I’m re-posting an email I received from Screenwriting Goldmine.
Though we each have our own method for how we start into our script, you might consider a few of these suggestions. I know I will:
How do you write a screenplay?
Here’s ten headlines. Ten rules of thumb. Ten stepping stones I
follow religiously. Follow them conscientiously in order and you
WILL see results. I promise.
1. Make your audience care. Get a person at the heart of your story
who is deeply loved. Make terrible, awful things happen to them.
2. Make sure you are writing in a genre.
3. Happy Ending. You need one. It makes for a happier audience,
which leads to bigger word of mouth, which makes for bigger box
office. Producers know this, and often factor it in to their choices.
4. Love your hero, and force them to choose between two equally
powerful alternatives at the end.
5. Design your villain so they can attack your hero in the most
personal, damaging, agonising way. Love your villain as much as
6. Get your story right before you write a word of dialogue. Write
a prose treatment of this story, describing what happens to your
beloved lead character.
7. Think about getting a gang of your friends to read the treatment.
If three or more of them pick up on a point independently, you might
have a problem there. If enough people say something it is probably true.
8. Pick the first paragraph in your treatment. Think about it over
and over again, visualise it in the bath, when you wake up, when
you are walking along the street. Visualise what happens until you
can run it through like a little movie in your mind, seeing what
happens, almost hearing the dialogue. This will be your first
9. Get out your word processor, or your script writing software,
whatever, doesn’t matter. You can format it later. Get that little
movie down on paper now. Write the scenes. Make the characters move,
and talk, and feel.
10. Repeat steps 8 and 9 over and over again, until you have got to
the end of your treatment.
You have just finished your first draft.
Format it. Print it. Weigh it in your hand. Admire it. You should
be proud. Few people get this far. And if you followed these steps,
it’s going to be far more readable than anything else you have
I hope you are intrigued by my stepping stones.
Most writers take years and years of trial and error before they
discover how to write in a way that people want to read.
Many of them never ever get there, and give up, having wasted years
of their life.
These ten points may be just the tip of the iceberg, but at least
you know it’s the right iceberg..