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Screenwriting Lessons From Christopher Nolan

Movie lovers all over the world are familiar with the identity of the genius behind the Batman trilogy and other mind-bending films like Inception, Memento, and Interstellar. If you have in mind to write amazing characters dynamic in their personality, there are so much that you can learn from movies like The Dark Knight or Batman Begins. In 2005, Batman Begins introduced Bruce Wayne who returned to his life in Gotham City as a playboy, but secretly as the city’s unorthodox crime fighter popularly known to the public and media as Batman.

The good folks over at Just Write created this awesome video on Christopher Nolan’s writing.

The outcome of Christopher Nolan’s early ambitions of storytelling led him to create short films and to journey into a career that combined pop culture with intelligence. He has successfully altered usual conventions in filmmaking and has restructured the way characters are defined on multiple occasions. Here are some of the things you can learn from his writing structure and character presentations:

Screenwriting Lessons: Understand that it is the things that the characters do that define who they are.

This holds true for Batman and other characters in fiction films everywhere. If you expect readers or viewers to take the characters, or if you want to impress them by your characters, or even if you want them to remember these characters long after greeting them for the first time – then you should not depend on the character’s speeches or intentions. There are other characters in a film that have good intentions and say the right words, but that will be insignificant compared to what they actually do. The actions of Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins enables the character to leave something deposited in the minds of viewers.

Screenwriting Lessons: The characters should prove who they really are.

When you give the main character the opportunity to display what he/she is made of, whether it is of bravery (or cowardice), empathy (or selfishness), brilliance (or stupidity), it becomes more than just stating facts or using adjectives that qualify the characters themselves. It is a way to bring the character to life. It is showcasing the character who reacts and behaves just like other people. Allow the character to define himself or herself by his or her actions. It is unsatisfying to read or see a character standing around for pages without doing anything.

Your character could have a different or alternate view of things that compel them to make specific decisions. Push the character into different situations and circumstances that will force the character to reveal more about himself or herself. Allow the character to prove weaknesses and strengths. When you do these things, you will generate a visible and vibrant and memorable character.

It is not difficult to reflect the character’s intentions. Their dialogues and expressions hold a significant value in how they are viewed. Without caring for how they react and respond, a character might spend so much time planning on another move. Timing is critical. Most film lovers do not really care about what the characters are planning to do. A scene depicting a period of inaction should not linger for too long. And the periods of action, as well as inaction, should be well rationed.


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3 Comments

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  3. Rob Greenspan on July 21, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Good video but the headline is misleading. Nolan did not make the video. It’s about lessons we can learn from his films.