(Then Write the Screenplay...)\r\nBook yourself an appointment with an EXEC from a studio. This will require the powers of persuasion, subtle harassment, luck, or a gun. Okay, maybe not the latter, but definitely a combination of the other three.\r\n\r\nWhen the time comes, introduce yourself with a smile. Have a firm handshake. Project confidence. Then, ironing the tremor from your voice, hit the EXEC with \u00a0\u2026 THE PITCH.\u00a0 This\u2019ll be your concept summed up in a line or two. Make it sharp, snazzy, and engaging. These people have any number of hopefuls trying to sell them something, so this one sentence you\u2019re hanging your livelihood on better stand out \u2013 and better make you stand out.\r\n\r\nGet your screenplay pitch ready for those big executives...Image Credit: Keith Bloomfield via Flickr Creative Commons.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nIf it doesn\u2019t, thank them courteously for their time, stride from their office, and catch a bus to the nearest unemployment line (if you weren\u2019t already in it, being a writer and all). But if it does hook them, if it does enflame their imagination, the EXEC might invite you to write them a SYNOPSIS. This would be about five hundred words summing up your idea in a nutshell.\r\n\r\nShould that go well, you may be invited to write a TREATMENT, which could be anywhere between five and fifty pages long. This, essentially, is a hybrid between short story and an outline, albeit written in present tense. Here you\u2019ll introduce CHARACTERS, detail your PLOT, SUBPLOTS, and any other THEMES you may be aiming to explore.\r\n\r\nHopefully, you\u2019ll be paid to write for your time, although it\u2019s not guaranteed. You may be required to write ON SPEC.\u00a0This means you\u2019re working for nothing.\u00a0Oh, yeah, they might pay you later, maybe on the provision of taking your project into PRODUCTION, but for now you won\u2019t see a cent. Such is the life of many-a-writer.\r\n\r\nImpress the EXEC with the TREATMENT, and then comes the SCREENPLAY. Ever written one before? It doesn\u2019t matter. Get yourself some SCREENWRITING SOFTWARE, such as Final Draft or Movie Magic or the free CeltX. They\u2019ll take care of all your formatting needs. As the Final Draft catchphrase encourages: Just add words!\u00a0It really has become that simple.\r\n\r\nThen all you need to know are a handful of screenwriting terms, the first of which being FADE IN \u2013 used to signify the beginning of our story. TITLE aside (and this may be changed by some STUDIO BEAN-COUNTER who thinks he has a catchier, more marketable name for your masterpiece), FADE IN will be the very first two words you type in your screenplay.\r\n\r\nFADE IN:\r\n\r\nNow, you\u2019re truly underway.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s time now to set the scene. Where does your story begin? Is it with three men sitting thoughtfully in their car, driving, when their thoughts are interrupted by a thumping from the boot (Goodfellas)? Or is it with three assassins arriving at a desert train station in the old west (Once Upon a Time in the Old West)? Or maybe it\u2019s up amongst the stars, in space, as a Star Destroyer pursues a rebel ship (Star Wars: A New Hope)? Or maybe it\u2019s with a group of well-dressed criminals having a meal at a diner while one of them talks about the origin of Madonna\u2019s song \u2018Like a Virgin\u2019 (Reservoir Dogs)? The canvas is blank for you to begin painting.\r\n\r\nScenes are introduced with what\u2019s called a SLUG LINE. Following that is a brief description of the setting. This may also incorporate the introduction of CHARACTERS. Don\u2019t overwrite these descriptions. Should your screenplay ever get anywhere, it\u2019ll fall into the hands of a DIRECTOR, who\u2019ll want to impose his own vision. Your job is to provide the framework, theirs is to put up the walls. So don\u2019t overdo it, because you could put them off.\r\n\r\nAn example of nice, simple screenwriting:\r\n\r\nINT. CLASSROOM \u2013 MORNING\r\n\r\nThe class bristle in awe of the magnificence of Les Zigomanis\u2019s work, but HELEN is guarded.\r\n\r\nThe INT. stands for INTERIOR. Obviously, the alternative is an EXTERIOR, signified with an EXT. Then we have where the scene is set: CLASSROOM. Finally, there\u2019s the time of the scene: MORNING. Other possibilities include AFTERNOON, EVENING, and NIGHT. Usually, it\u2019s unnecessary to set the time of the scene when dealing with an INTERIOR, but I find that it can be illuminating.\r\n\r\nThe description which follows is the ACTION: it briefly describes the setting and characters. The \u2018class\u2019 is referred to generically, as they\u2019re really just background here. But HELEN is specified as she\u2019s a lead character; also, capitalization of her name is used when she\u2019s introduced, and only when she\u2019s introduced. The ACTION also very quickly tells us what\u2019s happening in the scene. So what do we have? The class bristling in awe at Les\u2019s magnificence. They are not the first. (Really!)\r\n\r\nNow, we could continue with ACTION (remembering to keep it bare \u2013 this is not a novel, after all), or introduce DIALOGUE. Further examples:\r\nHELEN\r\nWho is this fellow with the\u00a0funny name, this Zigomanis?\u00a0 A\u00a0madman, is he?\r\n\r\nKYRA jumps up indignantly.\r\nKYRA\r\nHe\u2019s genius!\u00a0 Pure genius!\r\n\r\nKRISTIE leaps to her feet, her chair flying.\r\nKRISTIE\r\nI agree!\r\n\r\nThese are the ingredients of a SCREENPLAY \u2013 SCENES, ACTIONS and DIALOGUE.\u00a0 Using them, we are now capable of writing our screenplay, which should run 110\u2013120 pages long.\u00a0 In the film industry, the general formula is ONE PAGE=ONE MINUTE.\u00a0 Obviously, that may differ occasionally \u2013 a page heavy on ACTION might take longer than a minute, whereas a page littered with rapid-fire DIALOGUE could take only thirty seconds.\u00a0 However, it all evens out in the end.\r\n\r\nWe establish our story in ACT ONE, which usually comprises the first 15\u201320 pages.\u00a0 ACT TWO, unfolding over the next seventy or so pages, develops and explores the story, and poises the climax precariously for resolution.\u00a0 ACT THREE wraps things up, usually explosively.\r\n\r\nIf all this seems absurdly, if not insultingly simple, that\u2019s because it is.\u00a0 Certainly, there are other mechanics, but these are the central components required.\u00a0 And there really are no hard and fast rules, no real conventions of formulas \u2013 not as long as you stick to the framework.\r\n\r\nAll that\u2019s left for us then is to FADE TO BLACK.\r\nFADE TO BLACK.