Friday, December 27, 2019

8 Tips for Writing a Good Screenplay

Ah, screenwriting. One of the two types of writing that I know virtually nothing about.

(the other one is poetry, but we won't speak of that because it makes me sound like uncultured swine)

However, Alexis P. Johnson and Ryan Penland know about screenwriting. They have both written multiple short films, some of which have been or are currently being produced. And guess what? They're here today to tell you about how to get started with screenwriting.

You all better take notes.

8 Tips for Writing a Good Screenplay, a Guest Post by Alexis P. Johnson and Ryan Penland

Alexis P. Johnson 

1. Get scriptwriting software. This is crucial as most people won’t even get past page one if your script is improperly formatted. There are some free ones online such as Celtx.

2. Read some books about screenwriting structure. My favorite books are Cut to the Chase about writing films, and Inside the Room about writing for TV. There are many available to choose from.

3. Though structure and formatting are important, your own style does not need to be restrained by them. Keep your voice unique. You will see how others do that when you…

4. Read screenplays of your favorite movies. You’ll see how a variety of writers add their own spice and flavor to productions long before they are shot. You can’t have a great film or series without solid writing first.

5. Seek out feedback, especially if you’re new to scriptwriting. There are usually groups on Meetup or Facebook that you can join for film and TV. Seek out other writers and see if you can mutually beta read each other’s work.


Ryan Penland 

1. When writing dialogue for your characters, make sure you give each character their own voice. The tendency I have when writing my first draft is every character sounds like me. Get creative and give each of your characters their own personality. With each draft of the script, you’ll see each character come more and more into their own, and it will reflect on the actors!

2. Watch your favorite movies that inspire the story that you want to tell. Watch them for their lighting, cinematography, acting, and storytelling. The more movies you watch, the more you are able to think and problem solve like a writer when it comes to your own script.

3. Remember that the rules of screenwriting are more guidelines than anything. Every movie you have watched has broken one or two screenwriting rules. However, it’s important to know the rules so that you know which ones you are breaking.

Are you interesting in screenwriting? We'd love to hear about what you're currently working on, as well as tools you've found helpful! Leave a comment below!

Related articles:
8 Ways To Use Movie Watching To Improve Your Writing
11 Classic Movies All Writers Should Watch (Part 1)
7 Writing Lessons Learned from Stranger Things

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  1. This is awesome, thank you guys so much. How do you guys go about hiring people for different areas of film creation? Acting, producing, etc.

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