If you’ve taken a class with us, you know all writers need a killer script in their portfolio. But what makes a script stand out? How do we find that premise that gets us so excited we want to go through countless rounds of rewrites to make it just right?
The secret is to infuse your own personal experiences into your script. The authenticity of your story will connect much more strongly with readers. But adding personal experiences to your pilot or feature can also come with its challenges. That’s why we’re sharing five tips to help you craft your personal story into a memorable script.
Brainstorm the Moments that Shaped You
Grab a paper and pen and start thinking about which memories you feel proud of, are embarrassed by, or had to overcome. What are your go-to party stories? Which memories always have you in tears of laughter? Where in the world do you find a feeling of home? When was the last time you cried? Who are the people in your life that made a difference in your life? Highlight any ideas that generate intrigue.
Write What You Know Emotionally
Writers sometimes feel pressured or limited to “write what they know,” but this doesn’t mean if you are a lawyer from Boston, you can only write courtroom scenes or make all your characters Red Sox fans. The key here is to find what is emotionally true about your story. What themes or characters do you most relate to? What do you want to say with your writing? What feelings do you want to explore through the form of a script? Instilling a spirit of your own relevant perspectives to your scripts can create complex and grounded characters.
Check out what our talented friend and alum, Claudia Forestieri, says about developing “Gordita Chronicles,” the hilarious and charming show about a 12-year-old navigating 1985 Miami after her family moves from the Dominican Republic:
“In addition to providing the tools and structure I needed to mold events from my childhood into an original pilot, Script Anatomy’s Televisionary instructors pushed me to uncover the emotional truth of my journey to the US. Thanks to their guidance, I was able to infuse my script with authentic, relatable experiences that others could connect to, including the fine folks at Sony Pictures TV and HBOMax.” – Claudia Forestieri, Creator and Executive Producer of “Gordita Chronicles
Connect It to Your Protagonist’s Core Wound
Now that you’ve brainstormed the emotions you want to explore, try to use those feelings to define your script’s POV. One way of achieving this is to find out what is the emotional struggle your character faces. In every Script Anatomy class, we provide tools to dive deep into your protagonist’s core wound, but what is also important is determining how you relate to this character’s core wound. Does your protagonist share a core wound with you? Does this character depict a complete opposite core wound than yourself? Thinking about the ways you connect emotionally to your characters will help you understand their unique voice and perspective.
Use a Hook to Emphasize a Dramatic Arc
As we write a pilot script or feature film, we must remember we are not writing memoirs. We are writing based on emotional truths; therefore, we can dramatize our stories to emphasize our thematic message. What are the worlds, characters, or relationship dynamics we haven’t seen before that correlate to your story? Find a hook that not only excites you but one that also matches tonally.
Color Your World with Specifics
Here comes the fun part. After you plan what authentic experience you want to depict in a fresh POV, add in specific traits and details to make your world pop. If your script is about a dog and its owner, what type of dog is it? If your protagonist is a vampire, what are the rules of the vampire world? If your setting is on Mars, do your characters live on a space farm or space mansion? These colorful elements are what make your world not only easy to understand but also captivating to readers.
By allowing yourself to get inspired by your own life experiences, you are building out the framework for a distinctive and memorable story no one else can recreate. If you have questions or want to learn more about the tools we use at Script Anatomy, check out our class calendar.