Article by Charles Matthau
Story is everything, but you need to be able to grab the script reader within the first few pages. There is no right way to do this. Some writers will use prose to set the scene, and dialogue to set the tone. Some films start with extended action sequences where a character is doing something the audience is not privy to, but his or her mannerisms drive the scene.
Whatever route you choose, developing story will mean the difference between getting funding for your idea and ending up as just another part of the stack.
In college, you probably heard that good characters are round and round characters change by the end of the story. You need to pick up the pace so to speak in screenwriting. Try to view your script as a chance to craft rounder characters, instead of just round ones. The opening is an excellent chance to use action effectively. Have a purpose for everything and you can accomplish a lot in just a few pages.
Books get to internalize a character’s feelings. Scripts don’t have that luxury, and it won’t benefit you to inject prose meant to reinforce that. Assuming the script is purchased, your direction will most likely be removed. Your dialogue should externalize those internal thoughts, so make it punchy and give it purpose. Dialogue also sets the pacing, as a reaction to something or words that start a fight. Carefully choose your words, and be clear about your intentions.
About the Author:
Born on December 10, 1962, Charles Matthau is a native New Yorker and son of Walter Matthau and Carol Grace. His upbringing within the world of film almost certainly influenced his desire to create the Charles Matthau Company. Films by the Charles Matthau Company include the Grass Harp and Freaky Deaky.