8 Qualities That Make an Average Screenwriter Great

8 Qualities That Make an Average Screenwriter Great


Greatness is not this wonderful, esoteric, elusive, godlike feature that only the special among us will ever taste, it’s something that truly exists in all of us.” — Will Smith

Hollywood and beyond is full of tens of thousands of screenwriters, most of whom, sadly, will likely never see their dreams come true. Those that do make it often share many of the same qualities. These qualities are the difference makers. They are what takes a novice or average screenwriter and makes them stand out among the crowd of tens of thousands. Below we’ll explore eight of these qualities in detail and showcase how attaining and honing these qualities will make any screenwriter better, and hopefully many more great.

1. Vision

The ability to see your stories through the mind’s eye before placing any word on paper. Too many writers simply write page to page, plotting out the movie, and make choices strictly to get from point A to point B and beyond. The great writers can SEE the movie already from the perspective of an audience. “Write what you know” is one of the most misleading phrases given to aspiring screenwriters in books, seminars, etc. Better to tell them “Write what you love,” as far as genre, atmosphere, and what you love to see in the movie theater. But as far as vision goes, best to say “Write what you can see.” If you can’t see the scene and eventual compilation of scenes in your head, edited and shot like a film you see in theaters, then best to consider another avenue of expression and certainly another career.

2. Confidence over Ego

It takes time to get to this stage, but screenwriters need to be confident in their work. Writers will always have various forms of self doubt, but in order to have a career in screenwriting you need the ability to go into a conference call or meeting room, know your story, know your strengths, and be able to communicate on an equal level — rather than looking up with nervous puppy eyes to the executives and powers that be.

That said, you need to know that ego is not confidence. Ego is a facade.

“You need to buy my script because if you don’t, someone else will because my writing is better than anyone out there.”

Ego will get you nowhere. You need to be someone an executive or producer wants to work and collaborate with — not battle with. So throw away your books written by Joe Eszterhas. That’s not what Hollywood wants. They want someone confident in their own work so they know they can ask for what they need and trust you to deliver the goods.

3. Collaborative Skills

Plain and simple. If you are someone that can absorb notes from producers and studios and understand that in the end, you are hired to do a job, and then find a way for those notes to work within the confines of your own writing wants, you’ll be one step ahead of most. Know when to choose your battles. Know when to back off and accept what you’ve been given. Understand that film is a collaborative effort and while the whole process truly starts with the written word — beyond the spark of the concept in ones mind — it most certainly does not end with just that.

In short, be someone they can work with and someone that they want to work with. Know that you’re not always right and that others can better your work. And even when you think what they want is not something you agree with, be able to roll with it anyway and make their notes work.

Read the full article on Screencraft.org

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