So you want to be a screenwriter? Well, you should know that the second step is coming up with an original script. You should also know that the first step is getting in line behind an army of similarly-talented writers and spending a disproportionately amount of time proving yourself and getting noticed. Regardless, here are a few ways you can improve your chances of becoming a professional screenwriter.
1. Learn the Basics- You need to know the basic grammar and format that goes along with writing a script. For instance, the font of screenplays is ALWAYS Courier size 12 font. Producers have been known to throw a script away for smaller discrepancies than this! You do not want your masterpiece to be thrown away because you forgot a period at the end of a sentence, so make sure that you follow the basics!
2. Immerse yourself in your craft- Do not fool yourself, you are entering one of the most competitive, satisfying, prestigious, gratifying, and sought after professions IN THE WORLD. In order to rise to the top you will need to completely dedicate yourself to your craft. One way to do this is to stay on top of film trends. Watch plenty of indy films to stay at the edge of the film industry. Remember that following the flow is never acceptable, you have to create a whole new wave. Following what’s trending on TV is incredibly important as you need to know what is fresh and what may catch the eye of a potential production company. Good writers often study great TV writers to perfect their craft. Many shows such as the Daily Show with John Stewart have teams of writers who create jokes that keep the show fresh. Recording each episode of a show for a season can be a great way to see how a writer develops a character. Use a DVR to record every episode and not waste time watching commercials. DirecTV currently has the best DVR on the market and you can get three free months of HBO, Stars, Showtime, and Cinemax using http://www.SaveOnTVDirect.com.
3. Build a Network- You know that expression "it's not what you know, but who you know." Well, that statement is mostly true. Just as in any business, talent and work ethic can only go so far. In many cases it comes down to which person is a better "fit" for a job. For an analogy, imagine actor Jack Nickelson, widely considered to be one of the best actors in the business today because of his charisma and outgoing acting style. If a director is looking for someone to portray an introvert, such as in the film "A Beautiful Mind," Although he is an immense talent, Jack might lose out to an actor who has a more subtle, stoic acting style, such as Russell Crowe. When you get to the highest level, it's all about comparative advantage.
4. Practice and Get Plenty of Feedback- You are not the first person or the last person who wants to be a screenwriter. The irony of it all is that your greatest competition is also your greatest resource. You need to make it out to at least one screenwriting workshop, if only just to see how it goes. You will be surprised at what insightful opinions you may get on your scripts.
5. Start Making Moves- A lot of times, at least in the beginning, a talented mind will write, direct, and produce a film. Advancements in technology have made films incredibly affordable to produce. The most famous example is perhaps "Paranormal Activity" a film by Blumhouse Productions that was made for $15,000. The film made and is now the most profitable film ever made, making $193,355,800 at the box office.
This is an extreme example, and you don't have to be the exception, you just have to earn your stripes. Most indy films don't make any money at the box office, but they do showcase the skills of a young talent that is very organized and ready for the next step in the film industry. Every journey begins with a single step. No matter what path you take, be who you are and try your best.