Beginning Screenwriting – Kick Start Your Script
By Andrew M. Brown

So you want to write a screenplay and kick start your film career? There may be different reasons why you want do this. Here are some of them:

1. You have seen a competition for new film ideas or scripts so you thought you would enter.

2. You fancy giving writing a go.

3. You want to direct your own film from your own idea.

4. You have a great idea you don’t think anyone else has done before.

5. You’re a control freak who can’t stand anyone else taking the glory so you do everything yourself.

All of these reasons are valid and will provide the necessary first burst of energy to begin this gargantuan task. And it is a big undertaking. People do write scripts in record time but it’s not the norm. A good solid screenplay with well-rounded characters, interesting sub-plots as well as a convincing and engaging main story takes time and effort.

Why does it take so much time?

After you have exhausted the initial store of ideas that have propelled you to write in the first place, you will be left with only a skeleton framework or outline. You may have a few scenes. There may be the first signs of characters appearing and the beginnings of the big plot but they will lack the ‘flesh’ that keeps a reader turning the page and a page turner is what you want!

Who is going to read this?

As you write you should always be asking yourself the question, ‘would someone reading this want to turn the page? Are they interested enough to carry on?’ It may be a something you believe in because you have written it but then you’re biased aren’t you? If it hasn’t got the necessary pace for an uncommitted reader then it’s not working. But pace is something that will come later on with progressive drafts.

This is your first draft and it will always be missing essential elements but that’s ok, it’s a first draft, that’s what it’s for. They’re usually crap but it’s crap with possibilities.

I’m sure there will be plenty of nuggets of potential good stuff in there. These are the rich ‘veins’ of material that you will be mining in the following weeks and months. But to begin with these are weak threads and embryonic ideas that have been born in the creative cauldron of your wonderful brain and they will need nurturing and gentle conjuring from the hidden depths.

Your first draft can be anything from a few pages to tens of pages. You can write long hand or type it up or invest in some scriptwriting software which will automatically format your work for you. ‘Final Draft’ or Movie Magic are good choices and pretty much industry standard, although a little pricey. It’s unlikely whether it would be up to ninety or so pages when you first start. Don’t try to do that. It will only be mostly rubbish that you will end up revising anyway.

The way to move forward from your initial scatter gun collection of material is to start working on the scenes that most excite you. They will most probably contain the essence of the idea that got you started and they will be the easiest to focus on. This is important in the early stages if you are new to scriptwriting. It is all too easy for a beginner to give up on a story having only written a dozen or so pages because they don’t have a strategy for carrying on the writing impulse when inspiration dries up.

Getting past this means harnessing your emotional energy and you do that by working on the scenes that are the most fun and that engage your creative imagination. Your motivation will be kept at a high level and other plot-lines, thoughts and strands will start to come through. This way, by listening to your own intuitive voice, you will be able to more fully express the individuality of your own ideas and create a unique and non-formulaic screenplay.

Written by Andrew M. Brown

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