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How To Start Scriptwriting, Part 1: Get Organized!

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Posted 20th May 2009 at 05:32 PM by Peter Neal
Updated 20th May 2009 at 05:46 PM by Peter Neal

Have you ever had the urge to write a script for a short movie, a stage play, a computer game or something else but don't know where to start?

There are, of course, countless books and articles of varying size on the issue, often written by experts with many years of successful experience in the business.

Well, I'm not exactely "successful"- neither could I make a living of my writing....so far.

BUT I have many years of writing experience, starting with planning my first 60 mins radio plays around the age of 10....so I had some time to deliver a "method".


The problem with good ideas is that they are usually exactely that- just ideas, may be a hunch for a really cool scene- but you don't really get a grip on the "whole story".

That's how my ideas normally begin their life:

For instance, the first idea for my upcoming "female assassin with sister" script was a very clear picture in my mind of what I wanted to happen in the first scene.
It took a while longer to get a clear sight on the "story" I wanted to tell.

So how did I get there? How could you get there with that great idea, which is burning a hole into your mind, making your fingers longing for the keyboard....

You want to start writing right away....but here's a good advice, if you really are interested in finishing your script: DON'T START BEFORE GETTING ORGANIZED!!!!!


It might sound boring, particularly with that growing passion for your idea...You start fearing that it'll get paler, harder to catch, if you don't start writing right away!

Yes, I wouldn't start any script- no matter the size- without the following stages of preparation:


- I usually begin my script with a short plot synopsis, nailing down a very rough order of events.
This might sound difficult, particularly when you're already caught up way too much in detail in your mind, but don't panic:
The synopsis is nothing more and nothing less than your first rough map. It's in no way binding to the actual script, but it'll help you immensely with the next stages if you already know where you'll start off your story and where you INTEND to finish it.
The goal of the finale is VERY comforting.
With that goal already set, you can now start to look closer at the details.


Remember- as ultimately stupid as it might read here- that a story has a beginning, a middle and and end.
Helps me always to remember that....and to finsih my first sketchy synopsis in under half an hour.

- The next step would be biographies for your main characters.

Again, that seems sometimes boring, particularly when you just URGE to "jump" directly into the "action" of your story.
BUT believe me, it pays off, in spades
You'll get so much easier inspiration for your actual writing process when you've mentally "embraced" your characters as real human beings, with their habits and weaknesses, obsessions and flaws, successes and failures.
I bet you'll find those biographies becoming longer than you'd originally anticipated....


Next time, we'll talk a bit more about the characters for your script, followed by that huge step: The treatment!
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  1. Old Comment
    iluvdvds@Cult Labs's Avatar
    Great blog Peter! Really helpful! I'm looking forward to the next scriptwriting tip now. Yeee!
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 22nd May 2009 at 12:40 PM by iluvdvds@Cult Labs iluvdvds@Cult Labs is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Peter Neal's Avatar
    Thanks for the feedback!

    It's fun writing this blog, but it's even better if somebody finds a few inspiring or useful points in it


    Scriptwriting can be a lot of fun....and with the right preparations upfront, the stress-and frustration factor is so much lower too.
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 22nd May 2009 at 05:05 PM by Peter Neal Peter Neal is offline
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