7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting Scriptwriting

At 57 years young, I decided to shake things up and start a new chapter in my life. After spending nearly three decades working with people, coaching, training, and mentoring, I craved something fresh and exciting. Something that would challenge me and make me feel alive. And so, I took the leap and decided to become a writer.

But here’s the thing: I’m dyslexic, and my entire life, people have told me that I’m not cut out for writing. I was always encouraged to focus on my strengths, like verbal communication and public speaking. Plus, English isn’t even my native language, and I hadn’t used it in over 25 years. But despite all of these obstacles, I knew that I wanted to pursue writing.

At first, I thought scriptwriting would be the perfect fit. I couldn’t see myself writing anything longer than 100 pages, so scripts seemed like the easy way out. Boy, was I wrong! Seven years later, I’ve learned that scriptwriting is anything but easy. 

Here are 7 things I wish I had known before I started:

#1 – There is limited space for description.
Contrary to what I initially thought, the fact that scripts are shorter makes writing harder. Writers have to convey a lot of information in a limited amount of space.

Unlike novel writing, there’s no room for lengthy descriptions or inner thoughts. The challenge is to tell a compelling story through dialogue, action, and visual cues.

#2 – Scriptwriting is visual writing.

It requires writers to use visual storytelling techniques to engage the audience. The audience must understand the story without relying on inner monologues or descriptive passages.

You need to find a way to show how a person feels or what they taste. It’s not always easy, but it’s essential.

#3 – Show don’t Tell.

Showing instead of telling is one of the most fundamental rules of storytelling. You can’t just tell the audience what’s happening or how a character is feeling. You need to use visual and behavioural cues to convey these things.

#4 – Less is more.

You have to be economical with your words. Every word in your script should have a purpose and move the story forward. Cut out any unnecessary dialogue or scenes and focus on what’s essential. That means so many revisions on your story and text.

#5 – Character development is crucial.

Your characters are the heart of your story, so it’s vital to know them inside and out. However, in scriptwriting, character development must happen quickly and efficiently.

The audience must understand the characters’ motivations and backstories within a short amount of time.

#6 – Formatting matters.

Scriptwriting has strict formatting requirements that must be followed, which include scene headings, dialogue, and action lines. This can be challenging, especially for someone who isn’t tech-savvy.

#7 – Marketing considerations.

Writing a great script is only part of the equation. To be successful, you need to understand the business side of things, including how to pitch your script, negotiate contracts, and navigate the industry. Scriptwriting involves marketing considerations from the beginning, such as determining the target audience, budget, and production constraints. It can be tough to balance creative storytelling with commercial viability.

The truth is, the fate of your script making it to the big (or small) screen, even if it’s just on Netflix, depends on numerous factors beyond your talent and a brilliant concept. On the other hand, with self-publishing and Amazon Kindle in today’s world, the likelihood of sharing your written work with a wider audience is much greater and more straightforward when writing a novel.

In conclusion, while both scriptwriting and novel writing have their challenges, scriptwriting requires a unique set of skills and considerations. It’s not easy, but it’s an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling journey.

So, if you’re thinking about taking the leap, go for it! Just make sure you’re prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

What advice would YOU give to someone who wants to pursue a career in scriptwriting?

Would love to get your input in the comment box below

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