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How to write an Original Screenplay

Updated on December 28, 2015

Why to write an Original Screenplay?

How to write a screenplay that deserves the Academy Award for best Original Screenplay? How to write a screenplay acclaimed by critics? How to write a screenplay that people will remember forever by the impression that have produced on their lives and / or ideas that have generated? All these and more are questions the screenwriters get at some point in their careers. The answers may be not so easy to find, but related to things about which the screenwriter has control, for instance: the search for interesting subjects, the generation of relevant ideas, the habit of writing, and work submission in a suitable format to the film industry. As with any artwork and perhaps with any activity in life, perfection will come only through practice, and who knows maybe some awards arrive sooner than expected!

look anywhere to find themes to write a screenplay
look anywhere to find themes to write a screenplay

Search of topics

Finding an interesting topic on which to develop a story seems an easy task, but maybe at some point, our mind becomes too fussy and what was initially viewed as attractive, suddenly we find a hackneyed theme, as something uninteresting or even worse as a cliche. That's when search of topics becomes a headache.

Probably the best compass to guide us towards a subject that allows us to develop a story would get out of our "academic guides," "our erudition" and "our deep philosophical thoughts" and turn to see a bit more to the ordinary world. Yes, turn to see people and everyday events, situations that seem insignificant at times may contain the secrets of true wisdom. Suffice it to recall that many of the greatest thinkers of history, developed their thinking, wrote their stories and developed their theories, not by what they learned in school, but as a result of their journey through the world.

got an idea
got an idea

Generate interesting ideas for the development of a story

Even after a glimpse of several topics of interest, several characters rich in nuances of personality and behavior, situations that may lead to a sequence of events that capture attention, even after standing in the countryside of our history, still we haven't a clue on the path forward.

It is here that we need to dissect the environment, in other words the subject which attracted our attention in smaller components such as the time when it takes place, the location, the characters involved, and other related issues like culture, religion, social and economic conflicts, etc, and thus we can make a list as long and wide as possible. Then by taking that list we can play with it by combining different elements, mixing them, exaggerating them, diminishing them, deleting them, modifying them, putting events in other cultural, geographic, economic, historical backgrounds, perhaps adding fiction, etc.

In developing different combinations from what obtained in the previous game should have several emerging products that we dislike or that are boring, but probably also have some others who shed some sparks of interest, and we can work on those.


Write, write, write

The actions speak louder ... and for getting a screenplay is needed write screenplays daily and in a disciplined manner, and so enhance the potential of ideas we have previously generated.

We don't have to write a novel every time we sit down to write, but definitely we must commit and write every day at least half an hour to do usual, the flow of ideas, to shape them to delete those unneccesary or build those we believe that have the potential to stay alive. It isn't the intention of writing in one sitting the final version, it is about put out our thoughts on text, it's about do not let them fly because they will lose or at least distort. We have to write even if our words or paragraphs seem silly at first.

Screenplay format
Screenplay format

Present the work in the appropriate format

Perhaps the format is that part of writing a screenplay, less attractive from an intellectual standpoint, but the format is the first agent that will promote the work for us. When we see a blockbuster, an Academy Award winner, we should think that its screenplay sometime reached the hands of a producer, a director, a studio executive and when that person took it in his hands, might first take into account is whether the scene headings were well written, if the margins for each of the elements of the screenplay were used appropriately to properly track the flow of history, if the actions or dialogues were not omitted for every character name, and once verified some of these details is that he decided to read what he found was a great story, but not until after taking note of the format. After all, the devil is in the details.

Are you a screenwriter or want to be? Share your experiences with us!

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