“The best tip for writing is just to write; to sit down and write, to begin doing it and not to be scared by the blank page.” - David Almond

Scriptwriters are professional Writers who write stories, scripts and screenplays for films, television programs, comics, radio shows, video games and theater plays. They are responsible for coming up with the idea and writing the concept, characters, dialogue etc. They are one of the most essential people in the process of making a film, T.V program etc. Scriptwriters include visual elements within their scripts, so that their writing ‘shows’ rather than ‘tells’.

Scriptwriters are responsible for the birth of the film or program. They are involved in all the stages of scripting, from writing the ‘speculation script’ to the ‘shooting script’. It is a competitive career but has scope for talented, determined and hardworking writers. It can be a very well paying job if you manage to get sufficient experience and make important contacts. The career is expected to grow at a steady rate in the near future due to the growing need of scriptwriters for new media such as video games.

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What do Scriptwriters do?

Scriptwriters are responsible for forming the skeleton that a Director can then add to. They always keep in mind that the beauty in their writing should come from the performance, rather than the writing itself. They come up with ideas, do research and write stories based on their research and personal observations and experiences. Scriptwriters often write original stories, but some adapt from existing novels, films, short stories etc.

Scriptwriters are often involved in brainstorming and conceptualizing. This does not mean that they just sit in one spot and try to come up with a concept. As a matter of fact, they are always on the lookout for interesting situations, characters and concepts that can be a part of their story. Their main job is to come up with an innovative idea or concept, as the rest of the story will be based on this concept.

Researching is a very important task that every Scriptwriter has to perform. As Scriptwriters write for visual mediums, they have to have a good idea about the non – fiction side of their story. For example, if a Scriptwriter is writing a story based on the army, he/she will have to research about how people from the army talk, how they walk, what are their houses like, etc.

The most important job for any Scriptwriter in the world is to write. Even though this sounds simple, but this is the task that differentiates between a good and an exceptional writer. It is essential for Scriptwriters to convert their ideas into full fledged scripts. They have to take their writing as work, and not art. Scriptwriters make sure that they sit everyday and write Scenes, Dialogues and Characters. Once they write their script, they should revise it and look for places scenes which have a scope for improvement. Scriptwriters develop characters and situations that are visually entertaining.

Scriptwriters work very hard trying to sell scripts. They hire agents who help them send their scripts out to different Directors and Producers. In India, most Scriptwriters go and narrate the story to Directors and Producers and have to convince them about the commercial and creative viability of the script.

Scriptwriters have to often revise their scripts and screenplays according to the needs of the Producer and the studio. Producers might ask the Scriptwriter to add a song during a particular part of the film, or might ask the Scriptwriter to change the end itself.

Adapting your Script as per your medium is extremely important. Most Scriptwriters use certain techniques through they can make their writing suit the medium they’re writing it for. In television programs, the focus is on coming up with content, even if it is at the sake of creativity. Therefore T.V writers focus on coming up with loud dialogues that catch a viewer’s attention and eat up a lot of time. On the other hand, Radio Scripts need to use a lot of sound in the writing, to overcome the limitation of lack of visuals. Movie writers focus on making their scripts very visual. So the scenes must be visually entertaining, including the locations, the actors, the costumes etc. Writers who write scripts for Video Games focus more on coming up with alternative storylines with different ends so that a user can freely choose his own way through the story.

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How to become a Scriptwriter?

Scriptwriters write both fiction and nonfiction. Most of them are freelance professionals who specialize in a particular genre. However, some Scriptwriters work on a permanent basis for studios and production companies. A lot of Scriptwriters direct and produce their own films and television programs. They start of by writing scripts ‘on speculation’ that they will be sold. Their style of writing depends heavily on personal choices as well as the nature of the medium. For example, a script for a play will be more performance and dialogue based, and a script for a science – fiction movie will depend heavily on special effects. A lot of Scriptwriters write for commercials and advertisements as well.

