The journey of a script is not only for the characters within the story but also a more than bumpy and long journey for the writer. And since writing a script can be an overwhelming work, it's only natural to fall into the temptation of getting a few shortcuts to overcome the writing process, with the writer focusing only on the major plot points in the story and ignoring dramatic nuances, resulting in flat characters, scenes that have no purpose other than fill time and packed with annoying clichés.
As writers, we have to be aware of the small dangers that can blind us to story problems. So, we listed a few of commonly misused techniques in screenplays to help you spot them in your own work:
Over the top plot twists When the story is going from bad to worst and the characters are uninteresting, simply revealing that your protagonist was dead the whole time won't save your script.
Good movies with surprising endings don't rely solely on surprise. Both the story and the twist have to be believable, so the audience can have a cathartic experience when the surprise hits.
It's not a simple task. , Watch great examples like The Usual Suspects or Fight Club and try to understand the dynamics of the story and how solid the characters and the structure are. A good surprise twist it's not random, it's unexpected, but it's also inevitable and organic.
Stereotypes (with the excuse of being a parody) Stereotypes are generalizations that are reproduced over and over again without any base other than bad representation in other works to portrait certain groups of people, usually minorities. The dumb blonde, the hysterical gay man, the violent black man, the helpless woman, etc. Making it those representations worst doesn't make it funny, it only makes it more offensive. Unfortunately, a huge part of Brazilian comedy is still based on overreacted stereotypes, reinforcing every day that demonstrations of hate in the form of humor is only a harmless joke. And the saddest part is that it's not unusual to read scripts from people who consider themselves liberals filled with stereotypes with the excuse that its a parody. In that matter, our comedy is still in the stone age.
Non-linear structure to hide the lack of drama I love non-linear movies. But using a non-linear structure without any thought or only because is cool it's cheating. "THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES" kind of cheating. Where the writer can blame the reader's intelligence when they don't see the complexity in the story, regardless of its existence.
Breaking the chronology can determine our relation to the story and the characters. The control of information and what and when is revealed is very important for drama, but if there is nothing interesting to be told and no dramatic reasons for how is being told, simply changing the order of events won't solve those issues.
To be a good puzzle narrative, the result as a whole should be satisfying, from the search for the right small pieces to the big picture. Just think about great movies with non-linear structure and try to imagine them in chronological order. For example, "Memento" would still be a great crime thriller, and in this case, the nonlinearity adds a psychological depth to the narrative by putting us in the same shoes as the main character - each of elements actions is an outcome of something that kidding and the audience don't know. This is not just a backup tool for the story, it's an essential part of its development.
Is not only to mislead the reader about the plot holes that rushed writers support their bad work on nonlinearity. Sometimes, desperate to create empathy for their one-dimensional characters, some writers rely on trauma flashbacks or unachieved ambitions to try to validate the characters actions in the present - or ever worst, the lack of action, since apparently, it's easier to create inert characters with no motivation.
Clichés are easy to spot in others people work, but it can be tricky to notice them in our own writing. That's why is not unusual to find scripts overloaded with cheap techniques and references in the desperate attempt to create dramatic depth. Techniques and devices don't work as isolated elements within a screenplay because every creative decision needs to be inside the appropriate context and a coherent construction to involve the reader at an emotional level.
A good script has an active voice and engages us without cheating. If at some point you realize that you're too dependent on cheap tricks to go on with your story, take a time to rework on your draft and deconstruct misused elements, you'll be more likely to create something fresh and special. Otherwise, at the end of the day, you won't be kidding anyone but yourself.