Our celebration of great writing continues with our latest genre prize. After the great success of our Sci-Fi and Fantasy and Horror awards, we are proud to announce the first ever WriteMovies Romance and Comedy Award!
Do you like to make people laugh with great comedy? Are you a fan of stories about enduring love and relationships? Or do you like to blend the two into that most classic of genres, the rom-com? Then this is the contest for you!
The WriteMovies Romance and Comedy Award is here to celebrate scripts that lift our spirits through laughter or inspire us with passionate love – or a bit of both! We’ll be accepting scripts in the genres of both comedy and romance, plus the crossover genre of the romantic-comedy.
The winner of this prize will receive:
- Guaranteed pitching to industry
- Two sets of Development Notes to help take their script to the next level
- Further advice to fine tune their script from our experts
Plus, every entry to this award will receive free, automatic entry to the WriteMovies Winter 2020 Screenwriting Contest!
So it’s time to get writing. Standard entry to this award lasts until Sunday 5th January, with the final deadline on Sunday February 9th! Click here to visit the main contest page and submit your script!
In the first two parts of this series on character arcs, we’ve talked about not just how to write them, but how important they are – how, by combining with other elements like structure, they give your script shape and a sense of progression.
But here’s the thing… Every rule has an exception. And what that means is there are times when you might want to NOT use them!
Generally speaking, a character arc is a change or growth in a character where they learn to overcome their flaws in order to resolve a conflict that can be either external or internal: for example, Luke Skywalker becoming a hero so he can defeat the Empire or Rocky resolving his own doubts and proving himself in the ring against Apollo Creed.
The arc can also be used for villains as well. If someone learns the wrong lessons, they end up going down a darker path. They certainly still undergo a process of change, but it doesn’t exactly end well for them – or anyone else! (This kind of arc was attempted with Anakin Skywalker in the STAR WARS prequels… although not very well.)
This isn’t exactly what we’re talking about, however, when we say that sometimes it’s best to not use character arcs. What we mean is that sometimes, the best thing that can happen is for a character to not change at all.
In particular, you’ll find this is most effective in two genres that are complete opposites of one another: comedy and tragedy.
Looking at comedy first, it can be used to great effect to have a protagonist who never learns. In sitcoms, for example, an episode’s inciting incident is often when the protagonist makes a mistake of some sort. Instead of admitting that mistake, however, they often double down on it, making things worse and pushing the situation to the heights of absurdity!
You see this in films as well. In SHAUN OF THE DEAD, Shaun’s answer to everything is to go to his local pub, the Winchester. At the beginning of the film, his girlfriend breaks up with him because that’s all he ever wants to do – a warning that he should change and turn his life around.
Yet when the zombie apocalypse hits, what is his response? “Let’s go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all this to blow over!”
Tragedy, of course, uses the lack of character arc to different effect. The key is to put the protagonist in situations that they either can’t or won’t learn from, and to surround them with characters that don’t encourage them to change. As a result, they become destined to fail.
In SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET, for example, the titular character returns to London hellbent on revenge against the vile Judge Turpin, who fifteen years earlier had him falsely imprisoned and destroyed his family.
Sweeney Todd is single-minded in his pursuit of the judge, but he also doesn’t have anyone to turn him away, to help him become a better man. Quite the opposite, in fact. His only real ally, the obsessive Mrs Lovett, enables him in his quest and ends up helping him.
The result is that Sweeney Todd comes across as a sheer force of will. Unrelenting. Unbending. It becomes compelling to watch his story precisely because he will not change – and because we know it will end badly, both for him and for everyone around him.
So consider whether you even need a character arc – whether the lack of one could actually be used for either comedic or dramatic effect. Character arcs are a powerful tool for any screenwriter – but it’s knowing when to use them and when not that shows true mastery.
David made the top 3 of our Summer 2017 Writing Contest with a well-written, funny, and tense action-comedy. A real CHARMER. For coming in third David receives a year of free script development, guaranteed pitching from industry and exclusive prizes from InkTip.
