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Getting Into Screenwriting

Screenwriting as a career is an incredibly difficult field to break into, and it can take years upon years to even begin to get paid for writing your own scripts. Overall it is a lofty goal, but it becomes attainable when you are ready to start at the bottom and work your way up, because once you realize that every small career opportunity that even remotely relates to screenwriting is just one step closer to your dream career, you will be able to squeeze every bit of value from each opportunity that comes your way.

This article will list a few ways to stay developing your screenwriting skills on your own, and through some common opportunities that people trying to break into the film industry come across early in their careers.

Always Be Writing

When someone is getting into screenwriting, it is important that they are always writing their own stuff. No matter how much you work, how busy you are at school, or how little experience you have, you must be continuously developing your portfolio with new screenwriting projects.  An easy way to keep this momentum is to always make sure there is an overlap between each of your projects. This means as you are finishing up one script, you should be actively developing an idea for your next one.Getting into screenwriting

This may seem like a lot of creative work, but it becomes more manageable when you have a list of ideas to pick from that you can just get going on at any time. These can be feature length or short script ideas, but when ever they come to you it is best to write them down somewhere easily accessible, like the notes app on your phone. Overall the best way to get into screenwriting is to do it yourself, because personal work is an opportunity that you give yourself, and as long as you continue doing it you will be continuously improving your skills.

Here is a link to another one of our articles that goes more in depth to the screenwriting process.

Apply for Everything

When first looking for some professional experience within the world of screenwriting, it is unlikely you will come across job postings that are looking for “screenwriters” specifically, especially within the entry level category.

This means that you will have to look for jobs that are screenwriting adjacent, or at least involve some Getting into screenwriting sort of writing task. Don’t be picky when choosing what jobs or internships you apply to, because the more you apply the better chance you have at locking one down, and overall any experience is useful experience.

Whether you are running people coffee or writing blogs like me, there is something to pull from each opportunity you are given. It’s important to keep yourself from looking at a job opportunity or internship for what it isn’t, and rather think about what it could be.

Here is a link to a great article pointing out some popular job sites for aspiring screenwriters.

Think Proactively

When you obtain one of these opportunities, it is important to treat the position with as much passion as you would your dream job. This will help you find the true value of the position and help you gain the respect of your employer, who may be able to open doors to new, larger opportunities.

One of the most common entry level tasks when getting into screenwriting is completing script coverages. This is essentially the task of reading through scripts that are sent into a company, summarizing them, and deciding if they are quality enough to be further explored as a possible production.

Now this may come off as tedious work, and that’s because in some sense, it is. Having to read entire 90-120 page scripts multiple times a week can get exhausting, especially when you have to pay Getting into screenwritingenough attention to give valuable insight to the script’s quality. There are many ways to look at this position negatively, but when getting into screenwriting, it is important to view coverage writing as important experience.

You are getting the chance to read a ton of scripts both good and bad, and through this large amount of reading you will start to understand what separates a good script from a bad one. You will also start to learn industry standards, determining what a professional production company is looking for in a script. Overall these experiences will help improve your writing and raise the chances that you work will be chosen for production.

Trust Your Ideas

When getting into screenwriting, it is important to realize that creative work is the biggest part of it. Writing skills will only come when you are writing something that you truly care about. As said before you should always be documenting your ideas so you have a large collection to choose from when you finally decide to develop one.

There is an extremely popular term, “write what you know,” which has a lot of truth to it, but on the surface can come off as very limiting. Writing what you know does not mean you have to write only from experiences, locations, and characters that you have experience with in your own life. What you know can be something completely separate from what you live. What you know can be your interests, dreams, or second hand experiences. You can also bend what you know to be something completely new in a fictional sense. A relationship you had with your parents can be developed into a story about getting into screenwriting a character’s relationship with a teacher or a boss.

Overall you cannot become discouraged by feeling you are not qualified to tell a story, because as long as you have a connection with it yourself, that is all you need. The only way to get around these fears that your viewpoint is inadequate is to start writing, because you will find that your viewpoint will probably change by the end of the writing process.

When getting into screenwriting you have to let your ideas surrounding characters, themes, and other aspects of your scripts evolve during your process. These changes shouldn’t be seen as confusion, but instead, progress. The more time you spend with an idea the more you are going to understand it on a deeper level, meaning the storyline itself may change from when you started to when you finish. Overall you must be ready for this, and enthusiastic about accommodating these changes in later drafts.

When getting into screenwriting you must know that the only way to fail is to give up. You must be someone who is ready to jump at any opportunity that comes at you, big or small, and you must have confidence in your work. The best screenwriters are the ones that never stop, because success only comes with persistance.