Have an idea for a film you want to put to paper? Perhaps you want to begin writing, but are completely flustered when it comes to properly writing a screenplay.
Luckily, there’s no need to worry. There are multiple avenues you can take on learning scriptwriting, but in this particular post, we will be covering the various benefits screenwriting courses have to offer for new and up-and-coming writers.
If you have an idea for a script you haven’t written yet, or if you already have a completed script, feel free to submit to our funding opportunities with a simple one-sentence pitch for the chance to win up to $10,000 in funding, as well as other prizes to make your film.
When you begin writing a screenplay, it’s crucial that you understand the fundamentals. Producers and executives reading your script won’t give you the time of day if they catch any imperfections in your writing, such as flaws in formatting or structure, even if you have the next Pulp Fiction screenplay idea.
Below, you will find a list of various screenwriting techniques you can learn from enrolling in a screenwriting course, whether online or in person at a film school.
Right off the bat, readers can separate amateurs from experienced writers simply based on the format written on the page. This is why understanding proper formatting should be a screenwriter’s bread and butter.
Typically, when a novice screenwriter starts a course, they begin learning basic screenplay format and its significance within industry standards. You’ll learn the standard screenplay font, Courier, and how to write the screenplay title page, scene headings, action lines, dialogue, transitions, etc.
You’ll gain a better understanding of all the essentials needed to master screenwriting format. This will allow you to focus less on the technical issues and more on crafting a compelling story.
Your course instructor will often show various professional screenplay examples that use proper format. You’ll likely analyze many sample screenplays in detail to learn how to execute proper formatting.
Even though having correct format in your script is important, it may not always be necessary. Check out our previous blog post on why screenplay format may not always matter.
Structure is the most important aspect of storytelling. It’s what keeps your readers and audience hooked and emotionally engaged. Some established writers, such as Quentin Tarantino, will avoid using the overly used story structure, which, to an extent, is acceptable, but it’s important to learn and understand the traditional line of screenplay structure in order to attempt to break through that line and redefine structure. And even if Tarantino’s stories are sometimes non-linear, if you rearrange the pieces, they generally follow a more traditional structure.
The classic three-act structure and various other forms of story structure can be learned by enrolling in an online screenwriting course or an in-person class at a film school.
Not only is learning how to write a screenplay important, learning how to properly prepare to write a screenplay is also important. We understand that the blueprint for a film is the script. We need to also understand that the blueprint for a script is the outline.
A course in screenwriting can teach you the importance of screenplay outlines and how it can greatly improve your stories. You will most likely also learn how to write different forms of outlines—such as the synopsis, screenplay treatment, and beat sheet—that can be used for yourself or other readers that could be potentially interested in your script.
Screenwriting courses can greatly improve your overall skills in storytelling. Whether it’s learning how to write more relatable and compelling characters, or learning to write clear and concise action lines, you will notice great improvement in your storytelling abilities.
Writing dialogue can be very challenging and is often viewed as one of the most difficult parts of writing a screenplay. It’s important to know how to write compelling, witty, and tight dialogue because sloppy dialogue can really pull a reader or audience out of your story.
Screenwriting courses can show you the ropes of writing great dialogue. Some of the things you’ll most likely learn how to do are writing consistent style of dialogue throughout the script and dialogue that makes your characters more distinct.
Arguably, the most important obstacle to overcome as a screenwriter is finding your voice. Your unique and personal vision sets you aside from the vast competition in the industry.
Finding your voice will bring out your own style of writing. Taking a screenwriting course will allow you to practice and write over and over again. Doing this will allow you to develop your own unique voice and style of writing.
When taking a screenwriting course, you will likely have the chance to learn the many different screenwriting softwares used by industry professionals, such as Final Draft and Celtx.
You’ll learn how to use free screenwriting software and paid software. Screenplay software is made to make your life as a screenwriter a hundred times easier. Using industry standard software for screenwriting instead of software like Microsoft Word will greatly improve the formatting and structure of your screenplay.
Check out our previous blog post on some of the best screenwriting software you can get your hands on.
Learning how to pitch an idea or screenplay is just as important as knowing how to write a screenplay. Without the knowledge and confidence of pitching, your screenplay will likely never leave the dusty corner of your desk.
Literary agents, managers, producers, and executives are constantly looking for new talent. As a writer, you want to take advantage of this by learning how to emotionally engage your listeners and perfectly convey your story. If you’re interested in TV writing, one of things you may learn is how to write a series bible for television.
9. Professional Opportunities
So, what’s next? I finished my screenplay, now what?
Whether in person or not, screenwriting courses not only teach you how to write, they can teach you the next steps when you’ve finished that screenplay. You also have the opportunity to network with fellow classmates, which can be one of the most valuable things for you in film school. The course may also teach you how to get a screenwriting agent.
While taking your course, you may also learn about screenwriting competitions and the many contests and screenwriting fellowships that offer awards, feedback, and great opportunities for writers new to the game.
Receiving feedback and learning to give feedback is immensely important for screenwriters. Screenwriting courses offer workshopping opportunities with a knowledgable professor and other like-minded students looking better their scripts and others.
Getting your hands on solid feedback is crucial for the revision process. It can open your eyes to issues in your script you may not have even thought about when writing. If you’ve been struggling with writing endings, receiving feedback can potentially give you the chance to learn how to end a screenplay.
And if you want feedback from The Film Fund’s judges on your pitch, make sure to check the feedback box when entering!
These are just ten of the many things you can learn from a screenwriting course. Although a course may not be the only option for jumpstarting a writing career, it can be a valuable stepping stone towards your writing goals and can provide you with the knowledge and experience you may have never thought you could achieve.
Check out our one-sentence pitch funding opportunity if you or someone you know has an idea or finished screenplay for a chance to win $10,000 in funding opportunities and other prizes.