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7 Skills You Need to be a Screenwriter

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By Lily Cooper
Professional Writing Major, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Do you enjoy the storytelling process of writing and yearn to write the next big TV show or movie? Do you more than just watch TV? Do you analyze the lines and movements of the actors? If so, Screenwriting may be your path. Screenwriting can be a fun and entertaining job if you have the love for it. Check out these skills every screenwriter should have by the time they write their first screenplay:

1. Passion

Having a passion for what you do is important for any occupation, but especially true for future screenwriters. Do you love watching movies and shows and have a history of making movie or TV show references? Screenwriting involves a lot more than just writing a script. It involves studying the art and having an appreciation for it.

2. Persistence

It can be difficult to write a great screenplay. Writers will stumble across many obstacles such as writer’s block, discouragement from others and the always-changing popularity in certain genres and concepts. Through it all, a screenwriter needs to keep jumping over those blocks that try to keep them down and continue to follow their dream. It only takes one “yes” in an ocean of “no’s” to propel you.

3. Flexibility

Being a screenwriter means you have to be flexible in all areas. The writing process, the critique, solving problems and more. Sometimes there will be budget concerns, a switch in directors and a change in studio management, which will all lead to script issues arising. However, the goal is always the same: to produce quality content. As long as you push through, take the criticism, use your vision and practice patience, you will rise above. Having the flexibility to deal with all of that is extremely important.

4. Knowledge

What is your goal as a screenwriter? To write a great screenplay! A huge part of writing a good one is to read them. By reading scripts, you learn the language of the writings and the different aspects and forms of each one.

Try to immerse yourself into the world of screenwriting as much as possible. Go to screenwriting workshops, seminars, read books, listen to podcasts and watch videos. Every little bit of information is valuable and you never know what you may need to use in the future.

5. Consistency

Consistency is the utmost importance when in the show-business. As a writer, you will have deadlines and times that you need to get everything done. Sometimes you can have a lot of time, while others will give you a short amount. Either way, it’s vital to turn things in on time. There are many tricks and tools for organization and getting past writer’s block that you can utilize when a deadline is approaching. The last thing you want is a reputation of being inconsistent, so practice getting ahead of deadlines now so when you have them in the future, you are ready.

6. Always be Writing

You know the drill. You have a great idea, start writing it and then hit a roadblock. You don’t know what to do and walk away from the project. This is something that many writer’s struggle with and while it’s a valid excuse, it doesn’t mean you should stop.

No writer writes a perfect first draft. They are always reconstructing stories and rewriting. Some tips to get past this roadblock are:

  • Avoid rewriting the same scene over and over. You won’t ever finish if you stay stuck; move onto the next scene and come back to the other one later.
  • Set page goals, such as finishing five pages every day.
  • Take breaks in-between writing to give yourself a mental break.

So next time you are stuck while writing, don’t quit. Just remember that most of the time, that great screenplay you read started out as a horrible first draft.

7. Networking

Networking is so important, especially for screenwriters. It’s the best way to get a script to an agent, studio executive or producer. Many cities offer networking events where screenwriters are able to meet like-minded artists and people who could turn your screenplay into a movie. Your script won’t sell itself so it’s important to get out there and market yourself and your product. Don’t be shy, and be confident in your skills and script and you might just stumble across a person who wants to make a movie or show with you!

Don’t worry if you haven’t mastered some of these skills on the list. While they are very important for every screenwriter to have, it takes time and energy to accumulate it all. Every person has the capability to improve their skills and perfect their craft. During your time in college, you will have the resources and support to become the best you can be and excel.

To learn more about the College of Fine Arts and Production and more about our screenwriting program, visit our website or use the Request More Information button on this page.

About Lily Cooper
Professional Writing Major, Copywriter for GCU Blogs

Lily Cooper is a senior at Grand Canyon University and currently studying professional writing with a minor in marketing. She aspires to combine her love for writing and editing into a job in the publishing industry. In her free time, you can find her updating her blog, keeping up with her Instagram aesthetic and water coloring in her Bible. She believes that anything can be solved with a Taylor Swift lyric.

Read more about Lily.