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How To Write A Screenplay Quickly

Adam Scott

This article will discuss how to write a screenplay quickly, step-by-step. But if you want to write a screenplay in under 30 days, then you’ll need to do everything differently.

Sessions 6 and 7 in the Screenwriting Courses section of Writing Excuses, the show that I host and produce, will focus on how to get to a first draft with little effort. We’ll also discuss some of the more unusual tips that I have learned in my years of screenwriting.

You’ll need a whole new way of looking at your work and most importantly, you’ll need to get rid of all of those bad habits that prevent you from writing a decent first draft.

Don’t just take my word for it

Learn how to write a screenplay without procrastinating this weekend. You can’t buy a faster, more efficient method that produces a great draft in a relatively short time, but if you want to know how to write a screenplay quickly without much effort, then you’ll be able to do that very quickly.

No tricks or gimmicks, just smart writing.

You’ll be writing a screenplay in no time, I guarantee it.

Writers as varied as Robert McKee, Aaron Sorkin, Nora Ephron, and Don DeLillo can all be found in Session 6. If you can write that fast and finish a story in less than 30 days, then you’ll learn about:

  • How to quickly read other screenplays
  • How to write a killer query letter
  • How to read a script from the inside
  • How to sell a script with the same business savvy you use to sell stock options

Get up and write

Ok, I said that I would teach you how to write a screenplay in a “little less than 30 days.” And I have no intention of “kicking you in the balls,” so to speak.

Still, if you want to write a screenplay in less than 30 days, then you’ll need to do everything differently.

Here’s the first major difference: You won’t spend the whole day writing. If you want to write a screenplay in 30 days, then you will need to write 3 hours every day, but you’ll need to split that up into 7 shorter writing sessions per day.

If you go into your writing session every morning thinking that you will write for 2 hours, but the whole day is gone in less than 4 hours, then you’re just setting yourself up for failure.

For most people, I’d recommend you start writing 30 minutes after you wake up in the morning. Your first writing session should be about 30 minutes.

I recommend trying to set a time limit of 30 minutes on each writing session so that you avoid allowing your mind to wander. If you give yourself a 30-minute limit, then you’ll probably finish your session in 20 minutes, but you’ll be working and your mind will be busy for 30 minutes.

This means you can focus on writing without being distracted by social media or the Internet.

However, if you still find that it’s hard to write a complete script in 30 minutes, then you can increase your time limit from 30 to 45 minutes and go to your second writing session.

Breaking down the processMellow Yellow

Writing a script is a very time-intensive process. While it’s a process that most writers prefer to manage themselves, it’s often easier to hire a screenwriter who can work faster.

You might not have the skills to write a script yourself, but hiring someone to do it for you can be much more cost-effective than writing the script yourself.

If you’re interested in hiring a screenwriter, you can read over our tips on how to pick the best one for your project. You’ll be able to find a writer with the necessary skills to complete the work for a reasonable price.

One of the most important aspects of writing a screenplay is rewriting.

Writers have to be capable of changing their stories based on feedback from their producers and the actors to work on the script. You have to be able to write drafts quickly and efficiently.

But how can you rewrite so quickly?

There are a few different ways to approach the rewriting process, but the most common strategy is to simply copy the final script into a new document and make the changes in one big swoop.

This approach requires a great deal of discipline. But it also allows you to avoid making too many changes to your original draft.

As you read through the script for your film, you’ll notice many places where you’ll want to add or remove words.

Take the moment to notice those areas that could use a simple revision. That’s where you’ll make your rewrite the most efficient.

Let’s take a look at how to revise a script in one big swoop.

Break it down into small steps

One of the best ways to rewrite your screenplay quickly is to break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks.

Instead of rewriting the entire screenplay from the start to the end, pick a section and focus on changing only a few things.

In most cases, a script should be built from the start to end, but it’s still good to try and flesh out the entire script if you can. Don’t be afraid to copy and paste pages to get through a few different sections in the draft.

A lot of screenplays are more “clipped” or condensed in their second drafts. Your goal is to have each page work seamlessly, just as the final draft would.

For example, one of the major changes I made while rewriting the script of The Peripheral was to shorten the subplot of Jenny and John back in chapter four. I put it into a new scene where I re-imagined it.

This way, it moved the story along more quickly, but it didn’t require a rewrite because it was easier to include the section.

How to break down your script into smaller sections

In most cases, a screenplay should be built from the start to end, but it’s still good to try and flesh out the entire script if you can. Don’t be afraid to copy and paste pages to get through a few different sections in the draft.

The only trick is to be careful not to add too many sections in one go. A lot of writers work to the last minute, rushing to get everything finished, which is the last thing you should do.

Over the course of the rewrite process, you’ll be able to compare your initial draft to the final script. You’ll start to notice things like weak points, plot holes, and other problems that need to be addressed before you can sell your screenplay.

Tips for editing a screenplay and dividing it up into smaller sectionsman writing beside man

Use your mind as a notepad

Some writers find writing to be a solitary process, which can make it difficult to remember important details. By writing out your notes, you can always refer to them.

Use the wheel

Whenever you come up with a good idea, use the wheel to write it down. This will help you organize all your ideas, and it’ll make the process of coming up with them much more efficient.

Create sections according to timeline

For example, you could organize your script according to timeline, character roles, and the specific locations where the scenes are taking place. I’ve found that this technique makes it much easier to rewrite a screenplay if you’re doing a second draft or major revision.

Use scene blocks

A scene block is a single section of your script that contains action. Instead of writing it out by hand and having to stick to certain pages, you can use a scene block software like WriteOrDie.

Choose a scene block template

I like AutoComplete’s great one for one-line scenes.

Create scenes using two pages

If your script is longer than two pages, then you’ll want to cut down scenes. This is a really great technique to use if you’re stuck on a specific scene. Cut out the boring stuff and then fill in with scenes with action.

Repeat

Whenever you come up with a great idea, repeat it over and over until you’ve created a 30-minute scene.

Each day, you’ll come up with dozens of good ideas. Some days, you’ll be able to solve problems easily, and others will be more difficult. But if you put them to the side, you’ll have a much easier time tackling them later.

Keep it simplewriting with feather in autumn season by girl

You may have heard the advice that you should start and finish your screenplay within six months, and in my experience, that’s a good rule to follow.

As you get further along, you’ll find that it’s too difficult to continue writing. You’ll either decide that your idea is just not good enough or you’ll run out of time.

You want to finish a screenplay within the time that it takes to get it written.

Set aside your viewing time

I’ve noticed that a lot of screenplays are written at night. This is a great time to write, but you won’t be able to see it all the way through if you do it this way.

Instead, it’s a great idea to save up your scenes by setting aside a specific amount of time per day to watch your script. Ideally, you’ll be able to watch your script three times a week, but if it’s more than three times a week, then it’s okay if it’s less than that.

Start off by watching your script with an open mind. Don’t be afraid to criticize the material that you’re watching.

Then, just sit back and enjoy the story. As you continue to watch your script, you’ll start to notice things that you should fix.

The ideas that you thought were brilliant in the beginning will suddenly become flat and dull as you continue to watch the project.

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