Questions To Ask When Writing A Screenplay: Tips From The Pros

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Are you ready to take your screenwriting skills to the next level? Do you want to create characters and stories that captivate audiences and leave them wanting more? Then it’s time to ask the important questions that will help you craft a compelling screenplay.

As the saying goes, ‘the devil is in the details,’ and when it comes to screenwriting, the details can make or break your script. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with tips from the pros on the questions you should be asking yourself throughout the writing process.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand your protagonist inside and out. Who are they? What motivates them? What do they want? By answering these questions, you’ll be able to create a character that is not only realistic but also relatable to your audience.

From there, you can start to develop the plot, crafting a story that challenges your protagonist and keeps the audience engaged. But the questions don’t stop there. From creating compelling supporting characters to crafting realistic dialogue, this article will cover everything you need to know to write a screenplay that stands out in the competitive world of film and television.

So, let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Understand your protagonist inside and out, exploring their motivations and character flaws.
  • Craft a compelling plot with a clear beginning, middle, and end, incorporating subplots and character arcs for depth and complexity.
  • Create well-rounded supporting characters that interact with the protagonist, developing them to create a more immersive world.
  • Consistency in language and tone of characters is important, as it affects the overall tone of the screenplay and audience perception.

Understanding Your Protagonist

If you want your audience to root for your protagonist, you gotta understand ’em first!

Exploring motivations and revealing character flaws are essential to creating a relatable and engaging protagonist. What drives them? What are their fears and desires? What are their strengths and weaknesses? These are just some of the questions you should be asking when creating a protagonist that your audience will care about.

But it’s not just about knowing your protagonist’s backstory or personality traits. It’s about understanding their motivations. What do they want and why do they want it? And, just as importantly, what are the obstacles standing in their way?

By understanding these factors, you’ll be able to create a story that not only showcases your protagonist’s strengths but also highlights their flaws and vulnerabilities. This will create a character that feels human and relatable, which will ultimately draw your audience in and keep them invested in the story.

Creating Compelling Characters

When creating compelling characters in your screenplay, it’s important to consider how your supporting characters add depth to the story. These characters should have unique and interesting personalities, motivations, and backstories that complement the protagonist’s journey.

writing a script that has well rounded supporting characters
Writing a script that has well-rounded supporting characters

Think about how they’ll interact with the protagonist and how their relationships will evolve throughout the story. By crafting well-rounded supporting characters, you can create a more dynamic and engaging story that keeps your audience invested.

How do your supporting characters add depth to the story?

Supporting characters are vital to adding depth to a screenplay, infusing it with personality and emotion that elevate the story beyond the realm of mundanity. They can help provide a unique perspective on the main character or plot or even serve as a foil to the protagonist.

Here are a few ways supporting characters can add depth to your story:

  • Supporting characters can provide comic relief, adding levity to even the most serious of situations. They can offer a breather for the audience, allowing them to relax and take a break from the tension in the story.
  • Supporting characters can bring out the best or worst in the main character. They can challenge the protagonist’s beliefs, force them to confront their flaws, or inspire them to become a better version of themselves.
  • Supporting characters can have their own motivations and character arcs that intersect with the main character’s journey. They can have their own goals, desires, and struggles that impact the plot and add complexity to the story.

By fleshing out these characters, you can create a more immersive and engaging world for your audience. With these elements in mind, you can create a well-rounded cast of characters that adds depth and nuance to your screenplay. By giving your supporting character purpose and personality, you can elevate your story beyond a simple plot and create a memorable experience for your audience.

What makes them unique and interesting?

Discover how you can make your supporting characters stand out and captivate your audience with their unique personalities and motivations.

Your supporting characters shouldn’t just be there to support the main character’s journey, but also to add their own unique elements and captivating twists to the story.

Think about what makes each supporting character interesting and different from one another, and how they can contribute to the overall plot.

practicing their acting skills in order to bring the characters to life
Practicing their acting skills in order to bring the characters to life

One way to make your supporting characters unique is to give them their own motivations and goals that may differ from the main character’s. This can create tension and conflict within the story, as each character’s desires may clash with one another.

Additionally, consider giving your supporting characters their own quirks and personality traits that make them stand out and be memorable. These unique elements can help your audience connect with the character on a deeper level and make them more invested in their journey.

By taking the time to develop your supporting characters, you can elevate your screenplay and create a truly captivating story.

How will they interact with the protagonist?

As you’re creating your supporting characters, you’ll want to consider how they’ll interact with the protagonist. These relationships are crucial to driving the story forward and keeping your audience engaged.

Character relationships and dynamic interactions can add depth and complexity to your story, creating a more well-rounded and memorable experience for your audience. Think about how your supporting characters can challenge or complement the protagonist’s goals and motivations.

Will they be allies or adversaries? Will they have conflicting desires or similar motivations? By developing these relationships, you can create tension and conflict that will keep your audience invested in the story.

Remember, the interactions between your protagonist and supporting characters can make or break your story’s success, so take the time to craft meaningful and engaging relationships.

Crafting Realistic Dialogue

When crafting realistic dialogue, you need to think about how your characters communicate with each other. Do they speak formally or informally? Do they use slang or technical jargon?

Another important consideration is the language and tone they use. How do they express their feelings and intentions through their words?

