Screenwriting : Why Do You Write Screenplays? by Dr. Skip Worden

Dr. Skip Worden

Why Do You Write Screenplays?

I have gained an appreciation from reading Nietzsche of making transparent societal blindspots, even using narrative (as he did) to do so. Hence my interest in writing screenplays. Given the suspension of disbelief and the fact that film engages more of a person's senses than does a book, I think film is a particularly good medium for, as Nietzsche put is, treating truth (i.e., tacitly assumed as valid in the status quo) as a problem.

Antonio Ingram

You know it just came natural, I get inspired by a certain theme and I get this visual in my head of the story, the characters, the audience it is for, and we're off. But as I matured this has expanded to wanting to write screenplays that impact, inspire, and captivate people all over the world. I would like to have my own golden age legacy of films as an actor and screenwriter. Thank you for sharing Skip.

Rob Mc

I moved to screenwriting from novel writing. As a nove writer I didn't quite hit the right notes - as a screenwriter I'm much happier and much more capable. I was always creative, it was more about finding the right medium in which to unlock what I could do. Also, I guess novels can be much harder. I wrote one novel, redrafted twice, went back to it, hated it and essentially never looked at it again. Then I moved onto scripts and got a much better idea of myself. Maybe if it had been the other way around I would be posting in a different forum right now. I feel I could write anything - it's just a matter of what my addled mind can keep focus on. Scripts seem to keep my attention.

Nkosi Guduza

I agree with Rob. I personally do not see the point in longevity i.e. Novel, 2 hours give or take is enough not too indulge too much of one's life, upon the message one wants to give. Though I say I'm not one to let go of things, but can leave it to a later appropriate time, hence, (I may have found what I need, to complete the Novel, while furnishing scripts). Good luck and I wish you finish it one day Mr. Rob :)

William Martell

Could no longer afford the cost of film.

Boomer Murrhee

I have written congressional correspondence, educational lesson plans, investigations and featured articles for a company newsletter throughout my career at the VA. Writing has always been the most enjoyable part of any position I have held. Through several attempts at a novel, I got bogged down and disillusioned. After a personal setback a few years ago, I picked up a legal pad and began sketching scenes. Since this time, I have immersed myself in the field of screenwriting. I have read books, attended webinars and had a mentor for a time. I have discovered a passion for writing. I often become so involved, I lose track of time. I have never had this experience in my life. I sit down at a desk in a man cave in my garage and I spend 5-6 hours daily writing or researching. It is a joy. During this journey, I have been asked to consider an adaption of a novel series in the future. Recently, I have been contacted on the possibility of a writing partnership on a dark comedy project. So whether I sell or option a single project, one thing I have discovered is a passion for writing. So Skip I applaud you for your passion in exploring truths and I wish you and all who enter this field the success you seek.

Cherie Grant

Well i write everything, but mostly screenplays because they are far easier to write than novels. I do wonder if I'll ever finish a novel. It feels so overwhelming at times. Screenplays less so. And I love the visuals fo film making so turning a story into something people can see if very attractive.

Jeff Guenther

I'm not a fan of Nietzsche, but it's true that much of our problem isn't what we don't know, it's what we do know that ain't so. Medicine, to name just one field. I've written a dozen or so stageplays, several novels, and one screenplay. I find screen writing by far the most difficult. My difficulty assessment scale is as follows: Short stories, 1.0; short plays, 10; novels, 100; three-act plays, 1000; screenplays, 10,000.

Dillon Mcpheresome

I enjoy putting stories together and brainstorming. But writing a screenplay that someone else can read is the greatest challenge.

Adam Rhein

Because who else is going to write what's in my brain?

M Powers

I think some people just see stories in a certain way. If you are highly visual screenwriting makes sense. You see the story in pictures rather than in words. The challenge is to describe those pictures clearly and concisely.

Jeff Guenther

I wrote my screenplay because I needed a series of flashbacks in a stage play. I toyed with multimedia, then decided to just bite the bullet and adapt it for film. I'm currently back-adapting it to a novel. If this goes on, I expect it will become a haiku before I'm done. Stay tuned.

