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30 Day Writing Challenge - January

- Screenwriting -

Learning how to write for the visual medium.

Let me start by saying, I have written a total of three screenplays in my life. Prolific, no. Skilled, not at all.

During my time in my minor, I chose creative nonfiction and fiction over screenwriting. This was mostly due to the limited number of electives we were afforded during the program.

But the way I see it, screenwriting is a world writers can benefit from. Let’s break down the benefits:

  • You’re limited to two senses – sound and visuals
  • You have 90 to 120 pages to tell your story (1 page = 1 minute of screentime) meaning you have to learn to write on a budget
  • If you’re thinking real world, you’ll need to write with a budget in mind (there are more limitations in a film than in novel writing)

My Screenwriting Curriculum

You can follow along with my journey to better understanding scriptwriting through the following resources I used this month.

What I Listened to:

illustration of girl listening to music

Raise your hand all you lovely little auditory learners. This is what I’ve got in store for you this month.

You’ll definitely want to check out (and probably subscribe to) Film Courage and Tyler Mowery who seem to be significant voices in this area of the creative world. Some other YouTube videos to go to for inspiration as a newbie screenwriter are: You could also check out Pixar in a Box on Khan Academy.

Resources I Discovered:

Screenwriting is completely overwhelming. There. I said it. If you aren’t used to writing script (I’ve only dipped my toes into radio and TV writing for my day job) screenwriting is a completely foreign world. Start by learning about the formatting of a script and brushing up on your screenwriting vocabulary. As they say, you have to walk before you can run. In the screenwriting, I’d say you need to know how to format before you can write full features. I don’t make the rules.

What I Read:

I picked out two books this month. I didn’t heavily research them. I wasn’t looking for the best screenwriting books in the universe. (They might be, who knows. Just thought I’d be transparent.) I selected the following books for my monthly readings:
  • Writing Television Sitcoms by Evan S. Smith
  • Now Write! Screenwriting by Sherry Ellis and Laurie Lamson
Some interesting blogs I found include:

Programs I Used:

The screenwriting world is much different from the novel writing one. I figured there were programs build specifically for screenwriters and their needs. I wasn’t wrong. I discovered the program Celtx pretty quickly into my search for an answer to my formatting woes. A few other options I found but didn’t experiment with were: Fountain.io, Writer Duet, and Story Touch.

Celtx

celtx screenshot of system

Celtx is a free, professional-grade software built for screenwriting and film production from idea conception to production. Or as they say, ‘from script to shoot’. It’s a cloud-based software. This means you can take it on the go using your iOS or Android device.

Note: The free version of Celtx is a limited plan. To access the full extent of features you’ll need to pay a monthly subscription fee.

Screenwriting Prompts for You

Quiz time! Well, sort of. I’d like to think these are more enjoyable than a quiz considering you’re presumably following along for kicks and giggles. Pick a protagonist, a scenario, a location. But first, pick a number between 1 and 10. Protagonist:
  • A murderous salon owner
  • A window-cleaner in a major city (I’ll leave the city up to your creative genius)
  • A religious leader who has lost his faith
Scenario:
  • They falling in love
  • They are going on a physical adventure
  • They have just committed a crime
Alright, nows the fun part. Remember your number from roughly thirty seconds ago? Great. Match it below to find out what type of piece you’ll be writing:
  • 1 to 3 – A snippet of dialogue or a simple exchange
  • 4 to 6 – A single scene
  • 7 to 9 – Short film
  • 10 – Full feature

What I Created This Month

Alright, this is where I admit to my first failure of the year. It’s not great to start off round one with a 0/10 but here we are. January was a hectic time where I spent the first two weeks sick and the second to weeks scrambling to get caught up. I tabled my own work on this month’s challenge and hope to return to it in a future month or in January 2021. Keep an eye on the 2020 Challenge page for a forecast of all the writing types I’ll be delving into this year organized by month.

What writing projects did you work on this month? Share in the comments below or reach out to me through my contact form, I’d love to chat writing!

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