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Making It As A Screenwriter Is My Idea Good Enough

By Author: Juan Johnson

THAT is the one question you should constantly ask yourself BEFORE you ever type one word.
FACT: Someone else has the same idea or has had one that is very similar.
FACT: You have to come up with some very unique twist or way of telling the story that has not been done.
FACT: You have to love this idea so much that you will commit yourself to working on it for the next 4-6 months.
FACT: Do not worry about current trends, box office hits or anything else; WRITE WHAT YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT.
MYTH: Your idea/concept is so fantastic that producer's will rush to buy your script.
I know, a bit depressing, but it's how things work in Hollywood. So, how do you know if your idea or concept is good enough? Simple.
Ask yourself these questions:
What kind of movie do I want to write? Independent, TV Movie or a Studio Blockbuster?

Who will watch my movie? Who is my audience? There are Four Quadrants that sell to a specific audience type. They're broad and will be enjoyed by:
males over 25
males under 25
woman over 25
women under 25.
Is it similar to a movie audiences have seen yet it has a unique twist or premise?

What's the budget? Micro (under $100k), Low Budget (under 10 million), or High Budget (100 million+)[1]. Try to stay away from writing a script that falls in the $20 -$40 million range. This is a no-man's land for most projects.

Is it High Concept? Can I tell the whole movie in less than 60 words, or better yet, only one sentence?

Story Rights. If this is a true story or based upon a real person or event, do you control or own the rights? Step carefully here. True stories are the current rage in Hollywood, and optioning or purchasing "the rights" to a book or someone's life story can be expensive. And please don't write something about your own life story... it screams amateur and it will be very evident in the script. Unless you are some sort of decorated hero and saved the world, keep that concept tucked away until you are established and can afford to take a chance on it.

Theme. Most movies have a theme, but not all. It is sometimes hard to nail this down prior to writing, but some sort of theme will emerge as you begin to outline or write. Just make sure it resonates throughout your script.

Time Period? Is this a contemporary, past or future time? When does the story take place? Stick with present day if you want to increase your chances of getting it optioned or sold.

What is the Genre? Horror, Sci-Fi, Comedy, Thriller, Action/Adventure, etc... Most great scripts are a combination of at least two of these genres. Look at Cowboys and Aliens for example. A Western with futuristic Aliens? Don't you wish you had thought of that one?

Do you have the story mapped out? Many writer do a Treatment or skeletal Outline before they do anything else (myself included). A Treatment can just be several pages of the story as you envision it. When you do this, it really helps you see the script from beginning to end, identify holes, and usually tells you if this concept will stand up to the rigors of 100 pages.

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