Screenwriting: What Does a Scriptwriter Do? -article

Scriptwriters, or screenwriters, are the individuals who produce the written blueprints used to create beloved, and sometimes hated, movies, television shows, and so much more.

Scriptwriters are usually contracted freelancers who typically start in the scriptwriting business writing on speculation or, as it’s more commonly known, “spec.” A spec script is a screenplay written to be sold as opposed to one commissioned by a studio or production company. This means the writer has not been hired to write the script nor will they be paid unless it sells. Screenwriters aren’t usually considered professional until they have sold something and are represented by an agent.

In the freelance profession of scriptwriting there is no industry requirement for formal education. All that is required is the ability to follow the standard format while creating compelling, well told stories. The last part of this is, of course, the most essential element.

So what does a scriptwriter write?

• Feature length films, such as the ones you can go see in the theater or on DVD
• Short films like the ones submitted to film festivals
• Television series. E.g. comedic sitcoms, dramatic soap operas, and even most of today’s “reality” shows
• Web series, which are often uploaded to YouTube
• Television and radio commercials of all sorts, shape, and size regardless of the medium they are broadcast on
• Stage plays, such as the long tradition of productions taking place on Broadway
• Computer games. Yes, even your favorite video game involving car theft or shooting aliens still needs a script.
Scriptwriting requires the writer to develop feasible plot lines, believable characters, and scene-by-scene outlines of the stories they’re writing. It is also important to keep in mind that screenplays, for the most part, are visual and the characters' actions are what move the story forward while their dialogue supports the actions.

Each scene is an individual unit of action. In each of the scenes created the scriptwriter must clearly define who their characters are, what’s going on, what time of day is, where all the action is taking place, all while reinforcing why that action is taking place.

Developing a script can be an individual endeavor, where you have complete control of all the elements, or it can be something done by a group in a committee-like setting, where multiple writers work together to create the final product.

Scripts are utilized for more than television and film. So if you are interested in the dynamic field of scriptwriting, find your niche and get started. But be aware that while it appears glamorous, scriptwriting can be a feast or famine profession.

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