Lethal Weapon — How to create character depth in mainstream action movies

How screenwriter Shane Black and director Richard Donner created a landmark action movie of the 80s by injecting a bit of humanity into the story

Martin Riggs is crazy. Not just your usual kind of crazy. He’s CRAZY. “Jumping off the top of a building for fun” kind of crazy.

 

A story about a family man cop partnering up with a loose cannon ready for the mental asylum is not a unique story in itself. Mismatched partners is a movie trope as old as movies themselves, but Lethal Weapon have managed to stay relevant and watchable decades past its original premiere in 1987

One of the reasons why Lethal Weapon has captured our attention for so long is the amount of depth there is to the characters. Depth? In an action movie from the 80s? With Mel Gibson? Yes, depth.

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Unlock your true productivity potential by focusing on less to achieve more

Do like Warren Buffett: stop trying to do everything all at once and focus on very few key things at a time

“If I could get one more hour each day, then I could [insert dream here]”.

We all been there. Daydreaming about having more hours in the day to do the stuff you really want to but can’t seem to find the time for. Check. Been there. Many times.

We look with envy at successful people. Somehow, they have unlocked a pool of unlimited time. That serial entrepreneur with all the successful start-ups in Silicon Valley. The visionary movie director from Hollywood churning out one masterpiece after another. Or the prolific and highly respected writer. How do they do it? What is their secret trick that made them so super productive?

“Waiting for inspiration to strike is a terrible, terrible plan. In fact, perhaps the single best piece of advice I can offer to anyone trying to do creative work is to ignore inspiration.” (Mason Currey)

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Kickstart your creative writing — Use the proven structure of mainstream Hollywood screenwriters to outline your story

So, how do you go about writing a screenplay for a feature length movie? Or any longer story for that matter?

You do one thing: Outline. Outline. Outline…. and… outline.

I know that many big-time novelists and screenwriters don’t outline at all. The Coen brothers have said in numerous interviews that they never outline, but for the rest of us, I truly believe that outlining is the way to go.

The classic books on screenwriting by Syd FieldMichael Hauge, and Christopher Vogler all talk about the need for structure to your story. Here, I’ve tried to summarize their wisdom and mix it all together to come up with a fundamental structure for storytelling.

It has worked really well for me and has always kept my writing on track and moving forward.

Why is structure so important to a story?

Stories, like music, almost always follow some kind of rhythm or harmony. I’m no musician but I can clearly hear if a piece of music is out of tune.

Creativity — music, storytelling, paintings — need to follow some form of structure. There must be a plan to the madness. If there is no structure, everything is muddled together and becomes noise.

Stories that don’t follow a structure often feel rushed, or flat and boring or, as is most often the case, become hard to follow.


Read the entire article on Medium.