How To Become A Screenwriter In 7 Steps

To learn how to become a screenwriter, you need to do more than read screenwriting books.

You need to do more than learn how to write a screenplay.

You need to approach the process of becoming a screenwriter for the long-term.

How To Become A Screenwriter

Over the past sixteen years I have worked with thousands of screenwriters.

The same pattern leads to success 99% of the time.

So let me explain, in 7 phases, how to become a screenwriter.

how to become a screenwriter in 7 steps


Develop a library of material

In Phase 1, you are developing a library of material.

This means at least 2-3 finished scripts in the same genre.

These are the key words: “in the same genre.”

The reason is purely about the bottom-line.

What Happens When A New Writer Breaks In

Agents know that the best time to sell something is right after you’ve sold something.

In other words, the best time to sell your second project is immediately after you sell your first, and the best time to sell your third project is right after you sell your second.

Bonus: your second and third projects are likely to sell for increasingly large sums of money.

3 script sales - how to become a screenwriter

Build a network of relationships

In phase 2 you are building a network of relationships.

This is a big part of learning how to become a screenwriter.

Your goal is to find like-minded people in your local community:

  • Is there a state or national film office?
  • Film festival where you could volunteer?
  • Short film you could produce?
  • Writer’s class, group, or conference?
  • Online community to join?
  • Social media network to connect on?

Each person you add to your network of relationships dramatically increases the chance that when you have developed the library of material that you need, that you will know someone (or know someone who knows someone) who can help you.

Get hired to write professionally

In Phase 3, you get hired to write professionally.

Most screenwriters get their first professional writing job without an agent.

You get job opportunities like:

  • Producing a web series
  • Writing industrials (advertising, marketing, or educational films)
  • Working as a writer’s assistant
  • Doing a rewrite on an independent film
  • Writing jokes for a comedian friend

Do your job well and people will want to work with you on future projects.

Get an agent

In Phase 4, you get an agent.

Yes, you may get a manager or you might partner with an established producer first, but the key aspect of this phase is that you get an agent.

Agents can be virtually impossible to attract before you have a track record of success, a deal is pending, and there’s big money on the table.

That’s when an agent swoops in to collect their commission – when you’ve done all of the hard work, made your own opportunities, and are right on the brink of a big payday.

But… you have an agent!

get an agent - how to become a screenwriter

Start water bottle tour

In Phase 5, you take the “water bottle tour.”

As soon as your agent has negotiated a deal for you and you’re signed with the agency, your agent sets up between 50-100 meetings with development executives and producers who may be able to hire you or who could be interested in your other projects.

It’s called the “water bottle tour” because everywhere you go you’re asked by an assistant, “Can I get you a bottle of water?”

If you’re good at pitching and handling the dynamics of high-stakes meetings, you develop relationships with decision-makers. They suggest projects to you and ask for you to come in and pitch ideas. You are hired for rewrites and hopefully make a couple sales quickly.

Establish your positioning

In Phase 6, you establish your positioning.

Your positioning means that you are the acknowledged expert in your area and anytime a producer has a problem with a script in your genre, your name comes to mind.

As you get hired for bigger projects, complete those assignments on time, meet more people in the business, perhaps sell an additional script, you are building your reputation and establishing your positioning.

(Note: when your first project gets made, when your project is a box office hit – these successes benefit you but are not in your control. You can be a well-regarded, well-positioned, successful screenwriter without having had your scripts produced.)

Branch out (if you like)

In Phase 7, you can branch out.

You can try a new genre, different medium, or try being a writer-director.

You’ve proven yourself. You’ve earned the right to take a chance.

Decision-makers are more willing to listen to you, trust you, and take risks along with you.

Unfortunately, this is exactly where most aspiring writers are trying to START.

I hope after reading this post, you can see why this is often an exercise in frustration.

Overall Strategy

A strategy to become a screenwriter has four main parts:

  1. Career Strategy: An approach to the next phase of your career
  2. Networking Plan: An authentic way to meet the right people
  3. Pitching System: A method for pitching your ideas effectively
  4. Meeting Strategy: A system to handle meetings of all types

So, as you’re considering how to become a screenwriter, here are four questions:

  • Are you working on the right projects?
  • Are you meeting the right people?
  • Do you know how to pitch?
  • Are you succeeding in meetings?

