Starting With a Topic or an Issue

On the other hand, let's suppose you always have been interested in subjects such as World War II or fire fighters. These subjects always intrigued you and you've decided you want to write a script featuring one of these topics. You'd then need to create characters who would relate to the subject you chose and who'd motivate the proper action for your script.

Whether or not you choose a character for your subject or a subject for your character, you then must create a story that is exciting and dramatic for your structure. Some examples of the subject type films are Saving Private Ryan to illustrate World War II. For the subject of fires and the fire-fighters who put them out, a great example is Backdraft.

If you can't come up with an interesting subject or a fascinating character, what do you write about? Well, what are your beliefs, your opinions and feelings about specific social issues confronting you in the world. They could be such world issues as being against toxic waste or child abuse. These are just a few examples of broad topics that you could write about that would interest your audience. But an issue is not enough to write about. In each case you would need to create a character and a story to dramatize your point-of-view about the issue. Movies of this nature are: The Insider, Mystic River, or Erin Brockovich.

It really doesn't matter how you get your idea for a screenplay. What does matter is that you care about what you write. For me, the most successful stories are those small personal ones about the average man or woman. Stories about people who want what you and I want, who feel what you and I feel, are the ones with whom your audience can identify.

Emotional relationships between people make the most powerfully moving stories. Stories that involve personal struggles have the most impact. Stories about lovers, families, friends, and enemies, are those that are universal and touch everyone. They deal with the powerful emotions of love, hate, joy, sorrow, anger, jealously and fear. This is the stuff from which great films and novels are created. Examples of these types of are The Ice Storm, Good Will Hunting, and American Beauty. These works make you laugh and cry, but most of all they make you FEEL. They move you just the way they moved the person who wrote them. They were written by people who really cared and in turn, made the audience really care.

As you think about your writing take the raw materials buried inside you and start to mine them. Discover the human element of your story and make it personal. By doing this your writing will become universal and everyone who sees your screenplay will be emotionally involved.

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