Screenwriting : How to write a realistic screenplay without being predictable? by Emily Ann Jefferson

Emily Ann Jefferson

How to write a realistic screenplay without being predictable?

So I got notes on a recent script, the guy said he liked it but he felt it was slightly predictable. And I'm writing more about real life drama, How can I make my screenplays less predictable but make them interesting, and not as predictable?

Jeremy Dewayne Humphrey

You can make your script less predictable by giving your characters unpredictability. What i mean is, if you give all your characters interesting stories that grabs an audience and takes them along for the ride, then all of a sudden, you change the perception of the character, then that is unpredictability. A great example is Jake Gyllenhaal's character in the upcoming film "Demolition," where he plays a successful businessman that has a routine life; however, whenever he loses his wife in a fatal accident, he changes his routine from conventional to free-spirited. Your character are attached to all the scenes and backdrops of the movie, so when your character are multi-layered, your screenplay now becomes multi-layered.

Izzibella Beau

I would have to agree with the above postings. Make the reader/viewer go 'I never saw that coming or happening.' or 'I never expected him/her to do that.' I like to think outside of the box and get away from what normally happens in movies/books to a position where sometimes the ending isn't alway a happily ever after.

A Alex

Emily, maybe you should check to see if the subject of your drama is a common one, and if you dealt with it in a common manner. Find a way to have a twist on your story that isn't usually seen. Doing this will naturally lead you to craft characters that defy stereotypes. Then you're on your way to being unpredictable. Keep in mind that there are thousands of writers who want to sell their drama to someone, so yours should really stand out in some way.

Philip Sedgwick

Tension. Lots of tension. Consider Apollo 13 as an example. At the end we know they get back safely. But it's edge of the seat as the space capsule returns to earth.

Bo. R. R. Tolkien
  1. Use the ordinary in an unordinary or extraordinary way. 2. Add a twist and a turn to toss your viewer out of the comfort zone. 3. End it with a satisfying cliff hanger.
Clayton Broomes Jr.

Emily, just think about your expectations and how you can exceed them. That's a good start. Think about Keyser Söze. Who saw that coming? Or Shawshank Redemption? Some thought they would find him hanging in his prison cell. It's about knowing your characters, what to expect of him/her and how you can turn that on its head and make him/her pull off the unexpected, considering the character's nature.

Geoff Webb

Don't use your first idea or your 2nd, 3rd or 4th for that matter. That will help you to be less predicable.

Jorge J Prieto

Push the envelope. Think of the unthinkable and make it happen. Be fearless, controversial, risk taker, but do it all with passion, love and courage.

Regina Lee

If your readers are only feeling the story is "slightly predictable," I honestly wouldn't worry about it too much. In trying to address the note, you might unravel something that is actually working. Assuming it's truly only a bit predictable, I really don't think that will hold you back. For example, if someone wants to buy the script, a slight bit of predictability shouldn't stand in his way. He should be able to see past that wrinkle, go forward with the purchase, and develop the next draft with you. If you feel the script is way too predictable, then that's obviously another story.

William Martell

Create expectations in the audience to go one way, then go the other way. You are a magician - your job is to know the secrets behind the magic. Life is full of twists and unexpected things happening. The writer creates the expectations, then does something else (which also makes complete sense). A twist isn't something new, it is revealing something which has always been there. Once it is revealed, the audience realizes that it was always there. That's why the writer has to be the magician - we have to establish that the twist element is there and then use a diversion to make the audience forget, so when we reveal it later it is both unexpected and logical. The diversion makes the audience predict a different path, but when the true path is revealed the audience realizes it was always there (realistic). Unexpected and logical at the same time. SPOILER: Bruce Willis is dead after 7 pages in THE SIXTH SENSE.

Linda Perkins

Emily, keep one thing in mind: real life is soooo unpredictable. Your world of 'what happens next' is so wide and diverse. Take it there!

Clayton Broomes Jr.

Good one, Linda.

Jeff Bassetti

That is a funny comment ... I think we want familiarity, while fresh and new at the same time. Ideally that reader said what was predictable, or you already know in which case you have a pretty good idea on how to go left instead of right. Keep writing!

Joe Fiserano

If he found it predictible, then you are revealing everything too soon, or more than necessary. The power of revealing in a story is so important that I just cannot write it here, but if you go on YouTube, there are several great videos about it. Also, if someone found it predictible, they usually mean the final punch is not strong enough. The ending is weak. Try coming up with a better ending and work on the reveal.

Christopher Binder

Real life in drama is never technically "real." If you want real, go watch a documentary. Drama in films usually exists in hyper reality.

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

You just have to have faith and keep writing. It is a business of continuing growth and honing your craft. And get used to the word NO! You will hear it a lot!! But if you believe in your craft and know it takes time and hard work than you will be where you want to be : A PAID SCREENWRITER!!! Can I get an Amen from my fellow "HAPPY WRITERS"?

Jorge J Prieto

Amen!! Steven and another one, AMEN all caps!

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Jorge, we have to find some way to work together We are both in NYC I would like your involvement in my HSM project but when a project comes along that is right for both of us I have faith it will happen. In the meantime I am grateful to have your guidance and help as we both move forward in our creative journeys. Thank you my very good friend.

Jorge J Prieto

My dear, Steven, yes it will. Your GRATITUDE means a lot. Btw, don't forget on the next S32 meet up, I be there: Central Park, Village Piers park, name it. You are a busy man!

Michael Wearing

Have a look at a film like Back to The Future. Repeatedly in it you see something used in one way then later in the film in a different way. For instance Marty uses the clock leaflet to write down his girlfriends number but it is the picture on the leaflet that is important as it tells when the clock was struck by lightening. By concealing the real use of a "prop" when you first see it the film is made less predictable.

Linda Perkins

AMEN, Steven Harris Anzelowitz. AMEN again!!!

Frederic Lecamus

A good thing is to make your characters coherent (internally) but not always consistent. Make them surprising, which means that they should react to different situations with a relative coherence, but it does not mean they will want to. Once in a while they are allowed to just take the least consistent path and create the change of routine that is supposed to happen in the script. Then you could cut your scenes before the reveals and don't take the reader by the hand with too much exposition and simple dialogue. That should make the reading more thrilling imho.

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