The world is a mercurial and ever changing place. Continuous improvement, career enhancement and professional development are buzzwords that permeate every industry, even ours. First and foremost, read lots of scripts. You can’t become an architect just by looking at buildings.
So you think you know everything about screenwriting after reading a few books by Christopher Vogler, Linda Seger or Syd Field, think again? You always need to update your skills or even refresh them. Most of what you hear will be a rehash or reinterpretation of what you already know, but repetition is part of the learning process.
Many success and self help gurus profess that you should align yourself with your heroes. Do what they do. Find out what they do and try do imitate it, but with your own spin. There is no formula for success. The long, hard road is really the only way. There are some fly by nighters who manage to sell a script quickly, but they rarely have longevity because they lack the gravitas and basis to proceed.
I’ve mentioned books and podcasts, now it’s youtube. Key in search screenwriting and see what comes up; lots of exciting interviews with masters and mistresses of the trade. They inspire and lead all writers by guiding us along the journey of screenwriting. Here are some of my favourites:
Paul Haggis on Screenwriting
Peter And Bobby Farrelly on Tricks of the Trade
Simon Kinberg on Dialogue
The Dialogue Series
Kurtzmann & Orci on Screenwriting
Callie Khouri on Screenwriting
Susannah Grant on Tricks Of The Trade
Nia Vardalos on Dialogue
Paul Attanasio on Dialogue
Syd Field with Stuart Beattie
Advice for Screenwriters by Walt Disney Pictures Executive
Breaking into Hollywood
Attracting a Literary Agent
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a good start nonetheless.
If you get square eyes watching videos, try reading. Any script you can get your hand on. Look for styles. Enjoy the whiteness of the page, the lack of huge chunks of dialogue and the clarity of award winning scripts. I love reading descriptions. I remember reading “she entered his grotty studio apartment that would even make a cockroach feel claustrophobic”. Visualize that!
Check out the WGA library in West Hollywood or your local library or writers’ guild. If you don’t want to leave the house, try the online script sites such as Simply Scripts, Drew’s Script-o-rama and imdbs. Learn the visual difference between shooting scripts and spec scripts.