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From Page to Screen: Unleashing Your Creativity as a Scriptwriter

how to become a scriptwriter

Are you a multitalented writer? Do you think your write-ups can be the best-selling in the market? Do you have the power to charm people just by using your words? Do you think you can write scripts and dialogues that become everyone’s favourite? Are you looking for a career that lets you fully realize your writing potential? Are you willing to challenge your imaginative and creative thinking power by working for deadlines and projects? If all the answers to the above questions are in affirmative, then a career in scriptwriting can be a great pathway for you.

A scriptwriter is a creative writer who works along with story writers, directors, and producers to write scripts for films, TV shows, commercial films, or theatre production. The job as a scriptwriter would be involved in creating characters, crafting dialogues, and building an engaging and intriguing plot. From writing engaging dialogues to stage directions, a scriptwriter works with every aspect of a script.

Why become a Scriptwriter?

A script is a written text or a document which constitutes the essentials for telling a story. A good script is a blend of well-written scenes, characters, plots. dialogues, and actions which are narrated creatively. Therefore as a scriptwriter, you’d get to use your creative imagination and writing skills to create a whole new fictional world and share your stories and ideas to prospective producers and directors. A career as a scriptwriter is not only challenging but is a great pathway for those who have a knack for creative writing and can write lengthy and interesting stories and write-ups. 

Scripts are usually written for cinema / films, theatre / pays, and commercial advertisement films. As a scriptwriter, you might choose for which set of genre you’d want to write scripts for. For example, there are two types in which scripts are majorly written – Screenplay writing and Playwriting. For those who have interests in films and television series, can consider writing scripts for movies and web series, whereas those who are well versed with drama and theatre can consider writing scripts for plays.

As a screenplay writer, you will be writing scripts for films and television programs and series. You can start writing your own scripts individually which will also help you in building a portfolio or you can take up ideas from existing write-ups from different and experienced writers. While writing for films and television series, it is mostly the movements, actions, expressions and the dialogues that are narrated properly, so as a writer you will be brainstorming in adding perfection to each and every shot, action and dialogue. 

In the case of writing for a play, you will be writing for a stage setting which has limited spatial and temporal liberty. Your main function as a writer would be to create scenes and situations which are acted on the stage. So your main focus would be in creating dialogues, stage directions and scenes that are gripping for the audience as well as leaves a message as the play ends. As a writer, you can decide for which particular genre- you wish to write in. For example as a screenplay writer you may consider writing for- Feature Films, Television serials, or Documentaries. Each field requires a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of screenplay writing. 

So, as a scriptwriter, you will be responsible for writing dialogues, developing the intriguing plot, writing dialogues for a given situation or creating situations for films as well as play. You will also be involved in working under deadlines, writing and creating original stories and creating interesting and complex plots, within a required structure and in a specified composition. 

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  1. Screenplay writer: As a Screenplay writer, you will have to write for a variety of visual mediums like cinema, short films, television serials, web series etc.
  2. Play writer: As a play writer, you will be writing plays voluntarily or professionally for a drama company or organization. The work as a play writer can be a strenuous task as it involves a deep level of thinking for creating complex characters, intriguing plot, well-structured dialogue writing, and demonstration of stage directions. You may start off as a freelance writer and then can further your experience as a professional playwright for theatre and performing arts societies and communities

What does a scriptwriter do? 

As a scriptwriter, you will be engaged to the following key roles and responsibilities:

  • Writing themes, plots, characterizations, psychological analysis, historical information and facts, action, and dialogue to create a story or plot structure for films or play.
  • Writing scripts and pieces for popular cinema, television serials, and advertisements.
  • Revising written work to meet personal standards and to satisfy the needs of clients, publishers, directors, or producers.
  • Coordinating with Producers, Directors, Cinematographers, DOP, Editors, and SFX/VFS Artists to review and modify dialogues, scenes, and actions.
  • Following appropriate procedures to get copyrights for completed work.

How to become a scriptwriter – educational requirement 

After completing a bachelor’s degree in any discipline (preferably in a language or in Performing Arts studies or in Film Studies), you can go for a master’s level or postgraduate diploma course in Creative writing / Film Studies / Cinema / Creative Writing for Performing Arts/ Creative Writing for Art, etc. For admission in a master’s or a postgraduate diploma course, you need a three years bachelor’s degree in a language / performing arts / other discipline. Along with bachelors, a foundation course in Creative Writing or Film studies can be considered.

