One huge mistake many writers make is to make up their story as they write their screenplay. This can be like trying to learn to fly while dogfighting against enemy pilots in a life or death battle. It won’t end well.
If you try to make up your story as you write your screenplay, your screenplay will likely lack foreshadowing because you simply don’t know what your story needs later. That means early scenes will be loaded with useless information and later scenes will be filled with twists and surprises that were never set up properly. This means lots of rewriting over and over again.
It’s far better to make up your story as paragraphs that you can easily edit, rearrange, or delete completely. Writing your entire story as a series of paragraphs is also known as a treatment. The purpose of a treatment is to shape a story quickly and easily without the hassle of trying to write details such as dialogue and scene description within a screenplay format.
Keep adding and modifying your story treatment until you have the bulk of your story done. Once you know the major details of your story, then you can translate it into a screenplay. At this point, you can focus more on enhancing your story through description, setting, and dialogue.
So writing a treatment helps you create and organize your story. Then writing a screenplay helps you enhance your story.
This two-step process makes screenwriting immensely simpler and more enjoyable.
Once you know how your story begins, how it ends, and how it gets from the beginning to the end, you’ll be able to drop hints to foreshadow upcoming events. This will create greater tension and suspense, making your story more appealing to an audience.
Remember, story telling and screenwriting are two separate skills and tasks. Learn to tell a story first. Then learn to translate that story into a screenplay. By following this two-step process, you’ll save yourself hours of frustration and headaches.