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How to Write a Great Movie

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How to Write a Great Movie

Salah Allan, Actually Steven Spielberg

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Most people aspire to have some form of involvement in the film industry, including me. Personally, I aspire to become a director, which means I would be the one in charge of the story, and how it plays out. This then led me to start writing a screenplay, which then led me to wonder: how many other people have attempted to write a screenplay but failed? So I have decided to write a bit of a tutorial on how to write a good screenplay for a movie… okay, I might be the only one here who actually needs a tutorial for screenplay writing here.

Step 1: Main Plot

When it comes to the main plot, beginners seem to have two major viewpoints on how to write one. The first is that you should just go with something that has already been done before without trying to much to add anything new, since that’s easier. The other is that you should be as creative as possible, so that your idea seems more original.

However, both of these mindsets have major flaws. The first mindset is obviously generic and lazy, but the second mindset is a little more complicated. While being original is of major importance, many people take this out of hand, and can come up with absurdly stupid ideas simply because they were ‘creative’. Even though the plot should be original, you need to set some form of boundaries, so that your story is still believable.

For first-time screenplay writers, my advice would be to take a basic concept, and build around it. The base concept could be as simple as an alien invasion movie, a dinosaur island movie, a spy movie, and so on, as long as you build around the story with innovative ideas.

I will use one of my own screenplays for example.

I began with a basic dinosaur island concept, then I built around it so that it wouldn’t be so basic. I added in the concept of government conspiracies, and made the villain more than just a generic dinosaur, giving it human-like traits. The plot began out pretty bare-bones, but after altering it, it became more fleshed-out.

However, you might find my story to be weird. Well, as long as you are capable of turning it into a functional plot, and it is not too outlandish, it is acceptable for the base plot to be a little weird.

Step 2: Writing

Coming up with a plot seems like a cakewalk when compared to actually writing out the script. When writing the script, you want to make sure the events play out in a manner that makes sense, and pushes the main plot forward. However, not everything has to directly affect the main plot. It is okay to have some extra scenes going on between the main events, it adds some more context to the film. However, try not to have too many extra scenes, because that becomes filler, and filler is just a lame excuse to add run time to the movie…it’s also why I hated Mario Odyssey so much.

Another thing you want to avoid is cliches. You have probably seen cliches like this: the main hero dies but turns out to be alive, the hero flatters the villain to trick them, or so on. Cliches are not only repetitive, but also annoyingly stupid. I mean, seriously, how long do these directors think they can keep pulling the same tropes? They are just lazy attempts to make something happen. So obviously, you would want to avoid cliches and try to move the plot forward in more interesting ways. However, you cannot always avoid cliches, but there is something you can do about that. If you end up using a cliche, try executing it in an original way, so it doesn’t feel like an obvious cliche.

Now, I should probably get into what most of the writing will do: moving the plot forward through major events and dialogue.

For the movies major events, you have to make them as interesting as possible… obviously, but making scenes interesting is not necessarily that easy. Unfortunately, there is no direct advice for making scenes interesting. My advice for beginners would be to make your scene realistic, but also give it a sense of theatricality. What I mean by theatrics is adding some drama to major events to make the scene feel more alive. Again, you have to add limits, so you don’t over dramatize. Believe me, movies will overly exaggerate the most minor things just to look cool, and it does not!

Lastly, you want the writing to portray the style of your film. I cannot exactly explain what style is, but it’s kind of like a ‘theme’. Here’s a few examples: smart movies that make you think deeply, brutal movies with intensive actions, wise-guy movies that go too far for the sake of humor. You might not get what I mean, so let me give an example of stylistic choices that portray those themes.

Brutal movies would have highly intensive action scenes with camera angles that focus on all of the gore and damage.

Smart movies would focus on a deeper meaning in their story, that try and get you to think about said meaning.

That’s about the best I could explain what a ‘style’ is. Anyway, you want your writing to portray that style, and make sure not to collide opposite styles.

Step 3: Character Development

Obviously, your movie is supposed to have characters. Honestly, character design is pretty simple once you have got your writing style and the basic plot down.

Unlike the main plot, creating original characters is not that difficult because the plot that your characters are reacting to will already be original. Therefore, your character’s actions will be original.

However, character development is not that easy. You have to make sure their actions and dialogue portray the character’s attitude. That is pretty straight-forward advice, so for once, I don’t actually have to go into too much detail. Just make sure that anything major a character does reflects their main attitude and do not go too out of character. However, just like over-dramatic events, you can end up over-doing a character’s attitude, and make their actions/dialogue over-exaggerated. A few examples would be the tough-guy being overly angry, or the more timid character being too much of a coward, or so on. I really use the phrase ‘or so on’ way too much. Anyway, that is about all you need to know for character development.

Step 4: The Format Of A Screenplay

So here’s how you format your script… obviously.


-Camera Action(Cut To/Fade To/Move To)

-A description of what’s happening on screen.


-The name of the character that’s speaking

-A description of their attitude in parenthesis, only used when character is acting a certain way that the viewers are meant to notice. (overly angry, cocky, flabbergasted, so on)

-The stuff the character is saying.


Alright, that’s everything you need to know for how to write a movie… you can go now.

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