The best way to write a lousy screenplay is to stop learning and ignore feedback and advice. Yet another way to write a lousy screenplay is to do what most people do, which is to write your screenplay and define your story at the same time.
Why is this a guaranteed path to mediocrity at best or complete garbage at worse? It’s because writing a screenplay and creating a story are two different tasks, much like building a house and drafting blueprints for a house.
When you try to make up your story as you write your screenplay, you can’t help but write flat characters in scenes with little suspense or tension. That’s because even you don’t know what your story is about as you’re writing, which is like trying to nail the frame of your house together before you even know where the bedrooms, bathrooms, and hallways will go.
By trying to write a screenplay and create your story at the same time, you’ll do a poor job at both. The secret is to create your story first and then write your screenplay, based on your story, second.
That’s why expensive screenwriting software can’t help you create a compelling story because screenwriting software is only designed to help you write and format a screenplay, but provide little help in creating a story.
When you create a story by writing a screenplay, you’ll tend to write a lot of useless scenes that you’ll be reluctant to throw out because you don’t know if it’s worth keeping or not. In most cases, this creates a bloated, dull, and thin story.
So before you start writing your screenplay, stop. Then using an ordinary piece of paper or word processor document, just write out the basic steps of your story from beginning to end. It’s far easier to adjust and modify a story when it consists of a few sentences or paragraphs. It’s far harder to modify a story once you’ve written dozens of pages in screenplay format.
Only after you’ve created a story with plenty of tension and suspense should you finally start writing a screenplay. Creating a story is about defining the broad strokes of your story. Writing a screenplay is about creating the details to tell the broad strokes of your story.
Two entirely different tasks.
So put off writing a screenplay as long as possible and spend most of your time defining your story instead. You’ll find that once you know what your story is, writing the screenplay will be far easier and more enjoyable. Plus you’ll know exactly where your story is going so you can play ahead for foreshadowing and payoffs.