• Home
  • /Column
  • /Writing Screenplays: 10 Things You NEED & 10 Things That REALLY Help
Writing Screenplays: 10 Things You NEED & 10 Things That REALLY Help

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

AN IDEA

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–

COURAGE

It takes guts to write screenplays.  Every page brings with it new challenges that can be overwhelming if you don’t have–

PASSION

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–

CREATIVITY

Great ideas inspire greater ideas.  Before you know it, you’ve been writing for hours and lose track of–

TIME

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–

DEDICATION

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–

CLARITY

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–

ENTHUSIASM

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–

AN OUTLINE

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–

A TREATMENT

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–

SCREENWRITING BOOKS

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.

RESEARCH

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–

REWRITES

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–

SAMPLE SCREENPLAYS

(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–

A MENTOR

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–

SCREENWRITING SOFTWARE

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–

REWRITES!!!

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.

CONCLUSION

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.”

Keep writing!

4 thoughts on “Writing Screenplays: 10 Things You NEED & 10 Things That REALLY Help

  1. Thank you for this great article!!!
    I just started to have a huge passion for screenplays. The reasons, were because I have these pictures in my head, but writing stories or just drawing never seemed to work. I can’t write anything like a novel, since it needs to have pictures so I can really portray how I want it to look. Currently, all the movies I watch, I have the script on my other monitor reading and watching at the same time. It is so much fun, and I cannot wait to finish the books I ordered to become even better!

    Thank you a lot for the tips, can’t wait to read more!

    • Thanks for the kind words and good luck with the screenwriting!

      Just out of curiosity, which books did you order?

  2. I believe what you publiished made a bunch of sense. But, think about this, suppose you composed a catchier title?
    I am not saying your content is not good., but what if you added something that
    grabbed a person’s attention? I msan Writing Screenplays:
    10 Things You NEED & 10 Things That Really REALLY Heelp
    | The Screenwriting Spark is a little boring. You should peek at Yahoo’s home page annd watch how they write post headlines to get people interested.
    You might add a video or a pic or two tto grab people excited about what you’ve written.
    In my opinion, it would make your posts a little bbit more
    interesting.


Leave a Reply to Jason McKinnon Cancel reply