There are many screenplay contests available to the aspiring screenwriter. These contests can be a good avenue to getting one's work noticed and/or make a sale. So, it's important to make certain that you have written your screenplay to the best of your ability and according to industry standards.
The most important thing to do for any aspiring screenwriter is to first learn the basic techniques of screenwriting before sitting down to write one. I come across many hopeful writers who think that all it takes to write a script is a good story idea and a lot of explosive special effects. While a good story is important, with or without the special effects, writing that story using proper industry standards is equally important. (Please visit http://www.coverscript.com/education.html - Tips for Screenwriters link for further information. )
There are specific techniques to the craft of screenwriting involving everything from act structure to proper screenplay format, which must be followed. It's difficult to write engaging characters, focused plots and entertaining screenplays without having a solid framework in which to bring it all to life.
Before any money is spent submitting your work to a screenwriting contest, it would behoove the writer to first educate himself in the “tools of the trade". There are many, many screenwriting books available as well as workshops and seminars, both online and in live classroom situations. My advice is to take advantage of them. Then, armed with the basics, write, write and then write some more.
Then before submitting your work to any screenplay competition have it copyrighted and WGA registered. (United States Copyright office: http://www.loc.gov/copyright Writers Guild of America: http://www.wga.org )
Advice and Suggestions
I am a judge for many contests and as such, have read thousands of TV scripts and screenplays. I can assure you that the winners are chosen because their screenplays or TV scripts contain great stories and are written to industry standards. Therefore, putting your best foot forward is a must. Below are some pointers to keep in mind before you submit your screenplay.
(1) Sci-fi special effects stories taking place on purple planets populated with giant, paisley-skinned, seven-armed, Plasmanian Wooglegorps who magically float through the air using anti-gravity belts or
(2) a 1920's Period Piece necessitating Model-T's, Zoot suits and flappers or
(3) an action/adventure story that has the bad guys blown to smithereens, along with their Lear jet, over the ocean, followed by a high-tech nuclear submarine underwater search and rescue mission while the oil slicked water burns out of control, may not be the best way to go.
Once you've gone through your screenplay and are satisfied with it, have it read by someone else. After all, your story is intended for a movie-going audience so honest opinions from friends and family members will give you a feel for that audience reaction.
Then do yourself a favor and have your screenplay read by an industry professional that has experience and good credentials in the area of script analysis. A writer can become too close to his work and not be able to “see the forest for the trees". It is to your advantage to have any possible format, story, character, dialogue and structure flaws found and corrected before it is submitted to a movie or TV script contest.
While there is never any guarantee your screenplay or TV script will be a winner, writing one to the best of your ability and which meets industry standards is a must, as the competition is fierce.
I wish you great success in your present and future story-telling adventures.
Copyright © 2004 Lynne Pembroke, Coverscript.com
About the Author:
Lynne Pembroke is a writer, poet, screenwriter and owner of Coverscript.com, with over 18 years of experience in screenwriting and screenplay analysis helping individual writers, screenwriting competitions, agents, studios, producers and script consulting companies. Services include screenplay, TV script and treatment analysis, ghostwriting, rewriting and adaptation of novel to screenplay. Visit http://www.coverscript.com for more details.