Film Writing

How To Write A Screenplay

how to write a screenplay
  1. You pick a deadline for your first screenplay. You’ve got a treatment and index cards and even a mood board. You make a calendar with reminders in big red writing and plan to write 10 pages a day. You are so ready for this! #buzzing #amwriting #storyteller
  1. Life sees your careful planning and laughs, throws some curveballs, a spanner and a casual catastrophe into the mix. You somehow manage 10 pages total.
  1. You leave FOMO at the door and realise you must say no to the pub if you’re going to make your deadline. Mantra: It Will Be Worth It.

  1. Sitting down and typing is easier than you thought. Ha! Writer’s block schmiters block.
  1. You remember why you love writing. You decide that after you win your Oscar(s) you’ll open a writer’s retreat and mentor keen young beans that remind you of yourself. You’ll be the Lena Dunham / Mark Zuckerberg of cinema!
  1. You remember why writing is torture. You start looking for a simple day job that requires no ambition, no courage and no self-hatred.
  1. When you complete draft 1, you’re dazed and exhilarated from finishing. You want to simultaneously laugh, dance and cry. You imagine this must be what childbirth is like.
  1. You give your precious baby to a script-savvy friend and await their feedback with apparent nonchalance, whilst inside you’re quivering with sheer and utter terror.
  1. Naturally, the feedback says your first draft sucks. But you tell yourself that, at this stage, criticism is more helpful than praise. You are correct.
  1. You take some time off to mull over your story. Read other scripts, watch more films and seek inspiration (at the pub, right?). You wonder if you’re really just procrastinating.
  1. Suddenly your brain gifts you a beautiful EUREKA moment. You go back to your desk with the one thing that ties it all together and solves every goddamn problem with your script.
  1. You give birth to draft two in a mad frenzy of FADE IN and FADE OUTs. You are a Script God.
  1. Feedback says draft two is better, much better, but there’s still a lot of work to do.
  1. With grim determination, you repeat steps 10 to 12 again and again, until feedback says, “Well hello there Script God, your screenplay is damn fine and pimped to Perfection.”
  1. You send your screenplay to every contest available, paying hundreds in submissions fees, but you’re just happy because you – yes, YOU – wrote a feature film.
  1. Maybe your inbox is broken / No news is good news, right? / Think about it too much and you’ll jinx it! / Who cares about contests anyway? / “Hey God, I know we’ve not spoken in a while but I really need this break…”
  1. Rejection Number 1. Ah well, can’t win them all…!
  1. Rejection Number 10,820,000. You have an existential crisis and cry to your most patient friend, whilst rejecting all advice and encouragement they have to offer. You’re just not cut out to be a writer. Your dreams are dust.
  1. Avoid writing. Avoid cinema. Avoid all inspiration. You’ve been hurt before.
  1. Your brain whispers a new idea. A character squirms into existence and shouts, “Oi!” You resist, but the pull’s too strong. You sit at your desk and let your fingers hover over the keys… Do you dare?
  1. You go back to Step 1.

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