The hardest part of writing a script is actually sitting down and writing. We all come up with justifications as to why we will wait – “I need to think about it some more”, “I want to learn about writing first”, “I’m, too tired today”, “I don’t’ know how to format it properly”. The list of possible excuses is endless.
To help you get started, despite your excuses, today we are sharing some great tips from the award-wining screenwriter Marc Rosenberg. Marc was at Annapurna College to conduct an intensive scriptwriting workshop with our direction students. We joined him at lunch as he shared some tips for first-time writers:
1. Be clear about the theme and genre.
While undirected writing can sometimes be a great exercise in creativity, many new writers make the mistake of ‘always’ writing without clear direction. This results in confused drafts and agonizing rewrites – if you don’t know what you were trying to write, how will you know what to retain and what to change?
Be clear on the theme and genre: What is the story really about? Do your scenes match the theme? What genre are you writing for? Do you have the right characters for that genre? If it’s meant for television, do you have enough story for a number of episodes?
Obviously you can’t know everything before you begin, and half the joy of writing is the process of creation and discovery. But a rough road map will keep you pointed in the right direction.
2. Your first draft will never ever be your last.
Far too many new screenwriters pen their first draft of a script and feel that their work is done.
Marc’s tip is to start each day by reading your earlier writing. With fresh eyes, you can quickly spot mistakes or storylines that are drifting off-theme. Additionally, put together a team of trusted readers/editors and regularly share your work with them.
3. To be a good writer you must be a good reader.
Read books, read scripts, read fiction, non-fiction, journals, anything and everything. By reading you can expand your horizons. It will make you aware about the culture and art of other countries.
Reading will make your writing more creative – better inputs equals better outputs. Read whatever you can lay your hands on!
4. Cast your characters in your head.
A technique that Marc finds useful is to cast the script’s characters in his head. Many new writers end up with characters that don’t act or speak like real people. To get around this stumbling block, mentally cast a familiar actor and imagine them performing the scene and speaking the dialogue.
Firstly, this will help to shape your dialogue around normal human speaking patterns.
Secondly, this will help you to stay on-genre. Are your comedic lines still funny when spoken by a real person? Do your emotional moments resonate or sound silly? Does your action star sound like an action star?
Do you have a story that is bursting to get out of your head and on to a page? See if Marc’s tips can help you . Please put your questions or thoughts in the comments below – we would love to help you!