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Ian Pike’s 26 rules of scriptwriting.

1. Come up with a spine that you can pitch in one line. Build foundations. 2. Make sure that it has a clear beginning middle and end. 3. Make sure you are then working with an idea for that particular episode and not trying to write an entire series in 60 minutes. 4. Remind yourself what a story is. A protagonist with a clear goal and lots of obstacles in the way. See Pixar shorts for confirmation. 5. Now ask what the story is really about? 6. Take your characters on a journey. 7. Make sure the stakes are high. Jeopardy. What do they stand to lose here? Life of Pi vs Eddie the Eagle. 8. Do not start writing until you know where you might end up. 9. Enjoy a love of big paper. Then cards. Then a scene breakdown. 10. Grab your audience at the start. 11. Read Save the Cat, Russell T Davies and watch Screen wipe s5 ep 3. And the script of Die Hard 3 for great action. 12. Avoid clichés 13. Hook your audience into the next scene, act and line. 14. Give them what they want but not in the way they are expecting it. And make sure they absolutely believe they are not going to get what they want at all at some point near the end. 15. Cut out 80% of your dialogue. It’s all basically interrupted monologues. Forget your English teacher. See National Treasure. 16 Come in late / get out quickly. 17. Subtext – much better to find out how your characters are feeling through what they are saying than doing. Show don’t tell and lie if need be. 18. Who are your characters? Hot seat them. 19. Make sure they don’t have unbelievable turning points. Stay true to them. 20. Go through your scene breakdown and ask – what is the purpose of the scene? If your answer has no dramatic, narrative, or character driven answer – rethink. 21. Vary the pace. Think of a metronome. How can you get more variation? 22. Go through and look at your action. Is it telling the story/dramatic enough/well written? 23. Look out for and they all lived happily ever after endings. 24. Backstory. Remember your story begins way before we join it. Think through everything that happened in the run up to us meeting your characters. 25. Remember your medium. Is this really just a stage play with the word ‘screenplay’ on the cover. 26. Get your hands dirty. Write from the heart and from experience.

Ian Pike at TVWC

Ian, comedy, drama and animation writer, has spoken at a TVWC on the subject of writing for stage and screen. He is a full-time, freelance writer with over 25 years' experience. After training as an actor at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, he worked professionally on stage, TV, radio and in numerous voice- overs. He then became a stand-up comedian working in clubs and on Live TV before becoming a full-time writer. Some years ago he branched out into production and direction and he is currently in demand for corporate writing work. In a bid to escape his desk, he frequently delivers workshops and lectures on scriptwriting and drama across the world, He has worked with students at a number of British universities at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels and now travels the world delivering teacher and student workshops and has developed a series of online, screenwriting training.
EMAILS
© Thames Valley Writers’ Circle
Created with Xara Designer Pro X

Ian Pike’s 26 rules of scriptwriting.

1. Come up with a spine that you can pitch in one line. Build foundations. 2. Make sure that it has a clear beginning middle and end. 3. Make sure you are then working with an idea for that particular episode and not trying to write an entire series in 60 minutes. 4. Remind yourself what a story is. A protagonist with a clear goal and lots of obstacles in the way. See Pixar shorts for confirmation. 5. Now ask what the story is really about? 6. Take your characters on a journey. 7. Make sure the stakes are high. Jeopardy. What do they stand to lose here? Life of Pi vs Eddie the Eagle. 8. Do not start writing until you know where you might end up. 9. Enjoy a love of big paper. Then cards. Then a scene breakdown. 10. Grab your audience at the start. 11. Read Save the Cat, Russell T Davies and watch Screen wipe s5 ep 3. And the script of Die Hard 3 for great action. 12. Avoid clichés 13. Hook your audience into the next scene, act and line. 14. Give them what they want but not in the way they are expecting it. And make sure they absolutely believe they are not going to get what they want at all at some point near the end. 15. Cut out 80% of your dialogue. It’s all basically interrupted monologues. Forget your English teacher. See National Treasure. 16 Come in late / get out quickly. 17. Subtext – much better to find out how your characters are feeling through what they are saying than doing. Show don’t tell and lie if need be. 18. Who are your characters? Hot seat them. 19. Make sure they don’t have unbelievable turning points. Stay true to them. 20. Go through your scene breakdown and ask – what is the purpose of the scene? If your answer has no dramatic, narrative, or character driven answer – rethink. 21. Vary the pace. Think of a metronome. How can you get more variation? 22. Go through and look at your action. Is it telling the story/dramatic enough/well written? 23. Look out for and they all lived happily ever after endings. 24. Backstory. Remember your story begins way before we join it. Think through everything that happened in the run up to us meeting your characters. 25. Remember your medium. Is this really just a stage play with the word ‘screenplay’ on the cover. 26. Get your hands dirty. Write from the heart and from experience.

Ian Pike at TVWC

Ian, comedy, drama and animation writer, has spoken at a TVWC on the subject of writing for stage and screen. He is a full- time, freelance writer with over 25 years' experience. After training as an actor at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, he worked professionally on stage, TV, radio and in numerous voice-overs. He then became a stand-up comedian working in clubs and on Live TV before becoming a full-time writer. Some years ago he branched out into production and direction and he is currently in demand for corporate writing work. In a bid to escape his desk, he frequently delivers workshops and lectures on scriptwriting and drama across the world, He has worked with students at a number of British universities at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels and now travels the world delivering teacher and student workshops and has developed a series of online, screenwriting training.
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Scripts