March 18, 2015

From Writer to Screenwriter

By Kate Hallock

As a writer I love stories, and consume them regularly, in any medium books, movies or television. Until recently, however, I only ever tried to write stories, for readers. Most writers I know also write their stories for readers. But as writers we should feel comfortable writing stories for any format. So I challenge you to take either a story you’ve already written or the new idea that you are most excited about and write it up as a screenplay instead of a novel.

There are a few huge benefits to doing this:

1. You will increase your knowledge of the craft of writing.
Anytime you venture into a new type of writing, you learn about yourself as a writer and about the way stories work. This knowledge will serve you in all your future projects no matter what form they take.

2. It may help you shape your story.
By turning your existing novel into a movie you may start to see some flaws that you didn’t see before. Maybe one of the characters is coming across flat, or a scene just doesn’t work, that you never noticed before. By seeing it in a new light you may find ways to improve your story.

3. You double the chance of getting the story out there.
Instead of limiting yourself to publishers you can now try to sell the same story to a production company. It’s not easy to get in the door, but neither is the publishing world.

4. You can now add screenwriter to you author bio.
Once you tackle a screenplay you become a screenwriter. An occupation that is underserved in a world full of writers.

I recently decided to take on my own screenwriting endeavor and I found two resources to be immeasurably helpful.

The first is a book called Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. This book takes you from idea to finished product in an easily digestible way. Even if you never write a screenplay his insights on structuring a story and plotting make it worth the read.

The second is the word processor Scrivener. For the price it is a hugely helpful tool for all types of writing. When I first thought about attempting a screenplay the formatting alone was enough to keep me from giving it a go. But using Scrivener takes the guesswork out. You simply click on Screenplay and it formats everything for you. For example it knows when you need all caps, so you are not endlessly turning on and off caps lock.

There’s no reason that any writer cannot become a screenwriter. By using these tools you can tackle the few key differences between writing a novel and writing a screenplay. After all a good story is a good story. And who knows, you may just be responsible for the next mega blockbuster.
KATE HALLOCK is passionate about great stories, whether in books, movies, television or her own mind.  She writes YA fiction. Her blog M3 Devo, short for Monday Morning Movie Devotional, takes a look at biblical truths found in mainstream movies. You can check it out at Or You can also follow her on twitter @katehallock29

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