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How To Begin Writing A Screenplay

Adam Scott

If you are wondering how to begin writing a screenplay, you may be thinking about an option to follow the examples of successful screenwriters.

Writing screenplays is one of the easiest things you can do as a creative writer - and the most fun too. If you have a great idea and a story you want to tell, a screenplay will help you realize it.

Here are several reasons why screenwriting is so easy.

It's just like writing a book

Like a book, a screenplay is made up of chapters. Each chapter is its own story with its own purpose. It’s also a single linear story.

Your chapters can vary depending on your style of telling a story. In some books, every chapter represents a character and their own vision, but other books make chapters according to how the story is developing.

You can do a mix of your own style as long as you can deliver your story correctly.

It's just like writing a short story

A short story has a similar plot structure to a screenplay: A character acts in a series of events, followed by a resolution.

A story is also often told in a linear way. Each scene is its own individual, self-contained story.

While short stories are, well, short, a screenplay tends to be twice or thrice as long. This is because every scene is properly emphasized, complete with dialogue and indescribable acting.

Writing a screenplay is like writing an essay

It's structured in the same way that a literary essay is structured, so it's similar to a lot of writing workshops that require you to be creative and inventive with your research.

Essays are mostly fun to do, and you can do the same to your screenplay. Make it your child - nourish it, have fun with it, and develop it to become something beautiful.

According to Reddit, the odds of being a screenwriter is 100%, so it means everyone has an equal chance of following their dream to write the best screenplay of all time.

It's structured like a scriptRead and relax

Some screenplays use page numbers, which are like screenplays' chapters, but others use a chronological order, like in the film 12 Monkeys. Using page numbers won’t always make sense.

The character lives in different times. Perhaps the character is in a meeting in the year 2015, but the story starts when they arrive in the year 2108, at the very end of the universe.

You don’t need to be a great or even semi-great writer. I repeat, you don’t need to be a great or even semi-great writer.

Many successful screenwriters wrote amateur novels or short stories before trying their hand at screenplays. Some had to overcome a lack of ability or training, but most learned by practice.

The trick is, you need to read, study, watch movies, and take notes.

It’s a great way to build confidence and skills

Writing a screenplay can help you gain experience and confidence. But you don’t have to go straight to Hollywood or New York.

Many screenplays start on the stage, in community theater, at amateur theatres, or in high school and college drama programs.

The best part? You can write a screenplay as part of a college course or as part of a work experience program.

As early as that, you can already start enhancing your skills and building your confidence. After you graduate, you can easily compete with others in the same field knowing that you worked hard and trained much when you were still in school.

It's flexible

It can be set in a wide variety of locations and time periods.

Some screenplays have been about a character leaving their home for a job in New York, some a character attending a wedding, and some a family member’s funeral. There is so much variety and endless possibilities with writing a screenplay, and you can choose the genre and the structure.

It might help if you read a script or two or even a dozen before you start writing one. You will be able to develop some of the writing skills you’ll need to take your screenplay to the next level.

  • Think about why you want to write a screenplay and what types of stories or plots you’re interested in. Think about what your character’s strengths and weaknesses are, how they respond to things, their goals, motivations, hopes, and fears.
  • Create characters who are believable and as three-dimensional as possible.
  • Have a clear idea of the conflict and resolution of the story, including the emotional arc of your characters.
  • Research the themes and narrative structure of your story or genre.
  • Make sure your characters have real problems and are allowed to face them.

This helps build confidence and is an important step in learning how to write a screenplay.

The business side is less confusing than it seemsTypewriter

When you write screenplays, you aren’t writing about a finished product you’re trying to sell to a studio or producer. Most of the time, they won’t read your script, so you shouldn’t be concerned with a star wanting your script or an agent wanting to represent you or a producer wanting to buy your script.

Because of that, you don’t have to concern yourself with managing your own career or finding new projects.

For your script to have a real chance at getting noticed, it needs to be as good as possible.

To understand the basic rules of screenwriting, learn how to structure and write a screenplay.

Take a look at the most popular screenwriting tutorials on screenwriting websites.

Once you've written a couple of screenplays, you will become a master at the craft. And it's much easier to sell a completed script.

How to sell your script

You will have a better chance of selling your screenplay if it is as good as possible. To make it as good as possible, you should study screenplays, make connections with people in the film industry, and develop a marketing plan.

Your screenplay will sell if it is better than the scripts that get optioned and produced. Make sure it has unique qualities.

Write it with purpose and to the best of your ability.

How to sell a screenplayUnsplash Power

When it comes to selling your screenplay, keep it simple.

If you get an agent, try to use an agent that has a reputation for selling screenplays. Make sure you and the agent are on the same page.

If you haven't yet written a script, don't decide that you can't write a screenplay. Get a notebook and start writing a couple of pages a day.

It's good for you and can help you build a book of stories and develop the skills you need to write a screenplay.

Make a list of key people in the film industry. Research them, and find out what kind of careers they have and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Send a screenplay to one of them with a note asking if you can talk about your story. Offer to make a detailed outline of your story if they are interested.

If the screenplay they choose is interesting and they ask to option it, give them the option to buy it.

  • Ask for a partial, full, or offer fee, whichever is lower.
  • Make sure your first draft is excellent.
  • Write a strong synopsis and a list of your characters.
  • Gather materials you’ll need to submit to your agent and a reader to be considered a finished product.
  • Explain in writing what your idea of marketability is and outline what will be done to make your screenplay ready to pitch.

When you're ready to start selling your screenplay, go to an agency and make a proposal to them.

Prepare a detailed budget of how much you will need to earn to make back the money you invested and how much more you’ll need to earn to break even on your investment.


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