Jennifer Bozell

It’s a new year, and many of us are making resolutions to change or improve our lives in some way. Why not resolve to become a better writer? Not a more prolific writer, but an improved one.

Take a look at the script you’re working on with fresh eyes, and ask yourself if it would benefit from any of the following points.

No stock characters! Are any of your characters cliched in any way? Is there a way you can add more richness and depth to them? People are complicated and have many layers, and so should your characters. Give your characters multiple strengths and weaknesses. Make sure your hero is flawed and that your villain isn’t one-note. Create characters with interesting quirks, and make sure you know the backstory for all of them. That way they will feel real, and understanding their motivations will drive your plot!

• Once you’ve developed your characters a little more, try to truly write your dialogue in the voice of each character. Is one of your characters sarcastic? Show that through the snide comments he makes. Is one of your characters from the South? Pepper his dialogue with local colloquialisms. Too often, characters in a script all sound the same, making it difficult for the reader to keep track of who’s who. If you want your script to be a fast, engrossing read, intriguing characters defined by distinct dialogue is a must.

• Remember: Show, don’t tell. This is a basic rule that’s worth repeating. Check your script - are there instances where your characters are talking when they should be taking action? Are you explaining plot points through dialogue that could better be expressed in an action scene? You’re writing a film or TV script, not a stage play, so always think visually. Don’t tell a scene or plot point when you can show it!

Resolving to become a better writer is a worthy goal. And it’s certainly a more attainable goal than trying to lose 10 pounds in a week! Put in the work, and in 2018 you’ll do your best writing yet!

Categories: Writing Tips

About The Author

Jennifer Bozell is a former ABC Studios executive & was Head of Development for actor Taye Diggs’ production company.

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