Television and entertainment markets are red hot. We live in an era where high quality, exciting visual content is finding its way to global viewers through streaming services, a variety of innovative online platforms, as well as the traditional route of broad cinematic release. Knowing how to write a script has never been a more valuable skill.
Content is king. If you’re in the screenwriting business (or any other creative business, for that matter) you have probably heard this axiom before. Producers across the world are hungry for new original content, specifically meaning they’re looking for film and television properties.
There should be no surprise why when you see how many streaming and online platforms are out there.
It would be incorrect, however, to say that booming film and television production has caused an all-out buyer’s market. The truth is, you still need to write a great script in order to get noticed. Before you walk away, thinking that is an order that is simply too tough to meet, think again.
With the right skills and information, a little practice, you can write a script, too.
Our first step will be to remove at least some of the mystery around how to write a script. At the most basic level, you need to understand a few things.
The first thing to understand is that a screenplay is a blueprint for a movie or an episode of television. I have been writing screenplays for twenty years, and over that time, I have heard the definition of script or screenplay complicated, to the point where writing one seems like an impossible feat.
When you’re writing a script, you are creating a basic blueprint for the cast of actors, production crews, and the director to follow.
It’s that simple.
Why this is important for you to understand is that the screenwriter does not need to do everything. Quite the opposite. Their job is to create the story, develop the characters, and dream up the action for the rest of those professionals to work with and develop into a movie.
The next thing to understand is that screenplays are written using a very specific format. You’ve probably seen one before. A scene opens with a line telling you where you are, a brief description of the scene and action, followed by characters and their dialog through the end of the scene.
A lot of people look at a screenplay format and cringe. It looks like a foreign language. I’m here to tell you, however, that it is not.
In fact, I think screenplays are far easier to write than novels or memoirs because the style on the page is done for you. That’s right. Equip yourself with a screenwriting program like Final Draft, Celtx, or Writers Duet(and there is a slough of others, too) and you’ll see how intuitive getting your story on the page is.
If you want to read some of my thoughts on screenplay software, read this blog.
Finally, comes the story. Although the story is the most important thing, I saved it for last because you need to understand the first two basic aspects before tackling the story.
The statement that “content is king” really comes down to crafting a good story. Year in and year out, the content that gets purchased and ultimately produced is high quality, well-written, and features a compelling story. There are a lot of ways to get there, but for my way of thinking, learning how to write a script comes down to characters.
These are some of the most luminary, memorable characters in American cinematic or television history. You probably know them well.
Luke Skywalker is the protagonist of the “Star Wars” franchise, memorable for his ascent from restless boy to Jedi Knight, a hero who holds the fate of an interstellar rebellion in his hands. In the classic, “The Wizard of Oz”, Dorothy Gale is the young girl who lands in the magical land and must find her way home. Of course, Walter White, is the anti-hero protagonist from the series, “Breaking Bad”, a man whose obsession with power takes him from meek High School science teacher to drug kingpin.
We remember these characters for a simple reason. They want something.
No, no, let me say that a different way. These are characters are memorable because they are driven by far more than simple wants.
They need something.
Creating great, memorable characters comes down to a journey. When someone sits down to watch a two-hour movie, or binge four or five episodes of a television show, it is usually because the character (or characters) is so compelling, they can’t look away.
Think of your favorite movie or television character. What do they need? If you can pinpoint that unique aspect, that thing they simply cannot live without, you’ve found what makes them tick.
Before you start writing your screenplay, think of your main character, and answer a few questions. Who are they? Where do they come from? Then really drill down and figure out what they need. Sure, you may not get Luke Skywalker’s archetypal rise, or Dorothy’s culture-defining journey down the yellow brick road, or Walter White’s complicated ego.
If you start thinking in these terms early on, however, you’ll find your own, unique hero and their story.
How To Write A Script And How To Get It Made
This should be your end goal. You want to write a script that gets made.
In order to do that, you need to employ equal parts fundamentals (like script formatting and style) and intangibles (think of character and story). Finding this critical blend of elements is like walking on a tightrope, but the more you do it, the closer you will come to reaching that standard.
I wrote three scripts before I got one that felt right.
I wrote another three before I started showing them around, getting feedback from professionals.
I wrote still another three before I got my first success.
Writing a good, quality script takes time. It takes practice. But just like riding a bicycle, if you keep getting back on it when you fall, you and your script will find their way to the promised land. Remember, content is king, and right now, the idea in your head is what they’re all looking for.
I hope this addressed some of your interest in how to write a script. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free leave them below.
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I so adamantly believe that knowing how to conduct a ghostwriting interview is a bedrock of success that I wrote a book about it.
While this book doesn’t necessarily cover how to write a script like this blog, it does serve as an ideal primer for developing a professional mentality to bring to your writing.
If you would like a complimentary copy of How To Hire A Ghostwriter: Your Guide To Finding The Best Pro For Your Project all you have to do is click and download.
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If you would like to read more on the topic of screenplay ghostwriter services, check out these articles.