Four Tips For Writing Your First Draft

So now you’ve outlined your movie. Or at least gotten some basic bulletpoints down. Now comes the fun part—actually writing the damn screenplay.

Write Consistently

The biggest thing is to get into a flow with your story. You don’t want to just haphazardly write once a week for twenty minutes. That is a recipe for never finishing your script. When you hear somebody say “I’ve been working on this screenplay for ten years,” it’s because they aren’t actually working. They’re just noodling around every couple months.

Write every day. Take Sundays off if you must, but you have to stay consistent. Being connected to the story for an extended period lets you dig in to the energy and rhythm of the script. You’ll live and breathe the story.

Get at least an hour in. Preferably two. (Even if you’re crazy busy, I know you have an hour a day to write.)

Use your preferred screenwriting software and have at it.

Write Quickly

This is not the time to analyze every single sentence to death. Just get the words on paper. Your dialogue will suck, your scenes will be too long, and your second act will be a mess. It’s okay. Just keep moving.

There’s a reason that writers call the first draft “the vomit draft”. It’s not going to be perfect. It’s not SUPPOSED to be perfect.

One way to help you write quickly: GET RID OF YOUR DISTRACTIONS. That means no TV, no internet (use a program like StayFocusd or Freedom to block your internet). Tell your significant other to leave you alone during your writing time.

Write What’s Hot

You don’t have to write your movie in order. If there’s a scene that’s burning in your brain, let it out. You can always go back and fill in the blanks later. By the time you’re done with all of those scenes, you’ll be surprised how much of the screenplay is done.

It’s much better to have 50-60 solid pages and THEN hit a roadblock, rather than foundering on page 3.

Put It Down

After you have a serviceable draft, put it away for a couple of weeks. This will let you get some distance from the story and allow your mind to recharge.

Then you can read the script with fresh eyes and start editing.

Oh, you thought you were done? Oh, no. Like I said, this was the fun part. The real work comes when you start on your second draft.