Please note, I am not a screenwriting expert. All I am is someone that loves storytelling. These are the tips I have come up with that have helped me the most with my writing.
1. Write and don’t stop writing.
The first time I sat down to write, all of a sudden I had 30 pages of a screenplay. Truth be told, all 30 pages had to be edited, some deleted completely. However, none of that mattered. What mattered was that I was writing without worrying about perfection. If you just write, you’d be surprised what comes pouring out of your brain.
2. Research like it’s a project that you need to get an A on.
When I set out to write my first screenplay, I didn’t know what I was doing, and I didn’t let that stop me. I researched- how to format a screenplay, how to depict unique circumstances, when to capitalize names, what software to use. I read countless articles, watched videos, and took notes on everything I learned. Don’t let inexperience stop you from writing- research goes a long way.
3. Turn personal experiences into a learning experience for others.
This is the biggest tip I can give. It can be really scary to make yourself vulnerable by writing about any sort of personal experience, good or bad. However, if you can pull from these experiences, it makes 1) People feel less alone in their own experiences, and 2) Makes your story seem real and believable.
4. Print it out early on and edit in a red pen.
You would be amazed by how much you miss from reading on a screen. Once you print out a physical copy, it somehow becomes so much easier to catch any mistakes- spelling, grammar, etc. I recommend using a red pen since there will probably be many edits while going through, and this makes them stand out more easily when editing your draft on the computer.
5. Be proud of what is on the paper.
If you feel proud of what you have written, you will put more time into it and, ultimately, end up with a better result. It’s easy to get discouraged when taking on such a big task, and I find myself comparing myself to others and wanting to give up. It’s important keep yourself motivated and be proud of all of your hard work. At the end of the day, you are writing it for you, and it shouldn’t matter what anyone else thinks– everyone has stories to tell.
Bonus tip: there are tons of software programs out there. It can be hard to pick the right one!
I was using Writer Duet, but recently downloaded Highland 2 for my Mac. Both are more reasonably priced than other softwares and both work well for me. If you have a Mac, I would highly recommend Highland 2. Both of these give you a limited number of screenplays on the free editions, so there is no harm in checking them out before committing.
Let me know what you think in the comments, or if you have anything to add!