Many people love writing screenplays, but there are plenty of other types of writers who never even attempt one. Even if you never plan on having your screenplay made into a major motion picture, avoiding the process of writing a screenplay is cutting yourself short. There are so many skills that you can sharpen when you write a screenplay that it only makes sense to give it a try.
It Helps You Learn to Engage the Reader
In any type of storytelling, engaging the reader or viewer early on is a must if you want them to continue reading or watching. This is very true in screenwriting, and by writing a screenplay, you'll learn how to hook the potential audience of your novel or short story, too.
The beginning of a story is supposed to introduce the reader to the main characters and introduce the dilemma fairly early on. In a script format, you need to do these two things within the first fifth of the screenplay.
Otherwise, your reader will likely lose interest. Good stories also continue to keep the reader engaged by developing themes, characters, plots, and narrative techniques that sometimes cross genres.
It Teaches You to Be More Concise
Concision is one of the hallmarks of effective writing. In any story you tell, you shouldn't have any wasted words or develop anything that doesn't add to the overall narrative. This rule applies to almost every form of writing, including poetry, digital writing, journalism, fiction, memoir and pretty much any other form that you can come up with.
When you're writing something, you should always be asking yourself if the piece would be more effective if you cut out a section or if a sentence would be more clear if you trimmed out a few words. This rule is especially true in screenplay writing because most screenplays need to be between 90 and 120 pages.
There are writers who stall with ideas and words short of this mark, but there are also plenty of writers who have difficulties reigning themselves in. When you have to work within certain constraints, you learn to be more conscious of your prose and the way that you develop themes, characters, scenes, and plots. Once you tackle screenwriting, you can carry this awareness to other types of writing.
You Are Limited to Visuals and Sounds
When you're writing a screenplay, how do you let the reader know how the character is feeling or the overall mood that a place or event evokes? You need to use visuals and sounds to cue the director and actors on the overall mood of the scene.
Limiting yourself to only visuals and sounds can also help you with your fiction, memoir, poetry, or any other form that requires you to set a scene. Inner monologue is often used with some forms, but you should also be able to paint a picture of the scene for your readers without it.
Also, the scene description in a screenplay is often short, which can help you with being brief while writing your novel, short story, or other forms of storytelling. Many writers want to describe every last detail in the scenes of their stories, but being brief has many advantages and can actually be more effective than a long description that bores your reader.
It Improves Your Dialogue
Crisp dialogue is one of the hallmarks of a good screenplay. If you have dialogue that's flat or unrealistic for the context or genre, actors and directors will likely change it for you because there's just no good way to say the dialogue.
Writing dialogue that's interesting and engaging is also important for novels, short stories, and creative nonfiction. You want to boil all of your dialogue down to the lines that will stick in your readers' minds long after they've finished your piece of writing. For this reason, you want to retain only the dialogue that moves your story along.
The Budget Can Inspire Creativity
When you're writing fiction or creative nonfiction, no one will need to create the costumes or sets. No one will need to pay the bill on renting the airplane that you chose to incorporate into your ending scene, either.
But, you need to account for all of those expenses when you're writing a screenplay. Although there might be times when an expensive item makes sense in your novel, you also need to think about whether or not you're using sparkling items and exotic locations as stand-ins for good writing.
Sometimes, beginning writers think that impressive items will impress the reader, but most readers want to hear your dialogue and experience the rising action of the narrative arc.
They want to enjoy all of the components of good storytelling, and a good storyteller can create a compelling narrative with low-budget items or high-budget items. When you're writing your screenplay, you can use a program like Celtx to help you with the budgeting.
Challenge Yourself and Become a Better Writer
There are many kinds of writing, and a lot of the storytelling forms require similar skills. If you're a writer who is looking for ways to sharpen their skills, have a go at screenplay writing for an opportunity to try out techniques that you may have been ignoring.