When I made the move from writing novels to screenplays I knew nothing about writing screenplays. I don’t know much more than that now, but I know of a few places to go that can help you out.
One of the very first things I did was to enrol on this FREE online course ‘An Introduction to Screenwriting‘ by FutureLearn and it was really good. A great introduction to the basic ideas and concepts of acts, structure, what to include and what to leave out, etc. Screenwriting is very different to novel writing, if you hadn’t already guessed by now.
‘The Eight Sequences‘ from the TheScriptLab. Structure is important in screenplays, much more so than in novels. It’s a hinderance but also a help. Knowing how it can help is important and I found this one of the best examples of breaking it down and trying to understand what it’s all about.
‘Creative Spark: Dustin Lance‘ by Academy Originals. A brilliant video of an Oscar winning screenwriter breaking down how they plan their screenplay. At first it’s a mind boggling exercise where you think there must be an easier way, but the more I do it, the more I think this is the most efficient, sanest method. Which drives me mad.
‘Hollywood Screenwriter Attempts To Write A Scene in 7 Minutes‘ – The above is a great example of planning, this video is a great example of a screenwriter writing in real-time and what thoughts go through her mind and why she’s changing stuff, etc.
FilmCourage / ScreenCraft / Go Into The Story – loads of great articles, videos, breaking down scripts, scenes, script downloads, etc.
‘The Hollywood Reporter Roundtables‘ – when you’re bored of reading then check out some of the videos here for inspiration and great advice from the top pros.
‘Screenplayed‘ – this is a great site that plays scenes on the top of the screen and then has the actual script scrolling along at the bottom so you can put 2 and 2 together which greatly helps with your screenwriting and also goes to show that there’s a whole lot more that goes on which isn’t on the page; directors, actors, lighting, costume, photography, cgi, location, set design, etc, etc, blah, blah, whatevs.
Bang2Write – a UK run site with loads of advice and articles. A really good FaceBook group too where I have found some great script readers for getting feedback – about £50 each so don’t send a first draft, make sure you make it as good as you can.
There’s also podcasts which I never have time to listen to – why are they always an hour long? – let me know which ones I should make the time for.
One writing podcast I did make time for was the one by Iain Broome but he’s now gone into the business of sending out a writing related newsletter every week with loads of links and goodies – Unslush – so that’s well worth a subscribe.
I’ve done other things that have cost money, such as paid for a screenwriting weekend and paid for a couple of books (‘Save The Cat‘ and ‘Into The Woods‘ being my favs) but you can get off to a great start for free if you put the research and reading in.
Then just get stuck in. I learnt the most by actually writing my first screenplay, but some hardwork beforehand will save a whole lot of heartache later on down the line.
Here’s some free screenwriting software to help you get started asap!
Slugline – this is what I use. There’s a free trial. Mac only.
Highland 2 – this is what I’m contemplating on using for my next project. Free version. Mac only.
What are some good screenwriting resources you’d recommend?