Tell Your Story

When people hear a story from somewhere else and retell that story, they often embellish the story to make it more dramatic and interesting. You can use this same technique to punch up your screenplay.

In the book “Crafty Screenwriting,” author Alex Epstein offers a unique way to create and refine a story. Before you take a good idea and start writing, try telling your story to another person.

The reason for doing this is that it can give you instant feedback on whether someone’s interested in your story or not. If the other person stifles a yawn, you’ll know that your story isn’t compelling enough or that you need to clearly define all the details to make the story more interesting.

Even better, by telling the same story to multiple people, you can learn where your story starts to sag and where your story grabs the other person’s attention. The more you tell your story to others, the better the feel you’ll get for what’s working in your story and what’s not working.

Ask for feedback from others too. If you’re telling a story and the other person says, “Wait a minute. And then your hero does X, Y, and Z, right?” Then you’ll know that your story is too predictable.

The more you tell your story to others, the stronger that story will feel to you and the more you’ll embellish your story at just the right points to make it interesting to others. When you can consistently tell your story to others and keep their attention so they want to know what happens next, then you’ll know you have a good story. At that point, you’re ready to start writing.

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