10 Things I Learnt From A Scriptwriting Workshop

Ever tried scriptwriting? I’ve dabbled, but not seriously lol

Last week, writer, Linda James came to our Writing Group to do a talk/workshop on scriptwriting. But a lot of what she said would be valuable advice to all writers, regardless of their genre or medium πŸ™‚

I made lots of notes, but here are the best 10 things I wrote down (IMO obviously) πŸ™‚

1. Transform your story into pictures/images – i.e., when you think about a setting or a character, visualise them in your mind. Your reader needs to be able to see these things, from the words that you use.

2. Include body language – When describing what a character is doing, include body language, don’t tell your reader your character is depressed, show them.

3. Open your story in the most interesting visual way possible, introducing key characters right at the start. – You need to hook your reader from the very first page.

4. Make sure you have clues on the first page (Linda calls them seeds) – Throughout a novel the writer must drop clues for the reader. Make sure you start this on the very first page. The reader needs to have questions that they want answered.

5. Practice writing monologues, to get inside your characters head – The more you know your character, the better they will come across in your work.

6. Every scene must have a telling detail – Each scene needs to reveal something about the character or plot.

7. Use symbolism – If there is a crucifix on the wall it will tell your reader your characters religious beliefs. like wise if there is a Buddha statue on a coffee table.

8. Use local dialect sparingly – Your reader doesn’t need to know exactly how a person with a broad accent sounds, too much and they won’t understand it.

9. Use work by authors who were writing fiction at the time your story was set for research – If you’re writing historical fiction (even if it’s set in the 1950’s!) read fiction by authors who were publishing work in that era. You will get a feel for the time and be able to see what words and phrases were common.

10. Research the way film directors use “mood” to convey a scene – You wouldn’t have a severely depressed man skipping through a field of daisies would you? πŸ˜‰

I’m a bit of a film addict, and sometimes I will sit with my note book as I watch a film, so a lot of what Linda said made perfect sense. Obviously, I just had to buy her books πŸ˜‰


That’s 2 more to add to the collection *snigger*

Our homework for next months meeting is to turn a short story into a script, which should be interesting, I’ll stick mine up on my blog when it’s done πŸ™‚

So have you ever tried your hand at scriptwriting?

30 thoughts on “10 Things I Learnt From A Scriptwriting Workshop

  1. Thank you for these tips – I think I will give script writing a try – I did it when I went to university about one hundred and two years ago–but you have inspired me – I am a journalist, so it is a little out of the box for me –but I think that is a good thing


  2. 1. Still, you can be abstract in your descriptions. If metaphors didn’t generate images literature would be dead by now πŸ™‚

    4. Sometimes that is not viable, from the first to next-to-last page, the job is to deliver a page turner, sometimes introducing characters and planting seeds are way too much for a page πŸ™‚

    5. No, no. Monologues are not the best deal. Write down their peculiar habits. Make it to someone you know really well, ask them to do it on you. Find what your character has that place both of you standing together, something to attach yourself into that character, then you shape him into something completely apart from yourself. The starting point of a character is always yourself.

    6. We call it ‘move on’. Every scene must have a purpose and for that to happen it should move the story on.

    7. Symbolism depends a lot. Is it essential? Otherwise you shouldn’t appeal to it. For example, that crucifix in the wall thing most of the time comes out from the production designer. The point about symbols is that they must mean more than themselves. A chair shouldn’t be a chair. You know i wrote about it πŸ˜‰

    “Outside the bathroom on the bedroom wall is the sun faded
    outline of where a large CATHOLIC CROSS used to hang. It’s
    ghostly stained forever on the blank wall.”

    SIGNS, M. Night Shyamalan.

    10. Sometimes yes, this is actually good to avoid clichΓ©. What if your depressed character can’t enjoy the field of daisies? Wouldn’t that make him even more depressed?

    Good luck πŸ˜€


  3. I’ve never tried writing a screenplay, but after watching Chinatown this morning I want to give it a shot. They say it’s one of the finest movies ever written and it shows.


  4. I haven’t tried it actually. I’m not sure if I’d be any good at it because it seems different in my head. Like the advice. I need to think about my current story I’m writing and see if I’m hitting these. I’m not always good at the show/tell part.


    • If you do decide to give it a go let me know how you get on πŸ™‚

      Yeah, you’ve hit the nail on the head, the old show/tell business….but saying that I remember watching 24 and cringing quite a lot because Jack would always give you a running commentary of what was going on lol



  5. Even though I don’t write any sort of stories, those 10 top ideas are brilliant for any kind of writing really. I am going to try and use them when next writing my blog. πŸ™‚ thank you for sharing. X

    Hope you enjoyed your trip away xxx


  6. After this WIP is done writing a script is next on my list πŸ™‚ Those look like interesting books too. A bit of advice I got given was to watch movies with the screenplay in your hand and that way you naturally get a feel for how they are structured.


  7. I did some screen writing attempts when I was in my early twenties, and much more into film. I did not pursue them much at the time. Going back to them now, one in particular is good (some of it very good), although would need some redrafting. Another is two thirds decent but needs some more work. The benefit of experience huh? I’m actually thinking of converting those two into books at some point.


  8. I took a scriptwriting class a few years ago and found it be very useful. It’s not my favorite format, but the process really does help me get in touch with my characters. πŸ™‚


  9. Scriptwriting would be fun to try, and it is something I’d love to learn. It’s on my wish list however, so when I get a few free months I hope to give it a go.


  10. Sorry I’m commenting so late. O.O I’ve been cleaning house with the number of blogs I follow with Google Reader ’cause good posts like these get lost in the huge list! But that shouldn’t be a problem anymore. πŸ˜‰

    These are excellent tips! I haven’t written a script before, though I’d like to try it eventually. Personally, I think I’ve learned more about storytelling from watching movies than I have from reading novels, lol, and I’ve got this secret perpetual itch to actually see what I’m writing come to life visually someday–whether on the big screen or in a cinematic role-playing video game. (A girl can dream, right? :D)


    • Noooooo, don’t apologise! You just alerted me to 2 comments I hadn’t been notified about. Now I’m wondering how many more I haven’t been told about on other posts 😦

      Oh, I definitely agree….I’m a bit of a film addict, and I’ve learnt so much from watching so many lol.

      Well, you know the answer….get writing that script lol πŸ˜‰

      Thanks hon xx


  11. Pingback: Script in 10 days: Day 5 « Andrea S. Michaels

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