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Meeting the Beginning of your Screenplay

Updated on January 17, 2016

Fingers Meet Keyboard

The beginning of a screenplay. If you are a screenwriter or currently going to film school, then you may have had that feeling of visualizing a great idea, but how do you get started? Getting an idea onto paper isn't as easy as it seems, but no worries as you are not the only one scratching your head about this or dealt with immediate writers block. There are simple steps you can take in order to get a good jump on getting your screenplay started and after going through these few steps, you'll begin to realize that getting an idea onto paper doesn't need to be as difficult as it becomes.


1. The first step to always consider when writing a screenplay, is to make sure the idea makes since to you. Plenty of writers, including myself have tried writing on topics that don't provide any detail on our interest. This is where the classic screenwriting saying “WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW” comes into mind as you will always have better success writing on a topic that you are familiar with. Even if that topic is how your childhood was like, your favorite activities/hobbies, your current life, etc. writing upon what you know will always give you the best results with your screenplay and leaves more time for drafting your screenplay. Speaking of drafts, this leads us to our next topic.


2. This next step is important because this could consider an almost make it or break it for your screenplay; unless you are in school then this next step may not have you sit so well with your professor if done incorrectly. This step what I am mentioning is formatting. Formatting is very important when writing a screenplay as in the professional world, a producer would simply through your screenplay away if not formatted correctly down to the correct font. The best way to avoid formatting issues in my opinion, is to use a screenwriting program that will format the screenplay for you. Web programs such as Celtx are great tools to use when needing help with correctly formatting your screenplay, but if you are wanting to take a crack at formatting yourself, I do suggest resourcing certain screenwriting resources such as Storysense.com, which will walk you through formatting the screenplay correctly as well as what proper verbiage should be used when explaining a scene.


3. Going back to drafts which was mentioned in the first and second step, drafts are a key part of the screenwriting process that all writers should expect to have to re-do over and over again. Drafts are important because you get feedback on what does and does not work. Similar to your English teacher in high school assigning a rough draft before the final draft is do, drafts help organize the screenplay in the way that best fits onto the screen (even if it involves the terrible moment where you have to throw out one of your favorite lines or scenes). If you submit a screenplay and it comes back with a request from the director or producer asking you to re-draft your screenplay, then in most cases this is good because this means that they like the overall idea. Rather than feeling unsure or discourage, take the opportunity to show different sides of how the story can play out with the changes as the changes may have you discover something you haven't seen the first time around or can even provide more ideas you haven't thought of at first. Changes can be tough especially on a project that is personal to you, but always keep in mind to not let artistic integrity make up all of your mind because the less and less you are open to new ideas for your script, the less and less people will want to work with you.


We have reached the end of the third step and you are ready to write your screenplay. Writing can sometimes be a bit of a pain when stuck at the beginning, but as long as you stick to the steps or at least keep them in mind, starting your screenplay will become easier and you will find that writing those ideas on paper may still not be the easiest, but it will definitely become easier.

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