If you have a Twitter account, the best thing you can do with it is follow Emma Coats right now. Best known for her 22 Pixar Story Rules, she has a knack for simplifying the essence of good screen storytelling. I can’t (or don’t want to) retweet all of her good ideas all the time, so I’ll just post some of them below to whet your appetite.
1 Phrase of the day: “callbacks”. Not the kind actors want, but the kind you use in stories.
2 Since a film audience can’t experience a character’s thoughts like they can in a book, you manifest those thoughts as props, lines, cues.
3 “I’ll be right here” at the end of E.T. is a callback line. It makes you think of the early part of the film, when it was first said.
4 Every time a toy in the Toy Story movies looks at ANDY written on their foot, that’s a callback – we know they’re thinking about their boy.
This is just basic screenwriting technique. I love callbacks a little too much, actually – they can feel a little “tidy” in a short film – but they’re a good thing to attach to your utility belt. You should never put anything in a script that can’t be displayed visually, and this is another tool to help ease that challenge.