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Script Writer


Description

Scriptwriters do not always get the recognition they deserve. Yet without these talented and imaginative writers, movies would not exist as they do today. Norah Ephron, Stanley Kubrick, Cameron Crowe and Atom Egoyan have all written brilliant and intelligent scripts for film and the stage. The ultimate vision and goal of writing a script is to see it performed by actors on film, yet only a handful are lucky enough to experience this recognition. Sometimes called screenplay writers, the scriptwriter's work is the source of all that happens in a film. Although the director moulds the film into his or her own creative vision, it is still the scriptwriter that creates the original idea. They invent a make believe world in which the audience can learn, be engaged and entertained.

Many people underestimate the amount of serious effort and work put into writing a script. The intent of a good screenplay is to keep the audience engaged, while developing memorable characters, expressing thoughts intelligently and creating interesting plot twists. This is very similar to writing a play or a good novel. However, scriptwriters should not become emotionally attached to their original work, because directors, producers and other writers will definitely change a few things around. Many scriptwriters toil for years trying to find a producer or publisher for their work. Although rejection is more prevalent than acceptance, true scriptwriters are known for their persistence, self-discipline and tenacity.

Every scriptwriter has his or her own method and style of creation. Some work with intricate and sophisticated outlines, following industry guidelines, whereas others write off the top of their head. Writing a screenplay is both a learned skill that must be practiced over time and a natural gift. Scriptwriters use their imagination to create and weave stories. They often base their work on personal experiences, although their work may also include some form of research, especially in an historical piece. Scriptwriters are also quite familiar with rewriting and revising their material. A good script, like a good poem needs a good edit.

For any scriptwriter to be taken seriously, they must produce a portfolio of their best published work. A good way to build a portfolio is to submit short stories, poems and scripts to non-paying literary journals or film studios (sort of like volunteering) and make a name for yourself. Also, entering screenplay contests, joining film and theater groups and volunteering on a film set are all good ways for screenwriters to make as many connections as they possibly can with producers and directors. Success in this industry often depends on who you know. The more contacts, the better chances you will have in having someone read your script. Scriptwriters must be willing to put in lots of work before any positive results are visible. The more one writes, the better confidence, skill and ability one will attain.

In order to supplement a steady income, most scriptwriters work in other jobs or occupations. Unless one is independently wealthy, it is economically hard to live as a scriptwriter. When a scriptwriter becomes established and successful, they may begin writing full time since they earn enough money from published works -- the dream of every true writer. Again, scriptwriters must learn to accept rejection and not take it personally. The majority of scriptwriters write numerous scripts and work for years, if not a whole lifetime before they get noticed. Finally, if you ask a scriptwriter how to become a good writer, they will basically tell you to start writing as much as you can. Those who write scripts are scriptwriters.
 
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  Average Earnings  
Entry Level Salary:
$21,320
 
Average Salary:
$42,790
 
Maximum Salary:
$85,140

  Interests and Skills  
Good scriptwriters know how to express ideas beautifully, intelligently, creatively and clearly in writing. They create brilliant characters, depict landscapes and historical fields and describe awesome images that readers grow to love, hate and know by heart. They are usually knowledgeable in a particular area of interest, which is usually evident in their work. Serious self-discipline is required to work because when or how hard to work is up to to the scriptwriters themselves. Scriptwriters should like the idea of entertaining an audience through their writing. Finally, scriptwriters must be able to withstand rejection and have confidence in their abilities as a writer.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Conceive of and write scripts, screenplays and other material for publication
  • Research similar film, literature and drama to establish ideas, factual and historical content and to obtain other necessary information
  • May organize ideas for an outline before writing
  • May choose and develop a theme or subject about which to write
  • Write scripts for film and the stage and publication to inform, educate and entertain
  • Write dialog, content and action for films and plays
  • Write and rewrite work until editors, producers and writers are personally satisfied with it
  • Regularly meet with directors, producers and publishers
  • Adapt themes from various fictional, historical or narrative sources
  • There is no such thing as a typical day for a scriptwriter. They usually spend the majority of their time writing, which is often in their own home. During the writing and rewriting stages, they spend much of their time working alone, thinking and writing wherever they are comfortable. The pressure of deadlines, long solitary hours, rejections, unwilling producers and publishers and sporadic work can be stressful. Successful scriptwriters spend many hours every day writing.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • The majority of scriptwriters are freelancers and work from contract to contract. Some are lucky enough to get commissioned by production companies or theater houses to both write original scripts and adapt classics. Others may work for universities and colleges, literary magazines and journals, religious organizations, publishing firms and other related establishments. Scriptwriters often publish and market their work themselves, or submit their work to publishers.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Advancement opportunities for scriptwriters are limited and based on the amount of work and effort one is willing to personally put in. However, a scriptwriter working consistently for one film company or theater house may eventually get a more jobs based on the fact that people will take the time to read the script.

Also, scriptwriters can become poets, novelists, production managers, journalists, editors and publishers. Many scriptwriters teach English, film writing, drama or creative writing at the secondary or postsecondary level, especially as a form of supplementing their income. Some scriptwriters may become film and theater critics for newspapers and magazines.
 

  Educational Paths  
There is no required educational path for becoming a scriptwriter. Nevertheless, many scriptwriters have university degrees in English, theater, film, creative writing or journalism. Talent and ability, as demonstrated by a portfolio of work or a manuscript, are important production and publishing criterion.

Since a postsecondary education does not ensure success as a scriptwriter, experience is the best teacher in this field. University or college training can be useful in developing research skills, film and theater knowledge and professional contacts. Also, many film schools hold specific workshops, conferences and correspondence courses on script writing. Again, the best training a scriptwriter can gain is by writing and writing as much as they can, including school assignments. Finding websites that publish plays and scripts for free and volunteering for school literary journals and in various jobs within film and theater are great ways to gain experience and exposure.Also, keeping a journal and constantly jotting down thoughts and ideas will help writers develop their own voice, characters and ideas as a scriptwriter.
 

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