Every script makes a promise, and it’s inherent in its genre. If you’re writing a comedy script, it must be funny. If you’re writing horror, your script must be scary. This might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many writers fail to execute the promise of their genre on the page. Sadly, I’ve seen it over and over. And the way you fix it isn’t just with dialogue. The best writers infuse the elements of their genre into action lines, character descriptions, and even stage directions. It’s all about the read, people!
Check out these scripts that blazed through Hollywood by staying true to their genre in every line… and then go back to your script and make sure you’re delivering on its promise, too.
M. Night Shyamalan’s screenplay for The Sixth Sense had readers on the edge of their seats until the very end. The big twist that no one saw coming elevates this as one of the best horror screenplays of our time.
Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig’s script for Bridesmaids has the reader laughing on every page. It was a breakthrough comedy and it’s not hard to see why this was a nominee for best original screenplay at the 2011 academy awards.
The first Die Hard script set up a franchise that has made hundreds of millions at the box office. Read the script by Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza to see how they took the audience on a thrilling ride.
You can feel the tension and torment of the main character on every page of Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, which helped it win the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2014.
What are your favorite scripts that stay true to their promise? Let me know @CaroleKirsch!