How to write a screenplay
The basic premise on how to write a screenplay is to bring something fresh to your audience. Essentially, if it feels like you might have seen the action before or heard the dialogue, chances are you have.
That's not to say that you can't create a "coming of age" movie or a typical western, but you have to bring a different slant to what you are trying to tell. A great example of a different take on a coming of age movie is "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." In this film, Benjamin is born as an elderly baby and grows young. It's a brilliant film because it's something you've never seen before.
It is difficult to stand on the shoulders of giants, but in everything you write, you should endeavor to create something just as compelling.
What's the best screenwriting secret on how to write a screenplay I can offer? All films fall within a movie genre. Even one of those hybrid movies (romantic comedy/slasher/Christmas films!) falls more into one specific genre more than the rest. Your job is to learn the rules of that genre front to back. Once you understand the formulas for say a romantic comedy, it's now your job to set the genre on its ear. Follow the formula, yet bring something fresh to what's already out there.
Studios love this different take, but they are terrified of the unknown. You might have written the most amazing screenplay in the world with a story that no one has ever thought of before creating a whole new genre. I can tell you now that you might get a little praise, but no one in Hollywood will ever touch it.
Why? As much as everyone wants to be the pioneer behind the next giant movie, nobody wants to be the pioneer behind the next "Waterworld" or "Ishtar." Power and fame are very fleeting. One crap film can ruin someone's career. If no one can immediately grasp what you're trying to say, then you don't have a movie.
When learning how to write a screenplay, there are hundreds of factors that will make your movie great. There are also tons of ways to make your screenplay suck. This is why you need a professional (or several) to pinpoint your screenplay problems. The following links are filled with screenwriting tips on how to get the most out of your script and create a movie that's truly memorable.
Elements of screenplay writing
- Character arc: What is your hero's issue? What does she need to overcome? How does he grow? Is she active? Is there something profound they need to learn?
- Rising Action: Does the journey get more and more difficult? How does the quest change to meet the new developments? Do you lead the audience into the suspense and drama?
- Screenplay Dialogue: Is the dialogue to the point and believable. Is it too on the nose (overexplained)? Do your characters talk like people talk?
- Movie Genre: Will your movie satisfy the audience that are fans of this genre? Does it have enough genre-specific elements to keep die-hards happy? Who is the audience for your screenplay?
- How to write a story: What is your reason for writing this screenplay? What do you want your audience to feel or learn?
- Supporting Character Development: How do the other characters help or hinder the hero's quest? Are they necessary and do they have their own character arcs?
This is only the beginning on how to write a screenplay. Bookmark this page now and come back often for new thoughts and insights on how to write a script.