Writing Tips and Submissions Tips

Give your own script the best chance of success – check your script against our writing tips and submissions tips before you finalize it and submit it!

As you can imagine, we read a LOT of scripts, and we read a lot ABOUT scripts. Give your own script the best chance of success – read our writing tips and submissions tips, and check them against your own script before you finalize it and submit! All of our judges and analysts have their own views, sure, and some of the thoughts here are individual to the person who’s been quoted, and you should be prepared to fight for what you believe is right about your script – but in general, all of these are published here to help you. We also aim to publish new tips every week – so keep coming back and refreshing your thinking.

Another tip – if this page is getting long, use the ‘Find’ feature on your browser (usually activated by Ctrl+F or Apple+F) to seek out our tips about whatever aspect of your script you’re currently considering.

...a constructive attitude, and proving a willingness to make notable changes to your scripts, makes a big difference to the pitchability of people’s scripts, and no doubt, themselves as writers.

Ian

A two-sentence pitch often works well and flows nicely. This is how you grab the producer’s attention. This is how you tell them everything they need to know about the script, and in no more than 10-20 seconds.

Bobby Lee Darby, WriteMovies Elite Script Mentor and Hollywood writer

Coincidences and external influences happen in real life, but that is part of why we turn to fiction a lot of the time – we don’t want to live in an arbitrary world, we want to feel as though everything is connected, because then we may have some influence ourselves.

Ian

If you think twinning [your protagonist and antagonist over key thematic questions] could help you tell the type of story you’re trying to tell, ask yourself: 1. What powerful qualities make my protagonist and my antagonist the same? And what equally powerful qualities make them different? - 2. How can I tie these qualities to both the theme and the action, by making them into the driving forces in my story?"

Ian

Writers always need to remember what emotional effect they want to have on their audience – and what emotional effect their audience will be expecting a story of this type to have on them. This is at the heart of making every scene and every sequence work well. You can play with our expectations and surprise us – in fact you will probably need to – but the key to it is to still give us the emotional effect we expect, in a way that we wouldn’t have expected.

Ian

“The journey has its own wisdom, the story knows the way. Trust the journey. Trust the story.”

Christopher Vogler

Writers need to feel a connection to their characters – it is through these characters you try and tell your story and the theme of your script. If, as the writer, you don’t feel connected to your protagonist, or don’t provide a convincing counter-argument to them through an antagonist, the audience cannot be expected to do so either.

Ian

Writers need to feel a connection to their characters – it is through these characters you try and tell your story and the theme of your script. If, as the writer, you don’t feel connected to your protagonist, or don’t provide a convincing counter-argument to them through an antagonist, the audience cannot be expected to do so either.

Ian

“Secure writers don’t sell first drafts. They patiently rewrite until the script is as director-ready, as actor-ready as possible. Unfinished work invites tampering, while polished, mature work seals its integrity.”

Robert McKee

“They say it is the first step that costs the effort. I do not find it so. I am sure I could write unlimited 'first chapters'. I have indeed written many”

J. R. R. Tolkien

There are so many different kinds of writing activity. Even just going for a walk and getting inspiration is one. Use a notebook on the train. Print a script and analyse every line from a different perspective you’ve not explored before. There are so many ways to embed writing into your daily routine, get around writers’ block, and advance things even while you’re busy with something else!

Ian

If you don’t respect and value the expectations that audiences will bring to your story, you’ll probably find that they soon feel the same way about you and whatever story you’ve arrogantly or complacently tried to palm them off with.

Ian

"Write every day. Even if it is only a page or two. The more you write, the better you'll get."

George R.R. Martin

“If you’ve got a love story to tell, introduce the love interest character subtly, or we may all recognize the whole future story arc in seconds.”

Ian Kennedy

“The more you read, the more inspiration you can take, the better you are at spotting and avoiding clichés, familiar patterns, and unworkable structures.”

Jamie White, the WriteMovies team.

The most important thing for any aspiring writer, I think, is to read!”

George R.R. Martin

Write YOUR script YOUR way. If you like what you write, others are more likely to be drawn in by it, too

Jamie White, the WriteMovies Team

Blend several genres at once to give audiences a new way of experiencing a familiar emotion – doing so is often very successful at the box office.

Ian Kennedy

Nearly all of the successful scripts began with a strong image (or series of images), and nearly all of the less successful ones didn’t. If you don’t start with a strong image, you’re liable to begin instead with an exposition-heavy dialogue scene – which is likely to draw attention to a number of minus points against you in the mind of your reader.”

Ian Kennedy

"Write YOUR script YOUR way. If you like what you write, others are more likely to be drawn in by it, too."

WriteMovies

“It's a wonderful thing to be able to create your own world whenever you want to.”

Woody Allen

“Don't write what you think people want to read. Find your voice and write about what's in your heart.”

Quentin Tarantino

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