Learning to write for the screen

Learning to Write scripts

Yes, writing is a very important skill for a film maker. Even if you only direct or produce other people’s scripts, writing for the screen will help you whether you’re an independent or a professional.

There is one good way to write better and this is to write as often as every day. You just want to get in to the habit of sitting and putting words down. I recommend you spend half an hour per day writing. If you want to work on movies, then you should just practice writing scripts and short stories.

Once you’ve finished a script, start writing another one. Take some time to go back and look at the last script you’ve written, identify where the problems are, and make sure you don’t repeat them with your new scripts. (You know the whole self-deprecating analysis thing) Don’t worry about whether or not these scripts are good- you aren’t writing them to produce, you’re writing them to improve.

If you eventually start writing something that’s worth its weight, than think about producing it, but that should not be your goal just yet. Your goal is to be comfortable writing scripts, their structure and flow. Your goal is to tell a story.

Perhaps try not to read what you have put down until you have finished your script. I know that this may sounds odd, but the whole is far more important than the parts. Writers are often in love with the sound of their own words and perhaps do not think about a script holistically.

writing for the screen

Now for dealing with writer’s block. Hopefully it won’t affect you too many times as you are not aiming to write perfection (just yet), you’re aiming to put something down during a set amount of time. Still, there may be days when you just can’t seem to put anything down on the page.

One thing I find helpful is write down what you think might happen next in the most absurd way possible. If all else fails take a note from Californication, boos and sex may help. (I hope you are at drinking age right? I am kidding; I am not your mother)

You generally have some idea where you are taking the story, but you don’t always know how to get there, right? So push it a little. Say you have characters spout a crazy dialogue, push your characters limits. (It works for Tarantino, he just does not rewrite) Write a few sentences, what happens next and skip writing scenes altogether. You can always go back.

Repeat this until you reach a scene that feels clear to you. When you reach that scene, write it out well. Often I find that previous scenes, were I felt blocked, become a lot more clear when I know what happens later and so I am able to set the scene up just right.

Just write and keep moving forward. It will make you a better writer and a better film maker.

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