Script readers are overworked. They read at least 2-5 screenplays per day in search of their next big hit.
Statistically, around half the screenplays they read are poor or worse. Despite their wanting to enjoy all the film scripts they request, they are disappointed the majority of the time.
Another 30-45% are average. Not good or bad, but meh! Competent, but not exciting. Then there’s the cream of the crop, the 1% if you will. These screenplays really pop!
A reader decides on the first page whether they like a script and want to read on. That’s why your first page really counts. If they aren’t connected, they won’t read the second page.
How can screenwriters elevate their film scripts to such enviable heights?
Your screenwriting shouldn’t freak out your reader. They need a sense of familiarity, well-roundedness, safety and competence from the screenwriters they read. By familiarity, readers need a common, universally-themed story, with a fresh spin that illustrates the writer’s voice. Understand how your great new screenplay fits into the cinema marketplace.
For instance, a heist film with a robot in the criminal gang, or an alien and a human cop teaming up in an action buddy movie would satisfy these criteria.
As your screenwriting juices flow, add ONE unique element to the grounded familiarity of your film script. This is the difference between WOW and WEIRD.
It could be any number of things can add the WOW factor to your writing.
DIALOG – This could be an unusual speech pattern or tone, specific word choice, sentence structure, a unique language, or even being mute.
SETTING – This relates to the physical locale. It could be a fantasy world such as a planet in a far away galaxy, the center of the earth, or in the deepest depths of the ocean.
WORLD – The world is a combination of the setting and the story parameters. A world could refer to a largely inaccessible country, a secret wing of government, or a profession such as a supreme court lawyer.
CHARACTER – This could be a quirk, an emotionally complex, or otherwise peculiar character trait. It also includes exaggerated traits such us being a genius, a mind reader or a super power.
FORMAT – A departure from a traditional three act story structure. Is your story told in reverse or non-linear fashion? Is it broken into chapters? Is it told via parallel worlds or via flashback? Unusual formats can really add spice to your screenplay.
GENRE – Audiences are fickle when it comes to film genres. They have strict expectations of them. However, they can also be delighted, when these genres are subverted. A subversion isn’t quite a hybrid, but more a twist. Consider a comedic twist or breaking into song in a horror script.