Scary movies are hard to write. The Horror genre is sometimes looked down upon by audiences and screenwriters because of their low budgets, exploitative cheap thrills and over-use of blood & gore.
What they mean, is that in this case, when we look for originality, we are not necessarily talking about reinventing the wheel. Often by changing only a few specific details, we can take a successful well-worn concept that’s been done before, and simply by giving it a new and unexpected twist; we can make the material seem original … and the audience will love it all over again.
The easiest, cheapest and safest way for a writer to avoid rights issues when writing a “Life Story” screenplay is to rely on publicly-disclosed information. Second choice is to base the story on a book, and acquire the rights to that book. If these two options are not available to you then there are three dangers to be aware of…
One of the main reasons that people watch films is to enjoy an emotional rollercoaster ride with no personal consequences. It’s a safe place to experience laughter, fear, sorrow, revulsion, delight… all in a fun emotional ride lasting roughly 100 minutes. If a screenplay is devoid of emotion, the film is seldom worth watching.
Screenwriters deal in emotion. To them it is a currency that must be exploited, and anyone that can contribute to this aspect of their craft is worth listening to. John Koenig is such a person.