The art of screenwriting is a fascinating one, with more people than ever before hoping to dive into the art form with the ultimate goal of becoming the next biggest screenwriter. Although this may seem like an impossible task, every screenwriter begins on the same playing field to a certain degree.
Nowadays, with the recent addition of streaming platforms and the internet, there are more resources than ever before for aspiring screenwriters to utilize. Thus, it becomes especially critical for screenwriters to look for some of the best screenwriters of all time for inspiration and notes on how they craft a great script.
For this Art of Screenwriting article, we’re going to focus on Diablo Cody, a fantastic screenwriter who is most commonly known for being the writer of Juno, a critically acclaimed 2007 film about an offbeat young woman who makes an unusual decision regarding her unborn child. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the critical components of a Diablo Cody script.
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Accountability with Telling A Story
Diablo Cody has gone on record numerous times discussing the accountability that comes with crafting a story. Oftentimes, writers just want to write a good story and nothing else. Although it’s incredibly important to write a good story, there is a level of responsibility attached to developing a unique story.
Take Juno for instance, a story that discusses the heavy subject of teen pregnancy. Although teen pregnancy isn’t as touchy of a subject as it was in 2007, it’s still a subject that can be a challenge to write about without being cliche or overly offensive. Obviously, some scripts thrive on being overly offensive, but a good comedy finds a nice blend of telling a great story and being true to the material in the story itself.
It’s challenging to find a nice blend between being respectable with a topic while finding humor and a compelling story from it. Still, this challenge isn’t impossible as Diablo Cody has found the perfect combination in her scripts such as Young Adult from 2011 or Juno from 2007.
Poking Fun at Controversial Topics
Going back to the notion of having a script regarding the serious subject of teen pregnancy, Diablo Cody has a natural knack for poking fun at controversial topics. Although Juno is the most obvious answer, Tully from 2018 deals with the touching subject of motherhood, while Young Adult from 2011 tells the dark comedy story of a woman trying to relive her glory days and steal away her now-married high-school sweetheart.
Although all three of these scripts have varying angles to what makes them a part of the serious story spectrum, it’s still fascinating to see how Diablo expertly crafts them in such a way. The characters have multiple layers to them and they’re not a single-minded individual, even if their intentions may seem like it.
Utilizing Weirdo Language
Similar to Diablo Cody going on record discussing accountability with telling a story, Cody also mentioned her love for utilizing weirdo language in her scripts. For instance, Juno’s main character Juno (played by Elliot Page) is a quirky and out-going music-loving high schooler.
The character isn’t what you would deem as a popular person in high school, and has odd qualities about them that make them so likable and compelling. The side characters are equally as interesting such as Juno’s friend Paulie Bleeker (played by Michael Cera) being an awkward track runner. Interesting characters are what drives a story and thinking outside of the box is always ideal for a script.
Although Diablo Cody’s scripts aren’t direct stories from her life, she often discusses how every scriptwriter should search for inspiration in their life to apply to their scripts. As odd as a particular story might be, most novice scriptwriters would be surprised at how much is inspired or based on something someone experienced in real life.
For example, if you go to get a cup of coffee and you notice the barista has a particular liking for death metal, that can be an interesting character arc you can have your script. Obviously, you’re not going to find a piece of inspiration like that every day, but you never know. Try to bring a notepad with you wherever you go so you don’t potentially forget something.
Focus On The Story, Not The Rules
Diablo Cody didn’t train her entire life to become a screenwriter and initially gained recognition for her candid blog and memoir that detailed her life as a stripper. As a result, Cody expresses the importance of focuses on the story and not necessarily the rules attached to making a script.
Oftentimes, people get worked up with rules attached to writing a script instead of just crafting a story. Although rules are important in some respect, they’re not everything since a great story will always outshine a bad story that follows the rules.
● Juno (2007)
● Young Adult (2011)
● Tully (2018)