How to Begin Writing Your First Screenplay

“I’ve never written a screenplay so I’ve decided—even though I don’t plan on branching out into screenwriting—to rewrite one of my stories as one. Just for practice because I think that stretching myself, my abilities, is a good thing!

Writing a Screenplay: First Things

1. The Logline or One-Line

I’ve written an article about this (See: Creating A Logline). Basically, a logline is a sentence that spells out in dramatic fashion the central conflict of a story.

The central conflict is composed of three things:

  1. The protagonist’s goal.
  2. The person or force that opposes the protagonist’s goal.
  3. The stakes of the conflict.

Here is a formula:

[Protagonist name] is a [description of protagonist] living in [setting]. But when [complicating incident], [protagonist’s name] must [protagonist’s quest] and [verb] [villain] in order to [protagonist’s goal].

An example logline for Die Hard:

Headstrong NYPD detective John McClane wants to save his estranged wife and her colleagues from certain death at the hands of Hans Gruber, a mercenary willing to sacrifice anything to get his hands on $640 million in bearer bonds.

Joe Bunting over at The Write Practice wrote an article about how to write a screenplay. He gives the following tip on how to craft your logline:

‘It’s also helpful to put a summarizing adjective in front of your characters to give a sense of their personalities.’

Here’s his example: ‘A headlong orphan and his Vulcan nemesis must save the Federation (and themselves) from revenge-seeking Romulan from the future.’

Continue reading @ Karen Woodward »