“I think about the audience in the sense that I serve as my own audience. I have to please myself that way, if I saw the movie in theatre, I would be pleased. Do I think about catering to an audience? No.” -Shane Black
The vast amount of screenwriters creating stories for feature films or television programs has contributed to the variety of entertainment readily available to all.
There are stories that make us laugh, cry, feel injustice, thrill us, and scare us.
Some acclaimed screenwriters focus on fabricating tales that will entertain their audience. Whereas, on the other hand, various screenplay writers prefer to stay true to the story at any cost; for them, the shock value and surprising subject matter are what makes a good movie great.
For example, think about people-pleasing or feel-good movies such as Forrest Gump, The King's Speech, and As Good, As It Gets; their aim is to make audience-members feel happy and escape their everyday life. Nevertheless, the stories in films such as Up in the Air, 12 Years a Slave, and 500 Days of Summer have screenwriters working hard to display the sad realities of life to raise awareness and have us remember that happy endings aren't always possible.
Nevertheless, whether a screenwriter decides to spend their time writing feel-good or realistic stories, there is advice that is needed from the beginning to craft screenplays that will one day make the big screen shine. Therefore, without further ado, the following are some of the best resources on the market for advice on how to write a screenplay.
The Most Resourceful Books to Learn How to Write a Screenplay
There are so many books on so many different subjects; therefore, it can be quite difficult to find a resourceful book on a certain topic.
What about screenplay-based books?
With so many aspiring screenwriters searching for work today, there are many informative books that help the best screenplay or teleplay writers make it big in Hollywood.
The following are some Superprof approved resourceful books about screenwriting:
- Save the Cat: probably the overall best and most well-known book about screenwriting, Save the Cat was written by Blake Snyder and effortlessly explores the distinct genres of feature films and how to write about them. By featuring a screenplay template in the book, Save the Cat readers/aspiring screenwriters can jot down their ideas in an organised manner without any pressure. The publisher calls Save the Cat "the last screenwriting book you'll ever need."
- Screenplay: written and first published in 1979 by Syd Field, Screenplay is a no-frills kind of book that has probably been read by your screenwriting legends. Screenplay is a legendary book because it has set the standard for all books written about screenplay writing ever since; this book demonstrates that great storytelling advice never changes and the basics remain the same. Purchase the Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting on Amazon for less than £10.
- The Hollywood Standard: considered a "must-have" by all screenwriters, The Hollywood Standard is a fantastic book that explains important topics to beginners such as how to format a phone call, denote a montage, or have a "dual dialogue." The Hollywood Standard is considered by many to be a reference manual for those starting out and those who need further information in the future.
We highly recommend the three previously mentioned books; however, we suggest analysing helpful online resources to discover other useful books that merit being read.
What about some helpful advice about screenwriting?
The Most Useful Websites to Consult as Screenwriters
As a beginner in a field with intense competition, it may be quite difficult to find reliable "experts" with years of experience in screenwriting. Nevertheless, the most outstanding information can be found on highly recommended online sites.
I'm sure Ingmar Bergman and Billy Wilder would've appreciated some informative sites to become better at their craft.
Therefore, without any delay, the following are some the best online resources aspiring screenwriters should consult:
- Go Into the Story: Writer's Digest has named the site Go Into the Story as the best screenwriting website currently available. The content is written by Scott Myers from the information he receives from some of the industry's top writers. The information displayed on Go Into the Story not only helps amateur screenplay writers become more skilled in their domain but also aids them to better navigate through the business of the film industry.
- StudioBinder: do you have the dream of making it big as a screenwriter? Do you need help to reach the top of the film industry? Look no further than the StudioBinder site; their blog articles featured on their site is focused on helping amateur acquire the necessary tools to become skilled at their future job. Not only are ideas provided on the StudioBinder site but also help with production can be done; the formatting, analysation of story elements, and other tools can be used.
- The Black List: derived from a term made popular in 1950s America under the McCarthy regime, The Black List is now a fantastic website connecting buyers, representatives, and writers all in the same place. If you're an amateur screenwriter who has already written a screenplay, you can upload it for a small fee and then have users rate it on a scale of 1-10. It is important to state that managers, agents, producers, and studio executives pick their favourite scripts once a year from The Black List site.
Without the help of useful websites in today's digital age, it would be quite difficult to break into the Hollywood limelight; therefore, we highly recommend visiting the previously mentioned sites for more information. Also, don't get distracted by websites that provide more useless information than anything else; be smart when surfing the web!
Helpful Software Systems for Screenwriters
The days of writing screenplays on a typewriter that was developed in the 50s or 60s are a thing of the past. In today's digital age, screenwriters are using their MacBooks or PCs to write informative and entertaining screenplays or teleplays.
The advances of technology have led to the creation of screenplay writing software systems that have revolutionised the industry.
But why use software systems to write a screenplay? Well, to craft brilliant screenplay writers need to follow the standard screenplay format. Therefore, for a screenwriter to focus on the indispensable aspects of a screenplay such as words, character, and dialogue, a screenwriting software takes care of the necessary and boring stuff such as formatting.
Consequently, the following are the most insightful software programmes designed for screenwriters available on the market:
- Final Draft 1o: no list of screenwriting software is complete without mentioning Final Draft 10; how's that? It has been used by leading writers and filmmakers in the industry for years. The SmartType function is essential to remembering aspects in a screenplay such as characters and locations. Also, additional features include robust tagging, reporting tools, Story Map, Beat Board, and Alternate Dialogue. It is worth mentioning that screenwriters can keep writing on-the-go with a mobile application that is becoming readily available.
- Movie Magic Screenwriter: very well known in the industry and accepted by various reputable outlets such as The Writer's Guild of America West, Movie Magic Screenwriter is a wonderful screenwriting software that includes formatting for film, television, plays, and comic books. Additional features that are greatly appreciated by all include real-time collaboration, professional templates, an index card view, revision tracking, breakdown reports and many more.
- WriterDuet: do you have a screenplay buddy or someone who offers you practical suggestions? If so, WriterDuet is the software programme for you! WriterDuet is a brilliant software system for writing partners who want to collaborate together and review their work. Intriguing features of this software include asset tagging, mobile integration, templates, alternate dialogue storage, and draft saving.
Consider searching through the blog posts and internet pages of websites such as StudioBinder, Script Reader Pro, and No Film School to find well-researched articles about finding the best screenwriting software on the market.
Tips to Succeed as a Screenplay Writer
Since the film industry is such a glamorous business it attracts people from all races and tongues who want to make it big in the world of Hollywood as a screenwriter, actor, director, producer, costume designer, or editor.
Nevertheless, since we are focusing on screenwriting, what does it take to become a successful screenplay writer?
The following are some helpful tips to succeed as a screenwriter in the cut-throat world of La-La Land:
- Always Make Sure That Your Characters Feel Like Relatable People,
- Consider the Idea of Using a Three-Way Triangle of Conflict Between the Protagonist, Antagonist, and Stakes Character,
- Consistently Compare Your Writing to the Professional Screenwriters,
- Find Inspiration By Taking Frequent Breaks to Observe the Finer and More Beautiful Things in Life,
- Connect With Other Aspiring Screenwriters to Discuss the Tricks of the Trade,
- Edit, Edit, and Re-Edit Your Work to Make Sure It's Perfect.
By putting the previously mentioned tips and tricks into practice, a regular screenwriter with a mediocre screenplay can transform his art to create movie magic!
But what is a screenplay?