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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

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This week's question: 

What's the most important thing that makes a screenplay good?

C.C. from Europe


This week's answer: 

Good ol' Screenplay

I really appreciate your question, C.C.  For me, the most important aspect (or thing, as you wrote) that makes a screenplay good is its ability to involve the reader.  When all the basic story elements, premise, plot, dialogue, characters, tone, pace, etc.,  are working together, the result is a usually a screenplay that engages the reader. And this concoction made from all these story elements will produce some type of conflict, an overall conflict of the protagonist.  And the action of the protagonist to overcome the conflict, which is, in scientific terms, two opposing forces meeting, creates the fundamental element that is requisite in a screenplay:  attractive women.  No, not really.  That element is.................................................... ............................................................................. tension.  (See?  Just by making you wait for the answer created tension.  A subtle tension, to be sure, but a tension, nonetheless.)  But you can't be tense all the time as you watch a movie.  You need to relax, to feel free to check your cell-phone and find out if you have any text messages or e-mails or new stock reports.  So, what releases the tension in a screenplay?  The hero (or sometimes another character) attains something; things look better for him or her; what was a problem is no longer a problem (although, unless it's the end or close to the end of the movie, there's most likely another problem on its way or is already there).

But tension and release a good screenplay does not necessarily make.  (I think Shakespeare said that.)  The screenwriter needs us to care about the protagonist and relate to his or her difficult situation.  Basically, we need to like the adventure we've been sent on, enjoying the scenery and the characters (even the villains in some way) we meet along the way.  Dorothy would back me up on that one.  

And so would Toto, too.

DcH


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