Gerald Hanks Filmography

Monday, April 27, 2020

Screenwriting Advice: Concept vs. Craft

Thousands of aspiring writers are taking advantage of the current crisis to work on their screenplay ideas.

They envision that, once the crisis has passed, content-hungry producers will gobble up their scripts in hopes of making the next big hit feature film or streaming series.

While developing a "high concept" for your story is important, developing your skills as a writer is crucial to having a successful career.

Since the vast majority of professional screenwriters (90+%) make their living from writing assignments, a grasp of the finer points of the screenwriting process is essential.

The best way to hone these skills is to practice writing scripts, even if those stories fall outside of the writer's comfort zone.

A great way to practice honing your skills is to write the best script possible based on a completely silly idea.

After all, if writers can get paid to create scripts about shark-filled tornadoes or with characters like a gun-toting raccoon and an eight-foot-tall walking tree, then anything is possible.

So here's a fun writing exercise that can help you sharpen your skills:

  • Come up with ten absolutely ridiculous ideas.
  • For each idea, create a protagonist, and antagonist, and a helper/love interest.
  • For each character, use the VOTE Method to define the character's motivations and desires.
  • For each protagonist, use the VOTE to create a logline.
  • Choose the three VOTE loglines that interest you the most.
  • Write a one-page synopsis or beat sheet based off of each logline.
  • Write your script based on the synopsis that interests you the most.

What do I mean by "ridiculous ideas"? Here are some examples:

The point isn't that these are brilliant examples of modern cinema.

The point is that scripts like these often turn writers from aspiring amateurs into paid professionals.

So, instead of stressing out about if your idea is "original" is original enough, or if your "high concept" is high enough, focus on developing your skills as a screenwriter.

You may decide to take these scripts into the marketplace, or you may decide to hide them in a drawer for decades.

This exercise will let you have fun with a preposterous idea, while you work on your craft and become a better writer.

If you can show that you can create a strong script out of a ridiculous concept, imagine what you can do with a good one!

Besides, who would want to make a movie about killer clowns from outer space anyway?


Whether you want to learn how to write a script on your own, or if you want to hire an experienced screenwriter to handle that task, Story Into Screenplay can help.

Some writers may feel hesitant to work on their projects during these stressful times.

On the contrary, now is the perfect time to develop that idea, hone that script, and work on that pitch.

When this crisis gets resolved, content providers will be looking for new voices, new projects, and new stories.

During this crisis, Story Into Screenplay is offering several tools that can help writers develop their skills and refine their ideas.

  • Feedback report on the first ten pages of your feature or TV pilot for US$10.
  • One hour of online or phone consultation with an experienced professional screenwriter FREE (US residents only).
  • The introductory chapter of "How To Use The VOTE Method": FREE (coming soon)

For more information, contact Story Into Screenplay by using the form on this page, by email at storyintoscreenplayblog[at]gmail[dot]com, or by sending a direct message through the Story Into Screenplay Facebook page.

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