Becoming a screenwriter requires more than hard work. It also requires some business savvy. (Something many writers prefer to leave to their agents.)

To get yourself a steady writing gig on a show or a hefty check for your screenplay, you first need to get yourself out there. Write quality, not quantity, and approach producers with confidence.

Here are some handy tips to writing a movie script that’ll boost your bank balance and help you become a pro:

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Becoming a Screenwriter Who Gets Paid Tip No.1: Win Screenwriting Competitions

One of the best ways to get your name out there, and become a screenwriter that isn’t seen as just a total wannabe, is to enter and win screenplay competitions. There is a plethora of contests you can enter online, or check out your regional screenwriting association for more local competitions.

They generally give a brief genre and page count requirement, though some are completely open to any interpretation. You can win anything from $20 through to $10,000, and some of the bigger Hollywood competitions send the winning screenplays to interested producers.

Becoming a Screenwriter Who Gets Paid Tip No.2: Identify The Gap

What needs to be written? What film do you want to see that just isn’t there? By filling the gap, you’re increasing the chances of your work being noticed by paying producers. Write what you love, and look for the right time to pitch it.

Becoming a Screenwriter Who Gets Paid Tip No.3:Insist on Payment

In order to get your work made, it may be tempting to give it away for free. (Especially when you’re just learning how to write a screenplay.)

This sometimes leads to a successful screenwriting career, but as soon as you get your first paid gig, your name becomes a bigger asset. It’s a good idea to get money coming your way as soon as possible, no matter how little the amount might be.

Screenwriters are paid in two ways – either an upfront sum for the rights to their screenplay, or through “points”. Points are the percentage of the net profits. Look into what screenwriters in your genre are getting paid for the same quality of work.

Once you understand the fundamentals of how much you should be getting paid, you’ll be in a much better position to insist on payment. Just because someone gives attention to your script doesn’t mean they’ll pay you for it, unless you push them to.

Remember that all films (even independent or student ones) do have budgets, no matter what the director/producer says. They will be able to find the money to shoot the movie, so they will be able to find the money to pay you for your valuable creativity (i.e. the backbone of their film, without which it would not exist).

Becoming a Screenwriter Who Gets Paid Tip No.3: Don’t Worry So Much

Relax. That voice inside your head might be right – you could be a terrible writer. That’s okay, they produced Twilight, didn’t they?

Write your best and push it as hard as you can, but don’t freak out if agents or producers aren’t biting.

A lot of success in the film industry comes down to luck, but you can boost your luck of becoming a screenwriter that gets paid. And when you do, you’ll be making some serious money.

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About The Author

Michael Rogan
Editor, ScriptBully Magazine

Michael Rogan is a former screenplay reader and optioned screenwriter. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief of ScriptBully magazine, and has written a few non-sucky books including "How to Write a Book That Doesn't Suck (and Will Actually Sell)". He has made it his mission to help screenwriters kick ass - and rid the world of films based on action-figure lines.

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