This is the first of a weekly series that takes you through the step by step process of writing a screenplay. If you follow each step, you’ll go from concept to first draft by March! -Eric
How to Write a Movie in 2013
Lesson 1: Come Up With a Good Idea for a Movie
Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to write a screenplay? Great!
So you’ve written that resolution down and you’re ready to go. You’ve seen a ton of movies, and so many of them were BAD, so how hard can it be to write a movie? Let’s get started!
Well, wait. Did you want to write a bad movie? A movie that will not get made, and if for some reason it does get made, no one will watch, and if they do watch it, they will HATE?
No, of course not. When you wrote “write a screenplay” in your resolutions, you probably meant “write a GOOD screenplay,” right?
A GOOD screenplay is a little more difficult. And by “a little” I mean a THOUSAND TIMES harder to write than a BAD screenplay.
Because you can write any old thing in screenwriting format and call it a movie. And sure, it might be a movie…but it will be a BAD movie.
So how do you make it good?
Well, the first thing to realize is that screenwriting is writing. If you’re thinking, “I like to write, but not enough to write a novel…I’ll just write a screenplay!” I’ve got some bad news that may sound familiar, possibly because I just wrote it:
Screenwriting is Writing. This might seem obvious to some, but if is isn’t, click that link for a post about it.
Alright, so you’ve accepted the fact that screenwriting is writing, and still want to write a movie? Great! What do you have in mind? Let’s start with your idea.
Now it’s time to think about the type of movie you want to write. Do you have one in mind that you’ve been kicking around year after year and 2013 is going to be the year where you get the sucker on paper?
Fantastic. Write it down in a sentence or two. Maybe even a paragraph.
That’s ONE movie idea. Now write ten more.
Ten more? Why ten more?
Because ten ideas plus your original makes eleven. And eleven ideas are better than one.
I know, I know, eleven seems like a lot, but I know other screenwriters who recommend you not begin a screenplay until you have 25 ideas.
Twenty-five might be a bit much, but I understand the thought – you want to be SURE you’re picking a good idea, an idea you like, an idea that you don’t get tired of in draft after draft.
So, take your time. Carry a notepad or index card around with you. When you think of a movie idea, write it down. You may also want to read my post How Do You Think of Ideas For Movies?
One way not mentioned is that post is to write down three movie ideas every morning. Within a week you should have at least three or four that you really love.
Alright, got eleven ideas? Great. Pick the one you’re the most passionate about – you’re going to have to write and rewrite this script for a long time.
Also, if you’re passionate about a few ideas, and one of them is clearly more commercial than others, you might want to pick that one. That is, if you want to sell the sucker.
Got the idea? No?
Okay, I’ll wait.
Got it? Nice. Wait, that’s the one you’re choosing?
I’m kidding. You’ve picked a story you really want to tell and you’re ready for the next step. That’s a beautiful thing.
Alright, I know you really don’t have your idea. So you have one week to get it!
Check back here for the next lesson.