Sometimes we get so engrossed in a movie or a play that we even memorize the actors’ lines. Many people think that the success of a movie or play solely rests on the directors and the actors. Only a few appreciates the tremendous input a screenwriter offers to the whole production. Every line, emotion and character is created by the screenwriter. It’s a good thing that many prestigious award giving bodies are giving them credit but oftentimes, screenwriters are just on the sidelines away from the limelight.
With the ever-booming movie industry, screenwriters have become more in demand. If you want to pursue screenwriting, you can start out as a freelancer like most screenwriters. If you are fond of writing in general, screenwriting should be easy. Below are some of the best screenwriting tips for beginners and professionals alike:
Tip #1 – Get inspiration.
This is one of the mostly ignored screenwriting tips that many screenwriters are guilty of. If you are a writer you will know how important inspiration is. However, due to a strict deadline, writers tend to just write and end up with a mediocre output. You don’t want to do this especially when you are trying to score a big break for your screenwriting stint. Inspiration comes in so many forms. You may have overheard an interesting topic, watched a really good movie, read a great book or dreamed of something that could pass as a perfect theme for your story. The Internet is also a great place to search for inspiration. If you are a nature lover, you can even find an inspiration by just being alone in your favorite spot or by traveling to a beautiful place.
Tip #2 – Improve your screenwriting skill by learning from the best.
Can you think of a movie which has great reviews and you also personally like? Have you read a book that you just can’t put down? These materials are no doubt written by great writers. Read the screenplay of a movie. Learn how the author plays his story. By doing so, you are, in a sense, learning from the best. Famous and the most decorated screenwriters of this generation are Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen and Quentin Tarantino among others.
Tip #3 – Accomplish at least a page every day.
If you are writing a screenplay especially one with a deadline, make it a point to write every day. No matter how taxing it is like, just write. By doing so, you are a page closer to the ending of your story. You can pick the best time of the day and the best place to write whether in your house or somewhere else. You can even make it a habit. Who knows, you will eventually get the hang of it and be able to finish the whole story in one sitting.
Tip #4 – Focus.
One of the reasons you can’t start writing or write continuously is your lack of focus. Maybe you have lots of distractions around you. Unplug your Internet as sometimes you don’t realize you are already spending too much time on social media or on random pages you see on the web. Work away from your phone or you can turn your mobile devices in silent mode so you too can work in peace. Do you have kids? Lock yourself in a room or go someplace you can be alone. By doing all these things, you are eliminating distractions which can help you focus.
Tip #5 – Set a time frame.
Create a time frame that is easy for you to achieve but not too lenient that it allows you to slack. Don’t just create a single deadline for the entire piece to be done. Create a time line. For instance, by the first week, you must be done with your theme, your settings and characters, etc. At least have a concrete idea of what your story is going to be like. By the end of the month, you must have a couple of chapters/acts. You must know your pace and base your time frame on a pace you are comfortable with – not too pressing and not too loose.
Tip #6 – When stuck, do something that could clear your mind.
It is common for screenwriters to get stuck in between scenes or a part of the story doesn’t seem right for the rest of it that you couldn’t figure out how to fix it. It would take you hours just staring at that blank sheet of document waiting for some intervention to happen so you could finally move on. Even expert screenwriters experience such writing block. When asked about various tips on screenwriting, one expert has included a tip on how he has personally overcome writing block. He takes a shower to refresh his mind and most of the time, in the middle of showering, he can solve his dilemma. You can also sleep, take a walk or even eat.
Tip #7 – Join screenwriting contests.
For beginners, screenwriting contests are the best testing grounds to see how you would fare in the field against other aspiring screenwriters. Scoring a big break for your craft will be more difficult as you will be competing with others too. Screenwriting contests will hone your skills.
Tip #8 – Write about a genre or topic you have expertise in.
You must know where you are good at. For instance, if you are fun loving and can effortlessly make people around you laugh at your jokes, then you can try out a comedic story line. If you know how to weave plot twists like Harlan Coben or Dan Brown, do a thriller or crime themed story. If you are the serious type and try out doing a comedy which is not your strong suit, you will most likely end up failing.
Tip #9 – Don’t be afraid to experiment with technology and modern tools.
If you want to make your job a lot easier and faster, you should not be afraid to try integrating technology with screenwriting. Making use of free screenwriting software for example will definitely make your job less taxing. A screenwriting software is a word processor that has the right formatting needed in standard screenplay which is not readily available in other word processors like Microsoft Word.
Tip #10 – Reward yourself.
After finishing a page or a scene, take a break for a few minutes and reward yourself with a nap or a refreshing snack. Whatever it is that you accomplished with your task; don’t forget self-gratification. It will make you feel motivated and do more.