8 Screenwriting Tips That Will Help You in the Long Run
Despite the fact that the internet is brimming with tips and tricks for becoming a better screenwriter (we even have our own in-house guru, Christopher Boone), the screenwriting gods rarely make divine promises of favor to mere mortals like us. No, prosperity, whether measured in money earned or pages written, does not come easy; it all depends on how hard and tenaciously you're willing to work. So, what are some practical things we can do as screenwriters now that will foster beneficial writing and creative habits later? Filmmaker Darius Britt shares 8 screenwriting tips that can help you build a solid foundation and improve your skills.
Many of the things Britt mentions in his video below will help you more in the long run, so if you're looking for a quick fix, these are probably not going to do it -- in fact, I don't think that there's anything that can. Such is the sad life of a sad writer. Ammiright? At any rate, take a look:
If you've researched this topic before, chances are you've read about many of these tips before, like reading scripts and watching movies. However, Britt's insight as to why those things are so important is right on point. For instance, one of his tips is to write every day -- a pretty common thing to hear, and honestly, it's a point that is argued quite a bit among writers. Some believe writing when you don't feel like it is just a waste of time since your ideas aren't inspired (you become a machine rather than an artist), while some believe writing consistently builds the discipline professionals need to be successful. Britt brings up a great point, though, that the writer who writes every day is probably going to be a better writer than the one who only writes sporadically. Why? For the sheer fact that the writer who writes every day is writing more, and therefore practicing more. The more you write, the better you'll get.
Britt's suggestions make up a great daily routine (maybe weekly for some things) for anyone who's interested in becoming a serious writer. Jot down stuff that happens to you to use in your writing. Hear from other screenwriters about their process. Watch and study good/bad movies to find out what works and why and what doesn't work and why. Watching both Chinatown and, say, The Last Airbender will give you all sorts of knowledge on structure, character development, and dialog. Read and study scripts! The shelves in my bookcase dedicated solely to screenplays aren't there to impress dates, you guys. (They don't -- or wouldn't -- whatever.) Even if you read and lightly studied one every week, after a year, you'd have 52 scripts' worth of story structures, character arches, archetypes, and dialog swimming around in your brain.
It's a lot of work, and you won't see results right away, but keep plugging away, and pretty soon you'll see a difference. It's like going to the gym, only with less sweating.
What things do you do daily (or weekly) that make you a better screenwriter?