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Last week I detailed 10 screenplays that I felt formed a kind of “required reading” syllabus for aspiring writers. Though these picks certainly qualified as personal choices, there’s no doubt that immersing yourself into any one of the screenplays I chose will help you to become a better screenwriter. This week, I’m looking to focus on some simple and effective  tips that should help you with absolutely any screenplay that you’re writing.

Screenwriting tips come in all shapes and sizes, and not everybody will necessarily agree with every one. No matter – as long as a “tip” gets you thinking about your screenplay in some way, shape or form, then it was worth your time, right? Because it’s impossible to study your own script for long enough – you really have to be passionate about it from the very first to the very last page. After months and months of work, that’s one tough feat to maintain.

Should you be attempting to pen the next There Will Blood or even Hobo With A Shotgun, I hope that the following 12 tips will help to make the entire process that little bit easier for you…

 

12. Like A Movie? Read The Screenplay!

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This is something that should be kind of obvious, and yet so many aspiring screenwriters skip over this one because hey, they’ve seen the movie. But if you watch a movie and find that, yes, you liked it, for God’s sake track down the screenplay. It’s true that “watching” the movie might’ve helped you to partly understand why it worked on the big screen, but you can’t truly appreciate why (in screenwriting terms, anyway) until you’ve read the original blueprint.

That’s to say, any movie that you have a positive feeling about is crying out for you to do one thing: “Read me!” And you might find that things have changed drastically since the script stages, which is great: now you can compare and contrast which elements were revamped or revisited because they weren’t working. You have a before and after, and it’s left to you to fill in the gaps (which makes for a seriously great learning process).

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This article was first posted on April 2, 2013