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Tips on How to Start Writing a Screenplay

If you need to write a screenplay, tips on how to start writing a screenplay in this article will help cope with the task faster.

How to Start Writing a Screenplay: Tips

In the film industry the writing of the script is the most important thing. A good film cannot be filmed if there is no a good script. Hollywood studios sometimes resort to mediocre scripts, because they have a very good cast and thus the audience is guaranteed in any case. As an independent filmmaker, you can’t be so lazy.

Script is one of the few areas where you are in the same playing field with the sharks of the movie industry. A great script requires no more cost than a mediocre script. Also a great script can attract talent and funding.

The odds are certainly not encouraging. It is assumed that each year people write more than 100,000 original scripts, and only 7,000 of them turn into films. But only 200 of them are successful and go on the wide screen.

The difficulty of writing a great script can’t be underestimated. It should be a fascinating story with interesting characters and great dialogue. Of all forms of arts scenario format is the most demanding. If you focus on writing a good script, then everything else will fall into its bed. There are two possible variants on how to start writing a screenplay: hire a writer to do that or write a script yourself.

Hiring a Writer

If you have an interesting idea, but you’re not good at putting those ideas on paper, find someone who can write the script for you.

There are as many unemployed writers as unemployed actors. But be careful: most of them won’t write anything worthwhile. Your goal is to find the best of them.

There are guilds of film and television writers, special institutions, where you can get databases of all available writers.

As an alternative, you can choose a writer at competitions among local writers or find a script on specialized websites.

If a gifted student will offer you an interesting idea, ask him or her to present that idea on paper. Let them know that this work is not paid, and you can offer that his or her name will appear in the credits, and he or she will receive a percentage of profit in case of success.

It will be a good chance for a student: he or she will be flattered that they were given such an opportunity, and he will try to realize the ideas. If they want to get paid, ask how much money was paid for their previous work.

First of all, your writers have to be really gifted writers. Hire them only if you feel that their previous works really touched you, the genres they wrote in are close to you, and you believe that your great idea will be as interestingly disclosed. Second of all, solve the issue of buying the rights on the script, by signing a contract.

This is done for good reasons. It is very unlikely that you want your script writer break up the cooperation at the last moment because he did not like the way you embodied his ideas in the film. Let them know that a person is a hired employee.

How to Start Writing a Screenplay by Yourself?

At first, let’s look at the steps of writing a script:

  • Make a title page.
    Your script needs a title page, on which your name and the title will be written. In addition, it should contain your contact information and details of your agent (if you have one).
  • Use a correct font, margins, and spacing.
    It is necessary to use a Courier font (a font of a typewriter) of 12pt. This will add a professional look to your script and will improve the readability of the text. Also it is necessary to select correct indent for different parts of the script tin order for the dialogs, scenes description, and the like to be separated from each other.
  • Add necessary details about the place of action and characters.
    An introduction should be written for each scene. It should contain information about where and when the action takes place – either indoors or outdoors, day or night. The name of the character is written in capital letters on or next to the replica (depending on the target). In addition, in parentheses you can add remarks about the nature of the replica or the actions of a character.
  • Each type of scenario, whether it is for a movie or a play, has a specific format. Although they are mostly the same, each of them has its own characteristics, which you need to study. Read several scenarios of your genre to learn from the professionals.
  • Do not write too much.
    It takes about a minute to read one page of a script, so the text should look spacious. In this sense, the scenario does not look like a book. Scenarios have smaller size.

How to Start Writing a Screenplay: Developing a Story

Formulate a plot. Write a short sentence or a phrase embodying the basic idea, around which the events will develop. This is the basis of the narrative – a very short thought that forms targets of events and a plot development.

Make a sketch of the story. Before writing your own script and dialogues, consider the basis of the plot and main events – this will help you develop logical narrative, and not to go too far in retreat. The sketch should be written in the third person.

Now it’s time to add details to the story. Describe the main intrigue of the event, but add a lot of details and scenarios of how the events can develop. As a result, you should get the plot, personalities of the characters, relationships, connections of characters, and the essence of the story. You can use pictures and diagrams to illustrate intrigues and characters of the script.

Your characters should be the mainspring of events on the screen or the stage, so make sure they are interesting and new. It is not necessary to present them in details, but they have to get used to their own roles while the script is being written.

Now you need to organize everything and delete what is unnecessary. When the script is already on the paper, you need to find all the weaknesses, overloading descriptions, too strong retreats, and everything that delays the course of events and weakens the impression of what is happening. You will need to be firm: even if you liked some moments or characters, it does not mean that they should be left in the script after the audit.

Improving the Script

When you have a finished sketch of the script, conduct a research. Watch some plays, television shows, and movies with the plot similar to yours. Compare your work with others. Perhaps, you have overdone something. Think about how your story is different from the ones you watched.

Try to deeply experience what you have written. Approach the subject philosophically and try to think outside the box. This way your script will be more fun.

Simplify your style. You do not need to have weird dialogue or crazy scenes to keep the interest of the audience. As in writing the book, the most valuable thing is to show what is happening and not talk about it. Let the deeds of characters to speak for them, give more sense to the unspeakable.

Write the plot in the script format. The exact form will vary depending on the mode of display, and even on geography. Each scene should have a title with the description, and the name of the character should be in front of each replica. Producers can even not look at a script that does not match the format.

At this stage, consider purchasing special software for scripting. There are several programs and they will help you make the right kind of text.

Maintain your style. Remember that the main thing in the script is the actions and dialogues. Try to make your characters speak realistically, and do not mix styles and vocabulary, unless you are doing it specifically for the desired effect.

How to Captivate the Audience?

Describe the scene. Do not forget about important details, the place where actions take place, and behavior of the characters. It is equally important as dialogues.

Briefly describe the action. Give the meaning of what is happening, and leave the details to the director. It is not your task to write about every event in a very little detail.

Spend a lot of time working on dialogues. Dialogues can make a character interesting or destroy it. What’s worse – it is extremely difficult for the majority of people to write dialogues. To get the desired result, record real conversations, and you will be able to understand how people talk in life, and what expressions they use.

In order for the characters not to be similar, each of them should have their way style of talking and their voice.

Read your dialogues out loud, paying particular attention to the sound.

How to Start Writing a Screenplay: Making a Final Version of the Script

Edit the script, but do not overdo with perfectionism. Strive for perfection, but do not try to bring you work to it.

Give the finished script to the people whose opinions you respect. Refer to people with different tastes and characteristics. It is important that they want to give you an honest feedback about your work.

Do not get upset, offended or angry because of criticism or comments. These are just opinions and not facts. You should perceive other people’s opinions with enthusiasm, but remember it is up to you, whether you need to change something or not.

Edit your work as many times as required. Maybe sometimes it will be unpleasant, but you will be happy, if in the end you’ll be able to bring your vision.

If you need to write a screenplay, tips on how to start writing a screenplay in this article will help cope with the task faster.

How to Start Writing a Screenplay: Tips

In the film industry the writing of the script is the most important thing. A good film cannot be filmed if there is no a good script.

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June 19, 2016
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June 20, 2016
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