Some people say that they've always had a book inside them. For others, it's a bit more visual than that. If your internal storyteller is just dying to write a screenplay, you might be feeling excited, scared, and more than a little hesitant about getting started. Anything creative is a vulnerable and brave thing, and you might be hesitating for any number of reasons.
But if you've been putting off that screenplay for a while, ask yourself why. Sure, it may never grace a screen, but that's no reason not to start writing. It's time to give up the excuses and get started!
Being Locked in During COVID-19 is a Great Reason to Start Your Screenplay
Over the last few months, the world has gotten to know a lot about COVID-19 and other viruses. Most people are getting pretty tired of being cooped up for months on end with very little social interaction. Obviously, it's not an ideal situation, but there's a silver lining: now might be the best time to start your screenplay.
Depending on your situation, you might have more time to write than ever before. Plus, finding a creative outlet can be a great way to relieve stress and to help you cope with the state of things at the moment. It's a much better use of your time (and far better for your mental health!) than scrolling social media all day.
Ask yourself: If not now, when?
Here Are Some Screenplay Writing Tips to Help You Get Started
So, how do you write a screenplay, anyway? What are the "rules" and how do you create a compelling story on the page that will translate well onto the screen?
Guidelines can be useful if you're not sure how to get started, but it's also important not to get hung up on what's wrong or right as you go along. Just keep going and remember that you can (and should) always edit later.
Here are some tips to help you get the creativity flowing!
Outlines and First Drafts Are Key
If you feel compelled to just start writing, go ahead! But it can also be extremely valuable to create an outline before you start on your first draft. By writing an outline, you'll have a roadmap for completing your screenplay and you probably won't find yourself stuck on important plot points.
Of course, your outline is just a guide; some elements can and will change as you write and edit. But it's a lot easier to write a draft when you know the full story you want to tell. Your first draft probably won't be very pretty, but it is a hugely important step in the process—just get those words down and make them shine later!
Know Your Characters As Though They Were Your Best Freinds
Viewers want to see complex, rich characters. They want to see flawed human beings who interact with the world in a unique way. When you create your characters, you need to learn everything about them. What are their hopes and dreams? What makes them angry? What's their favorite food? Do they have any allergies? What funny quirks and pet peeves do they have?
You won't put all of these details into the screenplay, but you should know your characters as well as your best friends. This will help you to write believable people who could be real. The audience will suspend their disbelief to a certain extent, but not when it comes to the characters!
Themes Can Be a Major Driving Factor
You might never have given themes a thought, but they're a powerful force that can tie a movie together. As you're creating your outline, think about what kind of themes fit with the story. Explore different messages. What do you want the audience to take away when they leave the theater?
Don't Give Up!
Writing a screenplay can be a long process. Don't be too hard on yourself during the drafting phase—just keep writing! At some points, you might be tempted to give up. Don't! Your voice and your story are important.
If you've been scared to get started, you're not alone. Writing a screenplay is daunting, especially if you've never done it before. But when you're finally finished, you'll feel so proud of your accomplishment and what it represents, whether the movie makes it to the big screen or not.