Writing a screenplay can often feel like a very daunting task. If you are lucky enough to have an idea for a story your first impulse might be to rush out, write a script and make a film.
Before you even start planning who will play your leading cast I just want to remind you of a few steps all screenwriters should follow before even picking up a pen (or reaching for a keyboard).
Top 5 tips
So many writers don’t know how to correctly format a script. There really is no excuse to use Microsoft Word anymore.
Final Draft, Adobe Story and Celtx are some of the most popular programmes out there for screenwriters. If you are serious about your craft and your script you need to ensure you format correctly. Read at least one script a week to keep on top of how the pros do it.
Simply scripts is a great (and free) resource for you to find endless titles: http://www.simplyscripts.com/movie-scripts.html
Reading scripts can also be a really great way to inspire you!
One thing I love to do is to read a screenplay then watch a film, it really does open your eyes to how a script translates on screen. Watching films is also a great way to look for inspiration, learn more about genre conventions and see what has and what hasn’t been done before.
Know your genre
Whatever genre your story is, you need to know it inside and out. That means if you’re writing a horror you should read horror movie scripts, watch horror movies and learn as much as possible about what the typical conventions are. Some elements of a genre are so important that you can’t get away from them. In a horror movie there needs to be, well horror. Research this further into sub-genres and you can really start to see the patterns of a successful screenplay.
Go to school
Even we adults still have a lot to learn, there’s no point thinking you know everything. Look for screenwriting clubs or courses where you can chat to other screenwriters about their methods or just to give feedback. Writing is often seen as a solo activity but the best way to get better at it is to collaborate with people you can trust to give you honest feedback. Always keep learning and honing your craft.
Pick up a pen
One you’ve followed these tips now you can think about picking up that pen. Keep a notebook with you at all times and write down ideas as they come to you. Try to allocate time each day to write a little more of your screenplay, even if it’s just one hour a day, you’ll start to see a story take shape.