Think you can’t learn how to write movie scripts without spending thousands of dollars on an overpriced film school education? Think again!

It’s a little known secret that film school is overrated. (And I speak from personal experience. Thank you Cal Arts!)

The best screenwriters in the business will tell you that practice, and practice alone, will make you awesome at writing a screenplay. Writing scripts will make you better. (Not spending months thinking about writing scripts!)

To get into the film industry, you don’t need to pay someone to tell you how to write a movie. School may provide networking contacts, but you could save the and money and spend it on writing a unique, attention-grabbing script.

Here are four tips you can use to boost your ability to write a screenplay, and all without taking out a student loan from the government:

How to Write Movie Scripts Tip No.1: Learn The Basics

Read a few books and blogs (like this one!), but don’t confuse reading with writing. Always spend some time each day practising what you’ve learned. Don’t get bogged down in technical details.

Once you’ve got software that automatically corrects script format, and a firm understanding of the Three Acts and character development, just go for it. Don’t pay too much attention to what people expect a good script to sound like. Just start writing and create a world for your characters to express themselves in.

How to Write Movie Scripts Tip No.2: Write a Treatment…But Don’t Stress Over It

A treatment is a one-page outline of everything that happens in the story. Some writers begin with treatments to get all of their ideas out and create a kind of “map” to follow, while others begin with the script itself.

Find out what works for you, and refer back to your treatment if you get stuck. But DON’T wait till it’s perfect. Just start writing. (Set a goal of at least a couple of pages a day to get started.)

How to Write Movie Scripts Tip No.3: Use Your Originality

The biggest flaw of film school is that students are taught to write the same scripts as their peers. Ideas are suppressed by grades and tight deadlines. Students learn the “proper” way to do things, and so the industry is flooded with scripts that all sound the same.

By not attending film school, you’re actually giving yourself an advantage. Draw from your life experience and the variety of environments you find yourself in day-to-day.

Spend the time you would otherwise be wasting in film school to go on adventures and fact-finding missions. Travel. The fun and originality of your experience will shine into your writing and make for a much more interesting screenplay.

How to Write Movie Scripts Tip No.4: Write Every Day

Successful screenwriters dedicate themselves to the art of writing. This means writing, and writing often. It doesn’t matter how many years of education you’ve had, or how many screenplays you’ve already had produced – the work will not write itself.

It’s the hardest thing to do but by making it a daily habit, getting the words down will become easier, and the quality of your writing will improve. The equation is this: the more you write, the better you’ll get.

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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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