Where to Begin When Writing a Screenplay

If your dream is to write the next great movie or play, you need to know how to get started. More often than not, many people go into this practice blindly and become more confused and frustrated by the whole experience. Instead of floundering around and feeling like you’re not getting anywhere, maybe it’s time to start looking at a screenplay in a different way – like almost a research project that you are doing. In this kind of practice, you will be able to get from idea to finished project in a matter of weeks, rather than years.

Finding Your Inspiration

When you’re trying to write a screenplay, chances are good that you already have an idea that you think is worth writing into this text. But the fact of the matter is that there are a lot of great ideas out there – but not all of them should be made into screenplays. Instead, you might want to try to summarize the idea of your screenplay into one sentence. If you can’t do that, you need to change your idea. This is an old trick that many agents and movie producers use to listen to new script ideas – and it works. If you can’t narrow down your ideas into one sentence, you need to rework it. Anything more complicated may not make for a good movie or script.

Inspiration can come from a variety of sources – your life, another movie, just a dream you had, your friends, etc. The point is that you want to look around you to see what other people might want to learn about and then try to find a way to incorporate it into a screenplay manuscript. Looking at other movies is plausible too because it will allow you the opportunity to see how pros have incorporated dialogue and action into their script – and not always in a good way.

Become a connoisseur of movies, looking at the different genres to see what sounds like something you would write or what seems like something you would never write.

Learn about Screenplays

Though your ideas are the most important part of the writing process, you also want to read screenplays to see how they are formatted and how actions and characters are introduced. This will help you have a model for what your screenplay should look like in the end, as well as help you see what works and what does not – in your opinion.

You may also want to begin by using a software program for properly formatting your screenplay in order to make things look good from the start as well as to help you with direction.

Where You Can Begin Today

A good place to begin when writing a screenplay is actually in writing a short story. When you have mapped out a complete story, it’s often much easier to translate this into an actual screenplay format, plus you have a reference in terms of what will happen next. Just type out the things you want to cover in your screenplay without any idea as to where you might add dialogue or what the actions might be.

You may also want to invest in a voice recorder to begin to record yourself talking as your characters in the play. This will help you capture what real people sound like as well as how you personally picture the screenplay unfolding in terms of dialogue.

Learn all that you can from other movies; attend plays and read about the structure of a screenplay. Your ideas are what is going to get you started, but it’s these other tools that will get you to the finish line.