How to Win a Screenwriting Competition
First off, why even bother entering a screenwriting competition? You’re opening yourself up to scrutiny, pitting your script up against hundreds of others, and there’s a large consensus that most contests are blatant scams who’re just out there to take your money. You’re a writer. You don’t have any money!
This is why you need to do your homework. What do you want to get out of a screenwriting competition? Big cash prizes may feel like a well-earned reward but is it really going to further your career? And sure, placing high or winning is going to look great on your resume but perhaps not so much if no ones ever heard of that contest. Search for competitions that offer more.
Will you get feedback on your script? What’s the caliber of the judges? Most importantly, what level of exposure is it offering? Ideally, look for contests that can get your script into the hands of the people who can make it, open doors into the industry, and help you get known.
Now to the juicy bits, how to win?
Having done your research and whittled your list down to the crème de la crème, you’re going to first start to increase your chances of winning by entering MULTIPLE CONTESTS. Find three or more of the top screenwriting competitions designed to best advance your career and stretch your budget further by trying to submit before the early bird deadline dates are up.
Have a cracking FIRST PAGE. I can’t stress enough how quickly a reader assesses both story and writer ability from page one. You really make your first impression here and it’s vital that you format properly, have done a proofread, have plenty of white space with no huge paragraphs of writing, and it’s important to include a hook that compels the reader to carry on reading.
Jump straight into some ACTION if possible. This doesn’t mean guns, explosions and car chases; it means emotional and absorbing content. Too much time can be spent laboriously establishing backstory or setting up a story. The plot needs to start immediately, not thirty pages down the line, which the reader might not even get to if you’re not introducing enough CONFLICT in your first act.
We’ve all heard it yet continue to fail at it. Give us the same but different. An ORIGINAL twist on something the audience is already familiar with is safer to produce than predictable or completely off the wall. Genre stories that give something new make stronger pieces than scripts that try to be every genres going, trying to please everyone.
Don’t forget to read each contest’s RULES and FAQ sections! An easy mistake to make but here’s where you could ruin your chances by entering the wrong file type, material that requires copyright, already solicited scripts, or something as simple as being over or under the required page count will immediately put your script on the NO pile.
Find out more about Getting Past the Reader here.
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BONUS: Some of the BEST Online Screenwriting Courses & Books available:
- Aaron Sorkin Screenwriting MasterClass
- Jim Uhls’ (Writer of Fight Club) The Screenwriters Toolkit
- Paul Castro’s The MILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS OF SCREEN WRITING
- Paul Castro’s The Million Dollar Screenplay
- Stephan Palmer’s Good in a Room – FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSION
- Michael Hauge’s & Chris Vogler’s Screenwriting & Story Blueprint: The Hero’s Two Journeys
- Karl Igelsias’s Writing for Emotional Impact – FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE
- Save the Cat!® The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need – FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSION
- Linda Seger’s Making A Good Script Great – FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSION
Lee Hamilton, professional Script Reader and Developer at the Shore Scripts Screenwriting Competition. Find out how entering their Short, Feature or new TV Pilot contest could get your script read by 32 of their Oscar, Bafta, Emmy, Golden Globe & Cannes award winning judges as well as being sent to over 70 production companies and agents from around the world by visiting www.shorescripts.com
If you liked How to Win a Screenwriting Competition Like a Pro, then you’ll love:
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