Screenwriting the Better Story

Have you ever walked out of a movie thinking you could write a better story for a movie than the one you just watched? Screenwriting just may be your calling. If you believe in your creativity, your story could earn you a million dollars.

Dreaming about making it as a screenwriter in Hollywood is much easier than actually being a screenwriter toiling in the land of dreams. The competition in the screenwriting marketplace is so fierce; the odds of selling a script are one in a million. If you do decide to pursue the craft, you may want to consider purchasing some lottery tickets on the side.

Most people tend to imagine screenwriters living near the beach in California, waking in the late hours of the morning each day, taking it slow. Some may imagine the typical screenwriter, dressed in a pair of khakis and a pull-over, grabbing a cup of coffee and musing about his day. Eventually wandering out to the back deck to grab some sun and maybe write a few pages.

To get a better understanding of the challenges a screenwriter is faced with, take a look at this scenario. Most screenplays are written as “spec scripts”. Meaning the writer puts his work in the realm of great speculation hoping it will sell. Each year screenwriters register tens of thousands of screenplays with the Writers Guild of America and only a small fraction are picked up by major studios and production companies. How many actually get made into movies? How many out-of-nowhere screenwriter success stories do you read about each year?

I’ve never given it much thought because it’s what I want to do. I can feel the potential building inside of me. But the question a lot of people may have is “why do screenwriters waste so much time and energy to write a screenplay, if the odds are against them?

Screenwriters work for the “option”. In the rare but possible scenario, a screenplay is picked up by a major studio or production company; the screenwriter could find themselves in a six-figure deal receiving ten percent upfront. Not bad for sitting in front of your computer for a year typing out a feature-length screenplay. The truth is that most screenwriters out there will write their entire life without ever making a sale.

I have a dream

Speaking from my own experience, screenwriting is like my job. It’s what I want to do. I’m constantly challenged to be a better writer, a better story-teller. Success doesn’t just happen, you must envision it and work hard every day to make it a reality. Getting paid for this self-proclaimed job would be nice. I don’t expect to be rich and famous. I’m working to out-do myself, for validation that I’m connecting with those whom I respect.

I’m following my dream just as thousands of other screenwriters out there are following theirs. You must allow your passion to be your motivation. Commit to what makes you happy, screenwriting is my passion. One day I know I will wake up and my life will be different, it will be changed from what I have put into it.

In the meantime, I’m happily writing, developing my skills, keeping my dream alive. Hollywood is always on the lookout for the next blockbuster screenplay. It could come from an unknown screenwriter.

– Passion is the energy that will lead you to success. – David L. Spies

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9 Responses to Screenwriting the Better Story

  1. gonzolaz says:

    Thank you for that, writing screenplays often feels like banging one’s head against the wall, however it’s all I want to do, so there’s not much choice is there? Luckily though, I’m working in a much smaller country, so there is less competition than in Hollywood, but still very hard.

  2. Love this post. Writing with the intent of selling your story (whether it’s a screenplay or a novel or anything else that’s similar) is always a challenge. A constant one where, like you say, the rewards may come much in the future (excepting the joy of coming up with awesome stories and putting them down on paper, of course), if at all.

    However, like you, I believe that you should follow your dreams and work real hard to achieve them. Cheers to a successful career!

  3. Lucy Riches says:

    As I spend another “writing break” pretending I am doing constructive research it is refreshing to come across someone who has hope.

    Someone has to write the screenplays.

    I don’t want to become rich and famous. I just want to encourage people to live their lives more intensely.

  4. Greg says:

    I agree with not thinking about all the other screenwriters out there doing exactly what you want to do. I’m very focused on screenwriting as this is what drives my enthusiasm for life and improving myself! I love toiling away in rewrites knowing that in a few months this process will begin again. I love learning more about my abilities to create and tell stories in an entertaining way. I love the post and always appreciate your uplifting morning tweets. Thank you!

  5. What a great post David. I can feel your passion on the page and you’re so right that you need this passion to fuel you.

    If there’s ever a time to reach for your dreams, it’s now at a time when nothing is dead cert. anyway.

    Good luck with your writing. I hope it’s going well and I look forward to seeing one of your stories on the big screen!


  6. Kyra says:

    Awesome post! It’s like you wrote what I was thinking! Good luck with your writing!

  7. Brendon Fogle says:

    Great post! Writing is a grind…a daily grind, that is more often painful than fun. But, when that perfect dance comes out the fingers, or a plot problem is solved, it’s better than sex (or damn close). I write because I love to, not because I hope I will sell something. It would be great to see my story on screen, but that’s not what drives me. Keep grinding.

  8. e.lee says:

    thank you for this encouraging post. Btw I never had that mental image of screenwriters working by the beach and taking it slow heheh. Perhaps I’ve seen ‘Sunset Boulevard’ too many times 😉

  9. Great post! Especially the non-writer’s perception. It’s the same for novelists. People imagine a gentle world of scented candles, tweed, scratchy pens in romantic towers and lunches with agents. None of the nasty stuff like endless rewrites – either because a client has demanded it or your own muse has. And yet we continue – because we can’t help it and nothing else seems to matter.

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