It’s not easy to make screenwriting a successful job; most screenwriters will tell you, they’re constantly having to work on more projects, revise, and come up with new ideas. There’s a continuous cycle of pitching, writing, rewriting, selling, pitching again – and the selling part is the most rare of all.
So, here are the things to keep in mind as an aspiring screenwriter, when first getting into the game:
- Learn to write, and write well. This seems basic, but it’s really important. Learn screenplay format and structure. Study the greats. Read a ton of scripts in your chosen field. Write, then write some more. Make sure you have 3+ great samples you can show the world.
- Once you’ve got your 3 great samples – revise them. Then revise again. The biggest part of writing is rewriting, so you likely won’t be ready to sell until you’ve done some full revisions. Catch all those pesky typos, clarity issues, and story problems.
- Host live readings/Get Feedback
- If you’re still struggling, and you probably are if you’re starting out, it may be time to get feedback. This can be in many forms – notes from industry professionals, screenwriting experts, and writing groups can take you far. If you’re still stuck on some areas, host a live reading; there’s nothing like hearing your script out loud to catch problem areas you may have missed.
- Unfortunately for those who are introverts, networking is part of screenwriting. You need to be comfortable interacting with others, as screenwriting is still a collaborative medium, even if you are spending much of the time typing on your own. Nonetheless, it’s important to have connections to assistants, executives, and other writers, who can help you make your way forward.
- People often think querying is a waste of time – but it’s not. Find folks who represent writers like you, and query them with your best logline. Find ways to get your work out there and get representation. Sometimes, you may have to sell something before you can get repped – that’s often the case – so don’t give up if queries don’t work right away. Build your resume and portfolio and keep going!
- Contests are, these days, one of the most vital parts of the aspiring writing industry. Winning or placing can get you management or agency connections, or help you get staffed or sold. Research the best contests around, and apply to them! You can do it.
Remember to stay focused, and you’ll be acing your writing goals in no time!