Having a problem writing a drama script?

Do you find it’s full of wonderful character development but somehow it just doesn’t come together? Or you like it but your story isn’t getting across to the people who read it?

There is a rather pernicious false division in some industry people’s minds between “drama” and “genre” – as in “it’s not a genre movie, it’s drama” – as if Drama were not a genre in cinema and TV. Of course it is, and a very well defined genre, albeit one with many variations. And like all genres it has major traps for the unwary writer.

What’s the story?

If the major problem with action movies is that the writer forgets to write the Inner Story – what it is that really drives the characters along – the major problem with drama is the opposite.

Most drama scripts are almost all Inner Story – what we remember is not the characters’ outer goals but their inner struggles. Nowhere is this clearer than in Rite of Passage stories, including Coming of Age.

We are so absorbed by the Inner Story of (say) About Schmidt (Schmidt learning to live with old age) that we remember little or nothing of the Outer Story. Can you remember it? (See below). Or the Outer Stories of Stand By Me, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Diner or The Big Chill?

Get Outside

If you’re stuck with a drama, the chances are you’ve neglected the Outer Story. Go and check it out now. If you haven’t got one – invent one. You have to have one, even if nobody will remember it! It can be as simple as driving to your daughter’s wedding (that’s the outer story of About Schmidt – did you get it?) or walking through the woods looking for a dead body (Stand By Me).

If you already have an Outer Story, then you may need to focus on it a bit more.

Social Drama and Coming of Age

This is just one of the requirements that get forgotten for Drama, for either film or television. You also need to know what emotions the audience will expect, the role of society in a drama story, what story patterns you have to deliver, and how to deliver them in fresh and surprising ways.

If you want to know more, I’m running a workshop in Social Drama and Coming of Age in London for Euroscript at 6.15pm on Tuesday 28 September. We look at a number of Drama stories in particular Juno – you get a free full script of Juno included in the price. It’s a small training and getting quickly booked up, but there are still a few places left – to find out more and book click here.

And have fun making a drama out of your story.