(Disclaimer: This article may contain words and phrases that some people may find offensive. Please do not continue if easily offended)
The thing with click bait is that they very rarely give you the answers to the statements/questions they're posing. I call it the Politician Syndrome aka No Shit, Sherlock! This applies to a lot of filmmaking articles I come across, but a typical screenwriting example would be:
5 Things You Need To Write A Great Story
- Writing software (or pen and paper)
- A story that's worth telling
- Characters we can relate to
- Something bad that happens
- An ending your audience can remember
How you do this is completely up to YOU! At the end of the day, you're the one who's telling the story. It's your voice that counts!
No Shit, Sherlock!
I mean, really? Do people really need to be told this stuff? It's like saying you need money to buy a house. Show me the money, mutha fackers!
I'm not sure who said it, but one of the best pieces of screenwriting advise I've personally come across in the diarrhetic bull-shit-sphere known as how not to write, how to write click bait is this:
"Write What You See"
Think about it for a moment. No seriously, stop whatever the fuck you're doing and just think about it: "Write What You See." Might sound silly, but those four words were a light bulb moment for me. It's when everything made sense.
When we're writing a screenplay, we're essentially writing a blue print/map for what will (hopefully) become a movie, short, documentary etc that's played somewhere on this planet. What I struggled with earlier on in my screenwriting journey was this "finding your own voice" shit every tom, dick and article banged on about. I understood structure and most of the other elements that went into a screenplay, but that voice thing really pissed me off!
Screenplays are a subjective medium. Some get a buzz from reading those short, sharp instruction manual type scripts with skeletal sentences that only a robot can decipher , some like scripts where the writer literally talks to the reader like they're in on the joke, others like fleshed out visual stories that read more like a book. (I am of the latter persuasion). Whatever the subject matter, we all have screenplays we like to read from screenwriters that we try to MIMIC. And therein lies the issue that I personally had and am sure most of you have had or are having. How is one supposed to find ones own voice if we're constantly trying to mimic the voice of others?
Bare with, I am getting to a point...
"Write What You See"
Like me, I'm assuming most of you aren't just plucking words out of thin air and stringing sentences together like a mindless ogre. You are visualising a set of moving images in your mind that make up your sequence/story, right? Put simply --> Write What You SEE.
Your "voice" is basically how you would personally describe, in words and sentences, what your mind is showing you. For example, as I was writing this article I was thinking about sex (don't ask) and images were forming in my mind. This is how I would describe what I saw:
CHARLIE penetrates SUSAN in long pelvic thrusts that are packed with gentle force. Their intertwined bodies glisten in the searing heat as Susan's hardened nipples press against Charlie's firm chest.
Sliding on top, Susan's mouth gapes with ecstasy as she takes Charlie deeper inside her... She tries to contain the moans escaping her throat... But it's too far gone.
Susan contracts, her eyes roll, her body sizzles in a build up of intense pleasure that intoxicates her senses. Overwhelmed, she explodes in a long, lingering groan, releasing everything she has onto Charlie's thrusting pelvis.
This is what I saw. This is how I would describe it. This is my "Voice" :) Another screenwriter would probably say what I've said in much fewer sentences using much more efficient words and with greater flare. That would be their "Voice".
I've said it time and time again. For me, It's all about STORY. No amount of mimicking, writing flare or understanding of the english language will compensate for a shit story or reader experience. Once I understood that what I'm writing is literally what I'll be seeing minute by minute, hour by hour on the screen, that's when I was freed from my personal writing shackles, finding my voice in the process and allowing me to concentrate purely on telling my story. Hopefully this article will help you guys in someway, too.
Until next time, folks.
You might also like:
Screenwriting White Space: What Is It Good For?
What A (Good) Story Means To Me
Bulent Ozdemir is a self taught Writer, Director and Filmmaker who left his day job as an insurance broker back in 2010 to pursue a career in film.