How Many Scripts Do You Have to Write Before You Learn How to Write a Script?

At the start of this year, I set a goal of writing three feature scripts by the end of the year. I’ve done two and am a little over half way through the third. I think I’ll get it (Bright Freedom) done this week.

The reason I picked three was that in Dov Ss Simens book From Reel to Deal he said you needed to do three. Or least I think he did, it’s been a while since I read it now.

This week I watched an interview with Robert McKee about script writing.

He says that you need to finish 10 scripts before you have mastered the art. He also says that part of that is a matter of maturing, which can take 10 years!

I felt discouraged about this, but then I have a lot of experience in other types of writing, which I hope will cut down the time I need to develop. In any event, I have had the attitude that I needed to learn more about the art of script writing. I know that I still have much to learn. I may need to write a few more scripts before I write one that really is good.

Another point McKee makes in the interview is that the writer should not expect that the dialog he writes would make it to the screen unchanged. That makes me feel better, because it is similar to what I said in my article How to Write a Feature Movie Script Part One.

2 Comments

  1. I have always steered clear of the Syd Fields and McKee’s out there. Their theories about plot paradigms, etc, is all BS. The idea that you need to write ten feature scripts to learn how to write effectively is ridiculous. Some writers have sold first-attempt scripts without even knowing how to format them.. I know a ‘writer’ who has written 30 feature scripts (over 30 years) and each one is worse than the last. I myself, sold my first feature film script “The Rutledge Chronicles” when I was 21 and the formatting was a disgrace. It is all about your characters, dialogue and plot – everything else is filler.

    The real litmus test for a script-writer is how an audience reacts to their work in a darkened theater. Your multiple festival hits have already proved that…..burn the books.

    Ps: Check out Field’s and McKee on IMDB. YOU have more screenwriting credits then they do.

    • Thanks for the comment Neil. I usually just skim McKee, Fields and their ilk, then do my own thing. A lot of what I do is confidence building. I feel better about what I do now, but I still think I can be better at it.

      I think I need some kind of structure to follow when I write a longer piece. On the other hand, when I try to follow a set plot structure, my scripts feel a little dead. I didn’t have a structure in mind when I did “Line of Taxis” and it feels alive.

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