Make Every Detail Reflect Your Story

One of the most confusing types of stories are those that don’t seem to know what to say. A story might start out like a comedy but suddenly switch to a horror story, which disorients and confuses the audience. Another story might introduce a character and suddenly forget about that character for the rest of the story.

When writing a screenplay, always think of how every detail can enhance your story in some way. In “Jules,” a flying saucer crash lands in an elderly man’s backyard and the elderly man is surprised to find an alien laying on his patio.

Since “Jules” is a comedy, the elderly man and his friends decide to put some clothes on the alien. To reflect this comedic tone, a woman puts a T-shirt on the alien with the words across the front that read, “I’m not a lesbian but my girlfriend is.”

Whether the screenwriter came up with this idea or the director, the purpose is to find a way to make a T-shirt fit the story. If the characters simply put on a plain T-shirt on the alien, that wouldn’t enhance the story in any way, but putting on a comical T-shirt on the alien helps make the situation ludicrous, which is perfect for a comedy.

In “E.T.,” E.T. makes a communication device out of cans and children’s toys, which reflects the story’s emphasis on kids as the protagonist. On the other hand, “District 9” is a grittier, social satire story so the aliens use old computer parts to make devices. By using cast off computer parts, the aliens of “District 9” emphasize their lower class status in the world.

The point is that when you use anything in your screenplay, think of how you can make that item support your story in some way. Generic items won’t help your story but specific details will as long as those specific details make sense in your story world somehow.

If you fail to use specific items in your story, you’re missing a chance to make your story stronger. So look for tiny details that can make your story better. Audiences might not consciously be aware of these details, but the lack of such details will make your story weaker and less focused, and audiences won’t know exactly why, but you will.

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