Posts tagged ‘read scripts’

June 23, 2011

Screenwriting 101: Watch, Read, Write

Scott Myers offers this advice on how to become the best screenwriter you can be:

You can learn everything you need to know about screenwriting by doing these three things:

Watch movies.
Read screenplays.
Write pages.

Why watch movies?

Because  to be a good screenwriter, you need to have a broad exposure to the  world of film.  Every movie you see is a potential reference point for  your writing, everything from story concepts you generate to characters  you develop to scenes you construct.  Moreover people who work in the  movie business constantly reference existing movies when discussing  stories you write; it’s a shorthand way of getting across what they mean  or envision.

But most importantly, you need to watch movies in  order to ‘get’ how movie stories work.  If you immerse yourself in the  world of film, it’s like a Gestalt experience where you begin to grasp  intuitively scene composition, story structure, character functions,  dialogue and subtext, transitions and pacing, and so on.

Movies must be in your lifeblood – and the best way to do that is to watch them. If you haven’t seen all of AFI’s Top 100 Movies, now is the time to start.

Why read screenplays?

Because  every script you read is a learning experience.  If it’s a good script,  you can break it down scene-by-scene to determine why it works.  If  it’s a bad script, you can see aspects of writing you do not want  to emulate.  By reading screenplays of great movies, you can see how  the pages were translated onto the screen, thereby giving you insight  into how to write cinematically.

But most important, you need to  read screenplays because these are primary source material, the ‘stuff’  you traffic when you write.   Reading other writers’ screenplays is a  great way to expose you to different approaches, which will help you  inform and define your own unique style, your own distinct voice.

Screenplays  are the form through which you tell stories – and the best way to learn  that form is by reading scripts.  If you haven’t read the WGA Top 101 list of screenplays, now is the time to get started.  You can go to myPDFscripts.com, simplyscripts.com, or any of a dozen or more screenplay sites to access literally thousands of screenplays.

Why write pages?

I don’t really have to explain this, right?  You know that you have to write to get better as a writer, not just the words you manage to write, but how you approach writing from a psychological, emotional, and spiritual perspective.  Nobody is born a writer, we all become writers, it’s an active process that is ongoing throughout our lives.

But  most important, you need to write to feed your creativity.  Putting  words onto paper is an act of incarnation.  Rewriting and editing your  words are acts of shaping the material.  Screenwriting is a craft, but  you have to be able to tap into your world of ‘art’ in order to make  your pages come alive.

Writing is the process whereby you create  stories — and the best way to develop that process is to do it.  Every  day.  For this, I have no websites to which to point you.  No lists with  which to challenge you.  Just this fact: When you aren’t writing, someone else is.

Screenwriting  is an incredibly competitive business.  There are no short cuts to  success.  But there are three habits you can embrace that can teach you  everything you need to know about the craft, about creativity, and about  your writer’s self:

Watch movies.
Read screenplays.
Write pages. 

April 18, 2011

Ten Tips to Get You Writing

This list of ten tips for screenwriters from FilmScriptWriting.com is a useful resource for avoiding writer’s block and inspiring creativity. The list is hardly perfect — I wouldn’t take these tips as gospel — but it’s a good starting point for getting those typing-fingers working:

1. Read more scripts.

That’s what the sample script section of the site is for. We’ve also got a link to a site that is chock full of scripts in the use resources section.

There are many advantages to reading scripts. First is it allows you to become very knowledgeable when it comes to formatting. When you read an original draft of a screenplay that you’ve already seen then you get to see what was changed from the initial script. You will also get a better idea how to layout and transition between scenes.

Read a couple of scripts over the weekend and write down everything you’ve learned. Keep it blue tacked to the wall behind your monitor to remind you until it is ingrained in your brain.

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