Screenwriting for Authors — Techniques to Increase the Chances of Selling Your Screenplay

If you want to actually sell your screenplay, as opposed to writing it for you own entertainment, you can increase the chances of success if you use these tips:

CREATE A COMPELLING LOGLINE - A logline is a one or two sentence description of your script. Most movie industry execs are extremely busy. If you want to sell your screenplay, you need to quickly convey to them what your story is about. Hence the need for the logline. At it's most basic level, the logline should indicate who the protagonist is, what they want to accomplish and who stands in their way.

START THE STORY QUICKLY - You must engage the reader quickly. If you don't have them interested within the first 10 pages, they will stop reading and move on to the next screenplay. Often, faster than this.

KEEP DESCRIPTIONS SHORT - Screenwriting is lean writing. Write short descriptions of the action and setting.

KEEP DIALOGUE SHORT - All dialogue must move the story forward in some way and it must be much shorter than is typical in most novels.

USE SHORT SENTENCES AND PARAGRAPHS - Hollywood readers like to see a plenty of white space on the page. Long sections of text are difficult to read and sometimes intimidating. Make the job of reading your script look easy and inviting.

KEEP SCENES SHORT - Today's movies tend to have short scenes, which increase the pace of the story.

REVEAL INFORMATION SLOWLY - Give the reader only enough information to understand the situation, who the characters are and what they are doing. One big mistake of new screenwriters is to reveal too much information too soon. When you reveal it in small amounts, you help to create a sense of mystery. It makes the reader want to keep turning the pages to learn more.

LEAVE DIRECTING TO THE DIRECTORS - An annoying tendency of some beginning screenwriters is to want to call camera angles and suggest particular songs for the background. They also want to indicate how the actors should deliver their lines. Let the experts do their jobs. It is insulting for you, an outsider, to tell people how to do them. It also turns people off and marks you as an amateur.

Danek S. Kaus is a produced screenwriter with another film in development. Several of his screenplays have been optioned by film production companies by movie production companies. He can help with your screenplay or adapt your book into a movie. He also offers professional script analysis


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