Thursday, May 14, 2009


Seems I've been asked by a lot of people lately for advice on getting into movies, how to get started, scripts, shooting, etc. So this blog will be a little taste about how I approach scriptwriting. I might also soon put together a DVD on "How to Greenlight Yourself."

For me, I have found the best way to approach a script is to extensively outline. I start with a very broad brush... Roman numeral I, II and III. These are the three acts. I write a one sentence description. For instance, if I were writing Star Wars, it might look like this:
I. Luke accepts a mission to go with Old Ben.
II. Darth Vader and the Empire try to stop them.
III. Luke succeeds in blowing up the Death Star.

Then I go deeper. I start writing sequences inside of each act. Again, as an example, the first sequence in Star Wars might read: A rebel spacecraft is attacked in an effort to recover stolen battle plans.

Then deeper still, I begin to list the individual scenes. EXT. SPACE A rebel spaceship is attack by Imperial starcruiser.

An average drama might have 100 to 130 scenes. Action films might come close to 200. So I might have 70 to 80 scenes outlined before actual scriptwriting begins.

I use Movie Magic Storyview for Outlining. I use Final Draft for scriptwriting.

My preferred atmosphere for writing is a noisy environment. So I like to go camp out at a restaurant for half a day. I might write five pages. On a big day, as many as twenty. I spend less time writing the first draft than the outline. But I spend months re-writing.

When I first started writing, I started a lot of stories and never got past page 20. I'd stop and read what I wrote and get discouraged and quit. I've learned that the real writing is in the re-writing.

Anyway, that's how I do it. But everyone is different and you need to find what works best for you. My wife needs total silence to write. I can't write in total silence. To each their own.


  1. Interesting how everyone approaches writing. I love to write with movie soundtracks that are in line with the type of story I'm writing blaring in the background. Kinda of like thematic white noise.

    I'm working on an intensive outline right now. I get impatient in the outline phase. I just want to get in there and write. But, if I don't plan it out well, I end up with an unfinished script.

    And, you're absolutely right, right, right about re-writing! The hard part is getting the first draft written. When writing I try to write everyday. Since I know it will all be re-written anyway, I don't mind writing bad scenes as long as the substance of the scene is there...

  2. While outlining, that's the biggest obstacle-- my impatience. Take right now. I have my outline and want to just convert and send over to scriptwriting software. But there are some notes I need to incorporate and a little more backstory I need to develop. Patience, patience, patience.