I’ve told you many times that scriptwriting is a very different kind of beast. There are all kinds of advice columns for writing the best scripts that I could go on, and on about. However, something that I haven’t already addressed is how a scriptwriter prepares to write a great script. As a scriptwriter, you’re an important part of the equation too. So, I’ve come up with my top three best pieces of advice for scriptwriters.
- Think about your environment
This isn’t anything super new, but in my experience, this has been critical to how well a script turns out. So, take into account what you might need to clear your mind before you start the script (I usually need to have my emailing done and to do list taken care of). Make sure the temperature is comfortable, and you have a good amount of light. I also like to have snacks and drinks on hand as well. It seems silly to think these sorts of things would be important, but they have distracted me before. So, I’ve learned to fix them before I start.
I think the most critical environmental factor for me is noise level. What works best for you? For me, I need it to be quiet with maybe very soft instrumental music. For example, if someone is making a lot of noise, or I can hear the lyrics to a song, BOOM, I’m distracted. So, I put on noise canceling headphones and listen to a playlist of classic composers like Beethoven, Bach, and others. Some people have to have the TV going in the background or have loud music playing. It all depends on the person.
Your environment may not have been a priority before, but it should be now. Don’t let anything distract you; because once you’re in your writing zone, you don’t want to be interrupted.
- Have a plan or outline
Yes, we’ve all heard this since grade school, but it’s still true. Starting to write anything without some kind of outline is like driving somewhere without a map. Yes, it may be a little bit of a pain to put the extra work into an outline, but it’s worth every minute you put in to it.
I actually figured out a trick. I have a standard outline for all of my scripts. When our clients fill out their BDQ’s they provide the meat for my outline. This makes the scripting process go so much faster and smoother. Surprise! It also makes for much better scripts.
- Stick to your deadlines
This makes me think of one of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes from the story Horton Hatches the Egg: “I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful one-hundred percent!”
Horton, the elephant, commits to sit on an egg and keep it warm until a mother bird comes back. He weathers literal storms and other challenges. However, he never leaves the little egg unattended.
I can really relate to this quote. I mean, I feel like an elephant right now because I’m five months pregnant, but I also understand why Horton wants to keep his word. When a client hands you the reigns on writing a script about their product, they are handing you something very precious to them—the messaging around their products and company. They are counting on you to represent it well and to get it to them on time.
I know this piece of advice seems like an obvious one, but if you take nothing else from this blog post, take this advice: always, always, always stick to your deadlines. You committed to get that done for your client who has their own deadlines and expectations.
Do I feel the urgent want to write a script every day? Not always. Some days, I’m tired or seem to have too many other tasks to manage. Though, the real question should be, did I commit to write something for a client? The answer is almost always yes. As long as I made a commitment, I try my very, very hardest to keep it. I understand that there will be family emergencies and such that arise, and people will understand. However, if you’re “just not feeling it today”, suck it up. If you flake on your clients, they will not trust you, and your word needs to be something that holds weight. So, hang in there. Mean what you say in your writing as well as in your commitments.
Are you still with me? Good. You may already know all of this, but it’s always good to get a friendly reminder. If you have any good advice for aspiring scriptwriters, we’d love to hear from you!