Lee A. Miller

Film is the WORST place to deal with the "truth" ... it is a collaborative art and self censoring. You have to write something blatantly commercial AND line up the movie stars or they will not take anything seriously. I don't know how art films get made... everyone I talk to wants the $600 million hit. No one will be happy with a $10 million movie? No if you want to be Nietzsche stick to paper.

Brandi Self

So I don't scream and fight in the streets.

Cherie Grant

I agree with Lee. Film can be too easily corrupted from the original message. Novels do not suffer this as much.

Lee A. Miller

Yes, I'm sure when you say film is so great, you are referring to Transformers, Fast and Furious and Twilight. Truly seminal work!!!

Dillon Mcpheresome

It's not so much the truth you want in a screenplay. It's the emotional impact you can make with the facts of life. Lee it sounds like you can't deal with the truth!

Lee A. Miller

Dullard, you don't know me. Something I said seem like it isn't the truth? Dullard, is sounds to me like you like the movies being made.

Anya Philipova

One thing is clear to me anyone who would defend those three movies, like Dillon, has definitely sold out to the Hollywood money machine. Probably not much art left in the poor old-timer.

Dillon Mcpheresome

No Lee I was trying to be funny. Bad joke sorry. But Anya, are you saying that i defended a movie? Or did you just mean that I'm a Hollywood sellout? Where did you get that. Ya i went to USC and lived in LA for a while but I don't really like Hollywood? Go back and read the post again. I been living in Tennessee for the last 10 years. Oh maybe you mean I am a sellout to the way movies are made today. Don't know anything about it except that I want to make my own movies. I am a very sensitive person and those evil Hollywood people chewed me up and spit me all the way back here to TN.

Andrea Balaz

I write screenplays to try out different mediums in telling stories. There is not more truth in film than any other way to tell a story, but possibly more ways to distort it and people wont recognize. Film has more different channels to convey messages than in others storytelling devices, and probably more channels at the same time than any other, allowing visual, acoustic, dialog, music, etc. possible even conflicting. It gives you more possibilities on each through editing than theater. Oh, and I dont like Nietsche. Must be the thing with the whip.

Jeff Guenther

I agree, Andrea. Nietzsche is not pietzsche.

Jeff Guenther

Wait, wait. Didn't Dan say upthread, "The only reason I write screenplays is because I can't see myself not writing them?" I've been sitting here biting my tongue ever since. NOW he says he writes screenplays to make the M word. AHA! It appears that Dillon is not the only one rattling our cages. Olé, Dan and Dillon!

Joshua Maislin

Here's why I like screenwriting: I like writing, I like producing art, I like the idea that I could produce something that could be the template for a collaborative project which might make money, and I really love watching movies. I'm hoping Dan is just using hyperbole, cause there are a million easier ways to make money than screenwriting. Sitting in an office and replying to emails, serving food and getting tips, investing the stock market, renting out your property...hey even offering consulting services to amateur screenwriters ;). I do think there is a kernel of truth to what Dan's saying -- the concept of investment and profit likely infects the creative process at every step in a film's creation, including the screenplay. In a very narrow sense, a screenplay is a business plan, since it's assuring investors that there's a solid plan for making money from a project. Sure, some artists get lucky and their pure artistic inclinations and talent coincide with investment potential or they have some serious connections....but I'm pretty sure that's not typically the case.

Adam Rhein

And of course, I 100% agree with Dan Guardino. That explanation is a given!

Cherie Grant

God everytime I see threads like this i'm subjected to answers like 'Oh I couldn't live without writiing' and 'it's part of my soul' and 'I'd die if i didn't write' and other such complete and utter bullshit. People romatisize the arts because they want to seem on some higher plane than everyone else and they want to seem like they were meant to do it and that is utter shit. You do it cause you see other writers making shit loads of money and working in Hollywood and you want a piece of that. I sure do. I don't believe anyone who says otherwise.

Dave McCrea

Cherie that's probably the dumbest thing I've seen anyone say on this entire site since I've been on here for 2 months. Well done!

