In addition to our new Filmmaking 101 series, we thought it’d be interesting to take a look at screenwriting and offer tips from both personal experiences, and to have discussions with other professionals in the film and television business and hear their thoughts on the process of screenwriting.
If you are sitting down to write your first screenplay, there is one key piece of advance that you’ll get across the board.
Write what you know.
It is as easy as that. No matter what your age, or where you are in life, you have experiences to pull from. Whether you are a Mechanic in Brooklyn, a High School Student in Des Moines, or a Property Manager in Columbus, use that to your advantage. Pull from your past, write characters that have aspects of people you know, write locations that you know.
You might have a cool concept for a down on his luck detective in 1950s Detroit, but that was a different world. You’ll have to spend days or even weeks (maybe months) researching the time, the people, the job. Detectives were very different in the 1950s than they are now. This is a lot of work to add to your first script, especially when you aren’t comfortable with the proper script format or structure.
So, write what you know. Brainstorm interesting ideas and twists on the normal. A High School Student finds a briefcase of money in his locker. What would you do with the money? What does he do? How do his friends react? A Mechanic falls in love with a woman who brings her car in. Does he take his time fixing her car so he can see her longer? Find an interesting story with people and places that you understand. You’ll see, the words will flow a lot easier…