If you are an aspiring writer, you may need to know how to write an action movie screenplay. Big guns. Fast cars. Hot women. Who doesn’t love a good action flick? It takes a special kind of love however, to attempt actually writing one. With the onslaught of other action movies out there to battle with, how will your script rise above the rest? How do you take an average idea and turn it into an extraordinary experience of epic proportions? By doing exactly what the rest do, that’s how! Think about it: Hollywood has years of perfecting its art, so why fight what works? So here is a compilation of helpful rules to aid you in the writing of your own action movie.
- Create your helpless hero. We all know him. We all love him. But nobody would actually want to be him—at least not in real life. He’s the "fallen on hard times" hero. You know, the scruffy guy who drinks too much to forget that his kids, ex-wife, and boss all hate him for mildly stupid reasons. The guy who, in real life, probably would have negated the need for a "bad guy" at all by killing himself first. And it’s because of this pile of underdog downer details that we root for his heroic efforts so vigorously. While creating your own action movie hero, follow this generic cookie-cutter character mold, and you’ll be well on your way to joining those timeless classics that will forever be etched in our hearts.
- Create the adorably annoyingly buddy. Every action movie worth its salt has a lovable buddy or sidekick. He’s the culmination of the best qualities in everyone we’ve ever met, uniquely combined with more dysfunctional social-awareness than a Will Ferrell sketch. Loyal to a fault, and never without an opinion, the only thing that keeps him from stealing the show himself is the limited screen time he’s given—and sometimes not even then (talking to you, “National Treasure”). This character can be tricky though, because he has to push our hero into action without being capable of doing the task at hand himself. He has to be endearing enough to love, but potent enough to loath. And the number one most important trait our buddy-sidekick must have is low enough self-esteem to never, ever get the girl.
- Create a ridiculously empty location. Let’s face it, nothing screams unapologetically awesome action movie like unrealistically vacant locations. Large abandoned warehouses still somehow supplied with power, or desert construction sites containing far too many barrels of gasoline to be OSA approved, your locations need to be visually interesting enough to make up for the lack of character development in the story. Think of it this way: the more steel beams, chemical tanks, and unoccupied power tools your location has, the less your audience will feel compelled to ask annoying questions. But they will remember what the final scene’s location looks like!
Create the bogus bad guy's back story. This is the mother of all elements to writing a great action movie. Lame bad guy motivation is essential for the best possible action movie. Cash, jewels, international bonds—anything that could easily be achieved in real life with a little luck and a lot of hard work—these are the bread and butter motivators we love our action movie baddies to feed off of. Oh what? You were dirt poor as a child, and bullied for your single parent’s lack of economic stability? Then you are totally allowed to sabotage a school bus of children demanding three million dollars in low, unmarked bills, in exchange for their safety. Accept it, this is just the genetic makeup we have come to love and respect in our action movie antagonist. In fact, when this lack-of-complex-back-story rule is not followed, your action movie might suffer the unfortunate transformation into the drama genre. And that, friends, is one egg that can’t be unbroken.
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