How to Become a Screenwriter

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When it comes to movie accolades, Directors and Producers usually get all the credit.  After all, it is by the process of creative vision, production dedication and budget adherence that a film is green lit, but the true birth of film comes from completion of a script.  Some Directors have a natural talent for penning their own pieces, but most Producers rely on the written works of a Screenwriter. 

Screenwriters are the backbone of the movie business, and whether the material they have is original or adapted from another source, without them movie making would be a dull business.  Movies are essentially visual storytelling and screenwriters do exactly that, they cater to the image. Unlike classical fiction or non-fiction writing, full of frilly prose and poetic clauses, Screenwriting challenges the writer to create their story in images using few powerful adjectives and verbs and engaging dialogue.  However, good screenwriting involves execution of story structure and character development in a seamless narrative, which a Director takes and translates into moving pictures.

In the Movie Industry, Studio Executives, Producers and Directors wield more power than a screenwriter. . Most scripts are written on spec, meaning one writes them well in advance, solely on the hopes of being able to pitch and sell it to a major or independent studio.   Once a script is purchased from the original screenwriter, the Studio has the right to alter the script in rewrites, or even hire a new screenwriter to do so.   In the world of Television, the creator of a show is the original screenwriter.  For this reason, screenwriters who want to have more creative control over their work chose to write for Television.  There also tends to be more gainful employment in Television writing, where one can get a staff writing position.  The downside is, during awards season, your name gets drowned out with the 20 other guys working on said show.

There is an old adage in Hollywood that you can make a bad film from a good screenplay, but you can’t make a good film from a bad screenplay.  And rarely can you become a great screenwriter naturally.  Becoming a great screenwriter requires education, dedication and a flexible nature.  It’s not a field where one can become an overnight success, but if you so desire, it is a path that can lead you to the Director’s chair.  The success of one J.J. Abrams (Lost, Fringe, Super 8, Star Trek) is a testament to this fact, and what screenwriter doesn’t want to be the next J.J. Abrams?

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