After the first draft of a screenplay is written, the true work begins. Consider this first draft nothing more than a more detailed blueprint of a story; however, this blueprint must be edited and finetuned before construction can begin. One of the elements screenwriters must consider while reviewing their script is whether or not a better possibility is out there. While the answer to this question may be “no” for some, many screenwriters benefit from utilizing this technique.
Discovering new story/character possibilities by altering choices made by characters is strenuous but effective. Although many screenwriters consider their story lines set in stone, to ensure the absolute best script is created continually challenge the story by altering character choices.
What to Alter
When first discussed, this topic tends to confuse some screenwriters. The notion of altering character choices for the slight potential of finding a more suitable story line or character arc isn’t appealing. Nonetheless, this screenwriting technique is essential for any writer wishing to enhance his story.
The true question is what should a screenwriter alter? The answer to this question is solely up to you; however, as a rule of thumb try altering major milestones within a screenplay. Instead of a character choosing Option A, what would happen if he chose the unknown Option B? What would happen if the character took a left out of the store instead of a right? What if instead of his grandmother dying, it was his mother?
While some of these choices would dramatically alter the story line, many major milestone alterations allow the story to retain its primary objectives and goals. Only the path taken to achieve these goals/objectives differs. The alteration in these choices can have amazing effects on the quality and uniqueness of a screenplay.
It’s important to understand these alterations are not set in stone and after written the screenwriter may choose to forego any script changes. Regardless, engaging in this type of screenwriting allows for opportunities to increase the allure of your screenplay.