Don’t despair if you can’t answer all four questions with a resounding “Yes!”

That’s okay. You’re a writer. Your primary job is to write.

You’re not expected to automatically be an expert at everything else.

But when the above elements are in place, good things can happen fast.

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Discussion About How To Become A Screenwriter In 7 Steps

  1. Irene

    Thanks for this post! As someone who is still firmly ensconced in step #1, it’s helpful to know that there’s a path to follow, even if I lose sight of it sometimes while trying to build the best screenplays I can.

    Also, I really appreciated the recommendations for networking, specifically volunteering or producing a short film. It reminded me of two things: 1., that I can network by actually doing something, as opposed to say, schmoozing, and 2.,that I should always try to give or provide value to others before considering how it might benefit myself.

    One question, though, what does it mean to write an “industrial”? I searched for info, but didn’t get a definite idea.

    As for the 4 questions to consider, my answers would be:
    I think so!
    Working on it!
    Still terrified by it, but I’m practicing!
    N/A !

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks, Irene. “Industrials” refer to marketing films, educational films, fundraising films, basically the kind of projects that corporations often pay writers to write— not screenwriting exactly, but still you’re being paid to write something that will be expressed on film. I’ll update the post too.

    • Tom

      I can chime in here with some info about “industrial” scripts I write for a large automaker. These are training courses I’m talking about and they are intended as educational/motivational videos and intertactive courses for employees. Sometimes the course is about product information, sometimes it is a so-called skills course. In any case, while these types of projects are not particularly sexy or creative, they do require you to write a complete script that details all the still shots, video sequences, on-screen text or supers, music, audio, animation, etc. that are needed to convey the information that is required. The scripts I work on are generally about 45-60 pages and the going rate is anywhere from $8,000 to $12,000 or so. Not a bad way to get used to working with a team, going though the revision process and ending up with a finished script — even though the general public will never see it.

      • Stephanie Palmer

        Thanks for sharing your experience, Tom!

  2. Gary VanRiper

    always sound insight and advice. i try to read everything you send. i very much appreciated our brief exchange last year and it is still very much on my radar to try and interact personally with you one day concerning the material i have already written and in print has sold well. thank you.

  3. J C Tossan

    Thanks for this incredible post! As a 20 years old that is in step 1, it was the most helpful thing I’ve ever read on screenwriting.
    I have a question: Can I consider fantasy and sci-fi as the same genre for my screenwriting career?

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Really appreciate that, JC. The fantasy and sci-fi genres are often grouped in bookstores or online; they often have similar readerships; they have many similar elements (e.g. the importance of milieu). However, the conventions of the genres are quite different, and becoming an expert in either will take time. My advice is to a) specialize in one and b) become an expert not only in the film/screenplay aspect of the genre, but also the books. My guess is you’ve probably read lots of sci-fi and fantasy books as these genres are much more advanced in the written medium. Your odds for success increase the more you narrow your focus as it will take time to read the canon of fantasy vs. the canon of science-fiction.

  4. Michelle Hall

    Thank you so much for this great post, which reiterates the invaluable information you share in your program: How To Become A Professional Writer! I am still working steadily on Phase 1, building a solid body of work in same genre.

  5. Tony Babarino

    Stephanie, great tips and very to-the-point. No doubt there is a lot to (and pardon the pun) read between the lines, but this advice sounds so….sound! Hope you can add further details to each of these steps as a way to incrementally expand on them. I’m sure a lot of us will come back to go deeper into this! I personally can’t wait to see if you elaborate on that “tipping point” where we go from just a writer with a few scripts TO that connecting moment of what/where/how to have pitch meeting chances. Seems one one fills in those gaps. The step-between-step, how people got connected. It’s too easy to say “network!” and that may lead to meetings. The stuff that happens in between is what’s always missing everywhere I read, you know what I mean? Thanks and I appreciate all your efforts and experience! 🙂

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Will do, Tony.

    • John Hamilton

      Great post Tony. I agree that those incremental steps in between are the key to successfully growing and moving forward to the next phase. As one gets closer to the master phases, it seems more information is needed to succeed even more.

