Claim Your
Off Discount
September 29, 2023

How to Become a Screenwriter: Your Guide to Your First Six Months

"We don't make movies to make money; we make money to make more movies," said Walt Disney. In today’s streaming-dominated landscape where sequels abound, it's easy to lose sight of this sentiment. Yet, for you, the emerging screenwriter, it's a guiding star. Because, beyond the business, screenwriting is a craft born from a passion for storytelling.

In the next six months, you'll transform from dreamer to doer, with a little help from us at Arc Studio at every step. Begin by downloading our software entirely for FREE with no credit card required so that you can start acting and thinking like a profesional from the get-go.

Now let's channel your passion into action:  

Month 1: think like a screenwriter

Say goodbye to casual watching; every film is now a masterclass. You're dissecting scenes, not just watching them. Study the classics, learn from the contemporaries, and if film school isn't on your agenda, let Arc Studio's resources be your mentor.

If you've chosen to embark on the path of becoming a screenwriter then watching films and TV shows is never going to be the same. You must learn to anyalze films and understand what makes them work.

Why did directors and writers make certain decisions?

And how do you emulate this?

Notice the cuts, the narrative structure, the pacing and the character arcs.

Begin your journey by diving into basic film theory. Don't worry if this sounds overwhelming and or too complex. Start with the basics and use the huge amount of free resources available to you.

Here are some key activities that we recommend:

  • Watch movies in the genre you want to write in. For example, if you want to write comedy films, watch popular funny movies to see what works. Analyze story structure, characters, dialogue - take notes on strengths
  • Break down TV show episodes scene-by-scene. Pay attention to act breaks, plot points, and how the story unfolds each episode. Our breakdown series here is invaluable. Have these by your side and re-watch your favourite scenes
  • Start building a swipe file of interesting scenes or lines of dialogue from movies or shows to inspire your writing

All of these tasks might sound like you are procstinating but they are valuable. Remember if you are not going to enroll at film school and there are many writers and directors who argue you don't need to these day, then you need to put in the work yourself.

Months 2-3: write your first screenplay

Write about what ignites your soul. Discipline is your new best friend, and Arc Studio's plot board feature and crisp look is your secret weapon, making those first drafts a little less daunting as we enter months two and three.

It's time to create an original concept and write your first screenplay. You don't have to reinvent the wheel here, it can be similar in structure to other screenplays you've read but it should be something you're passoinate about.

Discipline yourself to write every day, no matter the quality of your first draft.

Here are some tips:

  • Choose a story idea that excites you. Don't try to guess what buyers want - write from the heart and personal experiences
  • Create a basic outline of your script - beginning, middle, end. Map out key plot points and story beats
  • Write your first draft without excessive editing: focus on getting the story on the page from start to finish
  • Use screenwriting software like Arc Studio for proper formatting. Arc Studio makes this super easy, automating much of the process
  • Read produced scripts in your genre for examples if you get stuck
  • Schedule time to write every day. Set a deadline for finishing a draft in 1-2 months. The saying that a task takes as long as the time you set for it could not be more true for screenwriting. 1-2 months is a reasonable timeframe for any script
  • Resist the urge to edit excessively as you write. You'll refine the script later. For now, just get to "The End."
  • Share pages with trusted friends or a writers group to get periodic feedback as you write. Incorporate suggestions

Aim to complete your first draft within 6-8 weeks. It doesn't have to be perfect. You can refine it in later steps.

But what if you're struggling for ideas or you get stuck halfway through your first draft? This being 2024 AI can help you and Arc Studio has your back here. Check out how to use our AI research feature here:

Finishing your initial script is a huge milestone for any new screenwriter.

Months 4-5: feedback and re-drafting

You've completed your first draft - congrats! The theme of these two months is feedback is your screenplay's best friend. It might sting, but it's the polish your script needs. Arc Studio isn't just for writing; it's for rewriting. Its collaborative features mean you're never alone on this journey.

Now it's time to get constructive feedback and revise. This is not a process that can happen in isolation and as much as we might think we've produced the best work, we have to be humble.

Your first script might fall short or need substantial improvement. The biggest challenge of becoming a screenwriter is learning to leave your ego at the door.

Only when you do this can you get better. As Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Michael Collery told us in a recent interview, the best screenwriters are the ones that can make themselves useful and are willing to work hard with production companies to get them the script they want.

Lara Croft Writer Michael Collery in a headshot
The Lara Croft screenwriter Michael Collery belives making yourself useful to industry executives is just as important as being a great writer
  • Join a local writers group or take an online screenwriting class. Share copies of your script and provide feedback on others' in return but be critical of that advice and only implement it if it rings true with you.
  • Listen carefully to the feedback and take notes. Look for common issues multiple readers point out
  • Assess the major areas for improvement - structure, plot, pacing, dialogue, etc. Don't try to address every minor nitpick
  • Outline the key story changes needed based on feedback. Don't be afraid to cut subplots, add characters, or rewrite scenes
  • Complete a second draft implementing the biggest changes. Share again with your writers group for feedback
  • Repeat the feedback and revision process 1-2 more times until you have a solid working draft

The goal of this step is getting objective input and strengthening your script through targeted rewriting. With each revision cycle, you'll get closer to a polished screenplay that you can then take to studios and agents.

