3 Simple Steps to Writing a Successful Screenplay

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Writing a screenplay doesn’t have to be so difficult if you follow these three steps. The technique is simple and don’t get me wrong or misunderstand what I am trying to tell you. Writing a script is a big job, no doubt about it, but the whole process of actually writing the script can be simplified.

These steps come right from the pros, Robert McKee, Syd Field and other successful screenwriters such as Mark Sanderson.


You can use index cards or virtual index cards that you can find in software programs such as Plot Control (which by the way is an excellent tool).

Here you will fill the index card with one or two sentence statements describing what happens in each scene. If you are using physical cards, be sure to write the scene number on the back. When using a program it will do it for you.

Understand that this first step can take weeks, even months, so be patient as you build your story. In addition, you may want to move scenes around and place them in different positions. For example: Scene number three may become scene number five and so on.

When using a program you can move the scenes around with the click of your mouse.

2- Treatment

In this step, you are going to use your index cards, write your story word for word and describe every scene and the action that takes place. You will write everything your characters do in this step. Include place and time. Example: Library-Night.

To me it’s almost like writing a novel, however it won’t be that detailed or sophisticated because it is for your eyes only.

Many writers like to add a few character outlines during this process so they truly get to know their characters and how they will react in certain situations. You must get to know them inside and out.

This process, done correctly, could also take months. Remember, no dialogue yet. That will come in step three. When it’s done and you have edited your story repeatedly, ruthlessly and fine tuned every scene to perfection then you will in fact have a great story that will entertain people for years to come.

3- Break out the script writing software.

Now you can turn on your PC, open up your program, and get to work. In this step, you will take your treatment and write your script. Your story is the finest it will ever be and writing a script from a detailed treatment will make the process easier (notice I did not say easy). It will also be more enjoyable because all the information is right in front of you and you won’t have to guess what’s next.

The only thing you have to add now is dialogue and as Robert McKee says, “Dialogue at this point is invariably the finest dialogue we’ve ever written.”

This is the reality of how writing a great script is done. Yes, it will take time. In the end, as you receive the big bucks you’ve been working for, you will look back at the process and say to yourself, “Piece of cake.”

Until next time. Write Fast-Write Easy



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