Screenwriting is just like anything else; you have to practice to become good at it, as well as to hone and maintain your skills. The best way to work on your craft is to write a script, but there are other ways to improve your writing while you’re working on your masterpiece! Here are six screenwriting exercises to sharpen your script skills.
- Character Breakdowns
Come up with ten random character names (or ask your friends for names for more diversity!) and practice writing a character description for each of them. This exercise will not only help you practice writing character descriptions but will also allow you to think about how your descriptions are introducing a character to the reader. Are your descriptions stimulating the reader’s imagination and allowing them to picture the character? Now’s your chance to practice!
- No Dialogue
Are you someone whose first draft is full of dialogue? Train your brain to use action to tell your tale by writing a one-page story without dialogue. This can also work by taking a dialogue-heavy scene from your own script and rewriting it without dialogue.
- Over Describe
I tend to overwrite descriptions in my screenplays. This exercise is a great way to work on that.
Write an extremely detailed description of a scene. Make it as detailed as possible. Then transform that overly complicated description into just one line. Less is often more in screenwriting, and this will help those too-descriptive folks like myself learn to pull back and let the more brief descriptions shine.
- Write a Scene
Watch a short scene from a movie or TV show for which you can access the real screenplay. Write your own version of the scene and compare it to what’s actually in the script.
This is a fun exercise that I did in one of my first screenwriting classes. It’s interesting to compare what you’ve written to what’s in the actual script, as it allows you to see and have a better understanding of your own descriptive voice.
- The Minor Character
Take a minor character from a TV show or movie and write a one-page synopsis of what the story looks like with that character as the lead. This is a creatively challenging exercise that works your character conceptualizing muscles. Sometimes as writers, we get locked in on one way of seeing a story. It can be helpful to be reminded to look at stories from different and unexpected points of view.
- Write Script Coverage
Have any screenwriter friends? Chances are they’d love to have someone read their script and provide feedback! Reading and evaluating someone else’s script helps you to learn how to be objective. It requires you to look for what works as well as what doesn’t. Ideally, you’ll be able to take your improved ability to be objective back to your own scripts.
Here’s hoping that these exercises help you to sharpen your screenwriting skills, so you’re ready to jump in feet-first when SoCreate’s platform launches! Want to be the first to try it? We’ll be hosting private beta trials before SoCreate is available to the public, and you can get on the list here.