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Ashlee Stormo: Screenwriting Tricks Put to the Test

What are some of the strangest screenwriting tips you’ve tried to get over a writing slump? In this week’s video with Ashlee Stormo, she’s testing out four tricks to see what works.

“Hello, SoCreators! What writing exercises or tips can you share with us? This week I tested out four from various professional screenwriters and rated whether they helped me or not. Have you tried any of these?”

Ashlee Stormo

"Hello friends! My name is Ashlee Stormo, and as you may have seen over the last few weeks, I have been partnering with SoCreate to show you what life as an aspiring screenwriter looks like. Today what I’m doing is I’m taking some tips that I’ve found across the internet, and I’m going to put them to the test and see if they work well for me."

  • Tip #1: Write while you’re watching TV

    The first tip is to write while you’re watching TV. So, regardless of what show you’re watching, pull up your screenwriting software, and as you’re watching that scene transpire, write it down how you would on a page. And the purpose of this exercise is that show that you’re watching, it was the golden ticket. It got made, it got produced, it’s on TV. You’re trying to figure out what that screenwriter did, or that group of writers did that made it successful. You want to keep a lookout for the dialogue, and how they kept that story flowing from page to page, and focus on format. And then if you’re able to, a little extra bonus that I’ve done, is I will then go look up that PDF of that actual script and then compare it to the recreation that I just did to kind of see how what I did varied from what they did.

    Successful tip. It helped me realize I needed to condense my description.

  • Tip #2: Mood Board

    The next tip is to mood board. So if you are having trouble maintaining consistency within a character, make a mood board. You can include their personality traits, things that they do and don’t like, quotes that suit them, and if you’re writing something that is inconsistent with the aesthetic of that mood board that you made, that personality that you visually created, cut it, because you want the character to be consistent across all forms.

    Unsuccessful tip. For me, this is just a time suck. Fun though!

  • Tip #3: Condense every line of dialogue to 5 words or less

    I grapple with dialogue a lot. So the next tip that I chose to practice was focused on the idea that language, and the conversation between your characters, shouldn’t be what moves the plot forward. So what you’re supposed to do is take five lines of dialogue, or you can take ten lines of dialogue if it’s between two people, and condense every single line to five words or less. And the whole purpose of this is it’s going to force you to focus more on the visuals in your script and less on language, because while conversations can reveal plot and reveal things about your character, it shouldn’t reveal everything, and it’s not what’s supposed to hold the story up.

    Successful tip. This helped me be more selective with the character’s words, with more focus on visuals.

  • Tip #4: Write from a love/hate perspective

    The last tip, tip number four, is my favorite tip. You are supposed to pick a character that you love from TV or a movie, and you’re supposed to write four to five sentences about them from the point of view of someone who is in love with them, and then you’re also supposed to write four to five sentences about that same character from the point of view of someone who absolutely hates them, and you’re going to compare and contrast. And if you do that with your own characters, that will help you create a character who is well-rounded and who isn’t too likable or too hateable.

    Successful tip. This helped me put an emphasis on making characters likable and unlikable.

"Those were just a few short exercises that were recommended by real, employed screenwriters. I hope they were helpful to you. I definitely think you should go and try to find exercises that adhere more to whatever you struggle with or want to work on. Make sure you are following SoCreate – they have a blog, and you can find some of those tips that you want to practice on their blog. They have a few articles about how to write a montage, or action descriptions, stuff like that. So make sure you’re following them.

Let me know in the comments downstairs if you tried any of these tips and how they worked for you, or if you have any other tips that you would like to share with all of us. Thank you so much for watching. I will see you all soon."

Ashlee Stormo, aspiring screenwriter

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