Screenwriting : How do I start? Help?! by Matthew R. Davis

Matthew R. Davis

How do I start? Help?!

Hello all, I have had a little gem of an idea which I would like to wittle up into a screenplay, however, although I am an experienced writer, this is a totally new format for me, so I would be incredibly grateful if anyone could give me a few pointers, golden rules, 10 commandments, whatever you want to call them, on how to write a screen play. Here's hoping! Matthew

Ronnie Mackintosh

Hi Matthew. If it's all new, a decent reference is Trottier's Screenwriters Bible - Also happy to help out when the odd questions pop up. You can get me via

Matthew R. Davis

Cheers Ronnie!

David Levy

Read scripts, Trotter's Bible, plenty of educational resources on here as well under "EDUCATION". Check out the "Next Level Webinars and CLasses".

Chanel Ashley

Matthew, both Ronnie and David are on the money, don't look for a quick fix if you are serious about writing screenplays.

Tom Stohlgren

Hi Matthew, I read 100 scripts before I wrote a line. See Write the best and never give up. Cheers, Tom

Lorato Phefo

I particularly love Blake Snyder's 15 beat sheet, check it out. Obviously you don't have to follow it through 100% but it is a good tool to use :)

Chris Herden

Nothing goes on the page that can't be seen on the screen...

William Georgi

A couple of really good books are: Screenwriting 434 (Lew Hunter) and "a Writer's Journey" (Chris Vogel).

Pierre Langenegger

Yep, the Screenwriters Bible is a must, it will cover all your formatting questions and I second Chris' comment, nothing goes on the page if it can't be shown on the screen so no thoughts, no feelings and everything must be in present tense.

Josh Hughes

Outline, use notecards, synopsis... anything to get the solid idea on 2-10 pages. Develop the characters and their personalities. Start with a grand opening scene and make sure the ending is equally interesting. Check on the 3 act structure to fill in the rest.

Mariano Gemignani

Many of the above can be useful, but I assume if you're an experienced writer the first advice I'd give is to constantly remind yourself that this is a script, not a novel or a short story. Your description needs to be short and straight to the point. If you need to convey how a certain character feels, do it through physical actions or dialogue that portrays how he/she is feeling: expressing what they think is no longer an option since the story is made of moving images, not words. Another thing which might be useful for you is to always keep in mind your main character's conflict(i.e: what he or she is looking for throughout your story) as it is the generator of the story, the moving engine. On a more personal level, something that has really worked for me is rewatching the movies I loved, reading the screenplays and comparing how page translated to screen. Best of luck! M.

Kevin Little

Beyond the books mentioned I'll just emphasize: Read feature scripts. (You can also pick up most of what you'll find in books in articles online). Just remember that some of them are final drafts and can contain camera shots, cues to roll credits, etc. which yours should not have. The big transition for you though may be learning to chop those rich scene descriptions and narratives to the bare minimum. Note how feature screenplays, particularly recent ones, handle it. Good luck!

William Georgi

If it is still out there, try going to Drew's Script-o-rama...lots and lots of scripts...

Aray Brown

Read produced scripts and watch the movie in order to get a feel for it

Susan Bryant

Read, write, read some more, rinse, repeat.

William Martell


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