How to become a Screenwriter

While filmmaking is truly a team effort, in order for that effort to actually become successful a blueprint is required. The screenplay is the blueprint for the entire film and it dictates how certain things must be and how they shouldn’t. Good direction, acting and cinematography can only do so much for a film but if the screenplay of the film lacks coherency, nuance and proper structure then the film will eventually fail. It is common to hear people say, “Content is king” but in what way can a writer shape his or herself in order to ensure that their content is truly the best. There is a certain ebb and flow to being a successful screenwriter, it doesn’t always follow a path but when done with passion and determination can ensure success.

  1. Always be writing: One cannot be a successful screenwriter if they don’t write. Always be writing doesn’t mean you have to be in the process of writing Oscar worthy screenplays every time but as you know with practice everything gets better. When you get into the habit of writing constantly and finishing screenplays regardless of the fact that they’re good or bad, you will develop a habit of fulfilling each story’s potential and will inculcate the habit of constant writing in yourself.
  2. Study other screenplays: The only way to become a great screenwriter is to study how the present greats write their stories. Most screenplays and movies are born from an inspiration. You should study the scripts of the films that intrigue you and understand why they were able to tell that story so successfully. Read a lot of screenplays and watch a lot of movies.
  3. Get a job in the industry: No one becomes a successful screenwriter from day one and even if you’re the next Aaron Sorkin or Charlie Kaufman, everyone needs to start somewhere. An assistantship is the best way to break into the industry as it lets you understand the ins and outs of the industry and helps you curate better relationships and connections with the powers that be.
  4. Learn Formatting: Formatting is extremely important to being a successful screenwriter as it shows the reader that you’re serious about writing being your career and that you understand what the industry standard for scripts is. If the formatting in your scripts is extremely shabby and incorrect then your great story won’t matter because no one will be able to read or understand it. Formatting is the key difference in an amateur writer and a professional writer.
  5. Read Screenwriting books: Screenwriting books don’t just teach you the craft of screenwriting they also educate you on the externals of the business of screenwriting. How to write an outline, a treatment note, query mails and how to get a manager or agent. Books such as Anatomy of Story by John Truby, That’s not the way it works by Bob Seanz and Save the Cat by Blake Snyder are some of the best screenwriting books for you to learn the intricacies of the craft and the industry.

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