre standing at a bus stop, and someone asks you what your movie is about, and you cant convey to them the essence of thefilm before the bus gets there, then go home and re-work your pitch’ (Online)Professionals say that the general length of a pitch is 2-3 paragraphs which should equal 2-3 minutes, they say the shorter it is, thebetter.‘Give your audience just enough to whet their appetite, and spark their interest, yet not so much that they get lost in the details.Leave them wanting more.’ (Online)When pitching, you should speak with enthusiasm because if you’re not enthusiastic about your film, why should anybody else be?You should also know as much about your film as possible because you will get asked plenty questions, you should also reveal thenames of your main characters at this point. When beginning your pitch, they say you shouldn’t be with a tag line or title because it’stoo “abrupt”.‘In beginning your pitch, don’t start with a log line or the title, those are too abrupt, instead begin by telling the buyer how youcome up with the idea or where you found this story’ (Online)Professionals also say your pitch should be very “Hollywood” because they’ve mastered the art of pitching and people want to seethings like that and it’s pretty much the only way you’ll get to make your film in LA.
Pitching a Script: ContinuedUsing successful Hollywood films to give a brief description about your script is a well known in Hollywood. If you can identify your film with existingsimilar ones that were successful , you create a positive association for the person youre pitching to. Thats why new film posters use it when theproducers have already made successful films "Unbreakable" (i.e. - From the Writer/Director of "The Sixth Sense"). Positive audience association. Theysay you should the word “you” a lot within your pitch as long as it’s used subtly, it subconsciously causes your audience to personally and immediatelyassociate with the subject of your pitch and is an effective and well known technique. You should find about who you might be pitching to beforehand ,its no good mentioning a film, actor or director that the person youre pitching to has issues with try and aim the pitch to the person youre pitching to.‘Ah, the "So, what else have you got?" question. This is a standard and will normally get asked when youre formally pitching to a distributor,executive producer, investor, studio, whatever.’ (Online)They say the “So, what else have you got?” question is something you will nearly always get asked it and basically means:‘1. They like your first idea but they have already got a project on their slate that is too similar2. They think the idea is okay, but like your style and want to know what else youve got up your sleeve3. They really like your idea and are interested in possibly taking on all your projects4. All or none of the above’. (Online)This means you should have something else to pitch, so come prepared with a few more ideas/scripts just in case they already have something similar toyour idea, you can show them something different. You should always leave them wanting more. The main things to include in your pitch are: ‘Who arewe rooting for? Who is the protagonist? What situation are they in at the beginning of the story? What is the new opportunity that is presented tothem that is going to kick the story into gear? What goal or visible finish line are they trying to pursue by the end of the story and what’s the conflict,what makes achieving that goal impossible?’ (Online)A man named Michael Hauge said that you should never finish your pitch by saying “well that’s it” and walking off, instead you should finish with thequestion “So, do you have any questions about my story or would you like me to send you a copy?”‘Finally when completing your pitch, don’t just say well that’s it and trail off, but end with this question “So, do you have any questions about my storyor would you like me to send you a copy?’ (Online)
Script CommissioningScript commissioning is where a company such as the BBC, will ask an established writer (someone who haspreviously had something published on TV/radio/short film) to write a script for them for something. Thecompany will commission them to write the script and give them a brief to write the script to. E.g. they couldcommission a writer to write a script about something involving drugs, or they could commission a writer whohas made a series, to write additional episodes to that series. The writer commissioned will of course receivemoney for the script they write, they usually don’t commission people who haven’t written a published scriptfor anything though.
ConclusionOverall I found that script development is a long process and there is lots involving itincluding having to receive feedback on your script and re-write numerous times. I havealso all the different things that should be put into a script in order for it to be good.