Month 6: submit your script

It's submission time. Start with contests and small connections. Arc Studio has seen many of its users break through including the legendary David Wain who recently wrote the Wet Hot American prequel for Netflix.

Now, it's your turn.

Once you have a refined draft based on extensive feedback, it's time to start submitting. Firs though, utilize Arc Studio to format your screenplay to industry standards, ensuring it looks professional when you submit it to contests and agents

Ideally you want an agent to represent you. But remember it is harder to get an agent than it is to get a production company to invest in your film. However, until you get an agent you will not be properly recognised in Hollywood circles, even in 2024 so it should be a long term goal.

As this is your first script your short term goals should be gaining exposure and building your name. Once industry executives get to hear about you and are excited by your work you'll stand a chance of getting an agent or a contract for a major production company.

Here are some ways you can gain exposure for you and your work:

  • Research screenwriting contests like the Nicholl Fellowship and Austin Film Festival. Submit to reputable competitions that provide exposure. Enter script contests that offer feedback from industry professionals so you can continue improving
  • Leverage any connections you have with producers, managers, or agents to get your script directly into hands of people in the business
  • Post your script on specific screenwriting feedback sites to get ratings and reviews from readers which may lead to inquiries e.g The Blacklist
  • Attend screenwriting conferences and networking events to pitch your script to producers and meet other writers
  • If you have shorts or spec episodes, submit to smaller contests and film festivals

The goal of this step is to start accumulating external validation of your scripts and to generate word of mouth for what you've written. It's extremely rare (though not impossible) for a writer to see their first script make it to screen. Which brings us to our final step:

Starting all over again

You may feel defeated if your first script goes nowhere, you may feel like doubling down on your script and making more revisions until you get it right. But remember your first script is never wasted. You learned a lot about structure and if you followed the feedback steps right you got invaluable insights into why your script didn't quite hit the mark.

This will put you in much better stead when you write your second script. And this is exactly why you need to get working on your next script straight away. Instead of labouring over your first script, it's far better to start afresh and begin work on something new. You can always come back to your first script when you have obtained more knowledge.

Continue with the same writing habits you started with in month 2. Write a set number of words every day, put them out no matter what and don't let anyone deter you from the writing process. But this time you'll get a more polished first draft and you'll be more aware of how to improve key features like character arcs, story structures and starting in the heart of the action (en-media-res).

Dedication is key to your first 6 months

Launching a screenwriting career takes dedication, perseverance, and a strategic approach. While passion is required, you also need a plan if you want to go from aspiring writer to working professional.

Follow the steps outlined here - immerse yourself in screenwriting resources, write consistently, get feedback from others, submit your work, and keep improving your craft with each new script.

Set incremental goals month-by-month so you don't get overwhelmed looking too far ahead. Employ a combination of self-motivation and external support. Stay resilient in the face of setbacks.

Above all, believe in yourself and your writing talent. Commit to the process and continue seeking knowledge. By being strategic with your time and efforts, you can complete a polished script.

And remember Arc Studio is here to help you every step-of-the-way, follow along with our blog and join the community.


Level-up your screenwriting software

With Arc Studio, you stay focused while writing your screenplay, craft better stories, and collaborate with ease.

Add the template to your Arc Studio Pro account

text content

Download the template
Go to Desk

Download your free template now

With Arc Studio pro, you stay focused while writing your screenplay, craft better stories, and collaborate with ease. 2
How to Become a Screenwriter: Your Guide to Your First Six Months
Harry Verity

Harry is a professional writer. His first novel The Talk Show was published in the U.S and the U.K by Bloodhound Books in 2021 and he is currently working on adapting it for screen using Arc Studio. He's also written for Media Magazine - a UK magazine for students of A-level Film, Media and Television Studies. His journalism has appeared in The Guardian, Readers' Digest and Newsweek, amongst many other publications. He has just finished his second novel for young adults, set in a boarding school. He holds a BA in English from Loughborough University.

Level-up your screenwriting software

Arc Studio is the new standard in screenwriting software: stay focused, craft better stories, and collaborate with ease.

Go to Desk

Download your free template now

With Arc Studio pro, you stay focused while writing your screenplay, craft better stories, and collaborate with ease.

Go to Desk

Receive a free screenwriting book

Get your free ebook now!

Download Your Template
Go to Desk

Learn from the film industry’s top screenwriters

Our new podcast, How I Write: Screenwriters Share Their Creative Processes, launches Nov. 12th.

Go to Desk


This is some text inside of a div block.
This is some text inside of a div block.

Read More

Ready to get started?

Go to Desk
No credit card required