Many people dream of becoming screenwriters, working on television shows and blockbuster movies, but crafting a worthy script takes time, as well as a knowledge of the key ingredients involved. The qualities of a successful script are the same regardless of whether the story is about an alien invasion or the romantic relationship between two unlikely lovers.
Dialogue is important in a script, because it’s through dialogue that characters communicate and give insight into their thoughts, feelings and motivations. Dialogue powers the relationships between characters. It’s also important for presenting a sense of realism in your script. If your dialogue sounds stilted or otherwise unreal, your reader won’t buy into it. You should be able to imagine your characters actually speaking your dialogue. Avoid the overuse of long, rambling monologues too.
A quality script features a number of big events where there’s plenty of action, but also time to let the tension build. A powerful script makes room for both of these, but you also need to structure the script so tension isn’t built for too long at once, or the reader may get bored. Avoid too much action at one time, since this can fall flat if there’s no tension. Watch for parts of the script that that don’t flow and others that drag.
Scripts are full of conflict. Conflict creates drama, drives the plot and allows the buildup of suspense. Since conflict generates much of a script’s action and keeps the audience engaged, the central conflict of the script must be compelling enough to draw in the reader. A quality script needs enough drama to go around, but also well-structured conflict. If a minor character experiences more conflict than the script’s protagonist, something is awry.
A quality script needs something to grab the reader’s attention, especially if it’s being sent to TV or movie executives. You need to create a central concept or question for your script to be based around. This idea can be entirely original or it can take a popular genre, like science fiction or romantic comedy, and put a new twist on it.
Characters are integral to any script: they are the reader’s link to the plot and events of the story. The characters of the story also drive the action through their emotions, reactions and discoveries. The protagonists of a good script are recognizably human, since the reader needs to be able to relate in some way to them. Readers should feel some emotion towards characters, even if it’s repulsion.