Here’s a little background on David:
I retired to Northern California from Massachusetts several years ago and took up writing screenplays – not golf. I’m a “gen Boomer” devotee of 1930s to 1950s movies that feature dialogue, romance, and humor. I naturally tend to write contemporary takes in those genres that might appeal to younger audiences as well as all age groups.
My writing education has been limited to basic composition at college, a creative writing class with a Tufts University professor and a beginner’s screenwriting course at Santa Rosa Junior College. CHARMER is my first “completed” script.
An here’s his logline for CHARMER:
A burned-out middle-aged accountant and a young daredevil woman put their polar opposite lifestyles aside when they team up on dangerous hostage-rescue mission.
You can head over to follow in David’s footsteps in our latest contest…
Summer Box-Office flopbusters – Notice the trends of Summer flops to avoid the same pitfalls.
A Summer to forget for Hollywood… the worst grossing Summer in the last ten years, but just why has this happened?
The content has been there. WONDER WOMAN, SPIDERMAN: HOMECOMING, BABY DRIVER, THE DARK TOWER, DUNKIRK, WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES. Of course, they’re different in quality and appeal, but these belong to some big franchises and film companies. But, this Summer has not been so hot.
It’s hard to remember many other films beyond these. If I asked you to name 15 films released since the start of June you’d probably struggle – hell, we’d struggle!
One of the issues is the ease which moviegoers can check a review and decide on whether it’s worth going to see and spend their hard-earned cash on. It takes less than 30 seconds to open up the IMDB app on my phone to check the Dunkirk rating (8.4/10, not bad, Nolan). And this is no doubt how a lot of people are choosing to see films now.
And so many of those low scoring films will just be forgotten. Remember how the BAYWATCH movie was released this Summer, or PIRATES 5 at the end of May? No, me neither. It seems that Hollywood films are becoming more polarizing each year – we’re losing middle ground and average, yet enjoyable, rom-coms and now receiving either complete trash or filmmaking brilliance. We think that script development professionals deserve a bigger voice in the studios’ choice of projects and scriptwriting – and our founder Alex is compiling the research that’ll prove it, we’ve already had a look!
The lack of comedy seems apparent this Summer. Summer action films are always likely going to be a hit, but there’s very little engaging or original comedies or rom-coms out there. Which is just sad for the Summer. Now, we have to settle for things like THE EMOJI MOVIE… We used to get much better quality and ideas…
Maybe this represents a need for better and more original comedies, but there’s also a sign that Winter is becoming the time to release films. The Oscar bait is usually released around Autumn and Winter time, plus the STAR WARS franchise (and before it THE HOBBIT trilogy) was released around Christmas to increase revenue… and it worked.
It’s worth looking more deeply into what films have flopped and why. Try and spot any trends that occur in the failures and do your best to avoid them.
Read more on Hollywood’s horrible Summer here; https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-11/hollywood-s-summer-from-hell
You can also see what sort of scripts are selling recently with Script Pipeline: https://scriptpipeline.com/category/script-sales
Exclusive to WriteMovies – To syndicate this content for your own publication, contact ian (at) writemovies dot-com.
© WriteMovies 2017
Our pick of the web for July 2017 – From the @WriteMovies Twitter Feed!
Our @WriteMovies Twitter feed has been sharing lots of exciting things giving our tips of the best new articles, insights and offers for screenwriters and producers on the web. And in case you’ve missed anything there, here is our pick for July 2017…
We are proud to be able to announce GAMERS by Travis Lemke as the winner of our Featured Script of the Month for scripts submitted in December 2016.
“This is a deeply troubled Santa struggling with his inner demons.” – Extracts from a script report by our trainee Adam Yee based on the script BAD SANTA found on The Daily Script website: CLICK HERE to read the script.
