Hello there everyone! I see you have called in an emergency. What's that? You have *gasps* writers block? Well have no fear! You've come to the right place! The Writerbusters will help you in no time!
The Opening Sequence
Alright, so you have a story going with characters and a good idea on where you want to go, you just don't know how to start it. That's perfectly fine. Take the time to look over different movies and how they begin. Notice how in Legally Blonde it's a continuing shot of the sorority the main character Elle along with the other girls live in. This kind of intro helps the audience get a good feel for who the character is and what their life is like. So naturally, from seeing the opening sequence, you should have gotten the idea that all these girls are very girly and live life in the lap of luxury and fashion. Another good idea to begin the film is the opening to the King's Speech, directed by Tom Hooper and written by David Seidler, the movie opens up with a long walk to a podium where Colin Firth as George 'Bertie' VI stands to make a speech. This intro was a tad long but it helped build up the understanding of how George felt on his way to make his speech. How it seemed like it took forever and the more and more he got closer the more and more the anticipation built up in both the audience and him. This is a good technique to use when you want to introduce a character and how they feel without introducing the problem just yet. Any idiot can build up a conflict or problem, but it takes a real writer to build up the feeling within the character during the time of the situation. Yet another tactic you can use can be similar to how Lord of the Rings was started, showing us how the ring was created and what power it truly holds by letting it fall into the hands of the gollum. If you have a story that is based around an object, this might be a good idea for you to try. Watch movies and take note of how they introduce the characters and the plot to get a good idea of what you could possibly do.
Now that we've got the opening out of the way, let's talk about characters. So here you have an epic, kick ass story that'll blow the mind of every person in the world but you're stuck because of one, or maybe all of your characters. That can be fixed, too. Does your character have many flaws? If not, that could be the problem right there. A character with very few flaws is hard to write into any story. Because a person's flaws is what makes the story. Everyone has flaws. A person's flaws is what gets them into some huge ass problems, that gets them into even more huge ass situations. No one is always perfectly sweet, knowledgeable, wise, and has an epic body. Look at yourself and be honestly with yourself. The more your character has flaws, the more the character is relatable and more interesting to see up on the screen. They also create obstacles for your creation. Just to recap from "Screenwriting 101: Back to the Basics,"
Every movie consists of obstacles that prevent the protagonist (the person or persons the movie follows) from getting what they want. Internal conflicts COULD be an obstacle, but I wouldn't recommend that. It's fine to throw it in now and then, but just stick to having physical obstacles. It's easier. And also, ask your self this: "Does this character have any relevance to my story?" I dunno about you, but, sometimes I find myself writing a character into a story who really has no special connection with the characters or plot. For example, it's fun to have a gay friend and all, but does he have anything to do with the plot? Does he move it along in any way? Does he end up saving the character? Revealing he's actually part of the Sexy Police? How does he move the plot along? If he's just there for the humor, time to kill him off. Don't be afraid to kill your babies. I know it's hard but if he's not relevant to the story, he should not be in the movie to begin with. Parents are another issue. If the main character is a modern day kid, they have parents. Sure you could have one parent be abusive, one dead, another alcoholic, blah, blah, blah. That's totally cliche and overly done, but parents are there as guardians, which means they effect the lives of the main characters in SOME way, whether it's with support or lack of support. Sometimes they are just there to enable an adult figure is in the house watching the kid. Remember: kids don't live alone with a nice house and everything. It's a "I wish" moment, but in real life, if a kid is living by themselves, they'll be put somewhere with adults. Unless it's a magical world where kids rule the land and all that crap.
Conflict & Goals
The one thing in all movies that is needed is conflict. You can't have a plot without a character's goal and a conflict. For example, Adam Sandler is trying to win over his costar Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates but the conflict is that, well, 1. Drew's character is an amnesia and 2. He's a womanizer but he ends up falling for someone who won't remember him the next day. Heavy, huh? And obviously his goal is to win her over. Don't just start a screenplay with no conflict or goal in mind. Your character has to have an obvious goal in mind. If we the audience can't figure out what your character wants in a movie, then not only do you fail as a screenwriter but as a storyteller as well. Your movie will be confusing and most likely the audience will not recommend it to others, which would not help get money in your pockets or even nominated for anything. Unless everyone just happens to be a dimwit. Then by all means, go for it. Also, you should not have the conflict be full of explosions and random killings. They have to have meaning. And just because your movie is action packed doesn't mean it has to have a lot of blood and gore. In The Adjustment Bureau, there was a lot of action between Matt Damon and the Fates, but no blood was shed. When you can write an action scene or a movie with conflict but no usage of blood and gore, you are a master storyteller. Anyone could add blood and gore into their story. But it takes a true genius to go in the opposite direction of that. So think about your story, does it have tons blood and gore or conflict that has little to no meaning at all? That might be the problem right there. When you have a huge movie with no plant and pay off, then you don't really have a story. In the movie Back to the Future directed by Robert Zemeckis, before Michael J. Fox's character Marty goes back to his own time, he slips Doc. Brown (played by Christopher Lloyd) a note about his future death via shooting. Scared, the past Doc. Brown rips up the note. When Marty goes back to his time to find Doc.'s body, he discovered Doc. very much alive due to the note that he had taped back together. When you can plant something in the movie which later comes in handy, that is a great plot device that could help you so much in your movie. It can lead you to where you want to go because you have a beginning and an ending revolving around that one object or person. If you can't seem to do that at all in your movie or feel like it's irrelevant, then you either need to seriously reconsider your story and just start all over with a more structured plot.
Last but not least: dialogue. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love dialogue. I love writing funny and clever sayings or write some pretty serious monologues. But it's not what makes a story. I hear this so often that dialogue is what makes a film etc., etc., but really it doesn't. Think about your story, if it didn't have ANY dialogue, just written out like a silence movie, would it make sense to the audience? If not, you need to rewrite it. Also, cussing may be fun and hysterical, is it really necessary? I dunno bout other people but I hate it when I'm watching a movie and they just burst out into a cussing battle. It's not getting the story anywhere, just relieving tension. If the character is in a very emotional state, OBVIOUSLY they are going to cuss. If you stub your toe on a piece of wood or a nail, you're going to drop the F bomb most likely. If your character is just swearing to sound cool, rewrite it. Unless your character is the kind of person who just does that. A teenager or a pimp or whatever. Fine. But please keep it minimal. Also think about scenes that are filled with dialogue. If they mainly go along the lines of "yeah I want some toast" "yeah toast is good" "did you get the paper today?" "No I don't want to get no f^ck!ng paper," delete it. If you have that, seriously delete it. There's no point at all. Even if it's to establish the relationship between the characters, it needs to have a point to the plot line. I guarantee you you can rewrite that whole scene with a better motive and connection to the plot line.
If anyone has anything they are stuck with, let me know and I can write it into this. Writer's block is hard to deal with. If you have any concerns please share them with me and I'll try to help you as soon as I can and to the best of my ability.