Question via Twitter from @EdaUtkuWrites:
What if you’re done with beginning?
This Tweet was in reference to the series I ran last week: “If you are a beginning screenwriter…”
Hopefully that series is helpful to those just starting out learning the craft.
But let’s say you’ve been at it for a few years. You’ve written a couple or more original screenplays. You have developed some solid work habits and even have a handle on your own approach to writing a script.
What can you do to elevate your game? Take a tip from the pros: Continue to learn the craft.
By the end of the year, I will have interviewed upward to 40 professional screenwriters in the last twelve months, and this is one thing they all have in common: They are still learning. Every single one of them continues to analyze movies, read scripts, and soak up what they can from other writers.
So if you’re not a neophyte, you’ve been at this thing for awhile, keep doing what you’re doing:
Only do more of it. Push yourself harder. Go deeper into it.
For example, what about reading scripts? Sure, you can approach this in its most basic form: You curl up in a chair and simply read. No agenda. No deep analysis. There’s nothing wrong with this. In fact, I recommend it. However if you want to deepen your understanding of the craft, there are things you can do to get more from a script than just a pleasure read. A lot more.
Some time back, I did a seven-part series called How To Read A Script:
For Part 1: The First Pass, go here.
For Part 2: The Scene-By-Scene Breakdown, go here.
For Part 3: Plotline Points and Sequences, go here.
For Part 4: Subplots, Relationships and Character Functions, go here.
For Part 5: Metamorphosis, go here.
For Part 6: Themes, go here.
For Part 7: Style and Language, go here.
I am not saying this is the way to read a screenplay. There is no right or wrong way. What I am saying is each of these techniques can help unfold the mysteries of how a screenplay works and strengthen your critical analytical skills.
And here we are just talking about one component of the craft — reading scripts. You can take the same rigor to watching movies. Or how you generate and assess story concepts. Or writing and rewriting… rewriting… and rewriting your scripts.
You want to make it as a professional screenwriter? Then demonstrate the same degree of commitment, even obsession that most Hollywood writers have about the craft.
In other words: If you want to earn it, you’ve got to learn it.
GITS readers, if you have any other suggestions on how to progress one’s understanding of the craft after the beginning stage, please share your thoughts in Comments. Thanks in advance!
UPDATE: Lee Stobby (@LeeStobby), who is a manager at Caliber Media, just tweeted this short but sweet response to the reader question: “answer: if you are asking this question, you aren’t beyond this stage.” There’s truth to that. Always. Be. Learning. That goes for every writer no matter how much experience they think they have.