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What Is A Screenplay

By Author: Steve Jenkins
Total Articles: 38

A Beginners Guide To Screenplay Writing
How many times have you watched a boring movie and felt that even though you haven't actually written a screenplay, you can still tell a story better than that Hollywood script writer?
Maybe it's time for you to stop being a "wishful player" and produce that story that's been swirling around in that creative brain of yours all these years.
The question for most beginners is; "How do I put my story into a screenplay format?
What is a screenplay exactly? How is it structured? How does one describe characters, scenes, environments, etc.? How do I write a screenplay that will sell?
There always seems to be such a lack of appropriate guidance and tips on how to start such a challenge.
Sure, you can find suggestions online, you may even come across some valuable instruction, but it always seems to fall just short of what you truly need in order to bring your story to life.
Likewise, when you ask someone of authority how to write a screenplay, chances are high that they will not provide you with the true guidance in which to see your vision come to life.
After all, a professional Hollywood script writer won't be roaming around your neighborhood, knocking on your door, and giving you advice on how to write it (let alone what production companies and executives would be seeking your script).
Nonetheless, there are some tricks and tips you should know before you hit that keyboard.
Trick #1: To Dream In A Professional Manner
So here you are, you've got your story in your mind (where it has been locked away for some time more than likely) and your convinced it will be highly engaging to an audience.
You believe in your characters, the plot, the sub-plot, the location, all of it... but every time you sit behind the keyboard, your mind draws a blank and your vision quickly recedes back into dreamland.
Don't misunderstand me, you must dream your tale before it becomes a reality, the trick is to dream professionally... meaning you must dream your script as you pound the keys on your keyboard.
Imagination only takes you so far until work must take over.
Don't worry about writer's block. Every writer experiences days in which nothing will come forth. Every script has had moments when "writer's block" freezes the artist's mind to the point where it's difficult to even type the word, "Hello".
The key to you creating the next Hollywood script is to fight that mind-freeze and push through the fog, even when you have convinced yourself you'd be better off watching a movie then writing one.
Trick #2: Believable Characters
One of the single greatest challenges for novice writers is getting their characters believable and likeable (or not-likable). You've got to get the audience caring about them in one way or the other, so when something happens to the individual characters, the one reading the script is moved, either to joy or sadness, pain or comfort, etc.
How does one do that? One very good piece of advice is to write what you already know. In other words, pick someone you have known -or do know- and describe that person's quirks, likes, dislikes, habits, mannerism, sense of humor, and all the little things that make them who they are.
You can always "tweak" those descriptions to more accurately fit the characters in your screenplay, but it's a solid place to start.
Building off this knowledgeable foundation will produce highly believable and interesting characters (granted that the person you are basing them on is not mind-numbingly dull. Yet, on the other hand, one of your characters might be required to be that way... it's your script, you know who they are... or at least you should). You need to understand them before your reader can.
At the same token, sometimes your characters will surprise you as he/she evolves.
Sometimes they may even spook you a bit. That is often a natural progress as they are coming to literary life. You should not fear this, on the contrary, roll with it and see where it takes you (as long as you keep your screenplay on track, otherwise it can be construed as lack of focus).

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