Skip to main content

How to Start your Screenwriting Journey

Photo by Clemens van Lay on Unsplash

Newbie writers who are eager to start a career in screenwriting often ask me: I wish to become a screenwriter. How do I go about it? 

Every writer's journey is unique and what works for me, may not necessarily work for you.  Like every journey, in this one too you may come across many different paths to get to your destination. The important thing is to get started with a rough map and then figure out the milestones on the way. So here are some tips...


Learn the Craft It all begins with learning the craft. So let's not jump the gun. And this is the fun part. If you wish to be a screenwriter, you need to understand how movies are written. The best way to do this is by watching a lot of films. Mindfully. So you have a bunch of films that you love. Those are the ones where you should start...not simply to be entertained but to understand the writing behind it. Take notes on what happens in a scene. How one scene flows into another. How characters are at the beginning of a story and at the end. At what points do major events in the story take place. The ups and downs faced by characters and how this impacts the story. Take copious notes. Then go and do a search for the screenplay of the film. Read it...and you will be able to make the connection between what you watched on screen and what you read on the script. As you do this over several films, you will begin to understand just how important structure of a screenplay is. How the structure varies for different genres. 

While you're taking a deep dive into the craft, there are some great screenwriting resources that will help you in understanding screenplays, storytelling, structure, character development and more. Here are some: Go into the Story  ScreenwritingU Save the Cat

The only way to ensure that you are absorbing the necessary elements of screenwriting is with practice. Don't have a story idea? Check out some of the writing prompt sites to trigger your imagination. Use some of the above mentioned resources to work out a rough outline and start writing. Since screenplays have a unique format, you may want to download free software such as Celtx. Have fun with it. The more you write and practice, the better your scripts will be. Join an online screenwriters forum to connect with other writers and exchange scripts for feedback. Forums like Stage32 are a great place to connect with writers and other filmmaking professionals. 

Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

Make friends and collaborate Often interacting with other writers, filmmakers and other professionals in the field helps you to understand how the industry works. Unlike other forms of fiction writing, screenwriters can't create in isolation. A script is just the starting point and you need to find others who are as excited about your writing as you are to help you turn the words on the page into moving images. As a newbie screenwriter it is tough to connect with established professionals, production houses and filmmakers. The trick is often to start small...write a short film project and collaborate with a newbie filmmaker to get it made. You can reach out on Stage32 and LinkedIn and connect with a bunch of people. A screen credit or two will help you reach the next level of your screenwriting journey.

Enter Contests This is a great way of establishing your credentials as a screenwriter. While you do have to pay entry fees, consider this as an investment in your career. Try out a couple during the first year. Many of these also offer feedback from judges. So that will definitely help you to get a grip on how far you have progressed in learning the craft. If you place as a quarter- semi- or finalist or end up a winner, it will inspire you to keep moving forward and connecting with professionals in the film industry. 

With a couple of contest placements, a bunch of scripts and maybe a produced short script credit line in your portfolio you are now poised to enter the second stage of your journey...getting a manager or agent to represent you. But well, that's another story for another day! :)

Happy Writing!


Popular posts from this blog

Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree - Review of the International Booker Prize Winner

Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree My rating: 5 of 5 stars Geetanjali Shree's original book in Hindi is called Ret Samadhi and the translated version by Daisy Rockwell is Tomb of Sand. The writer's style is lyrical and captures the essence of an Indian family completely and evocatively. In fact the amazing thing about the author's style is that it goes above and beyond the cast of characters, roping in inanimate objects (like the door, for instance), the natural elements, crows and invisible things like borders. The story lies not so much in the plotline of an old woman and her journey to find the house and man she has left behind as in highlighting the nuances of families, countries, borders, neighbourhoods, galis and mohallas , the environment, the smells, sounds and landscape, the past and present and everything in between (including a delightful treatise on the silk sari as narrated from the point of view of a crow!) that makes up the heart and soul of India. The writi

Book Review of Where Did You Go? by P.L. Jonas

  The popularity of novels like Gone Girl and T he Girl on the Train with an intriguing premise, unreliable narrators and plot twists, has put the spotlight on psychological suspense stories. Such stories have a thriller like urgency about them and yet are rooted in familiar, real life situations. A well crafted, edgy psychological suspense can keep the reader hooked till the very last page.  The novella Where Did You Go ? by debut author P.L. Jonas begins with an intriguing set up. Sammy, a successful but reclusive ghostwriter, is offered a chance of a life time. The project involves completing a half-finished manuscript by her favourite writer, Margaret Mitchell, the celebrated author of  the all-time classic Gone with the Wind . Her brief is simple: she needs to follow the outline that the author has left behind and submit a draft within a tight deadline.  Her publisher, James, is confident that Sammy has what it takes to finish the novel. The chance of having her name on the book

Bombay Heights: The perfect Diwali read is now available in paperback

Reading romance during the festive season adds to the fun and sparkle, doesn't it? So, for Diwali 2021, I decided to bring out a Paperback edition of my rom-com Bombay Heights: Sleepless in the City of Dreams .  The best part is that the story takes place during the festive season. What's not to love! So, get ready to be immersed in the spirit of the festival of lights!  Blurb: Small town girl Sanjana Kale wants a fresh start in Mumbai. A challenging job and some much needed distance from her ludicrously over-protective family could get her life under control. Forced to team up with video game designer Ashwin Deo, who is too attractive for his own good, she finds life becoming a whole lot more complicated when he turns out to be her new neighbour. How can she maintain a professional distance with this charming troublemaker who believes in getting up close and personal? To make matters worse, her ex tries to manipulate her loved ones to work his way back into her life