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Screenwriting Links

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Writing screenplays is different from most other forms of writing. The format is peculiar, rigid and riddled with out-dated conventions from the days when screenplays were written on Royals and Underwoods. You must learn to write visually to make a reader see your film in their head. And once you finish your script (or your 2nd script or, sometimes, your 10th script) it’s not always clear what to do with it. Do you call your old college pal who’s working in the mail room at ICM? (answer: yes) Do you enter your screenplay in a contest? (maybe) Do you try to get an agent, or do you bypass the whole agent business and try pitching directly to production companies?

There aren’t many simple answers to these questions, and what worked for someone else isn’t necessarily going to work for you, so you have to filter any advice you get. Anyway, I didn’t start writing this to offer advice, just to point you in the direction of sites that offer sensible advice. There are a lot of people willing to help you and a lot of information on the web.

The one thing to remember is to not jump into the whole business of Hollywood and promoting yourself if your script isn’t perfect. Concentrate on your writing, not your Oscar acceptance speech. Read lots of great scripts and think about what makes them great. Don’t head out to pitch or submit your screenplay to contests until it’s as good as you can make it. After that, some of these sites might be of use.

For general advice, check out the FAQ for misc.writing.screenplays.moderated. A lot of contributors to the newsgroup have put a lot of thought into this FAQ, so it’s worth a read. MWSM also has another FAQ, taken from a single post by the Hollywood horror specialist Neal Marshall Stevens. This is a must-read for anyone who thinks they’re ready to go get an agent or to shake up Hollywood’s assumptions of what makes a terrific story.

Contests are a great way to get your script out there. Again, read the MWSM review of contests for info on where to submit and why it’s only worth submitting to specific ones.

Writers’ forums abound, and some are quite good. Best of all is Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot’s discussion boards at the Wordplayer website. You can also join the screenwriter’s group at Francis Coppola’s American Zoetrope online studio and have access to his forums, contests and insight.

Scripts online:  While screenplays belong either to the writer or the production company or studio who purchased it, PDF copies are often freely available as a nod to the fact that new writers benefit from reading well-written scripts, and that the script itself has little commercial value beyond the movie that’s made from it.  The following sites are good sources for screenplays if you’d like to read samples that have made it into production

  Movie Page
  The Coming
  Drew’s Script-oRama (one of the oldest script sites online…)
  Simply Scripts
  Script City
  13 Idol dot com
  Script Pimp
  Weekly Script

If you live in NYC and are looking for actual screenplays printed on paper, there’s a guy who usually hangs out on Spring Street or Prince, in SoHo, who has a table full of features and television scripts for between $10 and $15 a copy.

Written by Alan

September 12th, 2008 at 10:45 pm

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