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March 30, 2023

How to Become a Writer

If you want to become a doctor, a fireman, or a pilot, then there is a clear path set out for you from the moment you know you want to embark on a traditional career.

Getting up one day and deciding to become a writer can be incredibly difficult to know where to start. There is no set path, and with the world of film and TV in flux right now, it can seem like it’s even more challenging than ever before.

There are more paths than ever when it comes to how to become a screenwriter. Here are some top tips for securing your dream job.

Live an interesting life and write about it

All writing comes from experience. If you’re still young, then you might not have built up a bank of ideas and emotions from which to draw upon.

Great characters often stem from interactions we’ve had in real life, people we’ve seen on a train, or arguments we’ve witnessed from afar.

Dramatic moments might be sparked by vivid landscapes you've seen or exciting incidents you've been a part of. The writer Mark Billingham wrote his second novel Scaredycat - adapted into a T.V. series for the U.K.'s Sky channel - after being held at gunpoint in a hotel room.

An image of a nerdy looking writer typing on a typewriter, unaffected, as an explosion goes off behind him
If you want to be a writer, living a boring life is not an option.

If you think you've lived a boring life, you haven't. You don't have to have been tied up in a hotel room by criminals. We've all lived varied, engaging, and unique lives and have a story to tell.

The best way to become a screenwriter is simply to start. Write down the pieces of dialogue you hear every day on the subway on your way to work.

Open your laptop and describe the scenes and pictures you have in your head. Then do the work:

  • Endless revisions
  • Decades of honing your craft
  • Extensive networking
  • Professional formatting using great software like Arc Studio

Watch some great films

Screenplays are merely a blueprint for films. You can only be a good screenwriter if you know what you want to create. So, start by permitting yourself in your busy life to watch as many great films as you can.

A student sat in his living room with popcorn watching films as research for his future career
Watching films and eating popcorn does count as research to becoming a screenwriter

Make a spreadsheet of films you want to watch, and look for recommendations. Then ask yourself why you like or hate each film. What made it noteworthy? Could you spot the major plot points and predict how they were going to end? What stood out about the cinematography? The mise-en-scène?

Become obsessed with film

Looking for a place to start? Then check out our breakdown series which lists the plot points in major films and TV series according to different theories such as Save the Cat and Dan Harmon’s Story Circle.

Go to film school

Film school is expensive, but it is still the place to be if you want to make it in the film world. A high-level master's program in the U.S., such as at UCLA or Colombia, or a postgraduate course at the National Film School in London will teach you everything you need to know about screenwriting and filmmaking.

You’ll hear from industry experts from across the industry, and you’ll make life-altering connections with other writers that can get you in the door and have your screenplay looked at.

Get a different job in the industry

The traditional route for writers would be to get an entry-level job on a film set. Generally, this would be as a researcher (sometimes called a runner) or a very junior assistant producer.

This gives you invaluable set experience and a chance to see how films are made while making those important connections and friends that will take a look at your screenplay and get it seen by the right person.

Go the indy route

Nowadays, you don’t have to go down the traditional Hollywood route. You don’t have to up sticks and move to L.A, New York, London, or Paris. Nor do you have to spend years at film school.

There are now more ways than ever to become a screenwriter, a director, a cinematographer, and more today. You can collaborate with other directors, actors, and aspiring filmmakers after work hours or on the weekends. . You can shoot a film on a tiny budget using decent equipment and then monetize it either by posting it on a video-sharing platform like YouTube for ad revenue or by selling it to people through a subscription.

If you want to write, write. Share your work with anyone who is willing to read it. Join writer’s groups and look for an agent. The possibilities as a writer in 2023 are endless.

How to become a screenwriter? Remember, Arc Studio has your back

Whatever route you take, Arc Studio is your perfect companion, helping you take your project from that first seed of an idea to a finished product.

Be sure to download it for free today by clicking this link.


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How to Become a Writer
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.

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

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Learn from the film industry’s top screenwriters

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

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