Here’s another mistake and bad habit that novice screenwriters often embrace. They try to write their screenplay and make up their story as they go along. The problem with this method is that it’s far too easy to write large chunks of irrelevant information that detracts from your story. However, once you’ve written it, you have a strong desire to keep it anyway. The end result is a choppy, disjointed, and poorly structured screenplay.
Don’t try to write your screenplay and make up your story at the same time. That’s like trying to drive a car through rush hour traffic while also trying to study where you’re going on a map. Instead, plan your scene first as a series of sentences that describe what’s going on. Then when you’re happy with the way the scene grabs someone’s attention in the beginning, creates further tension and suspense in the middle, and then concludes with a cliffhanger at the end, then you can start writing your actual screenplay.
Film directors use storyboards to help them visualize what they;’re going to film before they get everyone on the set. Storyboards save time and let directors experiment with different ideas quickly and inexpensively. That’s exactly what screenwriters need to do when writing individual scenes in their screenplay.
By outlining each scene as text, you can experiment with different ideas before committing them down in a screenplay because once most people write it down in a screenplay format, they’re extremely resistant to change it. Rough outlines, either written by hand or typed on a computer, give you the freedom to quickly jot down ideas and erase, move, or modify them easily.
Once you know what’s going on in your scene, then you can start writing it effectively in a screenplay format. Now you can focus on fine-tuning your ideas into the best possibly screenplay you can write.
The alternative is to try to make up your story and capture it as a screenplay at the same time. You’ll likely create a mess that’s hard to understand because you have no idea what each scene needs to do to help your story progress from start to finish.
While film directors use artists to draw storyboards of scenes they wish to film, screenwriters have it much easier. They just need to jot down ideas in text.
By simply storyboarding your scenes before you write them, you can spare yourself countless hours of needless frustration and headaches.