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Pointers Depot For Good Visual Storytelling

Discussion in 'FILMMAKING, INDUSTRY, TECHNOLOGY' started by vince, Apr 17, 2004.

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  1. vince

    vince Well-Known Member

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    I just thought that i should open this thread and make it a sticky.
    In here we can deposit pointers on how to write a good script.
    Seasoned writers like area fada can help up and coming writers who want to rise above the mediocre standard of nollywood scripting.
    I am a newbie myself,so i will contribute some pointers and learn more at the same time.
    ;)
     
  2. vince

    vince Well-Known Member

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    Script It Like Oral Storytelling

    Have you ever told a story orally to somebody before?
    You do things that you do not even notice,something so instinctive and so subconsciously that they go totally unnoticed.
    When you have someone in front of you willing to listen to the exciting story you want to tell,the first thing you instinctively want to do is to hold his complete attention,tie him down,make him focus on nothing else but you and your story.And in order to do this,you do the following subconsciously,without you knowing it:
    1)FLUIDITY-you look to tell the story as fluidly as possible
    2)QUICK PACING-you try to pin your listener down as quickly as possible so that his/her mind does not wander,thus loosing his/her attention very early by moving the storyline along very quickly,going straight to the point and avoiding BSing around.
    3)CLARITY-you're always trying to make sure that your tale gets to your audience as clearly as possible.No confusion,no ambiguity in the plot.
    4)LINEARITY-you're telling the tale with a very progressive linearity that ensures that the plot is always moving forward from the beginning to the end of the story.
    Always moving forward without getting stuck somewhere meandering about or becoming repetitive.
    5)SWEETENING-you're always trying to make the sequences and scenes exciting by giving them "jara".
    6)SUSPENSE-you're always withholding informations about the plot and characters as you move along,and only exposing them to your listener at the right moment,so that he is always wondering what is going to happen next.
    You totally avoid giving infos away very early into your tale.
    Yep!We do all these things without even knowing,atleast i know i do,and this is exactly what should be done when writing a script.
    Every time i sit at a table writing my scripts,i always picture myself telling the story orally to someone in front of me,and how i would tell it without loosing that person's attention.This helps my writing to no end.
    Try it and see. ;)
     
  3. Okestra007

    Okestra007 Mr. Lover Man

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    Good thinking, I think I just got a new idea for ....
     
  4. vince

    vince Well-Known Member

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    For what?
     
  5. Okestra007

    Okestra007 Mr. Lover Man

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    Let's just say that I have a big plan for this year's summer, and I just got an idea of something. Ohh, yeah... can tell, yet!
     
  6. vince

    vince Well-Known Member

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    Know The End Of Your Story First

    Now this might sound kinda strange to some,but knowing how your story should end before starting off is very important.Some experts would even say it is crucial.
    When i first heard this,i thought it was strange as well,but i have already experienced the result of not knowing the end of my story before kicking things off,I GOT STUCK SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE!I got the "block".
    Yes,that is true,i lost my way because i did not know where i was heading,and that will happen to you,too.
    I have discovered that writing a script is like going on a journey with a known destination.Before you proceed with the trip,all your preparations are geared towards reaching that destination as quickly,as comfortably,and as cheaply as possible.
    Everything you do in the preparation phase is horned at reaching your dest. without any hassle whatsoever,and when you actually begin the journey,you're completely focussed on getting there.
    The transportation means taken,the route,the map,etc.,all meant for you to reach where you're going as conveniently and efficiently as possible.
    There is no danger of getting lost because you know exactly where you're headed and you've made enough adequate preparations and you've equipped yourself well enough to get there.You're always advancing towards that dest. in a linear and progressive fashion.
    This is the way to write a script.
    Pin down the end of your story before you take off.It will make your life as a scritpwriter a lot easier,believe me. :)
     
  7. vince

    vince Well-Known Member

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    Know Your Theme

    "What is your story about?".
    That is the first thing people ask you about your script.What is it about?
    You should be able to say that in a single sentence.
    Know the central theme of your story and stay true to it all the way through.
    Weave the drama around the central theme as tightly as you can,never deviating away from it.This ensures intensity that is in turn crucial in holding your reader's attention.
    A lot of naija movies don't do this as they very often leave their central themes and meander aimlessly about,loosing focus and intensity of the plot.
    Keep your story tight around your theme.
    That is what i always do.No BSing around. ;)
     
  8. vince

    vince Well-Known Member

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    Build Your Characters Well

    When most people discuss about movies they've just seen,they talk mostly about the characters that appeal to them the most,the ones they like and really identify with.
    This is why a writer must give the characters in the script a lot of depth.
    Most characters we see in naija movies are very shallow and one dimensional,which makes them very boring and uninteresting.
    Once you have pinned down the characters in your script,start to build them.
    Write a complete autobiography of them,starting from their child birth to the beginning of your story.
    Where they were born,was it a difficult birth,were they born to single parents or not,were they the only children of the parents,if not how many brothers and sisters,what is their relationships to them,to their parents,how were they in school....i can go on and on,but i guess you already know what it takes for the autobiography.
    Now you don't need to incorporate all these infos in your script,but they help you to KNOW your characters well helping you to more accurately portray their reactions in dramatic circumstances in the plotline.
    Make your characters interesting and appealing.
    Emphasize their professional lives,their private lives,their habits when alone,their fav hobbies,sports,what they do with their free time.
    We don't get to see too many of these things in naija movies.
    Give life to your characters!
     
