On May 27, 2011, Richard Walter, UCLA Screenwriting Chairman, tells UCI students that the most important part of a screenplay is a great story or plot. He explains two different screenplays, one about a personal story and the other is about an integration story, and offers some secrets to make both screenplays become successful.
He defines screenplay as a story with dialogue, which includes sounds, as well as action, visuals, and descriptions of visuals and sounds. In the opening scene of the screenplay, the audience learns about the characters, and how each plays an important role in the story in order to help the writer tell the story as they move the story along toward the conclusion. In the conclusion, the character or characters change, and often the views change, as well, with a much different view from the opening scene.
Furthermore, he explains that adding conflicts is important because conflicts, including emotional conflicts, help move the story along. The story should also be kept truthful because there are "no truths by lying." Although movies, based on a true story, are usually boring, they are successful because of the emotional truths and feelings used that are real, which make the movie more relatable. Being able to make others feel something, whether happy, sorrow, fright, anger, or love, is what matters most in a good screenplay. Intense feelings are real feelings that often touch the audience, such as in a disturbing story, very happy story, a "feel good" story, etc.Therefore, writers should forget about the data and facts. It is more important to personalize the story with emotions and feelings.
An example of a personal story screenplay is Star Wars, which was about the personal story of George Lucas. He didn't get along with his father very well. He created the character, Darth Vader, from the German word, "vatar," which means father. The movie was successful because a personal story is more interesting than an objective story.
In an integration story screenplay, the writer should know what to use, what to leave out, and what is needed in the story to drive the story forward, from the beginning to the end, in order to make the story move along fluidly and keep the audience's attention.
He advises students to gain experience in life before they work on their screenplay. Gaining experience about society, people, and life gives more dimension to the story and characters by giving the writer a specific purpose to write about in order to educate others about a certain lifestyle or subject. A good writer needs to travel, work, be open to sample a variety of experiences in life, and focus clearly. But the writer needs to be open to distractions along the way because these odd distractions can make the story more interesting.
Although outlines are important for organizing thoughts and getting down everything on paper, there will always be surprises and changes on the way. So, it is best to write a rough draft of the whole story, writing everything down, no matter how meaningless and redundant it might seem, and then edit out everything that doesn't belong in the story, later. He also warns not to assign too much value on the idea, characters, actions, etc., but just worry about making the story fluidly move along by using what is necessary to help successfully tell the story.