Halloween is full of scary things but, if you are writing a movie script, there is nothing scarier than coming up cold against a case of writer’s block. If you think zombies make people break into a sweat, you haven’t seen anything until you see a screenplay writer agonizing over the best way to bring a character to life.
The one thing I tell my students who are writing a screenplay is to take some time, look around for inspiration, study the masters, and learn your craft. I advise you to read the best books on screenwriting for inspiration from the masters.
For more screenwriting tips, I encourage you to read my book, The Story Solution: 23 Actions All Great Heroes Must Take. I’ve loaded it with insider tips and insights aspiring screenplay writers can use to get over the “writer’s block hump” and get back to writing screenplays that will get produced and keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Maybe you’ve got the next “Scream” in your mind right now. After all, isn’t it better for your audience to be screaming than you?
Good Luck and Good Writing!
Get Scriptwriting Inspiration from Halloween Novels
A writer is always on the lookout for the best ways of describing a character, or showing the actions a hero would take against a seemingly-impossible villain. Halloween seems to inspire the best in novelists in the horror genre. Study some of these supernatural thrillers, and see if you can find any ideas to improve your screenplay writing:
- Doctor Sleep by Stephen King: The master of horror is at it again. Stephen King returns to the character and territory of one of his most successful novels, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.
- Watcher of the Dark: A Jeremiah Hunt Supernatural Thriller by Joseph Nassise: Wisecracking Harvard classics professor Jeremiah Hunt lost his sight when a powerful entity known only as the Preacher endowed him with a different kind of vision – ghostsight, the ability to see the hidden spirits, creatures, and otherworldly beings among us. This adventure finds him in Los Angeles, working for the bad guys who kidnap and blackmail him into joining a motley crew of gifted drifters: a sorcerer, half-demon, thief, and human dowsing rod.
- The Dead Run: A Novel by Adam Mansbach: In this gritty adventure thriller with a supernatural element, Jess Galvan, a contraband runner along the Texas-Mexico border with a daughter he wants to free from his nutcase ex-wife, allows his protective instincts to get the better of him in attempting to save a prostitute from abuse. Galvan winds up in a Mexican prison, where he meets a shamanic figure who straps a box to his back. Inside the box is the still-beating heart of a virgin. Galvan’s task is to deliver this package across the border to a cult leader in Texas but, if he succeeds, the world will end, and usher in an era of evil.
- A Matter of Blood: Forgotten Gods Trilogy – Book One by Sarah Pinborough: In a dark world, a new breed of evil has fallen. This book is set in a gloomy near-future. London is devastated by a collapsed economy, and the police have forged an off-the-books alliance with the city’s criminal element. There are tantalizing hints of something supernatural lurking behind the scenes that cast everything Detective Inspector Cass Jones is working on in a frighteningly new light.
Halloween Scriptwriting Q & A with Eric Edson
Here are some Halloween-flavored scriptwriting questions and answers from Eric Edson, author of The Story Solution: 23 Actions All Great Heroes Must Take:
- Can I turn a zombie or vampire into the hero of my screenplay? The best screenwriting books will say that anything is possible. My screenwriting book lists out the 23 actions all great heroes must take. Your hero, whether walking dead or human, must pursue a series of single short-term goals to achieve the overall story objective. Fresh news leads to a new goal, thereby achieving the hero goal sequence.
- What characteristics should I imbue my alien with in order to create a character that resonates with the audience? Lead characters come in all forms, but their character and personality traits must outnumber their flaws. Heroic traits include courage, skill, funny, in danger, and loved by friends and family. E.T., an admittedly funny-looking alien, was cast as the epitome of loving characters in three heart-wrenching words…”E.T., go home.”
- Can I learn anything from movie villains that will help my screenplay writing? Yes! I am always looking for sources of inspiration, and I have learned a lot from movie villains.
If you’re writing a movie script, Halloween is the perfect time to get out and look for character inspiration. Check out some of these events and spend some creative time people-watching. See if you can’t find some character or personality trait that gets your creative juices flowing again:
- Haunted Hollywood Sports in Bellflower, CA: A terrifying Halloween event in Southern California based at Hollywood Sports Park. Offerings include extended interactive mazes, adrenaline-pumping interactive killhouses where visitors shoot monsters, terrifying scarezones, and many other sideshows and side attractions.
- Knotts Scary Farm 2014: The Knotts Berry Farm Halloween Haunt disgorges the denizens of Hell for another season of horror. New features for Halloween 2014 include two new mazes, a completely revamped and expanded Trapped: Lock and Key, and a shoot-to-kill scare zone. Also, the Green Witch will return to haunt the depths of the caverns in the Calico Mine Ride.
- Scary Musical: The Musical: They sing, they scream, they die! Extended to November 23 at the NoHo Arts Center in North Hollywood. Attendees have an edge-of-the-seat, third-act opportunity to tweet votes for the evening’s killer just before the climactic revelation is made on stage.