Lucy V. Hay covers five key points to keep in mind with writing the next big creature feature.
It’s really easy as writers to say, “story is everything,” but we only need to look at huge CGI blockbusters like GODZILLA to realise that’s not always what audiences sign up for. And that’s not because they’re dumb, either. And sure, we can say why not have BOTH: big, epic arenas, scary monsters AND a story and great characterisation? **Why Not** indeed … But fact is Hollywood has been churning out these things for some time now: whether they add a great story and characters to big monsters fighting and/or chasing and eating humans, it doesn’t really make any difference to Box Office revenue. In short, people like what they like and that’s spectacle and awe – and on that front, GODZILLA delivers, whether you thought it was a weak story or not (hey you still watched it, right? Here’s some Godzilla – thoughts, reactions & pics I’ve collected in this last week).
Creature Features are never going to go away and I get a LOT of them at Bang2write, both from private clients and production companies. Some of them are excellent; some of them are in the middle and some of them are just plain drek. Interestingly however, I noticed a long time ago the ones that DON’T work on the page have many things in common, whether they’re about gigantic Godzilla-style monsters; gargantuan robots; acid-dripping extraterrestrials; satanic demons or something else. Here’s a rundown of things to consider then in trying to get your own creature feature on the page and in front of Industry Pros:
1) Hook Us. The obvious, yet I can literally count the great Creature Feature hooks I’ve seen in the past ten years on ONE HAND. Seriously. I cannot stress the importance of a great hook enough in all screenwriting, but in Creature Features it’s a “make or break” thing at pitch or submission level because it’s one of the first things someone will ask: “Okay, it’s a monster, but how is it different to X?” If you don’t know, no one else knows either. Ipso Fatso, as Bart Simpson would say. MORE: 4 Reasons Concept Counts, plus What Is A Genre Busting Screenplay?
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