The art of Film is a space created with the intent to have an open discussion about filmmaking and screenwriting. Feel free to post around :)

Friday, August 17, 2007

How to write a short story for film

My students at WEFIS have asked me this lots of times . Writing a short story is very different from writing a full length feature film in that there is almost no time to explain things.

One must use every tool, be it visual, dialogue or plot, to introduce the viewer to the story problem, make him empathize with whomever you wish to, and keep him interested in the outcome.

In order to be able to fit all this in such a short period of time -say, one minute-, one must start the story at the very end of it. There's no time to develop your character traits on different scenes. Instead, you must present them as they are at the moment of conclusion.

I developed a quick formula so my students could easily start creating their stories. Before starting to write anything, I recommend you to define the following aspects of your short script:

  1. Who is your protagonist?
  2. What is his objective?
  3. Who is the antagonist?
  4. What is the critical moment that has led them to the actual state of your story?
  5. How does the story end?
The rest of the work will consist on developing the ways the antagonist will block the protagonist's efforts to obtain his objective (or viceversa), and why is he going to fail or succeed.

Ok, enough with the theory, here is an example:

  1. Protagonist: Alfred is a truck driver. He has been driving for 10 hours, and he is very tired.
  2. Objective: Alfred wants to sleep
  3. Antagonist: Miriam is his road companion. She wants to talk about politics, marriage, and just about anything that comes to her mind. Of course, Alfred's objective is against her's
  4. Critical Moment: Alfred can't keep his eyes open, he is now too tired, and is ignoring Miriam.
  5. Ending: Alfred manages to make Miriam stop speaking and to sleep peacefully.
Now all you have to do is to define ways Miriam and Alfred come into conflict, and how is it that Alfred manages to achieve his objective. I'll leave this to you :)

In a following blog I will address how to create interesting characters in a short story script.


Mauricio De la Orta


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home