Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Best Note

 I've gotten a lot of great notes in my life as a screenwriter, but I can still remember the best one because I think of it every time I write. I got it from The Unknown Screenwriter. So thank you, Unk. I hope you're okay with me giving you some credit here.

I had this zombie script about a family traveling across post-zombopocalypse America (This was before the current zombie explosion) and there was this scene where my female lead was stuck in a drug store with zombies coming after her.

In my original draft the zombies come at her and she doesn't blink. She grabs a broom and swings it around, taking out zombies left and right until she has a pile of bodies at her feet and runs away.

Unk pointed out that it's far more interesting to watch her fail, to get backed into a corner so bad we had no idea who she'd get out of it. And he was 100% right.

I rewrote the scene so that this time, she has no weapon. She grabs whatever she can use from the store shelves and throws them at the zombies, but they keep coming and coming until she ends up against the freezer section, keeping them at bay with a glass door.

The next person who read the script said that was their favorite scene because they seriously thought she was about to die.

And that's when I realized how to write.

From that point on, in every script, I made sure to have at least one scene where our protagonist is good and truly fucked. They're a badass, sure, but that doesn't mean they're invincible. It's tough to root for someone who will always win no matter what the odds. It's a lot more fun to worry they're not going to make it.

And that's the best note I ever got.


  1. Hope yer right, my friend. My current script that's out there has a (very) vulnerable protagonist who is in a whole lotta danger.

  2. That's the best kind of protagonist. It gives them somewhere to go.


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