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Note: these screenwriting guidelines for 16-21 year olds were written by David Griffith in 2004 for Scottish Screen’s competition, to provide more detailed information for some of the older entrants. However, the guidelines should prove valuable for all young and new writers, and Scottish Screen’s delighted to present them here.
A Crash Course in Screenwriting
Cinema and the movies have only been around for just over 100 years, which leads some people to think that screenwriting is something you can’t really teach. Something that you’re either good at or you are not. However, though cinema is a relatively young art form, drama has been around for at least 3,000 years, since the time of the Ancient Greeks. So it should come as little surprise that most of our ideas about what makes a good screenplay date back to Ancient Athens and the work of the philosopher, Aristotle, who wrote The Poetics in approximately 350 BC.
Aristotle did not write The Poetics as a “How To Write a Play” guide, but rather as an analysis of the effect that good drama should have on an audience. Almost all of the principles developed by Aristotle are relevant to successful plays, teleplays and movies today, and can be seen in productions as diverse as Shrek, Braveheart, Memento or Bridget Jones’ Diary.
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