TITLE: Bad Santa LOCALE: Milwaukee and Phoenix
AUTHOR: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa SETTING: Shopping mall, department store, big house.
GENRE: PRIMARY: Black crime comedy caper
SECONDARY: Christmas movie
WILLIE T. SOKE (M): He is bad Santa, mostly dressed in the Santa suit, black stubble with eyes colder than those of a dead fish. He’s cantankerous, foul-mouthed, alcoholic, sex-addicted and depressed safecracker. (LD)
MARCUS SKIDMORE: (M): He’s Santa’s elf and dressed as that for most of the time. Small and tiny. His wife is Lois. (SP)
THURMAN MERMAN (M): Pathetic bullied overweight and snot-nosed eight-year old kid, badly dressed and smells of pee. (SP)
SUE (F): Attractive barmaid, an outdoorsy Western beauty. (SP)
GIN SLAGEL (M): A wiry, hard-bitten, sun-baked saddlebag of a man. Chief of security. (SP)
LOIS (F): Marcus’ Pillipina mail-order wife of several years, dressed expensively, whose mouth is ever down-turned in pruney distaste. (FE)
BOB CHIPESKA: Chamberlain’s department store manager. (FE)
LOGLINE: Two serial thieves pose as Santa and his Elf to rob department stores each Christmas Eve, but Santa’s life is complicated by befriending a bullied kid.
Bad Santa is a black comedy crime caper. A Christmas movie for adults. The script has an ingenious premise that turns the concept of Santa right on its head. A mall Santa (Willie) and his little helper (Marcus) rob department stores every Christmas Eve. The script is well executed and has a clear three-act structure with decisive turning points…
A fantastic post-title scene provides the major conflict that runs throughout – conflict between what a Santa should be and how Willie’s Santa is – they are polar opposites. The scene shows a Santa orientation meeting where a trainer lists and tells of the ten rules a Santa must abide by, this is visually broken by Willie discreetly chugging alcohol with cold eyes showing a distinct lack of interest. The rules are set up to be broken and Willie will break them all. The script does well to maintain this conflict till the end where Santa is gunned down by cops.
The script opens with a brief successful heist that introduces us to Willie and Marcus, showing what they do. The inciting incident moves the narrative along to next Christmas where Willie and Marcus target a different department store. The inciting incident works because it sets up a new heist and moves the action to a new location with new characters. Willie and Marcus’ goal and motive is clear and simple… Slagel’s investigation doesn’t provide big enough conflict as when he finds out about Willie and Marcus’ motive he wants a stake of the loot. The heist isn’t jeopardized. Slagel’s involvement in the heist is resolved in the second turning point when he is killed by Marcus and Lois. This leads into the third act where the climactic heist goes ahead as originally planned. The main obstacle to the heist is Willie’s erratic behavior which makes him a liability, causing conflict and tension with Marcus…
The script uses its premise to explore the depths of its protagonist. This is a deeply troubled Santa struggling with his inner demons. His transformation from despair to a spark of humanity, brought about by Thurman, is a winning one. The change gives Willie purpose and makes him feel human. It makes him more empathetic. Willie and Thurman help each other…
No matter how unpleasant Willie is, he has a certain charm. His sharp, hilarious and caustic dialogue make him compelling to watch. One of the pleasures of this script is the comedic exchanges of dialogue between Willie and other characters, spouting out things the audience can only dream of saying. Willie is brash and by far the most substantial character…
The coda satisfyingly resolves the narrative. A good ending to match an engrossing darkly comedic premise with a standout lead character, makes this script worthy of consideration. There are not many Christmas movies for adults. That is its selling point. It has the potential to reap the commercial rewards from a key 18-25 year old demographic…
To see the full industry-standard format we use for Studio Coverage, either commission your own (CLICK HERE) based on the script you submit, or purchase The Confidential Studio Manual to get the inside track on how the industry will really assess and process your script (CLICK HERE)!