Friday, March 27, 2009

Screenwriting Needs Development, Just Like Your Stories

I am a firm believer that writing in any form is a craft that needs a lot of commitment and hard work in order to excel at it. I don't believe it is something that is based on talent alone. Just like your characters, you as a screenwriter, need development.

It's wonderful if you find that you have a gift for storytelling and for writing dialogue, but if you don't work hard to develop your skills, you may not be achieving the success that your talent could provide.

Why go it alone and only rely on your talent to get you somewhere? Why not seek out the advice and training of others who have gone before you and been successful in getting their screenplays made into films. You have a lot to learn from these success stories. 

The kind of training that may be right for you may be university classes. The Independent offers a comprehensive list of schools with screenwriting programs. There are numerous seminars available as well. Robert McKee's Story Seminar is the most famous. Film Independent and the Sundance Institute offer very competitive screenwriting labs.

Another idea is to hire a screenwriting consultant. My brother, who is a screenwriter, decided he needed more guidance and put an ad on Craigslist offering $50/hour for a screenwriting consultant to help guide him through some revisions to one of his screenplays. He received a ton of response from screenwriting pros and found the experience worked great for him and the consultants (he ended up hiring two different consultants so he could get two perspectives on his work and loved the results).

If you have no money for training, perhaps a writing group would be a good solution for you. Being able to share your writing with others who can offer a critique of your work is invaluable. You may not agree with every note but, inevitably, you will find some thoughts that will truly enhance your story. 

Or perhaps you want to find a screenwriting buddy with whom you can both bounce ideas off and offer critiques of one another's work. However you decide to do it, keep developing yourself as a writer just as you would your stories. 


Phantom of Pulp said...

I agree that talent is not enough. Talent doesn't plop your ass down on the seat and compel you to write.

Good writing is rewriting -- as long as you're rewriting constructively and know where the problems reside.

I've written several scripts with one particular partner and it works very well. It's great in the planning stages because it really focuses the idea. It's like writing with an editor by your side.

We tend to go away and write different scenes. Then we get together and rewrite. Because our goal is the best script possible, the process is productive.

This same partner of mine tried writing with somebody else who kept coming up with new ideas every five minutes. Directions they'd agreed to take the script into were discarded and abandoned like snotty tissues.

I wrote with one other person only once years ago. At the time, I didn't really "get" writing, anyway. This partnership was unproductive because there was too much talk and not enough pen to paper.

Have you had writing partner experiences?

Jane Kelly Kosek said...

Yes, writing partnerships are great when you can find someone who works well with you. I am writing a romantic comedy right now with a writing partner. I highly recommend writing partnerships, especially if you can find someone who offsets your weaknesses. I do feel, however, you should still get an outside perspective on your writing, even if you have a writing partner. You want an unbiased opinion on your writing. Your partner is in the trenches with you and can't offer that valuable outside perspective.