Some gurus tell you that the three act structure will kill you, while others tell you that if you don’t hit every story beat, your screenplay will be doomed. Still, others tell you that outlining is a hoax and you should just write a screenplay with no structure at all because that kills your creativity. Then there are the champions of the outline who say that without it, your script will die in the rough draft phase, and if you do manage to get a final draft out of it, it will take you twice as long as if you’d done an outline.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to present to you the last piece of writing advice you’ll ever need:
pick the advice that helps you be a better writer
If your screenplay works best in a sixteen act structure with eighty-four beats and six pages of outlines? Great! Or what if you’re able to write a rough draft with no outline at all? Congrats!
Writing advice is meant to help you find the best way of attacking the writing process so you can write better screenplays. That’s it.
Are there certain methods that are generally accepted as easier, or more of the “standard”? Sure. You should try out the three-act structure. You should read Robert Mckay’s Story and Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat. You should dabble in different methods and learn about all of these different ways to approach the art of storytelling. But you should also forge your own path, and be willing to try different techniques to enhance your creativity.
Be open-minded, and always be writing.
That’s the secret to being a screenwriter.
Good and Bad Writing Advice
- Good writing advice = what works for you
- Bad writing advice = what doesn’t work for you
Every writer is unique. Learn from the best, and pick and choose what works for you!