HOW TO WRITE A SCREENPLAY
These days there’s a ton of information available for writers on how to write a screenplay for a film or television program.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that Australia isn’t Hollywood, and what may be regarded as a top script in the US may seem too formulaic and not sufficiently character-based here.
There are as many different ways of writing a screenplay as there are writers, and the main thing to remember is that you have to get the writing down onto the page.
Increasingly in Australia there is an expectation that a script will follow US format rules, and follow them EXACTLY. A good way of doing that is by using a program like Final Draft, which automatically takes care of formatting problems for you.
All forms of writing are difficult, and you have to persevere until your craft skills develop.
It’s a real help to see your work translated to the screen, even if you have to realise it yourself, by directing and if necessary starring in your own production. Even though you may do it amateurishly, you’ll realise what the script is really meant to do.
A parallel process that writers need to do is get to know who is out there in the industry, especially who are the producers and decision-makers.
Writers also need to hone their skills in pitching their projects.
You also need to get feedback on your work, and cope with the feedback, which may well be harsh. You have to find a way of dealing with it and using it to improve your script, not ruin it!
I have been for many years a script assessor for the Australian Writers’ Guild amongst other bodies. If you want me to read your script, email me and we can talk about it!
What is the correct screenplay format? Here is a guide: Suggested Script Layout
What is a synopsis, an outline, a treatment? Here’s a guide: WhatisaSynopsis