5 New Year’s Resolutions For Screenwriters
- January 6, 2016
- Posted by: Eric Edson
- Category: Screenwriting 101, Screenwriting Blog
Happy New Year From The Story Solution
You’ve survived another holiday season, and a new year has begun. Traditionally, now is the time we vow to mend the errors of our ways and make lists of lifestyle changes with the best version of ourselves in mind. Although a few of these resolutions may fall by the wayside, there is merit in the desire to create a “better you” for the new year. While formulating resolutions for 2016, be sure to set a few goals that will help you become a better screenwriter. Below are some ideas to spark your thinking in the right direction.
5 New Year’s Resolutions For Screenwriters
1. Write: Resolve to simply write more. Avoiding “paralysis by analysis” is a big key to success in screenwriting. If you want to be a successful screenwriter you must sit down and write! Writers often fall into the trap of mulling over their ideas, perfecting them internally before committing them to page. This over-thinking complicates the process unnecessarily. Getting your ideas on paper (or screen) in any form will help them grow and mature. The written word gives you perspective. A concrete representation of your thoughts can aid in their progression and development. There’s no such thing as a weak screenplay, only an unfinished one. Set a schedule that works for you and resolve to write every day, even if it’s only for 20 minutes.
2. Be patient: Albert Einstein famously said once, “It’s not that I’m so great, it’s that I stay with my problems longer.” Good screenwriting requires patience. Move forward with a long-view mindset. Everyone has to pay their dues. Seeing a screenplay through from inception to completion can be an arduous task fraught with pitfalls, rejection, delays, and many script drafts. A little patience will go a long way to assist you in seeing your project through to a result you’ll be proud of. In fighting this good fight, you will hear “NO” many times. But, to launch a career you only need one “YES”. For most screenwriters, getting to that “yes” takes years, not months. Real writers know they are in it for the long haul. And throughout that long haul, you are doing what you love! Take a deep breath, and enjoy this remarkable ride.
3. Get back to the basics: The new year is a perfect time to review basic screenwriting tenants and be sure that you are applying them to your screenplay. Besides paying attention to proper page layout and formatting of stage directions, settings and dialogue – inspect the dramatic elements of your work and be sure you are including essential components consistently and correctly. For example, wherever in the process you might be, even if you already have a draft or two of your current screenplay, stop for a moment and write down for yourself the following: WHO IS MY HERO/HEROINE? (Who are they on the inside, and what are their motivations to undertake action?) WHAT IS THEIR WOUND? (Identify the major trauma they experienced earlier in life that made them emotionally self-protective and isolated from true connection.) WHAT DOES MY HERO WANT? (It must be ONE THING that is tangible and visible. Never lose sight of this.) There are four basic goals in all of screenwriting. WIN. STOP. ESCAPE. RETRIEVE. (Which of these is your hero’s ultimate goal?) And WHAT SPECIFIC HUMAN ADVERSARY is out to stop your hero/heroine at all costs?
4. Know & accept yourself: The new year gives you an opportunity to take stock and identify your strengths and weaknesses. Reflect on your innate writing style to isolate what works for you. What is your natural tone? What pace or structure do you instinctively follow? This is not to suggest that you limit yourself based on current abilities, but rather identify the strongest starting point and build on it. No screenwriter is great at absolutely everything. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Lead with your strengths in writing while working to improve on your weaknesses. A thorough knowledge of where you are is the best place to develop a means to get where you want to be.
5. Study classic screenplays: Just as you wouldn’t attempt to rebuild a car engine with no knowledge of its mechanics, you cannot write a screenplay without understanding how other classic screenplays have come together. It is important to commit to the practice of researching and reflecting on classic screenplays every week. Read. Read. Read. This will help you develop interesting characters, set the tone of your screenplay, better comprehend story structure, and expand your descriptive vocabulary. You cannot write well that which you do not read. (And this part also happens to be a lot of fun!)
So there you have it! 5 resolutions to help you become a better screenwriter this year. Make writing a priority for 2016. Focus on being aware of your skills and strategies as a writer. Know the needs and preferences of your audience, which are the elements of your genre. Study the classic screenplays and keep the lessons fresh in your mind as you write. Realize that your early script drafts will not be your best work, they are only steps in a journey. Exercise self-discipline, and above all else…WRITE!
About The Story Solution: The Story Solution, by screenwriter and tenured professor Eric Edson, is an in-depth handbook for authors who are writing a movie script. It reveals the 23 actions screenplay writers use to create dynamic, three dimensional heroes. Visit the website at http://www.