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The Single Most Important Lesson I’ve Learned About Writing a Screenplay

The most important lesson I’ve learned about writing a screenplay in 15+ years:

Dialogue needs to do one of two things: 1️⃣ Reveal more about the character 2️⃣ Drive the story forward

If it doesn’t do one of those two, it shouldn’t be there.

And here’s why:

The characters you’ve created are complex beings.

Movies are 90–120 minutes. Short films, even less. To sum up their entire identity in 90 minutes is an incredible challenge.

That’s where this lesson comes in.

When writing dialogue, share more about this character.

Tell us about their personality, background, & motivations. Show us who they are by how they speak. Then, give us their struggles, challenges, and obstacles.

Make your character more relatable by being vulnerable with us.

Next, story.

Your story can be dramatic, romantic, or comedic — but every story is finite. Hint at where we’re going. Show us consequences. We know the journey will end, so take us there & provide the lesson.

Drive your story forward, because your characters want you to.

Storytelling has existed forever.

It’s been used to pass on traditions, culture, & heritage. For entertainment & community. By telling stories, people can make sense of the world around them and figure out their place in it.

That’s how we connect to your story.

Not all lessons are created equal.

Some lessons we learn are small. They are little reminders along the way of what truly matters.

Other lessons are giant. They fundamentally change our entire lives.

This lesson can be applied to all forms of storytelling.

Entrepreneurs, consultants, coaches, musicians, painters, etc. Character: you, the work, your audience Story: course, song, art

If it doesn’t tell me more or drive me forward. Let it go.

See you tomorrow. Matt Cici

Follow the journey here or on:

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