Sunday, February 24, 2013
Be an expert
She was proud of herself because when she couldn't figure out how to tackle Act 2, she just thought of a movie that had a great sex scene in the middle and copied it. She was really proud that nobody else noticed her theft. Seriously, she said this to me like it was a great accomplishment.
I know this happens a lot. You don't know how to proceed with your script, so you think "What did other movies do?" and if they did them, then it's okay for you to do them. That way, you don't have to work as hard to figure out how to solve your story problems.
Well, kids, I have the solution to all your hacky moments right here - RESEARCH.
When you look stuff up, you learn neat things. Things that will help you as you write.
Writing a story about CIA agents? Read a fucking book by one. There are actually quite a few out there. Want to know what an archaeologist does? Don't just watch Indiana Jones movies. Talk to a fucking archaeologist. Professors have office hours during which they'd rather do anything other than grade papers. Telling a young screenwriter what they do for a living sounds awesome to most of them. You can buy all the technical expertise you want for a price of a cup of coffee.
There's also a website or two where experts on just about any topic you want will answer you. This is a good one: All Experts.
I'm lucky because I chose a mate wisely. My husband, aka The Beefcake, is law enforcement, and a lot of his buddies are in different branches. Chances are, no matter what branch of law enforcement I want to write about, he knows someone who has worked there. He also knows fighting techniques, general tactics and weapons. Any time he's home, you can hear me holler for him, or, if he's playing Halo Reach, running down the hall to interrupt his vital game time to demand a strategy on how a trained military professional would clear a two-story house.
He is also capable of beating people up and lifting heavy things. It's pretty sweet.
Anyhow, my overall point is, when you know your topic, it gets a lot easier to figure out what your characters would do in certain situations. And when you know that, not only can you properly advance the plot, but you can make your scenes more interesting as well. You can find little anecdotes to squeeze in there, or neat personality quirks you can give your people to make them more individual.
You don't have to copy what's on film if you know how real people act.
So don't be a hack. Go look some stuff up.