Screenwriting is a blessing because it requires so little equipment and expense to write a screenplay. It is also a curse because there are so many screenwriters out there clacking away at their computers. So much competition. But not all competition is created equal. Many scripts end up in the digital trash. That means you need to focus on getting yours to a quality above the pile.
Creative executives are deluged by the sheer unmanageable volume of film scripts they are required to read. Dozens each week. So what should emerging screenwriters focus on? Replicating successful formulaic screenplays or writing material so weird, it will struggle to find a buyer?
Your first job as an emerging screenwriter is to get your screenplays read.
That means being unique and authentic. If your readers aren’t thinking “WOW, I’ve never read something like that before,” you’re going to find it hard to break in.
Avoid spec scripts of existing TV shows unless they are requested as part of a writing fellowship. Emulating an established writing style can be learned, but being so original can’t. Original film and TV scripts sell best.
You need to write something that will make executives stand up and take notice of you.
It could be that you’ve created some unusual fantastical world or some unique characters. Or a unique format like a court jury breaking out into song before the verdict.
Screenwriters looking to break into the industry must consider breaking traditional rules to get noticed. This means you must know these rules before you break them. Being unique is very different from being gimmicky. One is an expression of your personal style and the other is a short-lived distraction.
This could mean highly unusual formatting such as The Quiet Place or Nightcrawler, an unusual setting such as Mad Men and The Marvelous Mrs. Masel, or a tense situation such as The Americans or The Sopranos. There just aren’t enough of these types of scripts circulating in the industry. You can genuinely raise your odds of screenwriting success by not writing to current or perceived industry trends.
Readers are desperate to be excited.
Your original movie or TV script should contain highly original and impactful characters like Girls, Nightcrawler or Arrested Development. Avoid the cliches. Be familiar in your situations, but different in your execution.
Your breakout film or TV script gives you a chance to express your voice; your brand as a writer. You could have a unique spin, an accent or a view of the world.
Look at the memorable dialogue of True Detective, Kimmy Schmidt or the Oscar winner Precious to inspire you. You may choose meditative periods of silence too.
Choose unusual settings used in the Dome and Handmaid’s Tale.
Finally, write screenplays with intricate, epic stories like Game Of Thrones or The Walking Dead.
Examines TV shows and films with a dedicated audience. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a big audience, but they need to be passionate about the show. In the highly fractionated TV world, producers are looking for stories that will sustain an audience for an entire season, not just the first few episodes.
Agents and managers want to sign new writers who can conceptualize an entire TV series or successful film franchise. They aren’t looking to sell individual scripts.
Since there are very few development funds available. screenwriters must submit film and TV scripts that require little more than a polish, They need to be ready for packaging. So don’t send out anything unless you are positive it represents your best writing.