Educational fees

Becoming a scriptwriter in India involves several costs, including education and training costs, as well as costs associated with establishing oneself as a professional in the industry. Here is a breakdown of some of the costs associated with becoming a scriptwriter in India:

  • Education and Training Costs – To become a scriptwriter, one needs to have a strong understanding of the art of storytelling and screenwriting. Pursuing a degree or diploma in film studies or screenwriting can help one gain the necessary knowledge and skills. The cost of such courses varies depending on the institution, with some offering courses for as low as INR 30,000 per year, while others charge up to INR 5 lakhs or more for the entire course.
  • Equipment Costs – As a scriptwriter, one needs to have access to a computer or laptop with screenwriting software such as Final Draft or Celtx. The cost of these software tools ranges from INR 10,000 to INR 25,000.

Job Opportunities 

In most likely situation, you will have to work as an intern or assistant to an established Scriptwriter whereby your role will be mostly to research materials for the script. The Scripwriter may give part of the script to be written and depending upon your work quality, larger parts of scripts may come your way. You may also attempt to intern with a film/television production company, specially television series or serial production companies. Assistant Scriptwriters are often required by these companies as a lot of scripts are required, specially for the mega or daily series or serials. Then there are companies which produce web series or web films. So, overall, getting the first work as an Intern or an Assistant Scriptwriter is not extremely difficult if your writing skills and storywriting skills are excellent.

Over a period of time, you may start getting offers to work as a Scriptwriter (Screenplay writer or Play Writer) with television production companies, film production companies, television commercial ad film making companies, and web film/series production companies. There are companies which do all these as well.

Also, Read: How to Become a standup comedian

Salary of a scriptwriter 

As said under the job opportuties, most likely, you will begin as an Intern or Assistant Scriptwriter with a senior professional Scriptwriter or with a film/ television/ web/ commercial ad film production company/ theatre group. You may have to work without any money as an Intern but as an Assistant Scriptwriter, depending upon the size of the company and what kind of work they are doing, you may get about Rs. 500-1000 per episode of a television series or about Rs. 5,000-40,000 for a feature film. With theatre groups, you may make about Rs. 500 – 10,000 for a play.

However, if you keep on producing good work, you may start earning much more – say about Rs. 1000 – 8,000 per episode of a television series / about Rs. 10,000 – 1,00,000 for a feature film.

When you start getting work as an independent Scriptwriter, you can make about Rs. 5,000 – 20,000 per episode of a television series / about Rs. 1,00,000 – 2,00,000 for a feature film script. The range depends on whether you are working for a regional production or a production in Hindi/Tamil/Telegu, etc. Regional production fetch you lower earning.

Then if you can make a name for yourself, you may expect to earn anything between Rs. 10,000 – 50,000 per episode of a television seriors / about Rs. 2,00,000 – 20,00,000 or even more for for a feature film script. Again, your earning will vary widely between regional work and work in Hindi/Tamil/Telugu productions. 

Career progression in scriptwriting profession 

As stated under job opportunities, you will most likely begin as an Intern or Assistant Scriptwriter. Then you progress as an independent Scriptwriter. Some of you may attempt to progress into becoming a filmmaker or a producer or a director. The first step in filmmaking or direction is a role as an Assistant Director. Similar the first step in producing is a roles as an Assistant Producer. A good script is one of the key cornerstone for a film/television series/commercial film/theatre performance. If you become adept and well-known in Scriptwriting, a lot of opportunities will come your way.

The road ahead for this career pathway looks bright as the Indian Media and Entertainment industry sector is growing rapidly. This industry is seeing higher growth prospects due to a growing number in consumer demands for television series, web series, cinemas, etc. as it is majorly driven by increasing digitization and higher internet usage.

Since this industry is witnessing a huge demand in consumer needs, Media and Television industry is preparing for a broader network. The industry is expected to grow from Financial Year 2018 of CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 10.90% to 13.10% in the year 2023. Industries in India are working towards establishing itself as a forerunner in industrialisation and technological developments because of which the M&E industry is introducing interactive screenplays. The screenplays have thus become more futuristic and have created a world of possibilities for overtly imaginative scriptwriters.

With ongoing technological advancements, it has become possible to imagine that screenwriting software will be also able to create living and breathing screenplays that can utilize conceptual art, photos, and other visual assistance. With the growth in the internet and streaming channels and particularly in the film industry, there is a demand for more content. Thus it is expected that there will be a number of job opportunities for prospective scriptwriters in the coming future.

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