Lastly, dialogue is a crucial tool for advancing the plot and revealing character traits. It can create tension, reveal secrets, and add depth to your story. So pay attention to every word your characters say, as it can make or break your screenplay.

How do characters communicate with each other?

You need to make your characters communicate with each other in a way that feels natural and authentic, so that the audience can connect with them on a deeper level. Character dynamics play a crucial role in the communication between characters.

Each character has their own personality, beliefs, and motivations, which’ll influence how they interact with others. It’s important to consider this when crafting dialogue and interactions between characters.

Nonverbal communication is also an important factor to consider when writing how characters communicate with each other. Gestures, facial expressions, and body language can convey just as much, if not more, than words. Paying attention to these details can make the interactions between characters feel more realistic and engaging for the audience.

Additionally, it’s important to consider the context of the scene and how it might affect the characters’ communication with each other. By keeping all of these factors in mind, you can create a more dynamic and authentic relationship between your characters.

creating a stronger bond and a better understanding between their characters
Creating a stronger bond and a better understanding between their characters

What language and tone do they use?

Now that you’ve explored how characters communicate with each other, it’s important to consider the language and tone they use. This aspect can greatly affect the overall tone of your screenplay and how your characters are perceived by the audience.

When it comes to language, it’s important to consider the characters’ backgrounds and personalities. Are they highly educated and use complex vocabulary, or do they speak in a more colloquial manner? It’s important to be consistent in their language throughout the screenplay, as inconsistency can be jarring for the audience. Additionally, consider the tone of the language. Is it formal or informal? Are the characters being sarcastic or serious? All of these factors contribute to the overall tone of the screenplay and can greatly affect the audience’s experience.

When it comes to writing style and approach, it’s important to consider the overall mood and message of the screenplay. Are you aiming for a lighthearted comedy or a serious drama? This will greatly affect the language and tone used by the characters.

It’s also important to consider the overall pacing of the screenplay. Are the characters speaking quickly and with urgency, or are they taking their time with their words? By considering these factors and being intentional with your language and tone, you can create a more cohesive and engaging screenplay.

How does dialogue contribute to the story?

Dialogue that’s carefully crafted and delivered can transport the audience into the story’s world and bring the characters to life. It’s not just about what the characters say, but how they say it.

Exploring character dynamics through dialogue can reveal their motivations, fears, and desires. By using subtext in dialogue, writers can create tension and depth in their characters, making the story more engaging for the audience.

Here are three ways that dialogue can contribute to the story:

  • It can reveal character traits and relationships. How characters speak to each other can show their personalities and how they interact with one another. For example, a character who speaks in short, clipped sentences may be guarded or closed off, while one who rambles on may be nervous or trying to distract from something.
  • It can advance the plot. Dialogue can be used to move the story forward by providing information or setting up future events. For example, a character may reveal a crucial piece of information that sets off a chain of events in the story.
  • It can create tension and conflict. Dialogue can be used to create conflicts between characters, whether it’s a heated argument or a subtle disagreement. This tension can keep the audience engaged and invested in the story. By exploring character dynamics and using subtext in dialogue, writers can create a more nuanced and compelling story.

Developing the Plot

Crafting a compelling plot that keeps the audience engaged throughout the entire screenplay is crucial in creating a memorable and emotionally impactful story. The plot development and story structure are the backbone of any successful screenplay.

To develop a solid plot, you need to start by identifying the core conflict that your story is built around. This conflict should be both specific and universal, something that the audience can relate to on a personal level.

Once you have the core conflict established, you need to start building the story around it. This involves creating a clear beginning, middle, and end. The beginning should introduce the characters and set up the conflict. The middle should develop the conflict and introduce obstacles for the characters to overcome. The end should resolve the conflict in a satisfying way.

In addition to this basic structure, it’s important to incorporate subplots and character arcs that add depth and complexity to the story. By carefully developing the plot and story structure, you can create a screenplay that resonates with audiences and leaves a lasting impact.

Understanding the Industry

Understanding the industry is crucial for aspiring screenwriters, as it helps them navigate the complex and competitive world of film and television. To gain industry insights, it’s important to attend film festivals, industry events, and screenings. This allows you to meet industry professionals, learn about the latest trends, and build your network.

Additionally, subscribing to industry publications and following industry blogs and social media accounts can keep you up-to-date on industry news and trends. Networking is also essential in the film and television industry. Building relationships with industry professionals can lead to job opportunities and help you gain access to resources.

It’s important to attend networking events, but also to approach networking in a genuine and authentic way. Networking should be about building relationships, not just collecting business cards. One way to build relationships is to offer to help others in the industry, whether it be with a script or a project.

This can lead to mutually beneficial relationships and help you stand out in a competitive industry.

Here are some questions a screenwriter ask themselves when writing a screenplay


In conclusion, writing a screenplay can be a challenging but rewarding experience. By asking the right questions and following the tips from the pros, you can create a screenplay that stands out and captures the hearts and minds of your audience.

So, keep writing, keep learning, and never give up on your dreams!

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Jessica started off as an avid book reader. After reading one too many romance novels (really... is it ever really enough?), she decided to jump to the other side and started writing her own stories. She now shares what she has learned (the good and the not so good) here at When You Write, hoping she can inspire more up and coming wordsmiths to take the leap and share their own stories with the world.