  6. Karen

    Hi Stephanie,
    This is an excellent post by someone who truly understands what it is to be a screenwriter and the business that comes with. I loved it because you the first phase is one the majority of screenwriting websites, workshops and seminars fail to state. A body of work is essential, I recently attended a seminar where writers were advised by career authors to finish their writing projects and to make them as polished as possible. Its great advice, but then an agent said you need more than one at least three and further three more in development because they want to see you will continue to work and generate further income. I have two TV pilot scripts near and a three feature scripts near completion all comedy, plus I have a three development projects planned for this year, it’s frustrating, but if I want to approach agents I need show i can do the work so as much as I want them all done already I know it’ll be worth it and that I’ll be judged by the standard of work I can produce. Its like being a musician, you can’t be a one hit wonder you need to write songs for an album and then you need to be able to tour. I love writing I’ve never understood the words vocation or passion until I began writing. Thank you and I will share this with all my fellow writing friends who I know will benefit enormously from this.

  7. Patricia Poulos

    Dear Stephanie

    A number of times I’ve been provided the opportunity to pitch and have declined. I now know the reason for this – until reading your most informative material – I was not prepared. Thank you so much for including me in your list.

    Kindest regards
    Patricia Poulos

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks, Patricia, and congrats on being asked to pitch — that’s a win right there.

  8. Michael

    An excellent and insightful post that provides invaluable information for any beginning screenwriter.

    I have some follow-up questions to your post.

    First, what if a screenwriter have several scripts in several different genres finished in her portfolio should she tell people that she has a number of scripts or should she concrete solely on one script to market at a time?

    Second, should she keep those scripts in different genre on the shelf until she become establish in one genre?

    Third, if she meet someone who wants to make a film that similar to one of her scripts (not in her establish genre) should she give that person that script?

    • Stephanie Palmer

      It is best to focus on one genre until you become an expert. However, if someone is interested in reading one of your other scripts, go for it.

  9. Omax Alex

    Hello Palmer,
    I am an African from Uganda ( EastAfrica), I read this article and its so inspiring. Thanks to you. Film has been my dream and still is but in my country we have quite less opportunities when it comes to film and yet rich with stories. How best can we here in East Africa blend and easily bend to reach Hollywood standards?

    Thank you

  10. Doug Sasse

    This is one of the most succinct yet useful roadmaps I’ve ever seen for describing a complicated process. I’m definitely bookmarking this page and will return to it again and again, just as I return to your website and Facebook page for valuable material. I’ll also encourage all of the screenwriting friends to do the same. Thank you, Stephanie

  11. Daley James Francis

    At last, a step-by-step guide that is easy to follow and doesn’t make you want to throw your laptop out of the window and give up forever! Thanks, Stephanie! This is a great post and I’ll be sending it around to my fellow writers 🙂

  12. Mark

    Great article, Stephanie. I helped me work out where I am on the roadmap. Thank you. So, may I ask if you have anything on how to develop a pitch to an agent. I’m ready to start, based on the premise I have now three paid jobs under my belt, another about to start. Any help would be very welcome.

  13. John

    Brilliant article. Very helpful. Surprised me that a scriptwriter can be successful and appreciated without having anything produced !

    Bad news though that all work should be in the same genre. I like variety and get bored writing material that is too ‘samey.’
    I currently have a Suspense Mystery and Family Friendly scripts on InkTip with a comedy on the way.
    This raises the question: Should you write what you like to, and want to. Or should you write what is needed to get noticed ? Hmmmm. Problems problems !

    • Stephanie Palmer

      I think you should do both. Write in the genre you love, but also pay attention to what is needed to really stand out in that genre so you get noticed.

  14. Daemon Nice

    Hello, very interesting article, but void of any information that is helpful to me. Let me explain. As someone who is working on their first screenplay, I am not so interested in the schmoozing aspect of the business, of selling my screenplay or even of making it ‘big’. What I am looking for is information pertaining to writing an actual screenplay. How to structure it, how to develop character arcs, story arcs, etc. How to present all the information to my viewers subtly without giving away the whole story. How to model characters, settings, motivation and so on and so forth.

    Warm Regards

  15. Ester Lopez

    Hi Stephanie,
    Thank you for this article. I studied with Screenwriting U and we covered a lot of these very phases. Your tips are great and helps me to actually plan my goals more realistically.

