Scripts that Sell

Every aspiring screenwriter wants to know how to write a script that will sell. Sure, you can write something fun to read around the campfire with friends and family, but don’t you really want to sell it to a major studio? To get paid? To get it made? But how do you do that? Here are a few tips!

1) Write something different. Yes, I know, Hollywood tends to regurgitate similar fare that has proven successful, but the studios already have 15 of those in development. Writing something fresh that they have not seen before will get it talked about in studio circles and heat up the market.

2) Know your craft. If you’re not setting up your hero’s need in the first ten pages, they will toss it on the pass pile. If the hero is not called to action by page 10, tossed. Over 120 pages? Tossed. Punctuation and grammatical errors? Tossed. And so on. If script readers find you have not spent the time hitting all the tenets of good storytelling, why should they take the time to read it?

3) Attract great actors. Studios buy screenplays they can get major actors to star in. So your job is to write compelling characters that will attract those actors to the project. Make sure your hero is heroic. Has depth. Has a want and need that are fulfilled. And is transformed as a result of the adversity they face. And clothes. Actors always want to know what clothes they get to wear.

4) Know the poster. Studios sell movies to audiences around the world by a poster. A title, a tag line, a face, an image. They only have seconds to reel them in on Fandango, Netflix or the Cineplex cue. So make sure your concept can be conveyed quickly. Is your title catchy? Your hero handsome? Your tag line intriguing? If it can’t be sold in seconds, it won’t sell at all.

Screenwriters make a 1,000 decisions a day facing the blank page. Be sure you have the answers to the ones above before you get started. They will help steer you down the right path toward success.

Good luck!