Writers are often readers. We must be!
We learn through practice and exposure to good writing, as well as writing that needs improvement. So for those of us working in movies and TV writing, we should be reading, reading, reading scripts. As much as possible, in a way that doesn’t interfere with the progress of our own writing. It’s interesting that often we can see problems, issues and mistakes in the work of others that we overlook in our own.
How Many Screenplays Should Screenwriters Read
Like so many things it depends. But I would ask you, do you know one screenplay almost by heart? Have you read 10 screenplays in the past year that are in they genre you write in? Don’t worry that reading this much will cause you to copy people or lose your own voice, it won’t. Rather, reading enough screenplays, or reading scripts regularly, will help you stay in touch with trends, what’s going on, and find marketable qualities with which to imbue your own writing.
A Script Reading Challenge
I’m presenting you with a script reading challenge. If you don’t read many screenplays, or cannot remember the last time you did, why not start. Here’s the challenge, read one screenplay per week. Then at the end of the year you’ll have read 50+ right? Or in that ballpark?
Read Screenplays With Purpose
Be intentional about it, if you’re looking to improve your dialogue, find writers who rock the dialogue. If you hope to become more dramatic in your plot, go for those types of projects. If you have a platonic crush on a writer’s style or chops, read many of their scripts. Reading one per week, for fun, uninterrupted like you would watch a movie, is a great way to improve your own writing, marketability and build very specific skills along the way. Meet you at the end of the year and let’s compare notes!