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  • Writer's pictureReena Deen

So You Wanna Be A Screenwriter?

Last December I took the plunge and decided to take up a script writing course with Singapore Media Academy. 9mths have passed and though I haven't won the Nicholls or swept the world off its feet with my stunning screenplay, I did manage to churn out a few passable scripts.

Once I entered the world of screenwriting, I realized many screenwriters wrote books. And many a book writer dabbled in screenwriting. So that got me thinking. Maybe some novelist out there is also dreaming of their Oscar award acceptance speech like me and has no idea how to go about it. Don’t fret, here’s a pretty basic step by step guide to how I got into screenwriting.

Step 1 — There’s A Format

If you think finding your voice, writing a query and figuring out your synopsis was tough, you’re in for surprise when you start screenwriting. There is a format and it’s IMPORTANT that you learn it and you apply it.

This is hard for book writers like us. We aren’t used to terms like INT, EXT, slug lines etc much less know how to write a story using a rigid format.

I solved this by actually reading scripts. A simple google search will net you plenty of results. It’s even more helpful if you can watch a show and read the script so you can see how each written scene is played out.

Step 2 — Buy A Scriptwriting Program

Unlike books, scripts need a particular format as I mentioned earlier. The good news is that there are programs that make our life easy. The bad news? They cost money. Duh.

I use Fadein which is pretty easy to use and somewhat affordable. I mean if a noob like me can use it, I think 99% of the human species shouldn’t have issues😊 I chose Fade In because it has a trial version which I can use as long as I am happy to have their watermark present in my scripts. As a beginner, I was satisfied with this. I just wanted to practice, and this was ideal. There’s loads more on the market. Free ones include Celtx and of course there is the industry standard which is Final Draft.

Step 3 — Buy The Screenwriters Bible

Yeah, screenwriting ain’t cheap. I am sure you are quickly realizing this. Unfortunately, just the screenwriting program alone won’t help you. Sooner or later, you will be stumped. What do you do if your story takes place at noon? Or the action takes place at the threshold of an apartment? How do you format emails or text messages in a script? The Screenwriters Bible is a God send. No pun intended😉I used it for my scripts and it was simple, straightforward and very practical. Plus, the kindle version was easier on the pocket😊

Step 4 — Join A Class

Okay, okay I can already here you hollering. But Reena it’s COVID, I am broke. Chillax. There are plenty of free tutorials on YouTube. You could google anything on screenwriting and you will find a ton of free resources on the net.

And there are free classes online. Check out Udemy, SkillShare, Futurelearn etc. Do also check out your local community colleges or centers to see if they offer classes at discounted rates.

Step 5 — Get Some Buddies

I joined a couple of screenwriting Facebook groups and quickly made friends. Community is important. Why? You can exchange scripts with your buddies and give/ask feedback. A fantastic way to learn. Plus, the groups allows you to post one page of your script on certain days and you can get feedback. This way you know if your buddies are just being nice or your script is really the next bestseller 😊

Well guys, I hope this helped some of you! I’d love to know how you guys feel about screenwriting. Is it easier or harder than writing books?

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