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How To Write A Marketable Screenplay - An Ongoing Series - Chapter 1.3

March 4, 2018

Hint 3: Make Their Job At Least A Little Bit Exciting
 

One of the most common mistakes that rookie screenwriters make is giving their characters a non-visually compelling, conflict free line of work. This is a problem, because most adults spend a large portion of their time at their jobs, meaning that, at some point, we’re going to (most likely) have to see your character at work. If your character has a boring job, it is going to make the character themselves look boring, and your audience is going to stop caring, which is the kiss of death for a screenplay and, by proxy, a film.
 

You want to, instead, give your character a profession that demonstrates the following qualities in spades:
 

  • Lots and lots of visual conflict

  • A high amount of emotional tension and high stakes

  • A large amount of obstacles for them to overcome – no one wants to watch a hero stuff boxes all day

  • Any sort of regulatory system or government that makes things more complicated for the protagonist

  • A ton of problems, in any form, no matter where they come from
     

This doesn’t necessarily have to be a legal job, nor does it mean the character has to be directly compensated for it – in this case, a job has to do with responsibility, not the dollar amount that the character is being paid for it. As long as it generates a palpable tension that the audience can get invested in, that’s what is important.

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