We all know that feeling when you’ve finally finished your first draft and you feel it’s absolute trash. Lucky for you there are ways to improve it. In real life, film school never ends. You have to always find ways to improve your craft on your own, whether you’re a newbie or an expert. Here are 6 easy ways to improve your screenwriting.
1. WRITE MORE SCREENPLAYS
You’ve heard the cliché, “practice makes perfect.” Well, it’s cliché because it’s true. One sure way to improve your screenwriting is to write more screenplays. The brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised to produce the outcomes you desire. This goes for any role in the film industry, the more you do it, the better you’ll become. For most of us, our first film is not our greatest, but where’s the fun in peaking early? So, write more, even if you haven’t yet written anything you can be proud of. Soon you will.
2. READ MORE SCREENPLAYS
When you’re not writing screenplays, set aside time to read them. Think of one of your favorite movies and download the screenplay online. Most screenplays can be found online for free, and you can read them and compare them to what was produced in the film. Not only is reading screenplays entertaining, but with a trained eye, after studying many of them, you will begin to pick up on their structure, learn a thing or two about formatting and even make suggestions on how your favorite films can improve.
3. ANALYZE FILMS
Once you’ve written, read and studied screenplays, you’ll have the gift (and the curse) of watching films with a critical eye. Watch films for their plot structure, analyze the characters, and how the writer presents them, and pay attention to the conflict. Ask yourself, what do these characters want and need and how are they visually portrayed. To take it a step further, write descriptions of what you see in the film. This will help you write better descriptions of your characters, their central conflicts, and the action that takes place.
4. DEVELOP A SCREENWRITING ROUTINE
Whether you want to write the next Oscar winner or simply write your first screenplay, developing a consistent screenwriting routine will get you closer to that goal. It’s important to make a lifestyle out of writing, even if you don’t write every day, keep a schedule that is practical for you to follow. In your schedule include time for reading, writing, networking, watching film, and even rest. A writing routine allows you to be consistent, practice it like a sport, and after some time, it becomes second nature to write amazing scripts.
5. GET FEEDBACK FROM THE RIGHT PEOPLE
While getting feedback is important, feedback from the wrong people can be counterproductive. This also goes for too much feedback. Too much feedback from the wrong people can lead to confusion, if the readers are giving contradicting notes or they’re inexperienced. Finding the right people to read your script and provide feedback is essential to the process. An option for many writers is submitting their screenplays to competitions such as Shore Scripts, where you can not only submit your screenplay for funding, but also receive detailed feedback based on the submission package you choose when applying.
6. DON’T GIVE UP
Nine times out of ten, your writing will not be spectacular at first. This is the same for award winning writers as it is for those still working on their craft. Greatness takes time, consistency, feedback, practice, and research. Remember, we all start at the beginning, whether you start at 15 or 50. SO, don’t give up. Keep going, don’t stop and you’ll get there.