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How To Practice Screenwriting

How To Practice Screenwriting

Do you know how to practice screenwriting? If you’re someone who wants to become a professional screenwriter, you need to be practicing your craft every day. Despite popular belief, practicing screenwriting requires more than just writing scripts. You’ve got to engage in exercises, in order to expand your way of thinking.

If you always write scripts the same way, you’re never going to improve at writing scripts. When you do the same thing the same way repeatedly, things are going to get boring and repetitive. Don’t worry, though, because there are exercises you can do, to practice screenwriting.

Today, we’re going to discuss some unique ways that you can hone your craft. By the end, you’re going to understand how to practice screenwriting, so you’ll be getting better at screenwriting in no time!

Here are Few Ways to Get Better at Screenwriting

Do An Opposite Dialogue Exercise

Let’s say you’re writing a script, and in the script, you have a part of the dialogue where one character asks another character to marry them. You might have a picturesque idea in your head: that is, you might be determined for each character to live happily ever after, after the marriage proposal is accepted.

This might work out for you, but when you do the opposite dialogue exercise, you’re going to change up your initial idea…by doing the opposite. That is, in this case, you’re going to have one character deny the marriage proposal.

After you have the character say, “I don’t,” write from the perspective that the marriage proposal went badly, instead of well. This will completely transform the trajectory of your script, and it will force you to think differently about the characters that are included in your script.

When a character does something unexpectedly, you’re going to connect with your audience in new and different ways, which is important to practice, when you’re a screenwriter. Don’t ever settle for ordinary, when you’re screenwriting, and with this exercise, you don’t have to.

Let Your Characters Set the Theme for Your Scene

When you’re conceiving of a script, try to think of one word or phrase that is integral to the story. After you do this, write out how each character would describe this theme, in their own words.

For example, if you think that the central theme to your script is “family,” then the teenage daughter in the script might say that family is “the group of people that you’re forced to be around.”

While the father and mother in the story might say that family is “the group of people that you love but have to pay for.” Regardless of what your characters think, this exercise is a perfect way to figure out the characteristics of each character, in a way that increases the complexity of the storyline.

When you’re writing, you need to have complex characters, so as a writer, it’s a good idea to think about how you can make each character more interesting and rigorous. This is a good exercise, if you’re trying to create more exciting and complex characters.

Write a Scene That Comes from Your Favorite Film

When you’re honed in on a certain storyline, you’re probably hyper focused on certain ideas and themes. This makes it so that you lose focus on detours and interesting twists, that might add a certain complexity and interest to your film. So, if you completely switch gears, and write a scene from a movie that already exists, you’re going to be flexing a different muscle than you’re used to.

The exercise sounds crazy, but all you do is rewrite a scene from a certain movie, from memory. The point of this exercise is to recreate a professional film, so that you can compare your dialogue and pacing, to a professionally developed film. When you rewrite something that is successful and memorable, you’re likely to bring in some of those traits into your own personal writing, which will enhance it.

This exercise forces you to take notes from the most successful movies, and that’s helpful for beginning screenwriters.

Do A Sprinting Exercise

When we say do a sprinting exercise, we don’t mean go outside and run sprints. This exercise is easier than you might think. In fact, it’s actually a very helpful exercise, too. Simply write as fast as you can. You’re sprinting, but sprinting with your writing.

Set a timer for fifteen minutes, or thirty minutes, or an hour—however much time you want— and after you do that, write as fast as you can. The key here is, that you shouldn’t think too hard, and you shouldn’t stop writing.

Let’s say that you start writing about aliens who abduct a dog from earth. Maybe the aliens will decide that the dog is the new leader of their planet. Maybe humans will go looking for the dog and find new alien life on another planet. Maybe the story will end sadly, with a family of human beings without their abducted dog.

Whatever happens, be open with your storyline. The point of writing sprints, is to challenge your typical ideas. The best ideas come when it’s unexpected, so this is an exercise in being creative. Let your creative juices flow and do all the editing later. You can always revise your script, so if something is too crazy or incoherent, you can take it out later!

Give Out Notes to a Work of Screenwriting that Is Already Completed

This exercise will force you to think more critically about films. So, the premise of the exercise is to think about a movie that has already been written. When you think of this movie, you’ve got to criticize it, as if it hasn’t been created yet. Think about what could be done differently, think about what dialogue isn’t the best, think about the camera angles that could be changed—think about everything that is wrong!

Even if the movie is really good, you can still think of notes that could improve the film. Every film can be improved, and when you’re a writer, you need to be a rigorous editor of your own work. So, this exercise is important, because in theory, the next time that you’re editing your own work, you’re going to think a little bit harder about the details. That’s important, if you want a successful film!

Design an Incredibly Inspirational Monologue

Look, not every monologue has to be corny and cheesy. The best way to find resolution, or conflict, or a new relationship, is for one of your characters to say something that is motivational or inspirational.

Let’s say that one of your characters realizes that their relationship isn’t working for them. In this case, they might have a motivational speech that they say, that spills all of the things they’ve realized has gone bad with their relationship. In this instance, your character is going to propel the story forward by ending a bad relationship. Also, this monologue will help your viewers think differently about both the characters in the film—and their own life, outside of the film.

That’s what filmmakers are supposed to do, they’re supposed to make people think. To expand your way of thinking and writing, try to parse out an inspirational monologue. You’ll be surprised with what happens, when you do.

Write a Script with Only Nouns and Verbs

This might seem crazy, and it’s actually really hard, but if you’ve reached a dead end with your writing, try to write a script that only includes nouns and verbs. This exercise will delete all the fluff that you might have in your usual scripts, and it will give you insight into the bare bones of your script.

With only nouns and verbs, you’ll be able to see if your plot is interesting, and you’ll be forced to be more specific and creative, in order to have successful plot.

Sometimes, the thing that is weighing down your story, is all of the details that are detracting from the main plot of the storyline. So, if you’re feeling down about your writing process, it’s a good idea to strip your writing down to nouns and verbs. You’ll think about things totally differently, when you do.

Just Start Writing

When it comes down to it, the best way to practice screenwriting, is to put pen to paper. You’ve got to write all the time, in order to be successful in the industry. So, if you think that something is bad, keep writing. Always write differently and write every day. You can’t quit, so it never hurts to start writing.

You’ll get there eventually.

Final Thoughts

Being a screenwriting isn’t for the weak, but if you love the industry, you’re sure to be successful if you keep at it. Just know that you’ve got to practice screenwriting, in order to improve. This list of techniques will help you become a better writer, and if you implement these techniques into your daily writing routine, you’re sure to improve quickly.

We hope these ideas will help you practice your screenwriting!