Lately, my Facebook has been invaded by lists of commandments for every occasion. Due to the age group to which I belong, the most replicated ones are those that tell you what to do and what to avoid doing when you are in your twenties.
Personally these guidelines, though entertaining, seem banal to me because everyone is different and what works for you, may not work for me.
However, the more I read screenwriting theories, the more I believe that there are a couple of scriptwriting rules that we should practice on our daily lives. Here I share them with you:
1. Leaving early:
In the screenwriting universe we practice a very important rule: you have to arrive late and leave early each scene. You stay on the scene just enough time to advance the story or otherwise reveal something about a character.
Unfortunately in Mexico, we adopted the second part of the rule, we are always late. However, what we should practice is the part of leaving early. Obviously I am not talking about real time, but about getting out of relationships / jobs / situations when these still bring something (positive) to our lives.
2. Depth of character:
Well written stories have something in common; real characters. It´s very unlikely that you´ll create a good story if your characters are one dimensional clichés. In real life is the same. Never mind that the locations are stunning, without a three-dimensional character, the story falls. Avoid people that only talk about one topic, those that are the copy of someone else, those that claim to have no faults (the most memorable characters are certainly those who are not perfect and have many flaws, think about it.)
3. Start from scratch and work on the structure:
When working on the second (or third, fourth, fifth or sixth) version of a script, even if you only change a couple of scenes, you have to go back to work the whole story (even small details), since in theory, every scene was there for a reason.
It is a rookie´s mistake, believing that rewriting means copy pasting the scenes into a new document and only re accommodate them. Of course it is possible that much of the material still works, but rewriting involves questioning everything already set up and even saying goodbye to scenes you love but no longer fit in your story.
The same happens in reality, to change, we must review the entire structure of our life instead of just patching the surface. You also have to let go of characters or situations you love but no longer allow you to grow.
4. Knowing what your story is about :
I have only taken a few scriptwriting courses, but something that never fails to get my attention is how in many occasions, everyone is very clear on what the story is about, except for the writer. It's not that complicated, is it love ?, death ?, honor ? In life it is the same, we are so confused about our goals and priorities that it is easy to detour.
5. Communication is not reduced to dialogue:
It's very basic. I will use a clumsy example: it's much more interesting to see Alex spitting in Juan´s face, than to hear Alex telling him: "I hate you".
Again, the same thing happens in everyday life, our greatest exchange of communication is through non-verbal language. For this reason, it is important to be aware of what unspoken signals we send. It also means we have to support our words with our actions.
In writing you are allowed to create fantastic worlds with different rules than our reality. Conventions that must be accepted by the viewer are created. However, once you established these rules, they should not be broken or credibility and logic is lost. In daily life, this would mean being consistent.