Lights, Camera, Write! What I’ve Learned About Screenwriting

As I’m writing this post, I’ve just finished my third feature-length screenplay for a long-standing client. I’m quite proud of the results and grateful to have another project on the books. Such a release!

With that in mind, I figured it was time to shift gears from the usual just a bit and focus on the writing aspect of Quill.0 and everything I do!

Are you stuck in your quest for the silver screen? Here are a few tips to spruce up your screenplay!

1. Take in some examples

I remember when I was on a big Stephen King kick for a little while. In fact, I was on such a kick, I fell asleep reading the book Insomnia.

Anyhow, I stumbled across one of his books, Storm of the Century, which was written as a screenplay.

It was an intriguing read, to be sure, and gave me an idea of what a screenplay would look like.

T.J. Bernard of WhatCulture, says one of the keys to creating a compelling screenplay is reading the screenplay of movies you like.

When you read the screenplay of one of your beloved movies, it’s good to see on paper how it was laid out in terms of what the screenwriter had in mind. There are a number of factors that go into a movie, and it’s interesting as a reader and educational as a screenwriter how the words transfer from sheet to screen.

Plus, the more you read, the better you become at writing. When you’re a screenwriter reading screenplays, it’s all the more important to your given profession.

2. Be careful about comedy

When I was in high school, I tried my hand at stand-up comedy. I was not good.

I find I’m more successful at conveying both the point and jokes when I write, but that’s not to say I’m always going to nail them.

When you write a joke into your script, Gordy Hoffman, judge of the BlueCat Screenwriting Contest, advises that you try out your comic bits on various people. If it’s not funny to some or a majority of your trial audience, either rewrite it or scrap it.

Nothing’s worse than a funny joke. I like Hoffman’s advice: “If you find you are not funny, write a script that is not funny. Many, many great scripts are not funny, as we all know.”

3. Respect your audience

While my experience as a screenwriter is limited at the time of this post, I’ve watched a number of movie reviews from critics all over the Internet, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the movies that get the worst reviews often commit the sin of not respecting their audience.

What I mean by this is you don’t have to spell everything out for them. Don’t waste their time by going over the same points over and over again. Make sure every line forwards the plot, even if it’s in the smallest of ways. Don’t waste words, don’t waste time, and you’ll be all the more loved for it.

Writers, what tips do you have to offer for writing for the screen? Discuss in the comments below!

Be sure to check out my portfolio and professional site here!  Don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe to the blog if you like what you see. 

Happy freelancing and we’ll talk again next week!

– Adam

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