7 Things to Consider Before Starting Your Screenplay

Sep 11, 2023

A lot of worrying can come with starting your screenplay. Every screenwriter, regardless of their experience, confronts moments of self-doubt in their writing journey. The nagging voice that questions the quality of your work is a constant companion. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned pro, you might wonder, “Will my latest script measure up to my previous efforts?” or “Can I create a sequel that lives up to the original?” These concerns are entirely normal. In this article, we’ll explore the key considerations to keep in mind before embarking on your screenplay adventure. They’ll help you get started and, before you know it, you’ll have a ready script to share with the rest of the world.


1. Test Your Idea

Choosing the right concept to turn into a script is crucial. Some ideas may sound exciting in your head but don’t translate well into a screenplay. To determine if your idea has potential, think about whether it can fit into a traditional three-act structure and if it contains all the elements of a compelling story.

Share your idea with friends, family, and peers. Pay attention to their reactions. If they start asking questions or show genuine interest, you might be on the right track. However, be discerning. If more people express interest than those who don’t, it’s a good sign.


2. Understand Your Distribution Medium

As you contemplate writing a screenplay, consider how you’ll bring it to the world. There are various avenues for script distribution when starting your screenplay:

  • Screenwriting Contests: Participating in contests can get your script into the hands of industry professionals. Though challenging to win due to the high number of applicants, it’s worth a shot.
  • Finding an Agent: Agents can open doors that are otherwise inaccessible. While finding one can be challenging, their expertise can be invaluable.
  • Connecting with Movie Companies: Some production companies actively seek scripts. If your script aligns with their interests, you might get it optioned.


3. Research Your Story

Writing what you know is good advice, but sometimes your story might lead you into uncharted territory. When that happens, research becomes your ally. The internet is a treasure trove of information. Use it as your primary source. If you require in-depth knowledge, consult professionals in the field you’re exploring to enrich your screenplay.


4. Why Is Your Story Important?

Before diving into writing your screenplay, ask yourself: Is your story meaningful? Will it resonate with people? Sometimes, a story ahead of its time may not find its audience, at least not in your current location. Assess the relevance and potential impact of your narrative.


5. Know Your Target Audience

Before starting your screenplay, consider your audience’s age, preferences, and dislikes. Tailor your script to connect with them effectively. If your target audience is children, ensure the story appeals to their sensibilities. This principle applies to all age groups.


6. Develop Your Characters

Character development is vital. Create a list of your characters, outlining their strengths, weaknesses, goals, and motivations. This will guide you as you write, ensuring that each character reacts authentically to the events in the story.


7. Outline Your Story

Outlining is an essential step. It serves as a simplified version of your treatment, capturing all the story’s events without dialogue. Different writers use various methods for outlining –some do this with notebooks, while others do it on their mobile devices. The key is to find what works best for you to create a compelling narrative.

In summary, writing a screenplay can be challenging, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. Approach it with passion and care, treating your work like your own “baby.” Remember, each rewrite is an opportunity to make your script better.


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