5 Lies New Screenwriters Tell Themselves

5 Lies New Screenwriters Tell Themselves


Do you want to write a screenplay? It can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but beware the five lies new screenwriters tell themselves.

As bright-eyed new screenwriters who have just cracked open a shiny Apple MacBook and installed the latest version of Final Draft, you can’t wait to make your mark as a screenwriter.

Reality Before Creativity

You sit in your favourite coffee shop with a double almond cappuccino, fantasising about Hollywood premieres, limos, and massive pay checks. The truth, however, can be less Disney fairy tale and more grungy independent horror.

Before your coffee turns cold, ask yourself if you have told yourself any of these lies?

5 Lies New Screenwriters Tell Themselves

“A screenplay will be easier to write than a novel.”

This is one of the biggest lies screenwriters tell themselves. From a technical point of view, a screenplay is probably one of the most challenging formats for a writer to work in. [We show you how to do this in our course: The Script] 

You have limited time and space to tell a story, limited characters and locations to work with – and a hundred people to make happy at the end of the day.

“A director will faithfully adapt my screenplay; the actors will not change a single line of dialogue.”

We all wish for this, but it seldom happens. Only if you are both writer and director, will you be able to articulate the vision in your heart and head.

The most important thing for screenwriters to remember is that making a TV show or feature film takes multiple talents. It’s a highly collaborative thing.  So much will be out of your control – so if you like to be in charge of everything, it may be better to take up event planning or become a military leader.

“My basic story is so good, someone else will write the actual screenplay.”

This is not only a lie, it’s a bit delusional. It’s like deciding to lose weight but getting some random stranger to eat the carrot sticks and go to gym.

If you believe in your story, the investment is yours alone. The hard work is yours alone. And, of course, the reward is yours alone.  If you are passionate about telling your story, learn the craft of writing and screenwriting.

 “My screenplay will make me famous.”

As a friend and director of mine always reminds me: the stage is the actor’s medium, the novel is the writer’s medium and film is the director’s medium.  Your writing credit at the start of the film will be lost in the hype and the halo effect of the stars of the film.

This is one job you take on only if you love not just writing and storytelling, but more important, movies and TV themselves. You must understand art as much pop culture.  You must have something to say.

 “My screenplay will make me rich.”

Back in the ’90s Joe Eszterhas was paid a cool million for the script for Basic Instinct. More recently, Shonda Rhimes has reportedly signed a $100 million contract with Netflix.

But, you can bet they didn’t earn that with their first screenplay. In the beginning, you will have to write in your spare time. Who knows how far your ambition will take you?

Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a screenplay, sign up for our NEW online course: The Script

Anthony Ehlers by Anthony Ehlers

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