York Davis

I moved from writing plays to attempt the challenge of screenplays. Now I'm hooked! I went back to write a one-act play this summer, but it turned out much more visual, with lots of short scenes(a short movie script?)...lol! I thrive on a challenge, so now it's how to pitch, to sell myself and my work. I'm beginning to think writing a novel, then the screenplay maybe the way to go? Challenges all!

Steven A. Miller

I write for a number of reasons. It's a great way expressing myself through the characters I create. Writing is also great therapy and enables me to get away from the real world for a while. Little things will spark streams of consciousness or ideas that I have to get out and I take the visual in my mind put it down on the page. It's invigorating.

Jeff Guenther

Yeah, Cherie is right. Those who truly write solely for art's sake, will never say so. For me? Bring on those shit-loads of spondulies. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkRIbUT6u7Q

York Davis

Jeff, Lisa and Joel tell it sooo well... never-the-less tongue in cheak! No?

Jeff Guenther

Ah, the decadence! Tongue in cheek? I'll never tell, York.

Cherie Grant

Thanks I hope i make money too; a lot or otherwise.

Don Thomas

There is a brutal objectivity to film that appeals to me. Like a series of snapshots that were spontaneously taken. Teaching us that the only order in the universe is what we imagine.

Dave McCrea

Anyone whose original motivation for writing scripts (or acting or making music) is money is an imbecile.
That's like someone who works on Wall Street because they love the camraderie of being surrounded by nice people at work all day.
People do this stuff for one reason only - because it's more enjoyable/fulfilling to them than other pursuits. If the money comes, great, but for most of them it doesn't. They'd be better off taking a second job on the weekends and saving,

Steven A. Miller

The more I read the answers to this question the more I have come to realize the question should have been Why Did You Start Writing Screenplays? Just as with anything else, our motives change and we find other things that drive us. If I were fortunate enough to have even one screenplay optioned or purchased, I can only speculate about what my impetus would be to write another. I can understand Dan's point because he makes a living from this. He is very lucky to be able to say that. I also agree with Dave because writing runs me through the entire gamut of emotions from fulfilling to maddening, enjoyable to depressed and there aren't many activities that can do that. No matter what any of our reasons are for buying into and participating in this creative process, it enables all of us to produce new and exciting things that come from the beat of our hearts and the depths of our souls.

Jeff Guenther

Money is a perfectly valid, respectable motivation. I don't think there's a simple answer to the question, whether posed as "why did you start?" or why do you continue?" Ninety percent of the personality lies in the unconscious mind; who knows what is going on down there? Lacking some deep, psychological complex revealed in therapy, money is always the best guess. Of course, there's always fame, or the possibility of it. A convocation speaker at USC told us, "Did you ever notice that works that disparage fame as a motivation are all signed? Re novel writing. In college, my creative writing teacher taught everything from poetry to short stories, but never novel writing. She had tons of general writing experience, but said, "I can't teach novels; I don't know how they do it." Novels were a mystery to her. I consider novels a very forgiving form; you can get away with a lot in a novel that you can't in a screenplay. More subplots, for just one example. Ensemble stories, for another. Having written a few novels, I started writing screenplays not for the "art," but for the challenge (I think), and I still consider them the most demanding form. Kudos to Dan, et al, for doing what they do, whatever the reason.

Jeff Guenther

@ Dan: Thanks for the suggestion. I'm currently back-adapting one screenplay to a novel with the intent of seeing whether it can establish significant platform, as you indicate. It's a very time consuming process and may require adding characters and subplots. I definitely will take a look at my novels and see what the possibilities are. Thanks again, Dan.

Brandi Self

Reading up the thread, I think it's ridiculous whoever said that people are bullsh*%ting and are only writing for money. Do you know how long it takes to not only perfect the art of screenwriting but to actually get eyes on your work? Some people will never sell a spec and writing gigs are hardly a great plan to get rich, so if you're not doing it for the love of it, then you're probably in the wrong field. Just saying...

