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What is Screenwriting?
Screenwriting refers to the process of writing screenplays, or scripts that are written specifically for movies. Some screenplays might also be written for television shows and video games as well.
While writing a script for the stage is similar to writing a script for the screen, these two processes also have a couple major differences. First of all, a screenwriter generally has a little more creative freedom than a playwright. For example, dramatic special effects like explosions are entirely possible when making a movie, but special effects when putting on a stage play may be limited. Generally speaking, a screenwriter is limited only by his imagination.
What Does a Screenwriter Do?
A screenwriter is a type of writer that creates screenplays.
The majority of screenplays typically start with a cast of characters. These characters are the backbone of the script, and without them a story would not be possible. A screenwriter will usually take the time to extensively research and develop each individual character. One way to do this is to write the name of a character on a page, along with a short biography for that character. This biography can include the character’s background information, including that character’s goals, ambitions, emotions, and personality quirks.
Once all of the characters have been developed, a screenwriter can then start writing the screenplay. Nearly every writer will approach this step differently. Some writers, for example, will create a detailed outline before they actually start to writer. Others, however, may just start writing and develop the story as they go along.
When creating a screenplay, writers must make the character’s dialogue realistic and believable. Every scene in a screenplay should also help move the story forward in some way. Also, screenwriters should keep in mind that their screenplays need to be written in a specific format.
Overall, the process of writing a screenplay can take anywhere from a month to several years. In some cases, a single screenplay might even be a screenwriter’s life work. After the first draft of a screenplay is complete, a screenwriter must then usually reread it and revise or edit it. This is usually done over and over again, until the writer finally decides that the script is perfect in every way. When a screenplay is finally complete, the writer will then usually attempt to sell it
How Does a Screenwriter Sell a Script?
Unless a screenwriter is lucky enough to have been commissioned to write a screenplay, he will usually need to sell it in order to make any money. Most screenwriters usually employ the help of an agent for this process, but this isn’t always necessary, depending on the circumstances.
First, a screenplay along with a short synopsis of the storyline is usually sent to production companies, motion picture studios, or anywhere else that accepts screenplay submissions. Interested parties will then make an offer for the screenplay, which a writer can either accept or reject. If a screenplay is actually turned into a movie, a writer will typically receive even more money.
Selling a screenplay is often much harder than it sounds. Only a tiny fraction of the screenplays that are written will ever be turned into movies. In fact, some screenwriters will live their entire lives without selling a single screenplay.
Those who are serious about a screenwriting career, however, will often work as screenplay rewriters. These types of writers don’t produce original work, but instead rewrite screenplays from other writers.
What is the Average Salary for a Screenwriter?
Members of the Writer’s Guild of America, however, will usually make a minimum amount of money for each screenplay that is purchased. If a low budget screenplay is purchased by a Writers Guild signatory, for instance, the minimum amount that a writer got paid in 2011 was $63,895. High budget screenplays, on the other hand, sold for a minimum of $119,954.
Screenwriters’ annual salaries can be rather difficult to compute, and this is usually determined by the number and types of scripts sold each year. As mentioned above, some screenwriters won’t make any money during their screenwriting careers, and some will make very little. A few talented and lucky individuals, however, may be able to sell several screenplays for high budget movies during their screenwriting careers.
What are the Skills and Education Requirements for a Career in Screenwriting?
The majority of screenwriters are expert people watchers. They understand how people act, move, and speak, which is a necessity for creating realistic characters. A career in screenwriting also requires excellent writing skills, and an extensive knowledge of motion picture production.
While technically no formal education is necessary for a screenwriting career, many aspiring screenwriters choose to earn some sort of related degree. Writing or screenwriting degrees, for instance, can help refine a screenwriter’s skills, and a film degree can help a screenwriter get a greater understanding of film production.