Thriller movies are a staple of our cinema screens. Let’s explore the most significant ways to write a screenplay in this exciting and popular genre.
Most thriller movie scripts begin with a mystery that unravels throughout the course of the story. It could be a crime, a clue, an enigma a secret or some unexplained event that drives the main character to solve a puzzle.
Screenwriters should introduce the mystery in a manner that’s fresh, unusual and intriguing. It may well be something like a dead body; but introduce it in a way that instantly hooks the audience and generates sustained interest. What if the body was dressed as a clown, was missing a face or had unusual tribal/ cult markings on it?
This is the hidden story in your thriller story. It is wild goose chase that simmers below the surface of the main story. It could be a covert operation, a false pretense, a deception, a cover up or, an outright lie designed to distract and mislead both the main characters and audience. It really raises the tension in your story.
Confusion sets in when your main character uncovers clues that don’t fit into their paradigm. It can manifest as conflicting evidence or a dead end to a long-standing theory. It creates self-doubt and feelings of uncertainty, helplessness and being overwhelmed.
This could created by the villain via a deliberate act such as killing a suspect or planting false clues. Confusion can also arise in your thriller screenplay when the main character misses or misinterprets a clue or pertinent information.
It can also arise when a seemingly insignificant piece of information suddenly becomes important.
This is a perverse state of mental and emotional agitation that occurs when audiences derive pleasure and entertainment from the uncertainty of progression of the story plot. The state of suspense is elevated in time of increased danger and raised stakes of the main characters in your film script. The stakes are no less than a matter of life or death.
Anticipation occurs when the audience or character tries to predict the outcome of a story based on the previous events. Will they guess correctly? What are the consequences of anticipating correctly or incorrectly? This process is more a cerebral and logical interaction with the story than an emotional one.
This condition of heightened unease. It can be either positive or negative. Positive anxiety results from characters placing undue pressure on themselves to succeed or achieve an unlikely outcome such as fabulous wealth.
Negative anxiety results from an undue fear of danger, harm or severe negative outcome.
This is a cooler plot device to enhance your screenwriting. It occurs when a character has a “feeling,” a “gut feeling” or, “sense” of something and acts accordingly. Maybe we’ll find the suspect in a particular bar or perhaps we shouldn’t take this road? This is a purely a visceral decision with no logic attached to it at all.
Surprise occurs when an event is sudden and unexpected. Ever heard the expression “That came outta nowhere?”
Time to get back to your writing!