A misconception amongst many new screenwriters is this art form does not require hours of research and preparation. You simply sit down in front of your computer and write a story, right? Wrong! The most successful screenwriters are those who research this industry and understand the small nuances within the actual form of writing for the screen.
As a screenwriter, you must research this industry to not only learn the legalities of writing, but also various techniques and forms that are acceptable and even required.
I read many scripts throughout my year. These scripts range from beginners to professionals. However, one of the most glaring mistakes I commonly see are writers who have a great story idea, but don’t know how to convey this story through the screenwriting medium.
Screenwriting is much different than novel writing. While you may be the best novelist, if you don’t understand how to convey a story plot through the pages of a screenplay, then you’ll fail. One of the best ways to ensure you do not encounter this situation is to attend as many screenwriting workshops as possible. While living in larger cities such as Los Angeles, Atlanta or Chicago offer a myriad of screenwriting workshops, if you reside in smaller cities the options may be limited or non-existent. If this is the case, turn to the Internet. There are many reputable screenwriting coaches who hold virtual workshops. Attend these to hone your skills and learn how to take an idea and transpose it into a screenplay format that is acceptable and attractive.
One of the quickest ways to ruin your story is to have generic character dynamics. For example, there are two friends who are competing for the attention of the football star. One friend is a cheerleader and the other belongs to the underbelly of high school popularity. While these two individuals grew up together, their social standings make them quite different. How would you create this dynamic? Would you take the easy road and have the “popular” girl backstab the less popular girl in an attempt to gain the attention of the football star? Or, would you create a unique dynamic where both parties work together to attract the man of their dreams?
The idea when creating character dynamics is to go for something different. Don’t take the easy pathway, but rather, cultivate relationships and personalities that allow a story to flow in an unpredictable manner. The best way to learn this technique is through research and workshops.