  16. lekan

    i am a African(Nigerian) with great passion for writing. talents abound on our continent but we face series of challenges in our quest to stardom- financial, marketing, professional, etc. people are ready to exploit you and limit your drive, if one let them. as an instance, i have a great idea, a cross- cultural story between Nigeria and the United States(considering the quackery in the system back home), how can i get help?

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Hi Lekan,

      Very nice to meet you. This is a broad question and I want to be helpful. Where are you in the process? What kind of help are you looking for?

  17. Jeff Guenther

    All good, consistent with what I’ve learnt in bits and pieces at various sites, but all in one place. Hal Croasmun mentioned getting a manager in one of his free courses, as opposed to an agent. I’d be interested in your take on that, and also on having an entertainment attorney among ones contacts. I have 3 screenplays at various stages of completion–all problematic. My background is in theatre, with 16 plays written, 5 produced. Any special thoughts regarding how to transit from stage to screen? Yes, they are really, really different!

    • Stephanie Palmer

      I also recommend starting with a manager first. Typically, your manager would connect you with the right agent after you have worked together a little while. Yes, theater and film are different, though there are a number of playwrights who are also screenwriters (David Mamet, John Logan, Suzan-Lori Parks, Ken Lonergan, David Hare, Michael Cristofer, Beau Wilimon, David Ives, Jose Rivera to name a few). I would research these playwrights and others who have made the leap, read interviews with them and see how they did it as a model.

      Everyone’s experience is unique, but typically, they have breakout success as a playwright, then get press/noticed/interest from producers, managers or agents who want to meet the “exciting new voice.”

  18. Jay


    Great article to gain some clarity and focus. Thank you for that. I’m wondering what genre you’d recommend in terms of attempting to break in. Are there any specific ones that tend to be favored over others?

    Look forward to more of your insights as always.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      The more important question is what genre do you love? Is there a particular genre that you could write in for 3-5 years? As long as there are projects being made in the genre you love, that’s where I would focus because the most successful writers specialize and then branch out after they have established a reputation for doing one thing really well.

  19. Liliana Angela Angeleri

    I’ve writtent six scripts for feature film (four of storical genre) and I’m looking for financing and film producer houses.

  20. Heath Jones

    Thanks for the post, Stephanie. I found your website a couple of weeks ago and I’m busy reading through all of it 🙂
    I’m especially grateful for your info on competitions. I live in Australia, so I am geographically challenged in that respect, but having the list of competitions you recommend gives me great places to aim for the coming year.
    Thanks again,

  21. Sowmya Srikanth

    Hi Stephanie,

    Thanks for this post. As a person who is still begun to write, it really inspired me. I live in India.
    This post really made me understand what it is to write a script.I have one question for you, I am writing for the animation industry and right now working on a pitch bible for one of the concepts, can you tell me what are the technicalities involved in writing a pitch? And how different it is from writing a script?

    • Stephanie Palmer

      The thing to understand is that your pitch articulates the essence of the story structure, whereas the script is the complete visual manifestation of that structure.

  22. samuel

    hello its nice article though. my name is Samuel from Nigeria a young prolific writer, you ad has helped me a lot to develop me story to a wonderful screenplay, but here in my country it very hard to get the right agent that will push in your story to be sold only if you know the person perhaps get the right contact , instead it may get to the wrong hand, am sincerely plea for some help to get me screenplay read, its a wonderful story and i so wish to sell it, so as to motivate me to write me, just like all always wish to write, cos writing is my first love!. God bless

  23. Angela Awuah

    Hi Miss Palmer I Am A Screenwriter But In Ghana Here, You Can’t Have Directors To Hand Over Your Scripts To Can You HeLp Me

  24. jim

    Would this be the same rode map of game shows/competitions?

  25. David


    I’ve just read several of your articles, discovering you for the first time. What you say is solid advice that’s full of wisdom and insight. Thank you! I look forward to reading and learning more from you in the coming weeks. What a refreshing & straight-forward approach to the business of show business. I wish you much continued success!

  26. shahrokh

    thanks dear Stephanie Palmer

  27. Joel Kay

    Hi Stephanie,

    Love your approach and your knowledge. I won’t waste your time because I know how incredibly busy you are but also know you have the power to put me on the right track,.

    Below please find just the logline and the Filmmaker’s Statement for a submission I recently made to Triggerfish in their recently run competition. I unfortunately did no make it, but would be extremely grateful for your advice in correcting me and pointing me in the right direction as far as my content/genres/theme/ structure/direction goes as it was obviously not acceptable. Would really appreciate it if you would tell me where I was going wrong here.

