Reading Screenplays

If you’ve been trying to write a novel, but seem to be to be suffering from writer’s block, perhaps it’s because your story would work better as a screenplay. How do you learn to write screenplays? You read screenplays. Here’s a primer on how to get started.

Two Excellent Sources: The Internet Movie Script Database http://www.imsdb.com offers a huge selection of screenplays to read. You can search alphabetically or by genre; some of the screenplays are shooting scripts (the final script used by the Actors and Director), while other screenplays are earlier drafts. You can also find screenplays on the BBC Writersroom website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom. You’ll find them listed in the Script Library.

Which screenplays would professional writers suggest you read? Members of the  Writers Guild of America are the professionals that many Hollywood companies hire to write their screenplays, and they’ve voted on the best. Visit http://www.wga.org, go to Writer’s Room, and under the 101 Best Lists, click Screenplays.

To find out if a script is an original screenplay, or an adaptation, visit the Internet Movie Database http://www.imdb.com. Writers (both screenwriters and the authors of the source material) are listed below the Director.  Keep in mind that the title of the movie may be different than the source material. Blade Runner (1982) was based on Philip K. Dick’s novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

If it’s not an original screenplay, it’s better if you read the source material, before reading the screenplay, so you can see how the writer adapted the source material.  Since most extras included with DVD’s tend to focus on special effects, this will help you learn about the writing process. You can gain even more insight by searching for interviews with the screenwriters on http://www.youtube.com.

Movies create thousands of jobs, make actors household names, and earn studios huge profits, but it all begins with the story. It all begins with writers like you.

P.S. My short story, “Harold’s Muse,” was published in Issue #12 of Polar Borealis Magazine. http://www.polarborealis.ca.