The hardest part about writing a screenplay is that you have to write a script and come up with a story. Far too many people try to write a script without knowing their story. The end result is either a half completed screenplay or a weak screenplay that lacks character development and interest.
When writing a screenplay, break the task of writing and story creation into two separate parts. First, come up with a great story without writing a single word of the screenplay. Make sure your story is interesting with lots of twists, surprises, and conflict. Then keep refining your story until you can tell it in a manner that can hold even a stranger’s interest.
Only until you have defined your story should you bother to start writing your screenplay using your favorite software. A screenplay is meant to convert a story into directions for actors and a director to follow. A screenplay is not meant for you to write these directions and come jump with your story at the same time. This can’t help but create a weak, disjointed screenplay.
Story first, and then the screenplay. Since coming up with compelling story ideas can be touch, practice writing screenplays by reading novels and short stories, and turning those stories into screenplays. Short stories let you practice with lots of different stories while novels let you get a feel for telling a larger, more involved story.
When writing a screenplay based on an existing novel or short story, think how you can convert the written word into a visual image for the screen. That might mean changing the original story to make the screenplay more visual and cinematic.
The purpose of writing screenplays based on novels and short stories isn’t to sell the screenplay (since you won’t own the story rights). Instead, the purpose is to let you focus on writing a screenplay without the hassle of coming up with a story at the same time.
Start with short stories so you can write short scripts and get used to telling a story visually. When you feel comfortable telling a story in the screenplay format, then you can focus on coming up with interesting stories.
Finally, you can combine your storytelling skills with your screenplay writing skills and then you can write an original story as a screenplay.
Practice writing screenplays and practice coming up with stories. Like any skill, the more you do something, the better and easier it will get.