20 Screenwriting Tips We Hear All the Time and Still Forget

20 screenwriting tips we know but always forget
Bradley Cooper in 'Limitless'Credit: John Baer/Relativity Media
Even a professional writer can forget some of these old adages. 

I have spent the last decade-plus writing in Hollywood and simultaneously writing articles for sites like this one. That means I feel like I have heard every blanket statement when it comes to screenwriting advice, tips, and tricks. In fact, I've probably heard it all ten times over. 

Still, every time I sit down to write a new spec or complete an assignment, I always find myself drifting back to the tips and tricks we've all heard before, but probably forgot. 

I began writing them down, and I now have 20 screenwriting tips to share with you. If you follow all of these, you're going to have a pretty good screenplay at the end. 

Check them out below. 

20 screenwriting tips we know but always forget
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote 'Capote'Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

20 Screenwriting Tips We Hear All The Time And Still Forget 

  1. Start with a clear concept: Have a strong and unique idea that sets your script apart from others.
  2. Know your story structure: A solid understanding of the three-act structure and its beats is essential for effective storytelling.
  3. Write with a clear goal in mind: Always keep the story's ultimate objective and theme in mind as you write.
  4. Hook the reader in the first 10 pages: The first 10 pages of your script are crucial for grabbing the reader's attention.
  5. Write for the genre: Be familiar with the conventions of the genre you're writing for and use them to your advantage.
  6. Avoid clichés: Try to avoid predictable and overused plot elements and create fresh, original stories.
  7. Create compelling dialogue: Write dialogue that moves the story forward and reveals character.
  8. Avoid exposition: Minimize exposition. Instead, use visual storytelling and dialogue to convey information.
  9. Use economy of language: Write efficiently, using as few words as possible to get your point across.
  10. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite: Rewriting is a crucial part of the screenwriting process, so don't be afraid to make changes.
  11. Show, don't tell: Instead of telling the audience what's happening, show it through dialogue and action.
  12. Create strong characters: Develop well-rounded characters with distinct motivations, flaws, and personalities.
  13. Write visually: Screenwriting is a visual medium, so describe the shots and visuals that you want to see on screen.
  14. Write for the audience: Always your script accessible to a wide audience, not just for yourself.
  15. Edit and revise: Don't be afraid to revise and refine your script multiple times until it's the best it can be.
  16. Be aware of pacing: A well-paced script will keep the audience engaged and invested in the story.
  17. Use subtext: Let characters express their emotions and motives through subtext and actions, not just dialogue.
  18. Write tight: Avoid excessive description or dialogue and make every word count.
  19. Create a unique voice: Develop a writing style that sets your script apart from others.
  20. Know the format: Familiarize yourself with the standard screenplay format and stick to it

Do you have any screenwriting tips or tricks we should know? Let us know in the comments below!     

Your Comment


Excellent advice above. One small knit. I below point 14 is missing a word.
"Write for the audience: Always your script accessible to a wide audience, not just for yourself."
maybe something like:
Write for the audience: Always MAKE your script accessible to a wide audience, not just for yourself.

February 9, 2023 at 10:21AM


as i am quite new to this still these points are helpful

February 15, 2023 at 12:23AM

anshika sharma