How to Make Screenwriting Fun and Simple
I'm not here to give you advice on format or any of the instructions that you'd get from a book or a teacher. I've read many screenwriting books and they were all very helpful -- so, if you're serious about screenwriting, then you should check them out. I don't recommend any in particularly, because if it's a book on the subject writing for movies, they're bound to go over similar things. Also, enroll in screenwriting courses. I did this once and it was nice to have mutual writers around to discuss the magical process.
So this hub is basically MY INTERPRETATION of making screenwriting simple, not easy -- but simple and most importantly -- FUN. This is how I do it when it comes to writing an original screenplay. So here are the requirements:
1) You MUST LOVE CINEMA.
If you DON'T love movies, then I don't know why you wanna be a screenwriter. Go write a novel or study astrology or something. You have to love watching movies, talking about movies, thinking about movies, etc. You have to want to explore different types of films, genres -- what have you. I began screenwriting when I was 15 years old. My first script wasn't good. Though, at that age, I thought it was. And at that age, I limited my film knowledge to action films and Tarantino films -- which isn't bad.
But as I grew older, I took interest in Asian cinema, French cinema, and classic films (Hitchcock) as well as mainstream stuff. Whatever it is, if it's done right, I'll consider it a good movie. Point is, you have to attain a library of knowledge in your mind that is unique to you and that you ENJOY. Don't care what others think if you don't know who G.W. Pabst is. Doesn't matter. You will soon enough, 'cause you'll do research, which is fun research -- because you're watching movies as well as analyzing it whatever way you want.
2) You need a computer and a screenwriting program.
Now you can try to go really old school with a typewriter, but I don't recommend it. I've tried it and it hinders my creativity -- but that's me. Maybe you'd like it. Anyway, I use Final Draft and it is an amazing screenwriting program. It's perhaps the standard in the industry and it formats perfectly -- I don't even think about formatting anymore. I started out using a FREE screenwriting template for Microsoft Word. You can Google it and then I upgraded to Final Draft -- which I do recommend, but it's not the only option. Magic Screenwriter is a lot easier to manage and if you have a Mac, then use Montage. Point is, they're affordable and they let you be creative without worrying about formatting and stuff like that.
3) Screw the rules.
Yes. There are so many "rules" dished out in books and classes about what you HAVE TO DO in a script. A formula and such and such. While those things are useful, but initially -- in your first draft -- forget it. Don't worry too much about you have to do in your first draft. Nothing is written, it's re-written. And do remember, that film is not only a business... it's art. When you start a new story, you should be absolutely free of stress and therefore you'll avoid writer's block later on.
How do you be free? You get the gist of what your story will be about and you simply start typing. Sip your coffee and just "zone in." Just let your mind wander and let your fingers tap, as if it was a dance -- just DON'T THINK. Let it happen. Just do it. Just write. You'll be surprised where your imagination takes you. And no matter how ridiculous the scene turns out, leave it in there... for now. Go on a short break or vacation or a date or a bar or whatever. Just live life for a second.
You'll come back later and you'll see it with a fresh perspective -- you'll either make modifications or delete it entirely. You may or may not end up with something unique, but it's something you wouldn't have gotten if you thought about everything logically and in a technical way or stressing out or whatever. Just... let it go. Your imagination is a creature of joy and spontaneity -- make use of it.
As a filmmaker, I have to have an eye for details. It's pretty much a necessity. The same holds true for screenwriting. Give each of your characters something subtle to do that's symmetrical to their personality and their situation. Having a character seem genuine makes it easier for people to connect with them -- whether they despise or love them, make them seem real. Of course, you won't know everything about your own characters in the first draft.
You will know everything about the world and the characters you create by the third draft or hopefully. This is when you really revise and evaluate what world you're trying to convey -- this is when you get all technical and care about rules, but not too much. And once you've gone through this phase, you get to your FINAL DRAFT and then shop it around town or shoot it yourself -- which brings me to the next thing.
5) What now?
So you've written your story. Maybe it's a masterpiece -- who knows? What I do after I've written a feature-length or a short script, is have people I trust read it aloud to me... and change whatever I need to change if their point is valid enough. Of course, I'll debate like a motherf*cker. I can be stubborn. After that, I usually decide to film it myself because I like artistic freedom and I love directing, acting, shooting, and editing a movie. The other option I also try is sending query letters to agents and production companies. I've no luck with that yet, because I just recently started.
But if you wanna try that route, I recommend picking up the Hollywood Creative Directory. It lists every notable production company that exist, with their address and if they accept materials from screenwriters. Some do, some don't -- but send it EVERYWHERE despite if they do or don't. You send a query letter and if they like the letter, you send them the script and if you're lucky -- they'll buy it from you and make it into a film starring a movie star. It's easier said than done.
Overall, what am I saying? This hub basically encourages practicing a lot and having fun while doing it, if you didn't know. Most of the scripts I've written are either neo-nor or crime dramas. And more recently, I wrote and shot a short movie that's really a straight out sibling drama entitled "SHE'S NOT THERE." Point is, explore different types of styles. My feature film NOWHERE JOHNNY is now available on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WC45tudPzm4
Well, that's all the advice I have at the moment at the top of my head. If you have questions, leave a comment and I'll surely reply. Also, do give me a "Vote Up" if you found this hub useful or cool. And subscribe to my YouTube channel for the latest film stuff!
Thanks much. Good evening.