There’s lots of people out there with brilliant writing talent who have turned their hand to script writing yet failed to make it in the industry. So if this is something you’d like to have a go at then you owe it to yourself to do everything possible to stack the odds in your favour – in terms of becoming commercially successful.
In this article, we’ll touch on the main thing you can do to start out in the best possible way, to do your research. In order to figure out how to write a script for a short film or a longer piece….there’s a proven process you can follow to make sure your preliminary groundwork contributes positively to the final script. Effective research establishes the credibility of your work at the outset and it can really make or break a script. There are key steps you need to take during the research phase:
What’s the basic story?
You can’t research a script effectively unless you have an idea at the outset of what the story is going to be about – who are the characters, what happens to them, how does it end? Often it’s recommended that you write about things that relate to your own life experiences as you’d expect to write more fluidly in that context. However most professional screenwriters don’t have the luxury of doing that week in week out, although you can often knit some real-world experiences into your script. So you’ll need to come up with an outline story and by documenting the basic plot at the outset, your research will be given a clear focus. Start a research fie or notebook with this outline at the beginning.
Decide on the Genre / Context
Are you writing a tense thriller like Green Room? A romantic comedy in the vein of the Bridget Jones series? An epic period drama like Schindlers List? Whatever the genre, there’s a set of appropriate behaviours, plots, cultural norms and visuals to follow. You’ll need to study these and immerse yourself in that world – get to know it inside-out. This will give your script a clear sense of authenticity.
Do the research in a set time
Use as much media as you think necessary to get the research done – google relevant links, watch Netflicks, listen to Ted talks and above all – read! Whether its fiction or non-fiction books, other screenplays, scripts etc., at the end of the day your mastery of the written word needs to shine and for most people it’s mainly by reading that that’s likely to happen!
Make sure to give yourself a time limit for the research though because at a certain point, you need to start writing. Here’s what Stephen King had to say about this in On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
Get Writing and Talking
Once you start writing, don’t wait until your whole masterpiece is finished before you start discussing your work with people – look for ideas and ask for constructive feedback. When series like Breaking Bad are written, there’s a whole host of advisors with real-world experience who help to devise the plots – if you want to tap into your own creativity, it’ll help to openly discuss your approach and often its useful not to be too protective of your work!
Script Writing Courses at Pulse College
As we mentioned earlier, one of the best routes to working on your writing skills is not only to research and write but also to study your craft. Pulse College offers script writing courses throughout the year. Check out the detailed course outline. We also hold regular open events so come visit the campus to chat with our film tutors and students!