Roger Wolfson – Top Tips on How to Write a Script
Writing the perfect script, no matter what the content, is a sophisticated operation that takes an extraordinary amount of sensitivity and analysis. With the golden era of Television productions upon us, inside this strange time of an international pandemic forcing people to stay home and use domesticated forms of entertainment, the audience has never been more welcoming to new productions.
Roger Wolfson is an American screenwriter and columnist for the Washington Post. His career can be followed through like his televisions productions as Saving Grace, Law and Order and Century City. In his self-analysis, he refers to the content of the story that is his own knowledge or researched has to be decoded to allow the actors to open up the story. Here are some top tips on how to write a better script.
Show. Don’t Say
If the content of the story is highly charged and dramatic, avoid over explain and give space for the actors to ‘show; what is happening rather than just say. Sometimes it’s more effective to hold back from what is needed to be said and display it through visual emotions and actions.
You are limited in range if you only wrote from own experience. Even the most adventurous of persons will soon run dry of content for writing. Researching new subjects and looking for ways to empathise with the story and the characters will lead to a more authentic voice inside the script.
Consider an outside narrator. A sort of legitimate authority to whole story that advances the understanding of where everything is and avoids too much introspection into one character. The Big Lebowski by The Coen Brothers does this immaculately. And even reveals a cowboy drinking at a bar at the end to be the very narrator.
Allow audiences to read between the lines and work out for themselves what is being said or intoned. Avoiding direct honesty creates intrigue, interpretation and overall better engagement. Walter White in Breaking Bad superbly held back form direct responses since the direction and set up was so good that audiences were already aware of was meant.
This is a plot device to arouse suspense and curiosity . Placing an object both materially and in text will create questions to the audience as to why it’s there. But this also is reliant on the next tip.
Avoid unnecessary content. If an object is described in an earlier part of the story it must have a consequence later.
Anything that is useless or without consequence is surplus to requirement and should be cut out.
Allow dialogue to reflect the relationship.
The way we talk reflects the relationship we have with the other person. The amount of recipients to our dialogue also infers a change of speech, tone and timing.
Consider how a son might talk to his mother, then a co-worker and then a friend. Obviously how they would engage with an enemy would be different but the subtleties of dialogue should be examined with other relationships.