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Hey there! Thanks again for your interest in my 5 Essential Tips for Writing a Professional Screenplay. It’s proof that you take screenwriting seriously.
I’ll also be sending you emails from Mitch@HollywoodEmbassy.com with additional tips, success stories and more. Here's a link to download my 5 Essential Tips for Writing a Professional Screenplay (I'll be emailing you this link as well):
And because I’m a nice guy, I’ve included a BONUS TIP to help you get that first draft done, and be on your way to a polished, studio-grade script:
BONUS TIP #1:
In screenwriting, it's useful to know the difference between surprise and suspense - and when to use each for maximum effect -- regardless of whether you're writing drama or comedy.
Surprise is a feeling of minor astonishment or shock caused by something unexpected. Suspense is a state or feeling of excited or anxious uncertainty about what may happen.
According to Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense himself:
“There is a clear difference between surprise and suspense...We are sitting here and having an innocent conversation. Let us assume that there is a bomb under this table between us...suddenly there is a loud boom and the bomb goes off. The audience is surprised, but before this surprise they have only seen a very ordinary scene without any significance. Let us instead look at a suspense scene.
The bomb is under the table and the audience is aware of this because they have seen the anarchist plant it there. They also know that the bomb will go off at one o’clock, and up on the wall is a clock showing that the time is now quarter to one...In the first scene we have given the audience 15 seconds of surprise...but in the last scene we have given them fifteen minutes of suspense.”
The key is to give the reader as much information as possible before you get into the heart of a scene. And remember, the reader can be privy to details that the characters in the scene are not. When the reader knows what’s coming, but he's unable to help/warn the characters, then he'll be thoroughly engaged -- and the tension will rise!
In comedy, the same principles apply for creating suspense. (However, as a general rule, in comedy the threat of real danger/pain isn't often present). Instead, it's the delightful suspense of watching characters making increasingly bigger fools of themselves or getting deeper into embarrassing situations, etc. Surprise in comedy can be an effective narrative device, too -- as characters are faced with the difference between their expectations and the opposing reality of the situation, the results are often comic.
In summary, mastering narrative tools like surprise and suspense will help you craft a more engaging, professional screenplay!