HORROR WRITERS: In case you haven’t read it yet – make it the next thing on your list!
So I realized it’s been a while since I last saw or read any films/scripts that blew me away with its ending. Browsing through Drew’s script’o’rama I stumbled upon The Sixth Sense by M. Night Shyamalan – one I guess you are all familiar with – and as the film might imply, the story is extremely well crafted in script format as well.
It was late last night I read it, after hours of yawning my way through a series of b-horror films. Honestly it didn’t take more than a couple pages before I sat up straight with eyes quickly bouncing back and forth. It was simplistically written, the dialogue was catchy and the characters multi-dimensional. What’s more is I realized something about the ending, and no - I won’t spoil the big punch in the nuts - but without telling too much, M. Night Shyamalan starts preparing for the big twist in the very first pages. It is with delicate subtleness he tip-toes around the big blow, giving us just enough, but never too much information about what’s going on - whether it be visually shown or through dialogue. That is proper artistry by a man who hones his craft.
Furthermore, this is a great script for novice screenwriters who want some insight into the horror genre. Oh, and same goes for thriller writers. Suspense, suspense, suspense – and big finish. That’s the recipe. You got that – and you’ve got a movie. Mix in a unique concept, great characters and unpredictable twists and you’ll end up with something like...
Well, okay, it’s not quite that simple. But if you really want to learn something from it I suggest you read it twice, and back to back. Then you’ll realize how skillfully he has veiled any track that might lead you to a premature conclusion about the ending. It will also tell you how to write sparse and interesting dialogue; which is SO important. Nowadays people watch movies until their eyes pop out, which creates sort of a problem for us screenwriters. See an audience can sniff out poorly written scene in a second, and will judge the rest of the film based on this. Just like M. Night Shyamalan did as he wrote this script, you should cut back on anything that seems like extraneous information. Get your audience scared, intrigued or even confused – as long as you keep them HOOKED.
So you have your masterpiece ending and you’ve been saving it nicely throughout the course of the story, and now you want to blow the lid off to some kick-ass heavy metal. Just like in any other genre – or story for that matter – everything that happens prior to the climax should serve as fuel for when you finally drop the match. And we want the biggest mother----ing explosion we can get – Blow the hair off my skull.
So, kids, I hope you have learned something today.
- An audience hates being spoon fed unnecessary information. Keep them HUNGRY
- Relate all events in your story to the climax (directly or indirectly) We want a BIG BANG!
- The audience knows the game. So play the game. Give them something they DON’T EXPECT!