Part 1: If you are a beginning screenwriter…

Recently I received an email from someone who wants to begin the process of learning the craft of screenwriting. I started my response with the advice to use this blog as a free resource. After all, there are over 13,000 posts in the archives…

Then it dawned on me: How would a new writer even know where to begin going through those archives?

So this week, I will run a daily series aimed at those of you who might consider yourself to be a beginning screenwriter. I will provide links to five sets of resources on the blog you can use to develop a solid foundation in your learning process.

All for free.

Part 1. How I Write A Screenplay

One of the more popular series on GITS (Go Into The Story) is this one, wherein I break down 10 aspects of my own screenwriting process. Here are the links to those posts:

Part 1: Story Concept

Part 2: Brainstorming

Part 3: Research

Part 4: Character Development

Part 5: Plotting

Part 6: Outline

Part 7: Script Diary

Part 8: First Draft

Part 9: Rewriting

Part 10: Editing

A few observations:

* This is my approach. If it works for you, great. If not, no problem. As I am prone to say, there’s no right way to write. Every writer is different and must figure out his/her own process. That said I’m guessing these ten aspects are probably common to most writers’ approaches (with the possible exception of a script diary).

* I am not suggesting these are stages, as if you have to go through them programatically, one by one. Stories are organic, therefore it should not be surprising that an approach to writing would reflect that fact. Moreover some aspects may come naturally to you, others not. Indeed some of these ten may inhibit your creativity. So again, whatever works. If not, feel free to punt.

* A big note: This is not a system or a formula. In fact, these ten posts have virtually nothing to do with any sort of screenplay paradigm or structure. Rather it is what it is: Simply an approach to the process of writing a script. That’s it.

Yet that is of considerable importance. And as a beginning writer, you should grasp this simple fact by noting that 7 of the 10 parts of the series are about prep-writing, everything we do leading up to typing FADE IN and pounding out script pages. Why is this so important?

Perhaps the single biggest flaw with neophyte screenwriters is they do not take the time to go into the story to the depth required to write a great script. Rather they leap into the writing before they look around the story universe and get to know the characters sufficiently enough to understand who they are, what their respective narrative roles are, let alone make them come alive on the page.

Writing is a process. That’s probably as good a place as any for a beginning screenwriter to start their journey. And these 10 posts represent one way to approach that process: How to write a script.

Tomorrow: More GITS resources for beginning screenwriters.

If you have any thoughts or comments, please consider taking a few minutes to post them in comments. If you are a beginning writer, I’d love to hear from you and learn about your background, interests and aspirations.

The path to becoming a professional screenwriter is an arduous one and extremely competitive. To maximize your chances, a new writer needs solid information grounded in the realities of working in Hollywood’s front lines as well as a pragmatic form of inspiration.

You can find both here at Go Into The Story.

[Originally posted November 11, 2013]

UPDATE: There are actually over 18,000 posts on this site. Tons of information. All free! Use the Google search engine and archives to explore virtually any subject about the craft of writing.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store