Sometimes when I visit the local video rental store, I will search the racks for movies that are a little off the beaten path. This has resulted in both wonderful, found treasures and more than a few lousy stinkers. My most recent video rental ranks up there as one of the worst movies that I have ever watched. However, there is much to learn from the mistakes lavished on this screenplay. I doubt if the title of the movie would be familiar to more than a handful of movie goers and my purpose isn’t to defame the author of the afore mentioned movie but rather to use it as an object lesson. So, I will leave it unnamed and instead focus on the elements that caused this movie to be such a fine example of what not to do.
• The first writing oopspa- the movie started with a talking dog. This seemed an obvious error in judgment to me but I suppose a talented screenwriter might be able to pull it off. In the interest of brevity let’s make
Rule # 1 – One key to skillful writing is to spend adequate time on character development- Let me stress that believable characters rank high with me.
• I have never experience a movie that streaked through scenes with as much speed and lack of detail as this particular movie-the second writing oopspa. I have heard that when a person has a near death experience that their entire life flashes in front of their eyes. I now know what that feels like minus any accompanying emotion or connection. Moving from scene to scene at lightning speed works only in an action thriller and even then not for the entire movie.
Rule #2 - Slather on details and allow a scene to develop fully (even if that limits the number of scenes or especially if that limits the number of scenes)
• Writing oopspa number three is the use of cheesy, uninspired dialogue. When I consider all of the great lines that I have heard in movies or read in books. It was a huge disappointment to experience a movie devoid of dialogue personality. The dialogue would best be described as two day old, warmed over oatmeal or in ‘Gone with the Wind’ fashion “Frankly Dear……well, you get the idea.”
Rule #3- Add personality to your written dialogue….Please!
• Avoid writing oopspa number four and you will instantly become a better writer. The best messages come through naturally unaided by a clever writer. No matter how great, important or necessary the message, dressing it up as a story is an oopspa! If you have a message to tell, by all means tell it but if it is a story, let the story tell its own message. A story will rise to its own level but not if it is weighed down by a beefy, unrelated message.
Rule #4- Keep your story telling agenda free.
• The movie had it all (and trust me) this wasn’t a good thing! The final oopspa is including too many events. The following is a list of events that were packed into this movie and I have left out more than a few:
o Victory over extreme odds
o Heartwarming bond with a dog
o Tragic event
o More Love
o More Tragedy
o A Supernatural event
o Criminal turns Good Guy
o More Bad Guy turns Good
o Happily Ever After
o More Happily Ever After
o And finally or I certainly hope it is finally…”The moral of the story is…” wrap up
Here is a moral for you to ponder-
Moral: More is not better. It is really just more!
Rule #5- Narrow your story and tell it with creativity
These are just a few pointers but the most important advice that I can give is,“Be careful writer or you might just step in an oopspa! We have all done it and it's not pretty.
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