Screenwriting tips. Whether you are a veteran screenwriter or new to the game, you’ve likely encountered them somewhere online. Turn down any dark Internet alley, and you’ll find a gaunt, empty-eyed writer, reading through tip after tip, screenwriting article and screenwriting article, searching for some sort of antidote or secret. Their five-o’clock shadow crawls down their neck.
Slowly, they urinate themselves. A sneaky bum steals their wallet– perhaps their urine. But the oblivious screenwriter, wrapped up in the cheap, quiet warmth of the LCD, keeps searching for the elusive, script-saving tip.
We’ve all done it. Stuck on a pesky screenplay, or unable to break a story, we open Google and search: screenwriting tips. And in (.30 seconds) we get (about 111,000 results). Already, we feel the high. The answer is somewhere in that haystack. If we can just… find… that… tip… Maybe we’ll finally be able to write snappy dialogue. Or maybe we’ll figure out why our protagonist shouldn’t be a mute eighty year old man that dresses in drag. Or maybe we just need to be reminded one last time to “Show, don’t tell.” Maybe. But probably not.
The truth is, there’s only one screenwriting tip that matters. Write. Turn off your wireless connection and make some stuff up.
Impress yourself. Make yourself laugh. Scare yourself. Pee yourself. Poop in the mailbox. Write a murder. Or a robbery. Really, anything will do. As long as you’re writing.
Because writing leads to more writing. Even if you’re not working on that one particular script, or that one particular scene, don’t stop. Chances are, you’ll work through your problem on the page. And really, that’s the only sure way to get better.
Keep writing, and your work will improve. Keep reading screenwriting tips, and who knows what’ll happen. You could die. Probably not. But you’ll definitely waste a chunk of time that would have been better spent writing. When all is said is done, writers write, and good writers don’t let their flawed drafts stop that process.
But the sheer volume of screenwriting tips online suggests that there’s some merit in these nuggets of supposed wisdom. And yes, some of them are helpful. But assuming you’ve read the screenwriting books, and begun your study of the craft, the tips won’t tell you anything you don’t already know. For the most part, they’re a regurgitation of the same maxims that have been passed around the screenwriting community for many, many years, and you don’t need ’em.
You don’t need someone to tell you that there shouldn’t be typos in your script. You don’t need to be reminded that screenplays need conflict. Or structure. Or that jokes need to be funny. Or that your audience needs to be entertained. Or that you shouldn’t name all your male characters with girl names. Or that vampire movies are stupid (fine, not yours). Or that your protagonist has to be active. Or that your hero can’t be in a coma until page sixty.
All you really have to do is write. Entertain yourself. At its core, that’s what writing is all about. That’s why it’s awesome. Your primary mission is to write what satisfies you, or makes you happy. Let’s face it – all screenwriters are egomaniacs. So stop wasting your time with screenwriting tips and start making yourself happy. Isn’t that the point?