We all know that writing a script is hard work. But it’s even more challenging when you’re trying to make your story stand out from the rest.
There are so many movies released each year, and so many more scripts written by aspiring writers across the world, that if you want to get noticed, you need to find ways to engage your audience and make them feel like they’re part of the story even before they’ve seen it on screen!
Luckily, there are plenty of stylistic moves you can use right now to help create an experience for readers (and viewers) that will keep them engaged and excited while reading through each page. These tips will not only help your script stand out but also make sure it gets read!
|1. Implement unique stylistic moves to make your script stand out.|
|2. Explore creative techniques to captivate your audience.|
|3. Utilize compelling opening scenes to hook readers.|
|4. Focus on strong character development and motivations.|
|5. Master the art of crafting engaging and impactful dialogues.|
|6. Incorporate visual storytelling elements for added impact.|
|7. Strike a balance between description and brevity.|
|8. Experiment with different narrative structures.|
|9. Use symbolism and metaphors to add depth to your script.|
|10. Stay true to your unique voice and storytelling style.|
Start With A Bang
You know the feeling. You’ve just sat down to do some writing and you take up your pen, open your laptop, or look at the blinking cursor ready to be filled with words. Then you open your script and stare at it for a few moments, wondering where on earth to begin.
Of course, our goal as writers is always to start somewhere in the middle of things and end somewhere else;
But starting out can sometimes be hard work. It’s easy enough that when we have an idea we want to explore we just dive into our story world and start writing about what happens there!
The trouble comes when we don’t know quite where our characters are going yet; then, everything feels like an artificial construct: characters who should be reacting react instead through plot-driven action lines (i.e., “The girl went into town because she had no other choice”).
Scenes that don’t seem organic within themselves because they’re merely there for their own sake (“How else was I supposed to start this scene?!”).
So how do we get around this?
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Make The Opening Matter
If you want your script to be the one that makes it into production, then it’s important to know how to make a great first impression. The opening scene should be the most important in your movie.
In this way, it sets up what the rest of your story will be about: who your main character is, what their conflict is at this point, and how they’re going to resolve that conflict.
Introduce Your Main Characters Early On
You want to be sure not to let the reader get bored. You don’t want them looking at the clock, wondering when the movie is going to start.
So when you introduce your main characters, don’t wait too long! Make sure that by 10 pages into your script, you’ve already introduced them (or at least one of them). And if there’s more than one main character, don’t be afraid to introduce more than one at once.
Sometimes it can even work in your favor if you do it early on especially if it helps establish relationships between characters as well as setting up a conflict between them later on in the story.
Place Your Character In Jeopardy Right Away
Placing your character in jeopardy right away is a great way to instantly raise the stakes of your story. There are several ways you can do this:
- Putting them in a dangerous situation. This can be anything from being attacked by an animal or another person, to accidentally walking onto a battlefield and getting caught between two sides.
- Creating emotional conflict for them as soon as possible – and making that conflict personal! If you’ve got a love story at the heart of your script, maybe it’s time for one partner to confess their feelings before the other one does.
- Or maybe they both have issues from their pasts that are threatening to derail their happiness now. Whatever it is, use it!
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Use A Hook To Keep Your Audience Engaged
Before you even get started, it’s important to understand how and why hooks work.
Hooks are short phrases or sentences that capture your audience’s attention and make them want to keep reading or watching. They start about halfway through the first act (usually around page 25) and continue until the end of the second act (usually around page 90).
Hooks are designed to grab your reader’s interest, arouse their curiosity, provoke an emotion, and tease out plot points and characters’ secrets.
Build suspense in other words: they do everything possible to keep your audience engaged until they have no choice but to turn the page (or stop watching/listening).
The best stories have many hooks within them; as writers, we should think of our scripts as one continuous story with multiple hooks along its arc that help drive forward plot points leading up toward climaxes and resolutions in acts one through three respectively.
Follow Up On Your Hook As Soon As Possible
One of the most important things to remember when writing a screenplay is to follow up on your hook as soon as possible. If you don’t, the reader will lose interest and will likely stop reading.
One way to do this is by introducing a new character or conflict with either or both of these elements:
- A new setting (this could be anything from an apartment building to a spaceship)
- A new situation (for example, a character finds out his wife has been cheating on him)
Use Rhetorical Questions To Engage The Reader
Questions can be used to engage the reader, and create mystery and intrigue. They are a way of asking the audience to think about what’s happening on screen.
Rhetorical questions do not require an answer but they do force the reader to consider your point of view, hopefully making them feel compelled to keep reading until they get one.
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Establish Conflict As Early As Possible
You can’t have a story without conflict, but you don’t need to go out of your way to establish it. If you’re writing from personal experience and focusing on what you know best, conflict might pop up naturally because of the obstacles in your own life.
However, if this isn’t the case for you (or even if it is), here are some ways that establishing early on can help propel your script forward:
Conflict is what makes stories interesting. Think about movies or books whose characters seem like they’d be boring but then turn out to have great chemistry together it’s because their relationship has problems!
So even if your movie takes place in space and has no humans (and therefore no people), there still needs to be something at stake when someone is facing off against an alien invader or whatever else gets between them and their goal.
