Writing is an intimidating process for all of those new to the craft. There are myriad aspects to keep an eye on, to write, review, and rewrite over and over again. It is not an easy mission, but like all difficult things, screenwriting is not without its reward. Developing a story for the screen with which an audience can identify and engage is the ultimate goal, and for that reason, we’ll take a look at 5 tips every screenwriter should work on to hone their skills.
Develop your plot and story
While it may seem obvious, one of the most common issues with amateur screenplays is the lack of proper plot development. Giving your story a defined structure with established plot points is a good place to start. However, working on a subject matter, a theme, and ironing out the details of the world you’re introducing the audience to are also factors to consider.
Make your protagonist active
Another frequent oversight when writing for the screen is to make things happen to your characters instead of the other way around. Sure, the starting conflict or some of the elements that affect your character in the beginning might stem from plot devices, but it is the protagonist himself who has to act in times of need so that they can exert change and keep driving the story forward.
Make your antagonist stronger than your protagonist
Regardless of the nature of the conflict your main character faces in your story, one thing is certain: their adversary, antagonist, or opposing force should at least match them and, ideally, be vastly superior to them. Your job as a screenwriter is to figure out how to make your underdog of a protagonist overcome their limitations or obstacles and, somehow, make them come out of their final ordeal against this opposing force truly changed.
Don’t put out your screenplay right away
Novice writers tend to fall into one of two categories: either obsessed with productivity and overly confident or doubtful about their work and unintentional procrastinators. Both extremes are bad, but in the case of those in the first camp, they might end up benefiting from letting their scripts rest for a while before sending them out to agents and studios. Reading your work with a fresh perspective after not working on it for a bit might help you see better if there are any details to refine and parts that need more work.
Review, rewrite, resend
Perhaps the most important tip on this list, constantly reviewing your material, your ideas, and even that which you have already written is paramount in the process of writing for the screen. Rewrites are in order almost every time you add new scenes and advance in your story. As you keep moving forward in your writing, going back to your previous plot points, for instance, is a good way to keep track of how consistent you’re being with broader elements like the overarching theme. Doing this ensures that you are one step closer to a final draft you can confidently send out for a potential project development.