The best scripts are packed with action, drama, and compelling characters. You’ve got a bunch of characters battling their way through obstacles, both internally and externally, to achieve a goal. The very best scripts also have characters conflicting with each other, regardless of whether they want to achieve the same goal.
So how do you check your script has enough drama, action, and conflict between characters to be entertaining? We have one technique which will help solve that problem.
Proofreading the first draft of your script will only get you so far in working out the kinks.
Because YOU wrote the script, you might not notice you’ve forgotten to include some things. Because you know the full backstory of the characters, and have a detailed outline of the locations in your mind, you will be reading your script with more knowledge than a newcomer.
The easiest way to identify issues with your script is by performing it, out loud, with a few friends.
Getting the script in the hands of someone else is a massive benefit as they can only read what’s been presented to them on paper.
Me and Rob tried this technique using the first draft of a script he wrote, and we were able to identify a lack of drama between characters from the get-go. The script is called 60 seconds, and we will be using it as a reference for this episode.
With having your friends perform the scene with you, you should be able to identify if the scene is just a bunch of characters doing and saying things, furthering the plot together, without colliding with each other.
We have so many things to think about when writing a script that we sometimes forget to push the characters into EACH OTHER.
This is easier to identify if you can see and hear it being performed in your living.
In an earlier version of the script, 60 seconds, both Jack and Stu are driving on parallel lines: they are BOTH simply trying to defuse the bomb together.
So we added a little more detail to their characters. For example, Jack would rather defuse the bomb on his own only to realise he needs Stu’s help, and Stu can’t help himself messing things up only to realise he needs to knuckle down and get serious if they want to defuse the bomb.
This example isn’t super complicated, but now both characters enter the scene with different motives, characteristics, and reach an agreement at the end.
If you think of the changes as converting parallel lines into intersecting lines will help you map out how the action and drama unravels.
In this example, you have 2 lines, Stu and Jack, and they are on opposite sides of the spectrum.
Once they cross between each other, they are at a standstill and are actually stopping each other from achieving their goal (whether they know it or not)...
Once they break through the cross section, they are now starting to understand each other’s opinions, and they have both swapped sides. Stu understands Jack is serious about the bomb, and Jack understands Stu is only trying to help.
If you want to read the first and final version of the 60 seconds script, to see how we changed it using the “read out-loud” method, you can find that in the description below. We are planning to make this film and put it on the channel, so if you don’t want spoilers, don’t read it!
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