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Tips for Writing Your First Screenplay

Every movie – classics, blockbusters, indie films and box office disasters alike – is based on and built around the same structure: the screenplay. Do you think you have what it takes to write the next great movie? Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing your first screenplay.

Watch Movies

If you’re thinking about writing your first screenplay, chances are good that you’re already somewhat of a movie buff who has watched more than your fair share of films. That’s a great start, but now it’s time to watch more. Why? There are two big reasons: first, watching new movies – especially in different genres – can expose you to new ideas and concepts that will help get your creative juices flowing. Second, chances are that when you’ve watched movies in the past, you watched them with entertainment in mind. Taking the time to watch more movies, even old favorites, while paying attention to the nuances of the writing and style could help give you more inspiration and insight into writing your screenplay.

Read Other Screenplays

When you’re getting ready to get started on your own screenplay, take the time to read ones others have written. Find writers that you admire, or movies you find particularly interesting, and read the screenplays to get a feel for what goes into them. Study as many as you can get your hands on, and think about how that screenplay was translated into a film.

Find Your Story

Before diving into writing the screenplay itself, it’s a good idea to have at least the basic idea of your story formulated. You don’t need everything fleshed out and finalized, but a general, sketched-out idea will give you a skeleton to work from. Try just starting with a basic outline: general plot, theme, and main characters. There will be plenty of time to add more, remove ideas, or change everything entirely, but having an idea of the story you’ll be working with can help get you started.

Learn the Format

Screenplays follow a very specific format. It’s essential that you are very familiar and comfortable with the format and elements required of a screenplay before you write one on your own. Motion picture production school can give you an excellent in-depth education on what goes into crafting and formatting a screenplay, as well as an understanding of the production industry – including how to market your finished, carefully crafted product.

Be Prepared to Revise

Once you have a draft of your first screenplay finish, it’s important to realize that your work is far from finished. Take some time away from your screenplay after writing the first draft, in order to clear your mind. After a day or two, read it over again with a critical eye. Have friends read it and give you their feedback. Talk to anyone in the industry – your motion picture production school instructors can be a great resource – and see what they have to say. Even the greatest writers in the industry will revise their initial screenplay again and again before it’s finalized.

Still Have More Questions?

KD Conservatory has acting, musical theatre, and film production programs to help prepare students for careers in the entertainment industry. Contact us with any of your questions, or check us out on Facebook for ongoing updates and information!

Photo via Flickr

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