A Half-Decent Screenwriting Process

I’ve decided to start rambling a bit, online, about stuff – mainly due to lockdown but also, you know, ‘reasons’ – and I decided that part of what I’d start with would be this half-decent screenwriting process that kind of works for me most of the time.

Also, I’m not opening it up to debate because, honestly, your mileage is very likely to vary so what would be the point, and besides, who has time for that kind of fuckery, there’s writing to be done.

Anyway, without further ado, this what I’ll be exploring over the next few weeks or so, this Half-Decent Screenwriting Process:

  1. Find your inspiration (newspapers/magazines/RSS feeds/TV/Documentaries etc.)
  2. Turn it into an idea (What if ….?)
  3. Expand it into a premise (maybe this/maybe that)
  4. Set out your principle characters (Use Schechter’s Unity of opposites)
  5. Write your log line (use the combined Schechter/Snyder template)
  6. Start outlining plot points and story beats (can be out-of-sequence)
  7. Fix your beginning
  8. Fix your ending
  9. Brainstorm. e.g.:
    • Write a list of 50 things that can go wrong. (remember your characters)
    • Write a list of 20 things that would never happen.
    • Add genre layers to your idea.
    • Mindmap your story ideas.
    • Sketch it out.
    • Do some research.
    • Get it down on paper.
    • Move your scene locations.
    • Dissect a similar screenplay.
    • Do the rules of your world change things?
    • Use images as triggers.
    • Write down the mundane details of your characters lives.
    • Try the rule of three.
  10. Write a treatment (use the Schechter/Snyder hybrid template)
  11. Add details to your treatment (inc. dialogue/blocking/set-up & pay-off etc.)
  12. Write your screenplay (1st draft)
  13. Re-write your screenplay (2nd draft)
  14. Edit your screenplay (as few words as possible while retaining the story)
  15. Submit

So, for what it’s worth that’s the process. It could take a week, it could – more likely – take a few months, but if you use it, it will get you there.

Hope that helps, back soon.