How to Become a Screenwriter

If you want to know how to write a screenplay, or how to break into the screenwriting industry, search no further. You’ve found the number one resource you’ll need to succeed in not only the craft of screenwriting, but also in understanding the filmmaking industry and how to navigate it from anywhere in the world.

Writing a screenplay is no easy task, but the articles on ScriptMag.com, the premiere script writing community, provide helpful information, ranging from screenwriting basics to pitching your work to top executives in Hollywood. We have valuable information for beginners and pros alike, including tips on the successful work habits of the pros, helping you land your first writing assignment and a popular column, Balls of Steel, to motivate you on the days a writer struggles to pursue his or her dreams. No one can survive without a community of support. We are here to give you the tools you need, both in craft and motivation.

There are rules of screenwriting, beginning with finding the perfect concept for your movie script. Once you find the idea, putting the words on the page requires an understanding of the screenwriting rules and formatting. The Writers Store offers the best screenwriting books and software, screenwriting lectures, and screenwriting classes. Screenwriters University also has in-depth online courses, both live and self-paced.

Sit back, get comfortable, and peruse the site. Your journey as a screenwriter begins today, with our help. Welcome to the ScriptMag community of writers! For all of the upcoming industry news and screenwriting tips, be sure to follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Essential Resources

Submitting a script to Hollywood executives requires an understanding of screenplay format and story structure. The most effective way to accomplish correct formatting is to write in scriptwriting software, such as Final Draft or Movie Magic Screenwriter.

However, having the right margins and dialogue indents doesn’t make a script marketable. It’s essential to have a full grasp of the beats of a story and how to structure it for character development as well as forward-moving plots, containing conflict.

The best screenwriting books will aide you in impressing producers with quality work. The first books most screenwriters acquire are David Trottier’s The Screenwriter’s Bible and Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat, famous for their clear, uncluttered explanations of the importance of story structure and “beat sheet” style of script writing.

A script that lacks an understanding of the industry standards is quickly tossed in the slushpile, never to see the light of day. Knowledge is power, especially when dealing with executives. Don’t give them a reason to say, “no.” The best way to avoid a negative response is to be prepared and well educated.

How to Protect Your Work

It is important to protect your work by registering it with an intellectual property registrant. Registering your screenplay with the WGA or US Copyright Office creates a digital timestamp, assists in establishing proof of completion date and provides a documented record of your claim to authorship, ownership, creation. This is crucial when having to produce registered materials at an arbitration hearing or in a court of law.

Webinars & Online Classes

The best way to learn the art of screenwriting is to read scripts as well as learn the details of the craft. You don’t need to live near a film school to access instructors. You can participate in great online writing classes right from your living room. Whether a full online course or a 90-minute webinar, the Internet offers unprecedented access to professionals.

Classes are available on the craft of screenwriting, the business of screenwriting, and also how to break into the film industry, all taught by seasoned instructors who have been in the trenches and understand the industry fully.

Development, Coaching, and Contests

Writing a polished screenplay requires getting feedback from professionals, re-evaluating your story, and rewriting it multiple times. There’s no way around the development process of writing a solid script. You have one shot at a first impression; therefore it’s critical not to give the Hollywood executives any reason to pass on your script.

Your job is to write a bulletproof story.

One of the benefits of obtaining a professional’s advice is the get used to the practice of collaboration and taking notes. As writers, we need to develop a tough skin when we hear feedback, learn how to digest it, and decipher what would help our script and what would change it into a story we no longer recognize. There’s an art to handling feedback. The more you get comfortable with the process, the easier it will be to take notes from a producer.

Contests often supply feedback on your scripts, but it’s not always easy to find a contest that can help further your overall career.

Before you enter your script into a contest, make sure your story idea is stellar! You can raise the quality of your work by writing a script that has a high concept. Danny Manus offers fantastic tips in his on-demand webinar, From Premise to Page: Developing Your Screenplay Idea. It doesn’t matter how well you write, if you don’t have a compelling story idea, your screenplay won’t place in contests and won’t have a shot at ever getting produced.

Any level of writer can improve the quality of their work by receiving notes and support from a seasoned professional. Grab your idea, sign up for a class, and finally get that script finished!

Screenplay Development Notes
From Premise to Page: Developing Your Screenplay Idea

Networking

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Networking is essential to a successful career. Just because you live outside of Hollywood doesn’t mean you can’t access industry insiders.

Online screenwriter communities are critical to expand your network. Meet screenwriters and gain access to industry pros at Twitter’s free weekly screenwriter chat, Scriptchat. All you need is a Twitter account to participate.

Once on Twitter, follow ScriptMag for industry news and screenwriting tips, as well as on Facebook, and Instagram. The ability to reach a wider audience can be as simple as tweeting and commenting on Facebook posts. Don’t undervalue the ability of social networking to expand your network in “real life.”

In order to solidify your online connections, it’s important to make trips to L.A. to meet your “friends” and “followers” in person. Maximizing your trips by scheduling meetings around conferences and pitchfests, such as Writer’s Digest Conference, will strengthen your relationships and help you advance your career faster. Not only will you have an opportunity to connect with writers, but you’ll also be able to take classes and pitch your script to executives. There’s no better way to get your work read and your writing noticed than to attend a screenwriting conference.

Don’t be shy. Reach out to people online and in person. You’ll triple your reach in no time.

Breaking in Outside of Hollywood On Demand Webinar
Screenwriter Networking Tips: Building a Relationship Online and Off


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