  9. vince

    vince Well-Known Member

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    Be Curious

    Yep!As a writer,we have to be curious about what goes on around us.
    Events in all social stratus should be of interest to us because therein lies tons of ideas for stories.No event is too big or too small.
    Listening to stories that people tell around us is very helpful,our own personal experiences,what we read in newspapers,see on the net,on TV,hear on radio talkshows,read in books,comics etc,sources for good stories abound everywhere.
    Listen,observe and record constantly,that is the life of a writer.
    Not easy,but worth a try.
     
  10. jammrock

    jammrock Guest

    a good writer always walk around with his/her note book and pensil to jot down any idea or event that interest him. most of the time we get ideas when we are waling on the street or watching poeple talk, so its vital to be ready to put them down in black and white before its lost.
     
  11. mcallstar

    mcallstar Winner Next NollyWoodStar

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    I find it hard to write on paper because I have grip problem. But I like writing and telling stories. From the post of Vince I think I am aiming at being a good writer. As good as pulling my audience,listeners along. The easiest thing I can do is furge/think out a story. sometimes they last in my head for two weeks and another follows.
    And I begin to wonder where are they all coming from. When I get such stories I tell it just the way it is in my head to someone close (my mum/siblings) that they should help to comment on it. Afterwards, I start to type and script them.
     
  12. Alaaworan

    Alaaworan I No Be Gentleman

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    Vince--Your tip on pinning down an ending before writing is crucial. This is always my biggest problem in writing synopses (or any kind of fiction, for that matter)--I come up with the characters and scenarios, but they never resolve them in an interesting way. After the climax, the end/denoument just dribbles until it finishes. But I'm going to try your format from now--I'll start with the conclusion.

    My own tip is on character research--your characters' occupations and lifestyles should be as true to form as possible. If you're writing about a pharmacist, really immerse yourself in the field--how long do they study for, what are the job hours like, what are the realistic salaries etc. On the flip side, everybody in the movie can't drive a Beemer or a Lexus. Flesh out the movie by giving some supporting characters real-life occupations/problems etc.--they don't have to be vulcanizers or molue conductors, but there's nothing wrong in having a couple of entry-level clerical aides or agric tax collectors or something. Maybe I just haven't seen these kind of characters in the movies I've seen, but prostitute-students, lawyers, doctors, and general rich types seem to predominate for Naija imagination...
     
  13. vince

    vince Well-Known Member

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    Naija Movies

    Watch a lot of them,and i mean a whole lot,good or bad,mostly the bad ones.
    Why?Because they generally teach you how NOT to write a script.
    They show you things to avoid if you want to write a screenplay with worldclass dramaturgy.
     
  14. mykindofmovies

    mykindofmovies Active Member

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    Good u started this thread,vince,paddy mi.my own contribution is that when u do a script/screenplay and a reader can not watch the movie as he/she is reading,then u 've done nothing.the thing to do is to write it from the angle of the camera,use real life situations,real names and tie it down to a famous city/village.use also a universal theme that everybody can identify with.above all,have a target as to who u are making the script for;either adults or kids.
     
  15. ccaseyg

    ccaseyg Active Member

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    wow
    + to my knowledge n ambitions....
    quick quick got ameliorations to make on my scripts!!!!
     
  16. vince

    vince Well-Known Member

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    Those obstacles you are encountering are the results of not knowing where you are headed.I encountered them myself,until i took this advice right from Syd Field's book.
     
  17. angeleyez

    angeleyez angeleyez

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    My own advice is to put in every leisure time you have into completing your script because in this case the problem will not be about where you are heading but about losing interest in what you've already started. Since a lot of time has been spent away from completing your script, you may have to read the script to remind yourself of what you've been writing about and to make sure you do not include points that are conflicting one another. To avoid this sort of set back, putting as much time into finishing and make notes.

    What I do is I make a note about a chapter before I write it. I look at what I've written and since I know what I'll like the next scene to be then I make a note about that particular chapter to remind me of what I plan on including in that chapter. Do not write it on a paper to avoid losing it but write it on the top page of the script so it can be saved on your disk.


    This is where my problem lies, I can spend a whole week writing a script and a whole month away from it. I already know the beginning and the end of my script but continuing after one week and with a 77 pages of writing at this time seems to always be difficult for me.
     
  18. The Maverick

    The Maverick Well-Known Member

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    Ok, this one is tricky here my friend. the thing to do is to write it from the angle of the camera ok, unless, you're planning on shooting the movie yourself, or perhaps in Nollywood, if you dare put camera angles in your script and try to sell it to an American producer...they won't even look at the script...it's considered insulting to the director. Avoid camera directions at all costs if you don't plan on directing the movie yourself.
    use real life situations,real names and tie it down to a famous city/village. Not necessarily, I mean if it doesn't work for your story why put it in. You won't be using real name and places if your story is a sci-fi set on Neptune
    use also a universal theme that everybody can identify with.above all,have a target as to who u are making the script for;either adults or kids. Yeah, if you're just going for commercial appeal. But sometimes you just want to tell your story, regardless of who is going to see it. It's also good to just write what you wanna see sometimes, especially when making indie films.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying what you wrote is wrong, but I needed to point out that it's not the rule or scripture...there are other ways to go about it.
     
  19. Iya Laje

    Iya Laje Well-Known Member

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    Whoa I have a lot to learn, I've always wanted to write but I've never had the rules and regulations like this, wow I really need to start visiting this thread often, I'm already learning a lot . Thanks soooooo much Uncle Vince.
     
  20. The Maverick

    The Maverick Well-Known Member

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    This is generally true...however, I just completed a script that I had no idea what the end could be. I just let the characters and plot take me on a ride. And I'm very glad with the outcome truthfully. This is not the norm, but that was the approach I took, and it worked for me. You'll like it Vince....I'll hit you up with it later....or perhaps you should wait until it comes out, and you can give it your now famous critique.
     
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