What's a good story according to Hollywood? That is the question blogger Stephen Follows sought to answer, by carefully studying no less than 12,000 film scripts. The goal was to find out what criteria Hollywood used to categorise a script as a good story.
You shall not be different from the rest
We often think that being different is the number one trick to stand out, and Stephen Follows insists otherwise. For example, if you are writing a science fiction feature film, you have to focus on the plot to keep the viewer in suspense. There's no need to be particularly original, simply respect the codes.
He also noticed that some plots work better than others. For example, looking at fantasy movies, stories like Cinderella (that is to say where the main character experiences a rise, then a fall, then a rise), will be much more successful than a movie like Frank Darabont's Shawshank Redemption.
Language and size matter
Stephen Follows raised a very interesting point, but it's also very surprising. Upon analysing the 12,000 scripts, he pointed out that scripts containing bad words were more successful than others. Of course, there's no point in being vulgar for no reason. Insults and other crude language are not prohibitive, but the length of your script is. Indeed, a 130-page script, which suggests two hours of film, will be very likely to be thrown straight in the bin.
Check out the video above for more on the secrets to writing the next big Hollywood blockbuster!