I have many friends who are screenwriters. Often, they want me to read their work. I’m sorry to say that I don’t do that anymore. There are a number of reasons which I won’t go into here. But to all students of screenwriting, I will tell you that the most important way to understand how to write screenplays is to read screenplays, not just watch films. After you read a screenplay, analyze it, which means creating a “beat sheet”. There should be a single beat for every three or four pages of script. In this way, you will see the structure that the writer used, including logical act breaks. Screenwriting is a highly structural activity. You don’t just sit down and start writing a script. You create your story with a beat sheet, then you do a treatment in prose form. In this way, you work out as many problems as possible before you type Fade In: Novices and bad writers do not do this.
Five years ago, my son Cole and I decided to write a script that would encapsulate all that we have learned about screenwriting over the decades. Also, it would communicate what we believe on important subjects. This is a script with a message and an edge. So if you want to understand how we write screenplays we offer this to you.