You're thinking seriously about trying for a writing career. Good or bad idea? How do you get started? Have you already missed that bus? From someone who has spent about a million years in the screenwriting business I have lots of answers for you. I do these little "advice" articles occasionally because I know that there are new readers out there and sometimes people forget or discount some of the advice they've heard in the past.
There are two roads to being a screenwriter for motion pictures. You can simply try to write a script that someone will buy or you can go for the long haul and try for a real writing career. If you are over the age of 40 it will be best to try to sell a script or two. If you are younger you have a better chance of having a writing career.
To sell a script you can live anywhere. For a real career, you must live in the greater Los Angeles area. That means you can drive to Beverly Hills, the Valley or Hollywood within one hour.
Don't kid yourself......this is a real rule. No good agent will sign a new writer who lives outside the area. You can't maintain close relationships, get to sudden meetings in time, meet other pros and turn your whole social life into the world of movies, if you don't live here.
Both types of careers require the same amount of work prior to getting any kind of a deal. The requirements are:
1. Take a couple of screenwriting classes.
2. Buy an read many books on screenwriting. Go to the Writers Bookstore's web site and find fabulous books written by bona fide show biz people.
3. Learn how to write outlines, treatments and complete screenplays.
4. Write at least four full length scripts. Throw the first one in the trash.
5. Hire a script consultant for your third script.
6. Listen to the consultant, rewrite your script using their notes, send the rewrite back to them and then listen to their notes and do it all again.
7. Be prepared to work your ass off. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.
8. Go to panel discussions and speakers events for writers. Make friends there and follow up with them.
9. Send "Thank You" notes to all the speakers.
10.Read my book: "Mind Your Business" for all the next steps.
11. Never be late, always have new story ideas, follow-up with everyone, call people you don't know.
12.Some of your scripts won't work. Just move on to the next one.
13.Learn to write fast. You can lose a good career by being too slow.
14.Never misspell anything.
15. Learn to write interesting and memorable characters.
16. Call on me when you need a good consultant who knows what she's doing.
Now......go do it!! Have some fun along the way. It's a great and fulfilling business.