10 (Not-So) Secret Skills Screenwriters Need To Succeed

Screenwriting By Ahmed Taher |


Right.  This first skills is complicated because you clearly write/read screenplays all the time.  Like it or not, screenplay readers exist and they are often the gate keepers for big producers.  Screenplay readers write coverage and recommend the scripts they like to their superiors.  Readers are paid to find the next BIG THING.  You don’t have to go out and become a screenplay reader to understand how they think.  Find screenplays online.  Read notes.  You can even write your own coverage.

However, this skill is less about becoming an accomplished script reader and more about the ability to separate the reader from the screenwriter.  Tackle your own screenplay with a different perspective.  You may discover a plot hole that eluded you.  I’ve learned from this mistake first hand when I finally sent my work to readers.  You may fall in love with a scene but unless you can look at your script objectively, it may hurt your story in the long run.

The Best Websites To Download & Read Screenplays


You don’t have to be a good actor to appreciate what it takes to deliver a line of dialogue.  Study the subtleties of acting.  Many actors research their roles a great deal.  What kind of questions will an actor ask you about a particular character?  Act out your screenplays.  You can do this privately.  Speak your lines out loud and you’ll know if a line flows naturally.  Becoming your characters gives you valuable insight into who they are.  It also gives you the tools needed to convey your vision on the page.


Nothing makes a screenplay more convincing than in depth research and knowledge of the subject you’re tackling.  Immerse yourself in the world you’re trying to create.  Watch movies, read books, dig up literary journals.  Get first hand experience in the real world.  Writing a movie about skydiving?  Jump out of a plane!  That may be a tad extreme but you can’t just jump into a screenplay about World War II without having a keen interest in the history of that era.  To be convincing, you have to be knowledgeable and the only way to gain knowledge is either through direct experience and/or becoming an accomplished researcher.


Studying psychology gives you important tools to infuse into your characters.  The better you understand your characters, the better the reader/audience will relate to them.  You don’t have to become a psychologist but you do need to understand the fundamentals of how a character lives his/her life.  The second you betray the psychology of a character, you’ll lose any and all trust you’ve built up with your audience.  The more you know what makes your characters tick, the more they’ll stay true to themselves organically.

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Psychology for Screenwriters by William Indick


This list features a few skills related to marketing and advertising. That’s because they are key skills to compliment your ability to tell a good story.  Knowing how to follow the latest trends in the film industry is a valuable tool.  Understanding how a script/film is marketed will also give you a huge advantage as you develop your next project.  Analyze marketing campaigns.  This is not limited to the film industry either.  There is marketing all around us.  What makes a good campaign work?  What makes you want to buy a product or service?  At the end of the day, you are trying to sell your original ideas to readers.  You have to be convincing but there is also a big element of salesmanship in your words.

Marketing & Branding Your Career As A Screenwriter | Script Magazine


Public speaking can be terrifying but it’s also a fantastic way to build confidence.  If your goal is to become a professional screenwriter, you HAVE to know how to sell your screenplay and yourself.  You need to be fearless in a room full of executives and portray an aura of absolute strength. Believe in your story.  Believe in yourself.  Be honest.

The Art of Pitching Your Screenplay & Yourself


Go out and take pictures.  Video too.  Learn about composition and how to frame a shot.  With a little practice, you’ll be taking amazing photos and you’ll develop an eye for good images.  This skill instantly applies to screenwriting especially when it comes to writing action elements.  When you’re describing an image, having an understanding of what makes an images memorable is extremely valuable.

Photography/Videography also doubles as a great way to cure writer’s block.  Go outside and take some photos when you’re stuck.  Be your own location scout if you can.  If there is a scene you’re stuck on set in a park, go to a park and take some pictures!  Be your own inspiration.

11 Tips for Beginner Photographers | Digital Photography School

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