There’s not just one kind of conflict either; it can be internal or external: Person vs Person (Valentine vs Gatsby), Person vs Place/Thing (Alice in Wonderland), Problem vs Solution (Robinson Crusoe).
Get Into Dialogue Early On Too
Dialogue is a great way to get the characters talking in your script. It can reveal character, move the story along, build tension and suspense and show the relationship between characters.
But don’t start writing dialogue until you’ve got all of these things working together: your plot, your characters’ goals, and desires.
Their motivations for doing what they do throughout the movie as well as their backstory (which will help you understand why they’re driven by those motivations).
Once you have all that figured out then go ahead and start writing dialogue because it will be much easier now that everything else has been established!
Create Mystery And Intrigue
- Use mystery.
- A mystery is when the audience doesn’t know what’s going on, but they want to find out. It’s like a puzzle that they want to solve and they’ll be much more engaged in your script if you make them work for it.
- You can build up suspense by revealing information slowly (whether or not it has anything to do with your story), or through allusions and subtle hints, like an image of a person or place that means something specific because of its context within the story.
- Sometimes we don’t even realize that we’re watching a movie about solving a mystery until we see how many questions have been asked and answered in our minds while watching!
- That’s why it’s important to pay attention when creating characters who are mysterious or intriguing so that your audience will be curious about them too!
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Use Clues Sparingly
The best clues are the ones that are specific and relevant to the story. They should never be so obvious that they give away too much information, but they also shouldn’t be so obscure that it’s difficult for the reader to understand what you mean.
One way to avoid this trap is by keeping your clues focused on characters, objects, or events in the script:
A character’s actions will always speak louder than their words. If a character says something that doesn’t make sense or seems out of character for them, it could be a clue about what’s going on with them (a conflict between two people).
This works especially well if you’re writing an action movie like Die Hard where all sorts of things are happening at once yet there needs to be a focus on certain characters/scenes while others play back-up roles only briefly mentioned offhand by other characters who know more than we do before being killed off later anyway (see Dead Poets Society).
Don’t Show All Of Your Cards At The Same Time
It’s a common mistake for writers to reveal all or most of what they want to say in their first act. It is better to save some information until later when it will have more impact.
If you give away too much information, especially if it is important information that needs to be understood by the audience (like who killed who), then they will feel cheated and disappointed in your storytelling skills.
Instead, build up suspense by saving some details until later on in the script or movie, even if those details seem obvious and not worth giving away since they are so obviously important.
Use Poetry Or Musical Language To Make The Scenes Come Alive
It’s not just action sequences that benefit from a rhythm. Dialogue and monologues can be greatly enhanced by using poetic language. When you write, try to convey the rhythms of real speech:
- Use alliteration (the repetition of consonant sounds in a series of words). For example, “Didn’t we dance together once?”
- Use assonance (the repetition of vowel sounds within words). For example, “I’ve been looking for a new home for the longest time.”
- Use metaphors and similes to add interest to scenes. Metaphors are comparisons between two unlike things; similes compare one thing with something else using the word “like” or “as.”
- For example: “She was so beautiful it hurt my heart,” or “She looked like an angel” would both qualify as metaphors because they compare beauty with pain or goodness;
“You’re such a good friend” is an example of a simile because it compares being friendly with how good someone else is at being your friend.
Describe Colors Through Smell, Touch, And Taste
Color, like sound and smell, is a huge part of our experience. It can be used to set the mood, establish character traits, or convey an emotional response.
While it’s difficult to describe what color looks like (and even more difficult to write about), it’s much easier to tell how it feels. Try describing your character’s surroundings in terms of their color.
Describe the room she’s standing in as if you were there: “The walls are painted a deep purple; the floorboards creak with every step.” Then try adding some sensory details: “The air smells like rose petals; there are soft cushions on the couch.”
As you do this more often, you’ll find yourself inspired by colors in new ways! Be aware that some words have very strong connotations for readers:
For example turquoise may evoke tropical settings while violet may bring up imagery from gothic romance novels; so choose your words carefully when you’re choosing descriptive phrases like these
Have Multi-Faceted Characters That Grow Throughout The Story
Three-dimensional characters are more interesting to readers than flat ones. And when you’re writing a script, it’s important to have multi-faceted characters that grow and change throughout your story.
- Give your character a goal in life to pursue something they want for themselves, like love or power or happiness.
- Give them an obvious flaw that stands in the way of achieving that goal often referred to as their “flaw,” but just another facet of what makes them human and relatable (you can also call it a “weakness”).
- Give them backstory: What events have shaped this person? How did they become who they are today? As we’ve said before, backstory should never be boring; there’s always something interesting happening behind closed doors.
- Give ’em voice! There are many ways writers give characters voices: dialogue tags (said), descriptive adjectives (cackling laughter), physical descriptions (“freckles on his nose”), actions (“he crossed his arms over his chest”), etcetera ad nauseam.
But be careful not to overdo it or make sure everything feels natural within the context of the scene at hand otherwise your reader may get confused about who’s speaking at any given moment during dialogue exchanges between multiple characters (this is especially true if both sides aren’t physically present at once).
