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Screenwriting 101

Maybe even tougher than selling poetry is selling a screenplay. While there is nonstop television programming and movies available, how many of those are reruns? The cost of creating a movie or a new television show is high and only limited financing is available. Getting distribution can be as daunting as getting financing.

But, wait! That being said, with today’s technology and new media, it is easier than ever to create your own video and get it seen by an audience on the internet. This is what I tell my screenwriting students, “Get together with your friends and do it yourself.” However, you’ll want to start with a good screenplay.

This was an article written as a guest blog for Morgen Bailey and the rest of the article is posted at


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7 Responses to "Screenwriting 101"

  1. Thank you Nancy. Lovely to have you back. :)

  2. Fred says:

    Free-writing in journals is an iatorpmnt component of teaching writing because it helps kids generate ideas, but I disagree with your comment that it is better to write than to be taught how to write. Both strategies need to be incoporated into a good writing curriculum. Kids need to understand that writing is a process beginning with pre-writing or organizing ideas, drafting, revising, editing, (revising and editing are completely different processes and completely different steps), and publishing. You can’t bake a cake by taking the ingredients out of the pantry and calling it cake any more than you can call a piece of free-writing a finished product unless you follow the entire process. Free-wrting, like you are suggesting is very valuable, but so, too, is TEACHING the writing process. In order to be successful in the world of work, kids will need to be able to take their audience (boss, client, etc.) into consideration and produce quality pieces of expository writing. Teaching the writing process will help them achieve success in this area. Free-writing will help them with creativity which is wonderful and certainly enhances life. However, creative writing, unless you are a novelist, is a pretty useless “real-world” skill. There is room for both – inspiring creativity and teaching quality expository writing – in any good writing curriculum.Do you have a degree in education? In writing? I wonder because you are on the right track with many of your writing suggestions. Some of them, however, seem to be your opinion rather than research based educational methods. For the latest findings in the teaching of reading and writing, you may want to consider becoming a member of NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English)or other professional organizations. You have good isntincts; professional journals will help you refine those instincts into sound educational practice.

    1. Mohammad says:

      I want to be a writer just like edbryeovy else i have a group of friends who actually read my books and cant wait until i get done with a certain chapter or book. I want to know if there are more people like me who start writing a book and no matter what they cant stop writing they just have to finish the book. Even though the book maybe stupid and most likely doesn’t make any sense you just cant stop. Am I the only one who is addicted into writing a story? I have gotten to a point in which a person can say any word and I would be able to write a story on it. I want to know how do i get notice where are the good places you can go to get your books notice? And does anybody know how many pages it takes to make a pilot script for a tv series or movie? my guess 500 pages but i could be wrong? please respond i dont care if you think i am asking you ridicules questions that i should already know but i dont care?

      1. Nancy Ellen Dodd says:

        I used to play a game in which someone would give me a word and I would tell them a story. To get noticed you have to promote your work to people who are interested in reading it. That takes finding your audience, which everyone has to figure out for themselves. A screenplay is about 90-120 pages. For a TV script it depends on the show and how long it is.

      2. Khulekani says:

        Thanks for the interesting post. I just bouhgt a copy of after reading it.I would encourage you to take another stab at screenwriting some day if it’s something you want to do. I had given up on it to about a year ago, but came back to it with a whole new approach that’s working really well for me. It’s based off of a few lectures by David Milch, the writer of Deadwood, and it basically revolves around the idea that when you’re writing you’re in a different state from thinking about writing. You can read about how much it changed my writing Bradbury’s ideas sound like they’re in the same vein… finding unexpected things while writing, scribbling down stream of consciousness stuff, letting your mind do its thing… I usually find that if I can get out of the way, good things come to me – much better things than I could sit down and plan out. I would also recommend , by Anne Lamott, to your reading list on the subject of creative writing.Thanks for the heads up on Bradbury’s book, and good luck in the future!

  3. You’re right: it is easier than ever to create your own video and get it seen by an audience on the internet.

    The market is flooded, but has expanded. There are many genres and formats to make movies in, and many distribution channels that need product.

  4. The price for screenwriting software ranges from as high as $600 to free. Remember that in most cases, you get what you pay for, so free or shareware programs may offer only basic screenwriting features. However, for many budding writers, using a program for free is the best way to learn the basics about screenplay formats and to determine which features would improve your writing efficiency. Fortunately, all screenwriting software programs offer a free demonstration version for download. Note that some of the programs that carry a price tag may not have all features enabled for their demo version. Also, if you start a screenplay with a program but can’t complete it due to limited program functionality or the trial expiration, you may be stuck with having to buy the program or finding a way to import your partial script file into another program.

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