You have a movie idea in your head. Maybe you even have some scenes worked out with the main character or characters. And, maybe you even know how it’s going to end. But you need to start at the beginning and build from there to end up with a solid screenplay.
It can be frustrating and tedious, but it’s important to start at the beginning and then prepare to write the screenplay. There are great books out there that describe how to write a “selling” screenplay and how to layer your depth and pace of the story. That still doesn’t answer how to prepare to write or the best way to outline so that you can see your story.
I have some tips for you to help you get started. First, don’t look at the entire screenplay as a whole at the moment. You need to get down to the nitty-gritty of the story. It’s the simplified version.
What’s your screenplay about? Write down a few sentences or even a few paragraphs of the basic story. Let it simmer for a while. Do you have a story? Keep adding to these ideas.
Let me make it even easier…
Start with the premise of the screenplay. This is the foundation or principle idea of the storyline, which will ultimately become the completed screenplay. Simply stated, this is where you begin to lay the groundwork. Don’t think about the complexities at this point.
Write down notes or the basic idea of a screenplay. The premise will most likely change as you begin to develop your story. You will begin to see what will work and what will not. Keep the brainstorming process flowing by writing out these premises in your chosen genre. Sometimes genres can overlap, like action/adventure or historical/drama. Don’t worry about the overlapping genres right now. Just start the process.
To begin with this step, write out basic ideas that interest you in one complete sentence. Remember, keep ideas brief, and don’t go into any detail yet. You will find what works and what doesn’t for your screenplay. On your computer or on 3×5 index cards, whatever media you prefer, jot down 10-20 simple ideas that interest you.
Sometimes just getting started can be the most difficult obstacle to overcome. But once you start writing out ideas, believe me you won’t be able to stop. It’s like opening the floodgates to creative writing. The premise is what inspires and awakens the creativity of the screenwriter.
For more information and a complete step-by-step process of getting your first screenplay draft, check out:
How to Write a Screenplay: A simple building block process to write a professional screenplay from beginning to end.