November 10, 2015

This is the Most Important Piece of Screenwriting Advice You'll Ever Need

It goes without saying -- but I'm saying it anyway. Screenwriting is hard.

It's a craft that can be lonely, frustrating, and psychologically taxing on a level you never knew existed. However, advice and words of encouragement from those who have slain the mighty literary beast may help aid you on your journey. This video from BAFTA Guru features writers Nick Hornby (An Education, Brooklyn), Beau Willimon (House of Cards), Nancy Meyers (Somethings’s Gotta Give, The Intern), Andrew Bovell (Strictly Ballroom, A Most Wanted Man), and Jimmy McGovern (Accused, Banished), answering questions from a Twitter Q&A, and there responses might be just what you needed to fill up those blank pages.

Even though there are plenty of great takeaways from the video, I'm only going to highlight one, because it's the only thing you really need to know as a writer. Let it be your mantra. Let it be the piece of advice you always share with others. Let it be your entire education, because without it, all the other advice you receive isn't even relevant.

Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. WORK!!!

It doesn't matter if you're a writer who relies on your years and years of formal training or solely on the instinct your creative genius affords you. It doesn't matter if you've read tons of screenplays or none at all. It doesn't matter if you have the latest and greatest screenwriting software of if you're relying on a pen and pad. All of that stuff becomes inconsequential compared to actually working. This is the most important thing. The working writer who's never been to a writing class or read a screenplay is still miles ahead of the non-working writer who has a Master's and a library full of scripts. It doesn't matter if you're not writing.

"But, I don't even know where to start!" Write "FADE IN:".

"But, how do I get over writer's block?" Do things that make you want to write.

"But, I don't know how to structure my story." Write it and worry about structure later.

"But, I don't know anything about writing a screenplay." Write one. Now you know.

Just work. Work. Work. Work. I know it's not the sexiest piece of advice, but it is the only thing that actually matters in the end.     

Your Comment

7 Comments

Actually, very good ideas. :D

November 10, 2015 at 1:22PM

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Csonka Olivér
Wannabe anyone
293

The sexiest piece of advice is to work in your underwear.

November 10, 2015 at 1:46PM

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J. Wendell Miller
Writer/Director
157

I'd rather work in yours, sugar.

November 10, 2015 at 7:55PM

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I usually come up with ideas all the time. But always when I don't need them. Now I've been commissioned to write, direct and edit a short movie for which I will have 10-12 actors, a scenographer and other crew (and that's a first for me). Well, in ten days I couldn't put a single word to paper. The screenplay is still blank. Let's hope some of these advices will work! :D

November 10, 2015 at 2:20PM, Edited November 10, 2:26PM

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David R. Falzarano
Director / Writer / Editor
1397

Do you have a genre or something to go off of? I find my writing is mostly based on props I have access to or find. I re-wrote the intro to my short (in the works) the moment I got home after buying a vibrating football game. I draw inspiration from what I find.

November 11, 2015 at 8:21AM

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Ethan
Producer/Writer/Director/Prop Maker
185

No, I can write a short of any genre I want, that is totally up to me. I only have some bonduaries in terms of locations, age of the actors (they're all between 18 and 25 years old) and other things.

November 11, 2015 at 9:00AM

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David R. Falzarano
Director / Writer / Editor
1397

It's difficult to stay creative when there is pressure and if you you can do everything it's difficult to decide witch way to go and stick to an idea. Try to not put too much pressure on yourself, if needed allow you some time off, go outside, do other things and if it still doesn't come, get some help to put you on tracks, it's only the start that is difficult. Good luck!

November 12, 2015 at 6:09AM

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AvdS
1250

Work, work, work, be a slave to your story always.

December 10, 2016 at 4:20AM

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steve hunyi
Director, Writer, Producer
74