Screenwriting : What Have You Learned in Your Screenwriting Journey? by Becca-Chris M

Becca-Chris M

What Have You Learned in Your Screenwriting Journey?

I'm curious... What are some things you learned in your screenwriting journey that you believe every screenwriter should know? Here's 2 things I've learned, whether through readers, research of my own, or a combination: Don't use on-the-nose dialogue Keep dialogue to 3 lines max and action to 5 lines max

Michael Ghimire

Remember each and every action when you are going for non linear narrative

K Kalyanaraman

What I learnt as a screenwriter is to never dismiss or reject the first offer you get, even if you are not comfortable with the genre, approach, or you do not get paid, or anything else. Because, it helps us to market ourselves better if we have at least ONE completed story. Having one foot in the arena is a lot better than talking about how you are writing and writing scripts. :-)

Owen Mowatt

Never show anyone your work until you are ready to show it, and only seek critic from trusted/known sources.

Chris Herden

Get it written before you get it right.

Becca-Chris M

Dan, do you mean using an excess of words? I'm assuming you don't mean rewrites.

Becca-Chris M

Great advice, Owen!

Owen Mowatt

Screenwritinng and Jack Daniels is all I know!

Andy Silverman

If you think your screenplay is finished, you're halfway there. Keep rewriting. There are layers to your story you've yet to uncover.

Mark Walker

"Write with your heart and edit with your head" [Not my quote, and I can't remember where I first heard it, but it is important to me]

Richard Toscan

Becca's "don't use on the nose dialogue is another way of saying, let subtext do its job -- paying attention to subtext lets the actors do what they're paid for.

Becca-Chris M

Andy- EXACTLY what my co-writer and I have been learning and are continuing to learn! :)

Becca-Chris M

Good quote, Mark!

Becca-Chris M

Thanks for sharing, Dan. That telegram analogy is good to keep in mind.

Becca-Chris M

Richard, your comment about letting the actors do what they are paid to do with the way we write makes sense. Good reminder.

Chanel Ashley

I learned that perhaps I should have learned something else.

Siegal Annette

Stay inside alone with your story no phone no mail until exhaustion.next go to sleep or to a party or take care of your home or family but don'talk about what you write.Don't show to you love or best friend.Go back to morrow .surprise! good or bad.When almost satisfied only a professionnel script doctor wiil look at your creation and will criticize.nobody else. believe in yourself your are good until proved otherwise.good work dear

Dave McCrea

A lot, mostly that i have much to learn! 1. All characters serve a function - if a protagonist's brother is in a movie, it better be because he serves some function or reflection of the plot, not just because hey he has a brother and I can put in a scene of the guy with his brother to add to my page count. 2. In a good ending, one of the following four things must happen to the audience: (1) We're really proud of the protagonist (2) We feel awful for the protagonist (3) We catch our breath after a thrilling sequence (4) We are dazzled by something we didn't see coming. But you only need one! 3. Don't take 10 pages just to establish the world and the characters. The first scene matters - make it compelling right away.

Becca-Chris M

Good tips, Dave! Thanks for sharing!

David Kurtz

Don't (open) and read a review that comes in your email after 9:00PM. Wait til' morning and the light of day.

Mark Sanderson
1: Always protect your precious screenwriting time from the forces of procrastination and interruption. #2: Be the ultimate team player and collaborator. Make the changes, help the producer/director get your script made. Divas are branded "difficult" and don't work again. More tips on my blog MY BLANK PAGE: www.scriptcat.wordpress.com
Becca-Chris M

Really good tips, Mark! Procrastination and interruption tend to become huge time wasters. Going to check out your blog. :)

Eric Pagan

1: Show don't tell. 2: Write every day. 3: Read your dialog out loud to yourself. 4: Don't edit until you finish it. 5: Read more scripts 6: Every scene should move the story forward. 7: Know your weak points as a writer, you can't improve yourself if you don't know.

Shawn Speake

After 10,000 hours of studying the art and craft of screenwriting and storytelling you will write better screenplays.

Michael L. Burris

Becca there is a lot b.s. to muddle through, learning what not to do is as important as what to do, you don't have to listen to everyone but pay attention to all you can. Because this is a social media site I won't divulge some other things publicly. And oh, stand up for yourself when you know you can. It is hard not be influenced by others and easy to come off wishy, washy. I'm still learning but do not devote a lot to social media and write something new everyday, even if it is just a review of a movie. For me, I had to figure out what I wanted to do either television or feature, brand myself, and launch a website or blog site. The biggest mistake I made was making myself too diverse, oh and by the way I'm still not at a point of success. For nearly two years I thought I was at the brink of success, now I'm confident I am. Don't give up. I've put in 5000-6000 hours at it over 21/2 years. As far as the craft goes, just get your stuff comprable to other things you read that are successful. Have various works and don't publicly blast them out there. (Contests are fine, do ones with feedback) Find your best calling card work then blast that everywhere. Michael L. Burris "I want to believe nothing is pointless"

Becca-Chris M

Thanks, Eric. Good tips!

Becca-Chris M

Thanks for the input, Alle. It's good to hear from someone who works in the industry, thus knows how it works. I found your idea on new drafts interesting. Something I'm going to discuss with my co-writer. Thanks for sharing!

Chanel Ashley

Hahaha, so true with some people, Dan, but a lot of good ones that appreciate the help.

Lisa Clemens

I've learned that a lot of people don't understand how things work in this industry and believe it's perfectly reasonable for me to write their script for free now because their idea is so amazing that it's destined to be an EPIC blockbuster that will make everyone RICH later. Even cast and crew will jump right on board because it's just THAT amazing.

