When I was a young screenwriter, I thought the hardest part of this business was actually writing the script. Boy, was I wrong. Throughout years of experience, I learned that writing is the easy part – researching your market is the difficult part. While you could have an excellent story idea, if you don’t tailor your script and marketing materials based on the market that’ll actually watch or read your work then all your work may be in vain.
Researching your market requires a multi-faceted approach. Not only must you be familiar with the niche market of viewers, but you must also be ahead of the curve in film trends. Understanding your market greatly increases the likelihood of selling your script.
Perhaps the most important step, and the first, is watching movies within the genre you wish to write. Rent as many films as you can; however, don’t focus on just the newest releases. Rather, focus your research on generations of films. The industry has become obsessed with resurrecting older story plots. Vintage is in within the film industry. Therefore, if you’re able to create a story that merges both new ideas with traditional storytelling, you’ll have a hybrid script, which sell very well in the current market.
If you’re reading this article, then you’ve likely done a little research regarding the screenwriting industry. However, one of the most important steps is to read screenwriting books tailored to your specific industry. For example, romantic comedies follow a different formula than horror films. The only way to excel and make your script marketable is to know how to write the script and query literary agents /production companies based on your market.
I used to hate reading trade magazines. I mean, why would I want to read about other writers’ success when I’m seeking out my own? Well, the answer is easy: you must understand what the industry is looking for. While you should never copy a film or formula, you should use this information to cultivate an interesting and different type of story that’s still within the confines of what’s selling.
When I was first starting out, my mentor encouraged me to read scripts within the genre I wanted to write in. While this may seem, to some, as a way of copying another writer’s work, this isn’t the truth. The greatest screenwriters understand how to write in their market. How to tailor dialogue and action sequences so they are attractive to your intended audience. Knowledge is power.