The Do's and Don'ts When Writing Your First Screenplay
Updated: Feb 13
As writers, we understand the beauty in screenwriting and how it can captivate our creative flow for achieving the story we want to tell. However, the world of screenwriting comes with the general “rules” of the do’s and the don'ts for writing your first screenplay.
It’s important to understand these rules since they give a general outline of how you should go about writing your first screenplay. For beginner writers, these “rules” are a must to follow so they can create a screenplay to the best of their ability.
As screenwriters get better and more experienced, the basic “rules” become more natural and a part of your writing.
Always Have an Outline
Before you write anything, you should always outline your story. Otherwise, you might end up hitting a wall or be lost on where your story is going. An outline of a screenplay is usually referred to as a treatment. Scripts are difficult to plan, execute, and to finish. Thus, the reason why having a proper treatment is necessary.
You’re not going to write the next Oscar-winning script overnight. Scripts take a long time to write, especially for beginners. Take it slow and dedicate a certain amount every day for you to write your screenplay. Before you know it, you’ll have the first draft of your screenplay.
Understand Screenplay Format
If you don’t know how to write in proper screenplay format, look it up. Once you learn it then begin your screenplay. No one will accept a script that isn’t in proper screenplay format.
Have Interesting Characters
The characters of your script are the most important part of your story. Thus the reason why it’s important for each of them to have their own voice, be original, and be interesting. Otherwise, you’ll have boring rushed characters no one will find interesting.
Realize that you’re going to be editing, a lot. You might finish your script and realize an entire act is pointless or that your protagonist needs a different voice. Either way, you’re going to edit a lot.
Lots of Conflict
Every script needs to have a lot of conflict between characters and their goals. Make sure almost every important scene has some sort of conflict, otherwise it can get boring.
Photo credit: Film Courage, Youtube
Rushing Your Screenplay
Never rush your screenplay. If you have a story in your head, you shouldn’t go right into writing your script. This is a horrible idea and a script needs to have a proper plan behind it. Otherwise, you’ll write a few pages and be at a total loss.
Every scene should have a point to it otherwise the scene is pointless. A good way to determine this is to look at a three-act structure and see if every scene you have can follow it such as a goal, conflict, and resolution.
Always be original with your script. If you’re not original, no one will want to buy or turn your script into something. It’s okay to heavily influenced by something, but not to the point that it’s a carbon-copy of it.