Jean-Marie Mazaleyrat

Hello Becca, I began my screenwriter's journey long, long ago as a passionate moviewatcher, and I'm a long way to complete it. For now, - On a technical level, I already learned that we must write for the others (including filmmakers) and not for ourselves, I learned some stuff to do so and I already had some successes. I carry on. Right now, I'm learning how to sell my work. - On a theoretical level, I learned that "paradigms" are only a cage containing some basics and that the best is beyond. - On a practical level, I would like to understand why that's unacceptable to write, or not to, (More) + (Cont'd) each page break, and other bullshit like that ... - On a social level, I learned that screenwriters are a huge community among which there are some wise helpers and around which manoeuver many vultures and boastful charlatans; and that most of our storytelling "masters" are to storytelling what Middle-Age doctors were to medicine. Best.

Shane M Wheeler

Read scripts, critique scripts, and write scripts. Read oscar winners and classics, but don't just read good scripts- read bad scripts, read scripts on Amazon Studios that are in the 'noteworthy' section and find out what's wrong, read the script a cinematographer friend of yours wrote that turned out horrible, etc. Do it all enough and you'll start to get a better idea of the spectrum from amatuer to pro, and you'll have a better idea of where your script fits into that spectrum. When you know that, it'll also give you clues as to what you might need to do to move up that spectrum.

Wendy Nichols

Get advice from someone who knows what they're talking about. An objective opinion is crucial to success. x

Becca-Chris M

Good tips, Shane! Thanks!

Becca-Chris M

Definitely, Wendy!

Jean-Marie Mazaleyrat

You can also find unproduced scripts and submit yours on TRIGGER STREET LABS and some other websites, and you can find first drafts of produced movies on many sites. This is amazing sometimes. E.g. Pretty Woman/$3000 https://www.stage32.com/lounge/screenwriting/Pretty-Woman-original-script I also learned that you must lose some money and check the results when getting advice from people you don't really know what they are talking about, because in our job, advice givers rake in the price...

Jean-Marie Mazaleyrat

Hosting and nurturing the community, making people able to share (even grouchy ones like me), to connect with the industry, giving accurate and personalized advice, IMO Stage 32 (Happy Writers) is definitely one of the best places to get advice.

Vuile Samuel Wiso

Thanks Becca. My focus have been writing a lot of action without considering how long my lines are. I would follow your teaching from now on.

Becca-Chris M

Interesting, Lance. Makes sense. Seems like that can make the writing both more difficult and easier. Like, we don't have to describe things as much as we sometimes do, but then, we do need to tell the story well and give it enough heart.

David Kurtz

Vuile, seems like 4 lines of action at a time is all readers can take ...

Doug Nelson

Becca, what I’ve learned most is that there a lot of folk out there who like take control by making rules that you must conform to – there are no rules. There are customs, traditions and certain tried-n-true approaches that command attention and respect and it’s important that you understand the how and whys. There are no rules regarding the 3 line max for dialog. You do whatever works best to show your story. Let me give you a dialog writing exercise: Write a story/couple of scenes in which every line of dialog contains exactly three words (no more/no less.) There’s no limit on the number of action lines. Try it – it’s harder than you think but it will help your writing. And when you’re done, I’d be surprised if you need much in the way of action.

Shane M Wheeler

Doug, that sounds like a fun exercise. Gonna try to do that tonight.

Michael L. Burris

I agree with Shane sounds fun. I bet it adapts good to comedy.e.g. family discussion about eggnog. Nip it now, All I'm sayin' Michael L. Burris "I want to believe nothing is pointless."

Becca-Chris M

Thanks, Doug. I think those things I learned were suggestions, definitely not hard-fast rules. They actually were helpful as my co-writer and I continued rewriting. Hard part about screenwriting is you have to adopt the rules/customs/traditions in order to get noticed, yet it seems like everyone has their own rules/customs/traditions... Thanks for the writing exercise. Going to try it!

Rick Reynolds

The short notes of what I learned just in 2014: Show don't tell. How to introduce a character Writing is rewriting. Read it out loud. Act out the script by yourself if you have to.

Becca-Chris M

My co-writer and I have certainly learned that writing is all about rewriting this year as well, Rick! As for your last item, the benefit to having a co-writer is reading the script aloud with each other. :)

Rick Reynolds

I actually pick up a co-writer for every project. It not only keeps me on track, but it allows for a whole additional angle to the story. My co-writers have made my stories infinitely better, and I'm sure there are projects I never would have finished without them. But, reading the script out loud has presented itself as one of the most important tools in the box. :)

Jean-Marie Mazaleyrat

I think these are two great ways for going forward and make a better job.

Becca-Chris M

Nice, Rick! Co-writing is the way to go, imo.

Rick Reynolds

We can add 4-quadrant film to this list.

Stacey Chehardy

Best re-write advice I ever got - don't go in and just edit your existing screenplay - completely re-type it. I've been "polishing" a screenplay for a long time, going in and editing it. Once I heard I needed to re-type the whole thing - oh my goodness what a profound difference! Dialogue changed, actions changed, things I didn't think I would change, all changed to 100% better.

Jean-Marie Mazaleyrat

Happy New Year!

David Kurtz

Started 2015 with a nice email :"For the Love of Pete" made the top 100 of 1,000 at Table Read My Screenplay. Now, back to the Nth rewrite!

Becca-Chris M

Nice, David! I hear you on the rewrites!

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