How to Write a Screenplay — Getting Started and Story Structure

If you’re looking to better understand how to write a screenplay, you need to know Aaron Sorkin, who is arguably the biggest name among working screenwriters in Hollywood right now. The man has conquered the Broadway stage, created multiple hit television series, and written several films that you have more than likely seen more than once and can probably quote without even thinking about it. In other words, he’s a pretty big deal, so I’m going to let you in on a secret here about understanding how to write a screenplay – this is a quote from the man himself:

The guy who wrote A Few Good Men and The Social Network, the guy who created The West Wing and The Newsroom, who gets paid millions for knowing how to write a screenplay, has trouble getting started on a new project. My reason for telling you all of this is simple – even for the best of us, beginning a new project is always a tough prospect. As long as you can get that out of the way and admit it up front, life is going to be a lot easier for you as you continue to learn more about how to write a screenplay. Nothing that is gratifying is easy, and there are few things in life more gratifying then looking over your completed screenplay and saying “I did it.”

So if we know going in that this is going to be an uphill battle, how do we win the fight? Simple – you have a plan going into the thing, and that plan is called story structure. You can’t build a house without blueprints, right? Starting a movie screenplay is no different.