So You Want to Write a Screenplay

By: Kylie Widseth

shutterstock_630896453Have you ever wondered what it takes to make a big blockbuster movie? Well, it all starts with a screenplay that’s taken from a page of writing and made into what you end up seeing when you sit down in a nice plush movie theater seat.

But what exactly does it take to write a screenplay?

Haik Kocharian, a writer, director, and producer; shares three things you should consider before writing a screenplay.

The screenplay writing process is riddled with challenges. You have to develop, formulate, and refine the story. You have to make sure you have proper formatting, that you’ve closely proofread the text, and much more. The list of laborious and, at times, maddening tasks is long. But before you even write the first sentence, there are three issues you need to consider.

First, how do you balance success (or lack thereof) and self-esteem?

Second, how do you allow your idea to reach its full potential and avoid it becoming an idea that appeared exciting at first but was never developed?

Third, and most important, understand why you want to write. The decision to write a screenplay means dedicating a good chunk of your life to an idea that might not bring you the success and recognition you desire. Before you embark on this exhilarating but risky journey, ask yourself a simple question: Why am I doing this?

Here is my advice on how to answer these three fundamental questions.

shutterstock_267148451Focus on your voice

Don’t compare, and don’t compete. Let’s say you’re living in Los Angeles, and you have a screenwriter roommate — same age as you — who lands an agent and is offered a position on a popular television series. You’re pretty happy for him, but you’re also jealous of his success. Questions keep running through your head. Why him and not me? My writing is just as good if not better than his. Why am I so unlucky? You feel weak, insecure, and discouraged. But you should not compare yourself with him or try to compete with his success. Don’t worry too much about what other people do and receive in their careers. Stay focused on your own vision, your own way of thinking. Write your story in your unique voice and focus your energy on writing the absolute best screenplay you can rather than expending your time and energy on comparing yourself to others.

Finish the first draft

Screenwriting can be a brutal and difficult creative process. This is particularly true when writing the first draft. Everything feels off. The characters appear flat and underdeveloped, the dialogue is a disaster, and the storyline is full of holes. At times, you feel as if you are unable to put a single sentence on the page. A terrifying doubt starts to linger: Is the story good enough? Perhaps your doubts are justified, and the story isn’t very good. But maybe it’s a diamond in the rough. You can only settle this question by finishing your first draft. Make your points, even if they aren’t yet well-defined, and put all of your thoughts and ideas in writing. Only after you have finished your first draft will you be able to assess the story’s potential.

Love what you do

This is perhaps the most important part. You should write screenplays because you have a story to tell, one that has inspired you and become a part of you. Write bravely, with vigor and excitement. Don’t be afraid to be original and take risks. We all seek recognition and success as a screenwriter. If you write with passion and determination, success will follow.

61mzgkRoMYLIf you’re interested in learning more about writing a screenplay, check out our book, So You Want to Write a Screenplay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing for Film, Video, and Television.

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