The Story of Writing a Screenplay
This can be any person’s story of writing a screenplay. We can never predict that exact moment when we think to ourselves that we have a great movie idea and want to a write screenplay. The adventures of aspiring novelists that became best-selling authors have been told many times. This is dedicated to aspiring screenwriters that are not sure how to start, but have that creative itch that won’t let them not write a movie.
It’s time to scratch that creative itch with a workable movie plot, vibrant characters, sharp dialogue, and original scenes. Social media has made it extremely easy for me to network with other screenwriters and people that want to write their first script. I feel one of the most important parts of starting work on a film script is to decide if you’re writing it in hopes of selling it to a studio or to produce it yourself as an independent feature film. Knowing the answer to that will determine what type of story you write.
Once you commit to writing the next Hollywood blockbuster or an indie film you can realistically produce with a limited budget it is essential to know the basics of screenwriting. This is where story structure and format come into play. I’ve never taken a formal screenwriting class, but I have read many books and have attended workshops and seminars on movie writing.
The most affordable way to get started down the scriptwriting path is to read books by industry gurus. Two books that helped me the most before I ever wrote my first script were Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field. It was a gift from a former girlfriend that always encouraged me to stop talking about writing a movie and to learn how it’s done. Syd Field used straightforward language I could relate to.
The second book was Lew Hunter’s Screenwriting 434: The Industry’s Premier Teacher Reveals the Secrets of the Successful Screenplay. I had read many other books that were helpful, but these two had the most impact on me personally as an aspiring movie writer that had no experience in the craft. By learning from these books I felt comfortable enough to start work writing a movie script and ambitious enough to expose my work to strangers in workshops and writer’s groups. It can be a very humbling experience. Writer’s that have thin skin won’t last in the entertainment business. The rare one’s that do having amazing talent that compensates for thin skin and sensitive feelings.
After getting a handle on how to write a screenplay I began to focus on formatting. Scripts have to look like industry standard scripts. I was writing on a PC at the time and heard good things about Movie Magic Screenwriter from a friend that was a script consultant. I bought the software and it was worth every dime. Being new to screenwriting I wanted to avoid getting slowed down worrying about script formatting, instead of letting the words hit the page. Movie Magic Screenwriter had so many features it did every task except write the movie for me. I banged out my first series of scripts with that software.
Then I caught the MAC bug when I started to seriously think about making indie movies. I ended up buying Final Draft, fell in love with it, and use it currently for every script I write. What I really like about this script software is that most production coordinators and 1st Assistant Directors I’ve worked with to schedule movies have this software. It makes breaking down a script for production a breeze. The biggest benefit for aspiring screenwriters to use software is that makes it easy to stay focused on being creative and not wasting time stressing over formatting and script changes.
People know deep down if they are serious about writing a movie. Hell, it’s much easier to talk about writing a screenplay than actually putting in the work. I’m a creative writer at heart and can’t share enough about the positive feelings I get from seeing words on a page turn into a completed film script. It’s a very rewarding experience that is hard to describe in a snappy sentence. I think about aspiring screenwriters sitting down in front of their computer typing those first words, which are usually fade in. I have friends that have started and finished scripts and others that realized it wasn’t for them.
The story of writing a screenplay isn’t the same for every person out there. That’s what makes the process so damn exciting. You have no idea how your journey will turn out until you finish the script. I write alone without a partner. There are times that I become frustrated when I hit brick wall with a story. It’s normal for me not to always be happy with what I wrote the day before. There are times I delete every bit of dialogue or entire scenes I’ve written.
It’s all a creative learning process. My opinion is that no matter what type of movie you’re writing there is part of you in it. I’m a freelance writer that turns out promotional and pseudo-documentary scripts for a small group of environmental clients I have when not working on movies. I know what these are and the purpose for the client, but I still put part of me in each word I write to give them the best I can.
I’ve heard screenwriters talk with passion about whatever they were writing from a short film to a feature. I hope I never lose that same fire and I hope aspiring screenwriters get to discover it too. This is indie filmmaker Sid Kali typing fade in on your movie script.
Categories: Screenwriting Tags: aspiring screenwriters, Final Draft, Foundations of Screenwriting, Lew Hunter's Screenwriting 434, Movie Magic Screenwriter, movie script, screenwriting class, script consultant, script formatting, seminars on movie writing, Sid Kali, story structure, Syd Field, the basics of screenwriting, writer’s workshop, writing a movie script, Writing a screenplay