Thursday, November 17, 2011

How To Write A Decent Screenplay

The market for original screenplays is hotter than it's been in a long, long time. That makes this a good time for first time scribes to pick up their pens and get busy producing something noteworthy (or at least sellable).

The first question most writers ask themselves is, where do I begin?

Every professional writer understands the importance of honing your craft and developing their own style. They also understand that different formats require they adapt their style accordingly.

For instance, don't write a blog post and expect to sell that same article to a newspaper. You need a different style for a news story (something called the inverted pyramid) than you do for a blog post. You also need attribution, objectivity and relevance.

If you have a great idea for a screenplay you can't just sit down, scribble out a few notes and send it to Hollywood. You need to follow a proper format, one that is familiar to script-writers, but might be strange and unknown to anyone else. You also need to recognize elements which are crucial to every screenwriter. Elements which can make the difference between a script which gets sold and one that sits in your desk drawer gathering dust.


In many ways we are master storytellers because it is an art form that we practice every day. But also, in many ways we are novices, neophytes, fledglings, because we stumble and falter with the telling of so many stories. We struggle with the extraordinary demands of each form or genre or delivery system. We’re like infants trying to take those first steps when inside we feel the desire to run.

Each form of storytelling has its opportunities and limitations. In the novel the visuals have to be created with words. Journalists struggle with maintaining the required objectivity while feeling the pull to infuse their stories with an element of personal intimacy. Playwrights battle the limitations of the stage and the restrictions of time.

But one of the most severe sets of limitations is experienced by screenwriters. The screenplay appears so seductively simple with its standard format and three-act 120-page structure. But its simplicity is deceptive. Regardless of the story you want to tell, the genre you have chosen or the theme or subject matter – your hands are tied.


Click here to read more about the important elements of a screenplay.

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