To say screenwriting is a challenge is an understatement. A rewarding art form, there’s some truth to the sentiment that a screenplay is never really finished. It takes a lot of time, effort and practice to write a great screenplay. There are many tips about improving your screenwriting, from taking a screenwriting class or reading books and articles to watching interviews.
While there aren’t any quick fixes to getting out there, there are a few hacks that can help you improve your overall screenwriting skills and get your script noticed.
1. Write What You Know
One of the most important rules in screenwriting, writing about a subject from a level of authority or familiarity, will make it come across as more authentic and believable.
2. Read Screenplays
Want to learn how to write a screenplay? Read them. Pay attention to the formatting, structure, dialogue and characters.
3. Analyze Films
You may want to be the next Spielberg but being a fan of the filmmaker’s movies isn’t enough. You’ve got to expand your horizon by watching and analyzing other films. Get an appreciation for the language of film, how the story unfolds, how the characters are developed and how scenes are shot.
4. It’s Okay to Get Feedback
It’s rare for any great screenplay to turn into a fine film without scrutiny. As much as you may have heard about the notion of ‘kill your darlings’, it’s one thing for you to criticise your own work and another to get a fresh set of eyes to scan through and help you identify areas that need improvement. From inception to final draft, it helps to have an authorative and trustworthy voice in your corner. Get in touch with other writers or consider hiring reviewmyscript.com.
5. Rewrite, Rewrite, Rewrite
This rewrite business has become obvious screenwriting advice but there’s a reason it’s now cliche. No screenplay is perfect the first time around. There may be a few examples where screenwriters may have pulled off a small miracle with a first draft by making it work, but be prepared to rewrite your script multiple times.
6. Use Screenwriting Software
There are many screenwriting software programmes that make it easier to craft your screenplay. The beauty of these assistants is the ease with which you can adjust formatting and keep track of drafts, notes and edits with helpful features to keep track of your scenes. While there are paid options, trial versions and freemium versions are available.
7. Be Bold
For even rule in screenwriting, there’s an example of when it’s been broken and still worked beautifully. So while it’s good to play within the sandbox of prescribed rules around the craft, don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things.
Attend industry events, get involved in the screenwriting community and meet other writers. Networking can be a great way to get feedback on your work and learn from other writers. Just remember to make yourself available to do the same or pay it forward when you’ve got an opportunity to lend a hand. Whenever possible, attend industry events and get involved in the screenwriting community online by way of social media.
9. Get Your Work Out There
One way to get noticed by industry professionals and potential producers is to enter screenwriting contests and apply for fellowships. You want to get your script read by as many influential people as possible. If it’s truly brilliant, word will spread and having a great rating or awards helps get more eyes on it.
10. Keep Calm and Carry On
There’s no way around it, screenwriting is a tough business and will require determination, patience and self-belief. Keep writing and learning, inching your way closer to your goals.