Writing & Movies Tips

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How do I get into screenwriting?

Writing Samples

Like other artistic professions, screenwriting for money requires “breaking in”. Most do this through writing samples (a.k.a. “spec scripts”). Think of your writing sample as your resume—except that an acceptable one may take years to write. To present yourself as qualified to write screenplays, only send out your absolute best work.

How do I get into screenwriting?

What I Really Want to Do Is Write

Do you long to write and nothing more? Good! The best way to get to write for a living is to (simply) write, and doggedly self-promote. Write everyday (or at least, “everyday”), and search for new ways to promote your writing. Keep pushing yourself to write and promote.

What will I write for Hollywood?

Writing Assignments

What will you likely be paid to write? Big script sales happen. Evidence is available on ScriptSales.com. Most likely however, if Hollywood employs you, it will first be with a writing assignment—the chance to rewrite a story that's in the possession of your employers. If this happens, cheer! Then do good work, so you can get more writing assignments, or even your own big script sale.

How do I make a story believable?

Story Research

Research makes fiction feel “real”. Even if you become a highly sought after screenwriter, you will always be the person responsible for making your stories believable—which requires research. This task can seem daunting, but our world has libraries and the Internet. Doing your research helps craft scenarios in ways you never would have envisioned otherwise.

What is my role as a screenwriter?

Creating Source Material for Actors

Actors need great dialog and conflict to win audiences. As such, their source material is almost always a script. Actors are sometimes heard saying, “If it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage.” In other words, screenwriters are vital to movies. Let that drive you to fill the blank page with a glorious story.

How do I get into directing?

What I Really Want to Do Is Direct

Directors have to understand rich storytelling to consistently “deliver the goods” to their audiences. Making a good movie is rarely traipsing into your location sans script. Start climbing the career ladder to director by writing a short script, then shooting it on digital video—you director, you—and publishing it on the Web (on a site such as ifilm.com).

What would I offer Hollywood as a screenwriter?

Giving Hollywood Stories to Tell

Hollywood needs writers and their stories. Rare is the movie completed without a script. More rare is the good movie completed without a script. As long as Hollywood wants to sell movies to cineplexes, there will be a market for screenwriters' wares.

How do I use writing to get into acting?

What I Really Want to Do Is Act

Instead of writing, perhaps your highest aspiration is acting. If you can link words into sentences into paragraphs to tell a great story, don't turn your back on writing. Use screenwriting as an avenue to break into acting. Write an inexpensive film starring you, then get out and do lots of self-promotion to get it made.

How do I know I am a writer?

Staring Down the Blank Page

How can others be sure you are a writer? Many say they write, but few actually do it frequently enough to be legit. Sit down and write whenever you might have the juice and a few minutes. If a blank page (or computer screen) seems ominous, just start typing. Something will come out, and it may inspire you to words worth saving. Whatever your method, each time you reach a page's end and prepare to meet a new blank page, smile about the little battle you've just won, and remember you are a writer.

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Guru Spotlight
Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.