Myths are everywhere in screenwriting, but it’s real success that attracts you. First, you watch GET OUT. Then, you watch the Academy Awards 2018 to see GET OUT winning its Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. And you think:
” I’ll become the next big shot Hollywood screenwriter! After all, I write screenplays, don’t I?”
Yes, you do. You know all the screenwriting techniques; you understand that a stellar script is the result of hard work; plus you’ve read all the books like Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! and you know a hero’s journey inside out.
And yet, your Oscar is still out there beyond the horizon. Waaaah!
What’s the problem?
There are three, to be honest. Three myths about screenwriting that are absurd, yet well-established in the writing world. So you need to forget these myths right now to breathe a new life into your scripts and start writing them from a different perspective:
Myth #1: You Need To Be Inspired To Write Well
Wrong! You need DISCIPLINE. Writers write,regardless of foul mood, holidays, or any other obstacle. None of them sits and waits for inspiration to strike because they understand: writing is work. When done regularly, it makes you a professional motivated by own experience, proven techniques, and tools to sharpen writing skills rather than that elusive Muse.
You need to set goals for every day and finish them no matter what. As a screenwriter, you understand that about 80% of your job is rewriting the drafts. So, concentrate on writing: you will have time to polishyour script later, and it’s much better than staring at a blank screen waiting for inspiration, isn’t it?
Myth #2: It’s the Execution That Counts
A million times, no. Concept COUNTS. But okay, we want great writing too … But that doesn’t mean ‘just’ concentrating on describing events. You need to structure them for the audience to understand the role these events play for a character’s journey.
Regardlessofits genre,tone or style,a movie follows the same basic structure: BEGINNING – MIDDLE- END (and not necessarily in that order!). Here’s one such structure:
Nothing difficult, right? (Hah!) You arrange storytelling (content) elements into a particular chronological order to elicit an emotional response from the audience. You need to know when a character enters, when a plot takes a turn, and when a conflict arises or falls for your story to engage your audience.
BTW – you have no obligation to follow Michael Hauge’s structure. At least ten of them exist in screenwriting, and it’s up to you to decide which to choose for telling your story. No one cares what structure your use, just make sure you use a structure!
Nope, afraid not! Trends change, new writing techniques and story methods appear and audience preferences are always changing. It would be naive to believe you’ve mastered the screenwriting craft once your first script has made a mark.
You NEVER stop learning. Always make sure you practice, plus doconstant research of what’s happening in storytelling and inside your own industry. Here are some suggestions:
- Read timely books on screenwriting.(And avoid those promising to teach you how to write scripts in 20 days.)
- Watch mainstream movies, but do it from a writer’s perspective: analyse a plot, consider techniques a screenwriter used, note interesting passages, etc.
- Read successful, RECENT screenplaysof your genre to stay in steps with trends.
- Network with influencers and opinion leaders in the niche.Visit networking events, learn from screenwriting gurus at conferences and local meetings, participate in discussions, and don’t miss chances to get your scripts to agents or producers. Even if rejection, their professional feedback might be useful for you to know what to revise in your story for better results.
- Join screenwriters’ forums and groups to learn the latest news, ask for writing advice, and analyse all trends with like-minded people.
No book, workshop, or seminar will teach you how to be a great screenwriter. They are tools to craft skills, not magic pills or wands to bring you your Oscar for the best original screenplay. As Stephen King stated in his On Writing bestseller:
“You don’t need writing classes or seminars any more than you need this or any other book on writing. Faulkner learned his trade while working in the Oxford, Mississippi post office. Other writers have learned the basics while serving in the Navy, working in steel mills or doing time in America’s finer crossbar hotels. I learned the most valuable (and commercial) part of my life’s work while washing motel sheets and restaurant tablecloths at the New Franklin Laundry in Bangor. You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.”
So, don’t stop!
Read, write scripts, think about how to make them better, learn from your own mistakes, craft your skills, and FORGET all myths timid fellows are trying to force on you. Simple as that.
BIO: Lesley Vos is a seasoned web writer who helps peers develop the confidence and skills for better articles creation and promotion. Visit her blogto discover the world of plagiarism-free content, and don’t hesitate to follow Lesley on Twitter.