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Screenwriting Help E-Mail

Updated every Monday, one selected e-mail will be posted and answered here each week. With many years of experience in the film and television business, I look forward to providing answers to your questions about screenwriting or the entertainment industry in general.  Please send your e-mailed questions to: Script Advisor.  You may also wish to visit our Screenwriting Help E-Mails - The Archives.

This week's question

Douglas, how do I prepare to write my script?

Ian


This week's Answer: 

Writing with a Facemask

Ian, that is an excellent question. I'm so glad somebody asked me that. And the answer is just one word.

                                                              Don't.

(The large font was purposeful.) Let me say it again in a different way to get make sure I got my point across.

                                                              Don't.

(The even larger font was also on purpose.) You could be preparing until the cows come home. (And, even if they do come home, you could still be in your barn, preparing.) Do you know how many people have told me that they're getting ready to write their screenplay? If you're getting ready to answer that question...

                                                             Don't.

Not that there's anything wrong with answering. It's just that I don't actually know the number of how many people have told me that. But I'm sure there's a lot.

Instead of thinking about the idea of preparing, think "diving". So, if you had asked me, "Douglas, how do I dive to write my script?" I would become very Zen and say, "Your answer is already there in your question." And after that had you completely confused and probably a little irritated, I'd say, "Just dive in." And then I would caution you to dive into your screenplay's pool but to not bring along your editor. He can join you, but much, much later.

Oh, sure, you'll eventually need a structured outline and all that other "stuff".  But don't get ready to get ready. Because, if you do, you'll never be ready. (You'll be too busy getting ready.)

And not only dive, but dive deep. Remember it's you who is writing your screenplay and nobody else can write it like you can. Learn more about yourself as you explore the deep waters of your theme, find out what is important to you, and how you want to say it.

But remember to come up for air once in a while.

Douglas Herman

Script Advisor

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