The Process

“The main difference between an early-career screenwriter and a great screenwriter is their process. Screenwriters with an effective and professional process tend to write great scripts.”

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This book teaches a method called process-driven screenwriting. The process is a series of planning steps we take before writing our script. 

This process works for any kind of movie. It works for Hollywood Blockbusters or experimental art-house films. As long as our intention is to create drama, the process will help us write better scripts.  This book doesn’t offer a formula or plot-template. Instead, it helps screenwriters find a writing technique that works for them. At the heart of this book is a simple idea… dogma is the enemy of creativity.

This book contains a set of practical tools. Tools designed to help writers create drama and to craft great cinematic stories. This is also a book that explores the ideas behind drama, story and what it means to write cinema. Although the tools in this book are simple, the conversation about how we write movie scripts isn’t. I have not separated the conversation about writing from the discussion about the tools. That’s because the two things are connected. We need tools like this because writing cinematic drama is complicated. It’s not possible to separate the process from the challenges of screenwriting. 

Process-driven screenwriting is very simple. Anyone can learn the basic steps in a short period of time. However, as with any tools, it takes time and practice to master their use. These tools can be used to create simple stories or to craft complex narratives.So, what are these tools? What are the steps? 

  • raw idea – our initial inspiration or idea
  • theme  – decide what facet of human experience we’re exploring
  • compass logline – decide who the film is about, when and where it is set
  • chase our fascination to create the world of story – creating a fictional world
  • character development – populate the world with characters
  • create a plot – decide what happens and the order in which the audience finds things out
  • write the script – write cinematic drama in a form that is acceptable to the production team

In reality, everyone is a process-driven screenwriter whether they know it or not. Every writer has a process, even if that process is to stare at a blank page until they have an idea. 

Every writer’s process is unique to them. We do what works best for us. Writers with great processes write great screenplays. In this book, we look at ways any writer can improve their process without giving up the things that make them unique.


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