During my MFA degree, I signed up for a beginning screenwriting class because I thought it would help me learn to write comic books.
To my surprise, I completely fell in love with screenwriting. Screenplays have their own language, their own method of communicating images that is different from short stories and novels, but registers on the same deep, emotional level.
If you’ve never read a screenplay before, I challenge you to try reading one. The one caveat is, that just like a movie, screenplays are better when you set aside a few hours to read them straight through. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how satisfying a screenplay can be.
Here are my top five suggestions, in no particular order:
- The Station Agent by Tom McCarthy
- Tender Mercies by Horton Foote
- Changeling: A True Story by J. Michael Straczynski
- Rachel Getting Married by Jenny Lumet
- The Verdict by David Mamet
Where do you get screenplays? Lots of places. You can download them from Drew’s Script-o-Rama
, buy them from the Writer’s Store
, or even visit the film section at your local bookstore. However, keep in mind that the selection at a brick and mortar store will most likely be very small, with only recent movie scripts for sale.
If you’ve already seen the movie, then don’t read that screenplay. At least, not as your initiation into the world of screenplay writing. Choose a movie you have not seen before, preferably one that you don’t know much about. You’ll get to experience the Movie of the Mind that screenplays do so well.
|It’s like NaNoWriMo,
but for screenwriters.
Why am I talking about screenplays all of a sudden? April is Script Frenzy. It’s a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) type project, sponsored by the same people. All during April, screenwriters try to write a 100 page screenplay. The Script Frenzy website has all of the same tools as NaNoWriMo – community boards, web badges, manuscript counters, and ways to connect with your local screenwriters.
If you’re feeling stumped or sluggish while writing your short stories or novels, or if you’ve always wanted to try writing a screenplay, then Script Frenzy is a great chance to give it a go. You’ll have a built-in community of people who are working on their screenplays, just like you.
Even if you aren’t interested in writing screenplays, there are a lot of great tricks of the writing trade you can steal from this format (like structure and dialogue). I’ll be posting all through April about screenwriting resources, tips, and tidbits. Let the script frenzy begin!