For example: “Oh my god!” she said nervously.”
Make Sure There Is A Clear Antagonist, Protagonist, And Tangible Conflict
We need to have a clear antagonist, protagonist, and tangible conflict. An antagonist is any opponent of the protagonist, who is trying to prevent him from achieving his goal. It could be another person or an outside force that stands in the way of what he wants.
It’s important to know who your story’s main characters are because it will help you think through their motivations and how they might react to situations throughout the script.
The protagonist is also known as “the hero” or “the main character” because he has a goal that drives him forward in your story.
The plot revolves around whether or not he can achieve this goal (and hopefully how). In terms of writing style, keeping track of which character has the most screen time helps you keep everything balanced between them and makes sure you’re not over-using one character at any given moment (or underusing them).
Unexpected Plot Twists Are Always Refreshing
One of the best ways to do this is by breaking conventional grammar rules. You can also use unexpected plot twists, such as a sudden character death. This will keep readers on their toes, which is crucial in gripping them with suspense and intrigue.
Another way to add more sensory experiences throughout your script is through sound.
Experiment with describing colors through smell, touch, and taste — you’ll find that descriptions like these can make your scenes come alive in the reader’s mind much more vividly than simply using words like “blue” or “purple” would have done otherwise.
It’s also important to write in ways that engage readers on multiple levels (e.g., visual description), even if it means breaking conventions of grammar or punctuation at times!
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Don’t Be Afraid To Break Conventional Grammar Rules
You can also make your dialogue stand out by breaking conventional grammar rules.
As you know, audiences are accustomed to the typical three-beat structure of a sentence: subject-verb-object. But you don’t have to follow that structure if it feels unnatural or boring in the scene.
Instead, try writing something like “I love you baby,” where there is no verb at all – it just flows better this way! Or if one character is speaking fast and another slower, you can use ellipses (…) to indicate pauses instead of periods (.).
You could also use emojis or symbols instead of words; this would be especially effective in scenes between two characters who rarely speak but have a special connection (like twins). And while we’re on the subject of spelling conventions…
When Describing Things, Provide Details That Are Not Always Obvious
Don’t just tell us what’s on screen. Tell us what the characters see and feel and how they’re reacting to it all.
Go beyond simple descriptions of the setting (e.g., “There was a tree.”). Instead, paint a picture with language: “The autumn sun cast its last rays over the bare branches of the oak tree.”
Or go even further with similes and metaphors: “The leaves were falling like golden coins from heaven.”
Include sensory details that evoke emotion in your reader (e.g., “The smell of baking bread filled his nostrils”). But don’t forget about other senses as well (e.g., sight, touch) when you’re writing action sequences or character interactions!
Think About How You Can Add More Sensory Experiences Through Sound
Sound is a key part of your world and one that can easily be overlooked when you’re busy writing the action on screen. The following are some ways you can use sound to help set the scene, engage all five senses, and make it more memorable for your audience:
Use sound effects to describe what’s happening in a scene. If it’s dark, use an owl hooting or crickets chirping at regular intervals to give a sense of place and time and also create tension because of how unfamiliar these sounds are!
Use music, either pre-existing or original tracks composed especially for the film to create moods that complement your script’s tone.
For example, if your screenplay is about aging gracefully after losing a loved one, try using jazz music that evokes an old soul from another era (think “Moon River”).
Write In Ways That Engage Readers On Multiple Levels
Use sensory language to describe things. Paint a picture for the reader by using words that engage all five senses: sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch.
Use metaphors and similes to make things interesting. Metaphors are figurative comparisons that say one thing IS another thing (“This script is a roller coaster ride!”). Similes are similar to metaphors but use “like” or “as” instead of “IS” (“My heart was racing like a madman on meth!”).
Write in ways that engage readers on multiple levels. If your script is funny it should also be smart; if it’s sad it should also be thrilling; if it’s about relationships then there should be some sort of conflict involved too.*
So there you have it, 25 stylistic moves to make your script stand out. We hope you found these tips helpful and can use them in your writing. If you want more great content like this one, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on social media!
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What are the different types of opening scenes in a screenplay?
Opening scenes can vary, including a compelling action sequence, a thought-provoking monologue, an intriguing mystery, a character-driven moment, and more.
How can I make my screenplay stand out in a script competition?
To stand out in a script competition, focus on originality, strong character development, well-structured plot, and a unique voice that sets your screenplay apart.
What role does writing style play in a screenplay?
Writing style influences how the story is perceived, engaging readers and evoking emotions. A well-crafted writing style can elevate the impact of your screenplay.
What are some common mistakes to avoid in screenwriting?
Common mistakes include excessive exposition, weak character motivations, lack of conflict, and overused clichés. Addressing these can improve your screenplay significantly.
How do I handle feedback and criticism for my screenplay?
Be open to feedback, use it to identify areas for improvement, and don’t take criticism personally. Embrace constructive criticism as a valuable tool for growth.
Costantine Edward is a digital marketing expert, freelance writer, and entrepreneur who helps people attain financial freedom. I’ve been working in marketing since I was 18 years old and have managed to build a successful career doing what I love.