06 Dec THREE STEPS TO WINNING SCRIPT WRITING COMPETITIONS
Posted at 15:04h in development, HOW TO START A SCREENPLAY, SCREENWRITING, script advice, script development, serial, series writing, STORY STRUCTURE, television drama, WRITING FOR TELEVISION, writing tips
My colleague and friend Phil Gladwin blogs below about the 3 key things a winning script needs.
His competition is an excellent way of getting your original creative ideas out there.
Phil and I run popular, hand’s on practical workshops for writers keen to hone their television skills. Next one is February 2017 in London.
Check out the details here; and get your work in front of Executive Producer Jake Lushington who has teamed his skills with ours to help Start Your Story Engine!
3 STEPS TO WINNING THE SCREENWRITING GOLDMINE AWARDS
Murderous lighthouse keepers, dryly comic Polish hitmen on a mission that goes amusingly wrong, religious terrorists turning disaffected youth in the North of England, a new and surprising island of beauty deep within a Nazi concentration camp, and a wonderfully funny – yet deeply poignant – road movie set among the world of professional wrestling in the 1980s.
Those were the finalists in the last Screenwriting Goldmine Awards, and I’m looking back at them to see what they had in common.
Frankly I can’t see a linking idea.
In the end, I think that’s one of the reasons they stood out.
Each script was vivid in its world creation, their characters all felt fully realised, their dialogue was never less than crisp and usually leapt out and poked you in the eye.
Yet a lot of competent scripts do that.
The biggest thing these finalists all had in common was they all surprised.
If you plan to enter this year’s contest (and if not, why not – the chance to have your script read by nearly 35 senior British TV industry people doesn’t come along every week) I suggest you look at these three things:
1. Have you found something new?
Are you looking at a corner of the world we haven’t seen on screen before? Are your characters new and fresh?
Have you new insight on current events? Can you make sense of these confusing times?
Or, at the very least, have you found a surprising new angle on an old world we know very well?
2. Is it entertaining?
The only way you’ll succeed with a melancholic group of people half-heartedly drifting through a grey council estate is if it’s funny. (Genuinely, cleverly funny at that, with comedy that springs from characters, not from gags.)
Think strong, vivid characters, who have the ability and the drive to go to extra-ordinary lengths to get what they want.
Make sure you’ve got some kind of villain – and make them clever, determined, and resourceful.
Think emotional power, and depth, and check that at least some of your characters have changed by the end of the story.
Check your own feelings about the script. When you read it, do YOU get excited? Do you feel it in the pit of your stomach? There’s no hiding on this – if something leaves you cold, what chance has it got with the rest of the world?
3. Is your story strong?
Don’t get too obsessed with format, or making everything perfect on the page. Spelling, grammar, script layout are important, of course they are, but in the end it’s the story that counts.
A good story gives us a great character or two, and makes them battle to get what they want.
A good story takes hold, twists and turns, ebbs, flows, builds to a climax, and leaves you satisfied.
Last year one script appeared that might as well have been written by quill in green ink. It was ungrammatical, had a terrible layout, the writer didn’t tend bother with such mundanities as scene headers and capitalisation – and yet things happened so fast, and so vividly, and so surprisingly, I literally sat up straighter in my chair as I read so as not to miss a clue.
It was unbelievably compelling and made it all the way to the semi-finals. It only failed to go all the way because in the end it turned too bleak, and the writer lost their way with the story.
If you have all these three things going on in our writing then our judges would love to read your script.
For more details on the contest click here.
We’re accepting movie or TV scripts of between 45 and 125 pages in length.
Doors close on January 31st.
Get in touch with me HERE to hone and develop your television writing craft.