Some people write well and want to do screenwriting but have had experience only in writing short stories, essays, poems or other literary works. They will find out soon enough that screenwriting is a vastly different undertaking from other forms of writing. Fortunately, because of its growing popularity as a career path, there is now a lot of information for newbies on how to do screenwriting – including how to do screenwriting well and how to survive in a cutthroat business.
Qualities that Help Your Script Make the Grade
1. Do your research conscientiously and faithfully. Little loose ends in a script can make your piece careless and sloppy. However, do not overdo your research and obsess over insignificant details.
2. Study. Take courses if you can and attend seminars and workshops when there is a chance to do so. Read books and articles on your craft. Most of all, read good scripts and learn from them. Get yourself some screenwriting software and learn to use it so you can free yourself from the burden of worrying about format.
3. Make sure your story is able to captivate your audience and evoke response from them. No matter how intricate a plot is, it is worth nothing if its audience cannot feel any affinity with it. Observe the shows and movies that have become hits and study the way their plots developed.
4. The elements in a screenplay that make it come alive are the conflict, the action and the characters. The conflict in your screenplay should build up to optimal intensity; the action should be executed cleanly and most of all, the characters should be compelling. If you succeed in building the characters of your story so that they seem real, your audience should weep and rejoice with them.
5. Your plot should be strong and interesting but not convoluted. Nobody likes a plot that seems to be going nowhere in spite of numerous irrelevant conflicts.
6. Avoid too much narrative when you write your script. At the same time, make sure that your dialogue does not fall into the trap of being inane and filled with chatter or unrealistic and stilted.
7. Soak up all possible experiences by observing people, events and your surroundings. Take notes and refer to them later when you need to. This will make it easier for you to create background settings in your future scripts.
8. Once you have the story conceptualized, start writing. Never mind if your format is far from perfect or there are some information gaps. Correct these later but get that first draft done. Do this by setting realistic daily goals and sticking to them. Write five pages a day till you are done then go over the first draft and start your revisions.
9. Anticipate what your screenplay will need for it to be memorialized on film. You run a higher risk of rejection when your script carries too many demands in it such as a big budget, expensive sets and a huge cast. You have to be realistic; producers rarely risk investing in high cost projects submitted by people who are new to the business. Your best bet would be a good screenplay that requires minimal investment.
10. Be ready to write and rewrite as often as it takes for your script to come out right. In between rewrites, take a break and give your creativity room to breathe. If you do, you will be able to go back to your work with fresh eyes and renewed energy.
11. In the event that your work is accepted, be prepared for requests to revise it. Remember that once you have sold your work, someone else will own it and if they want it changed, they can go to you or to someone else to alter it. Ultimately, you will have to decide which you prefer: doing the modifications yourself or allowing others the liberty of revising it without your input.
Screenwriting has become a very competitive business but if you are determined to make good in this field of endeavor then go ahead. Write, rewrite, learn and go about letting others know what you have.