Screenwriting Tips

Willamette Writers encourages writers of all genres to enter the FiLMLaB Competition–even those who have never written a screenplay before.

Screenwriting has generally accepted conventions and guidelines. Below are some valuable resources as well as links and screenwriting tips to make your short screenplay the best it can be:

Our weekly FiLMLaB blog offers tips about screenwriting in general and short form in particular. Guest bloggers weigh in on the subject as well, including Golden Globe winner Erik Bork, who gave FiLMLaB readers some tips in short form when he judged our first contest in 2012.

The winning scripts from previous FiLMLaB contests are posted to review along with the short films they became. Winners are given an opportunity to share their experience on our weekly FiLMLaB blog.

Willamette Writers sponsors a variety of low cost screenwriting workshops throughout the year, as well as FiLMLaB specific workshops on short form for members and non-members.

General Screenwriting Tips

A quick internet search will turn up books, classes, videos, and web tutorials that you may find helpful if you are attempting a screenplay for the first time.The Writer's Guide to Writing Your Screenplay by Cythia Whitcomb

Below are a few of our favorites:

Former Willamette Writers President and veteran screenwriter Cynthia Whitcomb has written The Writers Guide to Writing Your Screenplay; perfect for the beginning screenwriter. Utilizing her years of experience as a television writer and graduate instructor for the UCLA Extension Program, she has compiled a thoughtfully detailed book to take you step by step through your first screenplay (find out more about Cynthia and her classes).

OScreenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Fieldf course, the Godfather of screenwriting is Syd Field, and no education in the craft is complete without his classic, Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting. It can be challenging for the beginner, but is a must read for anyone serious about visual storytelling. Everything you need is in this book.

The user friendly Save the Cat books by Blake Snyder offer a straightforward guide to recognizing story genres and provide a useful Beat Sheet to base your structure upon; or you can cut right to the chase with the excellent Vicki King book, How to Write a Movie in 21 Days.

And an odd choice, but a favorite of FiLMLaB producer Ruth Witteried, is Billy Mernit’s Writing the Romantic Comedy: How to Write Screenplays That Sell. (In fact, it’s not just about romcoms. This excellent book is very readable and useful to beginners and advanced students alike.)

Then there’s the Writers Store website where you can find even more books, videos and tutorials, including formatting details. Many existing software programs have screenwriting templates (Microsoft Word, Scrivener) that will format your screenplay to exact industry standards. Or you can check out Final Draft and their free demo program.

Please contact Ruth Witteried, Executive Director of Willamette Writers FiLMLaB if you have additional questions about the FiLMLaB Competition.

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