Cherie Grant

But you wouldn't be doing it at all if there was no hope. What's the point of writing films if they don't get made? Of course you will love doing it. But i think you're full of it if you say that you were born to write and you can think of no other reason. It's so bloody insincere. It's like you're justifying it to the world. Just be honest about why. I know you're thinking it. You all day dream about the best possible outcome. You don't do it thinking about the worst outcome. That nothing will ever come of it. Only poets write soley for the love of it because no poet will make any money. You don't get jobs as a poet. Get over your self aggrandizement. or go be a poet. Yeah I want to make money out of writing. I want my dream job. If there was no money to be made then I wouldn't be investing so much time and effort. neither would most people.

Cherie Grant

And a tip....a good writer should be a little more self aware.

CJ Walley

I fantasise about success all the time. I'm shamelessly 100% in this to gain an audience and earn enough income to live securely.

Dillon Mcpheresome

I am looking to pull myself out of obscurity, buy me 100 acres on the Tennessee river and make a movie that impacts millions. I remember reading the credits at the end of every movie and People would wonder why. I would tell them I want to see my name up there. I am still looking and that is why I am learning how to excel at this craft. This website has been a boon for me.

Andrea Balaz

Lucky you, if you can do it for the money. In Austria there's about 5 people who can live from writing scripts, probably mostly tv work. There’s maybe a handful or two that can live from writing, a few getting extra funds, and the rest of us just hang in there and try to squeeze it in after a bread-supplying job. There is something about writing, something about the being creative that keeps us going I guess. And writing for images and sounds has a lot of that…

Dillon Mcpheresome

Dan, you poor tortured soul, well maybe not poor. Is there something missing beside I do it for money that I am missing? You're not working on something on the side that is going to make you a whole lot of money?

William Martell

Andrea: No different in the USA. A very very small percentage of people who write scripts have material that is good enough to sell or land them an assignment. That's what makes it insane for people to think they can just type up a script and sell it for a million bucks and start dating underwear models. Just not gonna happen! The USA has a larger population, so it's more than five people making a living (yes, I know that was a made up number) but still not that many. Heck, half of the WGA members don't make a single cent every year. Don't even plan on meeting an underwear model.

Dave McCrea

Hey Dan if you're doing a sequel to Narc you should definitely have me read for one of the key roles, I'm one of the best actors out there

Ami Brown

I write to release all this creative non-sense swirling around in my head dying to escape. :-)

Cherie Grant

William I think only people new to the game think that. Once they start to learn how things work they will realise their misjudgment. Unless they are delusional of which there are a few.

Ami Brown

If you ask 100 writers why they write, you may get 100 different reasons, none of which are right or wrong, they are simply the reasons to them... that was the question right? It's a little insight into everyone's psyche here. It's funny how a simple question can spark so much anger and negativity thrown around, wow. Again, I wish people could just stick to the original question instead of bashing everyone's comments.

Cherie Grant

You're a bit over sensitive Ami. No one's losing any skin. People disagree with me. I don't call it bashing. I call it disagreeing. Nothing wrong with that.

Boomer Murrhee

One thing amazes me about this thread. One may disagree or have another view, it's what makes discussions thought provoking. It's an wonderful opportunity to see something from a different angle and ponder. I loved the question. I truly appreciate when those who actually work in the field and have IMDd credits take time to share their experiences. However, to call someone an imbecile or say their point of view is stupid when you disagree, shows a lack of: 1. restraint, or 2. thoughtfulness. Since collaboration is so important in this industry, why alienate? It doesn't make good business sense. I write because I love the journey of creation and having a goal of someday being paid keeps me going. Success for me is doing what you love and getting paid. I'll take what I can use from this thread and try to leave the rest.

Dillon Mcpheresome

Ha you just called someone stupid! But by all means I agree. Good post Boomer. Will you be in my network? You're not like all those stupid people on this network who want to put other people down for their peccadilloes. I'm sorry about that but I started laughing. Hope you smiled too.

Jeff Guenther

I can't top Dan's summation, above. A hundred different people, a thousand different reasons to write, some conscious, some unconscious. The important factor? A professional attitude.

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