Screenwriting: 6 Tips

People go to the movies and realize, "Hey, I could do that!" One thing is certain: no one will see your story if you don't start screenwriting and communicate it to someone else. The most effective way to do that is through screenwriting. Take these steps, and your screenplay will stand out!

Tip #1: Define Your Vision

Determine what you want to convey: the theme. At first, it probably won't be totally defined, but it will help you know where you're going. What are you trying to say? You won't get that across unless you know it before you start out.

Tip #2: Who's Story Is It Any Way?

Characters are critical for movies. Is the main character (the protagonist) interesting enough for an audience to follow for 90- to 120 minutes? Characters don't have to be 'likeable,' but they'd better be compelling. Give them 'drive,' give them a goal. What are they after? That's what makes an audience follow them for a full movie; they want to know: do they reach their goal? It's also important that the protagonist has a fierce opposing character, the antagonist, who wants his goal even more than the protagonist.
Tip #3: Refine Your Story

The easiest way to refine your story is to over-write it now. One of the most effective methods successful screenwriters use is to write out scenes on index cards. This is useful, because you can write down everything and rearrange it over and over again until you get it exactly where you want it.

Tip #4: Outline

Take your cards and put them in an order that will work in a way that is satisfying for you. Many people use a three-act structure. The three-act structure is basically in Act One you put your hero up a tree, in Act Two you throw rocks at him, and in Act Three you get them out. Ultimately, you need to make sure you have a story that satisfies you. Don't reveal anything until you absolutely have to.

Tip #5: Write!

Put your story down. Make sure it's in proper format (several programs can make this easier, but you can find the specifics for page set up, indents and the like online). And leave plenty of white space, as it makes it an "easier read" for the reader. Get down your story, and make sure you don't leave out any of the things that you think are important.

Tip #6: Rewrite

Writers don't write-they rewrite! Respect your readers. You probably don't have to put in everything you initially put in. When you rewrite, think: "I'm writing a movie," and envision the movie in your head as you rewrite it. It's a fine balance to tell the complete story without telling your reader too much. Read other screenplays and write!

Once you polish your screenplay, make some copies and get feedback - and not just from people who love you. Ask people who will be honest, who will tell you if it doesn't work. Make sure it's polished to the point that it sparkles before you put it out to the market.