NYWIFT Blog

Notes from a Screenreader

image

photo via Go Into the Story

Real conflict is critical to getting your script past the first round of readers in a competition. All competition specs have an idea and an intent. Few of them deliver an emotional experience of that intent because writers avoid the serious conflict it takes to build an inevitable crisis.

Conflicts need to be a cage match. A dirty fight, a power play, a catastrophic failure of the plan. Spec writers tend to get squeamish about running their characters through that mill, or they hold them to finishing school codes of conduct that prevent the conflict the story needs to keep escalating.

Common cheats in place of serious conflict are:

  • Wimpy arguments. Squabbling is as annoying to read as it is to listen to. To ramp your argument into real conflict, take the gloves off. No Queensbury Rules, no Geneva Convention, no therapeutic fair fighting techniques. Speak unvarnished truth. Hurt relationships, not just feelings.
  • Toe stubbing. Busywork obstacles are inconveniences, which are dull to read. To create suspenseful obstacles, make them costly enough for the protag to consider giving up. If he fails, he could lose his house, his life, his livelihood, his dream. Build big risk in.
  • Resolution. Prematurely resolving unfinished business with an apology or a compromise lets out all the tension. Keep the fires burning hot beneath those grudges. It’s emotional jet fuel.

-ANNIE LABARBA @annelabarba

PUBLISHED BY

nywift

nywift New York Women in Film & Television supports women calling the shots in film, television and digital media.

View all posts by nywift

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*

*

*

Related Posts

NYWIFT Member Spotlight: Arlette Thomas-Fletcher

NYWIFT member Arlette Thomas-Fletcher is a multi-talented filmmaker and production executive. She has handled every creative and technical aspect of media production during her decades-long career, writing, directing, and producing her own projects and those of others. Arlette is a published author and has several books on Amazon, including her children’s book Dreamer’s Journey, which was just released. She is currently working on an animated series called The Cat Faced Cat.

READ MORE

Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Achiro P. Olwoch

Please join us in welcoming Achiro P. Olwoch to the NYWIFT community! Olwoch is a queer artist in exile from Gulu in Northern Uganda, currently living in New York. She is an award-winning writer, director, and producer with several series and shorts to her name, and is currently writing a novel and two memoirs. Her play The Survival recently had its debut performance at Lincoln Center, produced by the National Queer Theatre. She spoke to us about living in exile, her artistic journey, and her resilience.

READ MORE

NYWIFT Women’s History Month Spotlight: Leah Curney

We continue to celebrate our creative members who are making innovative impacts through entertainment, media, film, and television, with a special spotlight our NYWIFT Women Crush Wednesdays Podcast team members. Today writer, director, producer and performer Leah Curney discusses her latest short film, her introduction to NYWIFT through the New Works Lab, women's history inspirations and more.

READ MORE

NYWIFT Women’s History Month Spotlight: January Green

Happy Women's History Month! At NYWIFT as we continue to celebrate our creative members who are making innovative impacts throughout entertainment, media, film, and television, we would like to spotlight our NYWIFT Women Crush Wednesdays Podcast team members. Today's spotlight is January Green, a Manager of Digital Marketing Copy, SEO & product description pages, aspiring screenwriter, and imaginative feature film writer.

READ MORE
JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
css.php