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Even though there are no necessary educational qualifications you need in order to become a Scriptwriter, it is important for writers to have a strong knowledge base in various subjects. Concentrating on subjects like English, History and Culture studies is helpful. You should preferably choose the Arts stream after your 10th and take Creative writing as an additional subject if your school provides you with that option.

Once you complete your schooling, you should pursue a Graduation degree in subjects like Sociology, Journalism, Philosophy or English. There are a lot of Film schools that offer courses in Scriptwriting and other film making disciplines. Such courses can teach you about the nuances of writing for Films and Television. To gain further knowledge in the field of writing, you can choose to pursue a Post Graduation course as well.

Internships can be very helpful for aspiring Scriptwriters. You should work as writing/production/direction assistants in films and television programs. Such internships will help you learn about the technical aspect of writing scripts. You can also choose to work with a theater group if you’re interested in writing for the stage.

Networking is very essential for all artists, especially Scriptwriters. As the script is the backbone of the film, most studios and production companies do not trust new writers. Establishing relationships with important people will help them know about your capabilities and influence them in choosing your script from their pile of scripts.

To become a Scriptwriter, you need to write. Most aspiring Scriptwriters do not understand the importance of actually writing complete scripts. It is not enough to come up with ideas. You have to turn those ideas into beautiful and entertaining scripts. It is important that you write regularly, preferably every day. Writing a full script is a learning experience on its own. It will teach a lot of about building characters, scenes and situations.
Making a Portfolio is extremely important if you want to become a Scriptwriter. Create a compilation of your good works. This portfolio will be like an evidence of your writing talent, and can make studios seriously consider you while choosing a Scriptwriter.

Most importantly, you need to start observing and looking at life a little differently, if you want to become a Scriptwriter. Observe the world around you; learn about different people and their problems. Learn to understand people and emotions. Remember, that Scriptwriters always take inspiration from the world around them. So look at your world closely, and you will find potential scripts.

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Many institutes and colleges in India offer good courses in Scriptwriting. The Film and Television Institute of India, Pune offers a Post Graduate Certificate course in Feature Film Screenplay Writing. The Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, Kolkata also offers a Post Graduate Diploma in Direction and Screenplay writing. Digital Academy, Mumbai also offers a Diploma Course in Screenplay writing. You can also choose to pursue a B.A Program course in Creative Writing from institutions like the Delhi University.

What are the skills required to become a Scriptwriter?

Scriptwriters use their script to give directions to whole crew. The script will include elements of lighting, acting and art direction. Therefore, it is essential for Scriptwriters to be talented and creative, so that they can use all these elements in a single story. They need to have dedication and perseverance. Communication and social skills is an absolute necessity for aspiring Scriptwriters. They need to have the ability to turn ideas into stories and should be able to meet deadlines. They should also be able to work alone for long periods to come up with entertaining and original scripts. Scriptwriters need to have strong observational skills. They should be persuasive, flexible and adaptive. Most importantly, Scriptwriters should have the genuine desire to use their writing skills come up with original ideas that can entertain and move people at the same time.

Is this the right career for me?

Scriptwriters are very talented and creative people. They work alone for long and irregular hours. Scriptwriting is a difficult career that is filled with uncertainties and competition. It can be a well paying career if you become successful, but the initial pay is very little. Scriptwriting also includes some travelling to research about people and topics, before writing a script.

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The life of a Scriptwriter is not easy. It is not an ideal career for people who are looking for a regular income and job security. The career does not guarantee fame. But if you’re interested in using your writing skills to come up with beautiful stories and scripts that will look great on screen, and if your love for writing with creative freedom exceeds your desire to earn a lot of money and fame immediately, then this might be a good career choice for you.

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Steve Jobs, chief executive officer and co-founder of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, urged graduates to pursue their dreams, follow their interests & curiosities and see the opportunities in life's setbacks-- including death itself.