Writing Screenplays: 10 Things You NEED & 10 Things That REALLY Help
If you’re truly interested in writing screenplays, you’ve no doubt encountered the
disheartening (read: stimulating) statistics. Thousands of screenplays are registered each year yet only a select few become feature films. The truth is, it is extremely difficult to write something worthy of the big screen. It’s a mountain so high, the thought of climbing it can turn writers away. Writers with incredible stories in their minds. Stories left untold.
“If the statistics can deter you from writing, you shouldn’t be writing.”
The real truth is that anyone can write a screenplay. You just have to accept the fact that it might not be very good… And then IMPROVE! That’s the difference between produced screenwriters and those still searching for that magical idea. In order to successfully complete a screenplay you just need the first 10 qualities listed below. Armed with those, you CAN write a screenplay and it’ll be fun. However, you have to be willing to take your writing to the next level which is where the second list comes in.
Michael Jordan was the best because he practiced every day and used every tool at his disposal to get better. Anyone can step up to the free throw line and make a shot eventually. But how many are willing to shoot hundreds of shots everyday with the goal of never missing?
Anyone can sit down and write a screenplay. The question is, will you do whatever it takes to make your writing soar? How much effort will you pour into each page? How much scrutiny will you place on each and every word?
You can tell a good story. You can write a great screenplay.
10 THINGS YOU NEED
The Spark. Everyone thinks they have great ideas for movies but you’re the one that’s willing to sit down and write it. You can’t do that without–
It takes guts to write screenplays. Every page brings with it new challenges that can be overwhelming if you don’t have–
The flame that ignites and fans the flames of creativity. It’s passion that allows you to persevere and overcome the challenges you face along the way. That perseverance is fueled by–
Great ideas inspire greater ideas. Before you know it, you’ve been writing for hours and lose track of–
Aspiring screenwriters can sometimes find it hard to find time to write. It can certainly be difficult but it’s not impossible if you have–
Commitment to get the job done. To finish your screenplay. You have to challenge yourself to sit down and write your script and do so with–
The story in your mind can (and will) change one it lands on the page. Your screenplay has to stand on it’s own because you won’t be there to make sure the reader doesn’t miss something. Speaking of readers. They need something to read–
PEN & PAPER
The cornerstone of any creative endeavor. If the power goes out and your computer is out of action, a pen and a pad of paper is all you need to keep writing. Just make sure you have proper–
SPELLING & GRAMMAR
It should make your stomach turn when you spot a typo but it should also encourage you because you put in the effort to seek it out. Every challenge you conquer brings you closer to your goal and raises your–
If you aren’t having fun telling your story you’ve got problems and no one will have fun reading it. It shouldn’t feel like work. Screenwriting is fun!
10 THINGS THAT REALLY HELP
A GREAT IDEA
Sometimes, your first idea isn’t always the best. What else have you got? Something better? Why is this particular story important? What are you trying to say? Maybe it would help if you wrote down some notes in the form of–
A simple tool that comes in many forms. It doesn’t really matter how you plan your story but having a road map always helps if you lose your way. It also helps if you expand your outline into–
Advanced story mapping. True or false? The biggest cause of writer’s block is not knowing where you’re going? There’s nothing worse than a stalled story. However, it can happen and sometimes, the answers can be found in some of the best–
If you’re a beginner there are tons of amazing books out there to help you improve the quality of your screenplays.
Related Spark: The best screenwriting books chosen by screenwriters.
Screenwriting books are fantastic for formatting, structure, development and more but what if the problem lies in your story or characters? These problems are always easier to solve with research. How well do you know this world? Do the research, get inspired and start working on–
Nobody writes a perfect first draft. You have to scrutinize your sequences, sort out your scenes, dissect your dialogue, criticize your characters, figure out your formatting & rework every word. It has to be perfect. If you need examples of perfect, seek out some legendary–
(You can locate screenplay libraries online using The Ultimate Guide.)
Find the screenplays for some of your favorite movies and learn from those who do it well. Writers who have climbed the mountain. People who inspire you–
If you’re lucky enough to find a screenwriting mentor ask questions! These people have wisdom to share. They can help you improve and get back in front of your–
While it’s true you can write a screenplay with a pen & paper, it’s definitely easier to use screenwriting software like Final Draft, Celtx, Movie Magic Screenwriter & more. These programs let you focus on story & character and less on formatting and margins. They are also extremely valuable when it comes to–
Write, write & rewrite. Is your screenplay entertaining enough? Are your characters unique? Are their speling & gramer mistakees? The more you rewrite and STRENGTHEN your words, the better your screenplay becomes.
Forget about the statistics, the challenges and the road blocks. They are coming for you whether you like it or not. For starters, just tell your story and tell it well. At the end of the day, you love to write screenplays don’t you? In the beginning, that’s all that should matter. Write more screenplays and your writing will improve. Work harder and your writing will improve. Dedicate yourself and your writing will improve!
“Find a job you love, never work a day in your life.”