    Thanking you so much,

    Warm regards,

    A reject hippo dramatically overcomes obstacles with love, humour, action, courage and heart to overcome the most horrific opponent on his mythical path to enlightenment. Himself.


    The movie is set in an Avatar-like world in some parallel universe of the present moment. It lends itself perfectly to animation by the Triggerfish Incubator Program, piloted by Triggerfish Animation who have proven themselves where the rubber meets the road, with its huge successes not only in the West, but in the East. With a Disney tie-up. Magic.

    It is well known that myth transcends national and cultural boundaries. In our movie, the form tracks archetypal characters and archetypal life situations. In the story, many of the traditional archetypes are used, from the Hero, The Acolyte, The Empress, The High Priest, The Arch villain, and the Love interest amongst others. These are fundamental character types that everyone knows, that are universally known and recognised albeit only on a deeply fundamental or sub-conscious level, set in a context of an emotional mix ranging from despair, to laughter, to love to triumph. Beginning with the feature movie the whole thrust and momentum using these archetypes as constructs, starts with Horatio’s clear-cut, quantifiable, clearly stated specific desire and ultimate goal (his single most important purpose in life, which becomes more and more intense as the main story develops) and is carried through to the subsequent TV series (detailed outlines on 5 episodes are available now), providing the all-important spine on which all characters, plots, symbols, themes and dialogue are hung. Although he has several, his major opponent has to be an Arch Villain worthy enough for our Hero (Horatio). This Arch Villain can be no less an opponent than Horatio himself. We discover that Horatio’s major antagonist is his alter-ego, the mythical, monstrous, evil Hippogriff, who, in the guise of Ergo Ego Egret right up till the end, is not only an incredibly frightening villain, but is more so because everything he says is “sort of” true, “sort of reasonable”, and also makes “sort of” sense. In the message that ultimately emerges we learn that we ultimately all have to learn to “love our monsters”, and that we CAN emerge victorious by loving who we truly are. Horatio finally achieves this to emerge triumphant in achieving his single-minded goal, Enlightenment, and the mythical “Hippo Hop”, followed by his victories and successes in the TV Series to follow.

    In the Movie (and in the TV Series), the archetypal Hero, Horatio Hercules Hippo, is sent on a number of tests by his cool, surfing, Hippo Yoda-like master, to prove himself worthy of Enlightenment. It is a mythical journey in a fantasy world where one hippo embarks on a journey…to find himself. His true self. The theme transcends the genre with its mix of comedy and modern day action and suspense that serves to update and unify the myth story, amplifying the primary form for a young audience. Horatio’s tests are revealed in a humorous, suspense-filled, drama styled sequence modelled very loosely on the 12 labours of Hercules, where he pits his skills, his teachings and his prowess against evil antagonists like The Arch Grand Vizier Hippo, Oedema Binliner Hippo, Pooper “The Poopic” Hippo and Jaws, proving that good will triumph over evil and shows the viewer that whatever obstacles life presents to you, you ARE more than you think you are, you ARE good enough to win and you CAN do it …

    In the TV series, this theme of conquering evil Archetypes repeats itself using the same mix of genres, with a fair sprinkling of comedy (ref the Epsiode with Coco de Roache and Colossus the Pygmy Hippo). I believe that both movie and TV series have all the ingredients needed for a blockbuster.

    “I salute the light within your eyes where the whole Universe dwells, For when you are in that centre within you and I am within that place within me, we shall be one.”
    (Crazy Horse)

  28. Michael Shandrick

    Very good information. Clear and concise I appreciate it.

    I was in a pitch session on Skype recently and pitched to an ICM executive, who asked for my script to show to his contacts. I am polishing the script to get it to him right away. So far, so good.

    I was thinking of approaching a manager now seeing as how I have some heat on the script. It was my first pitch, and it needs lots more at-bats, I can see that. Any comments?

  29. Alireza

    Hi MS. Palmer
    I have one question and I would appreciate if you reply my question.
    i have not academic study in writing. actually i am a mechanical engineer! but id like to write screenplay and so on.
    the question is if i have some good idea (good stories) to write as screenplay, what should i do? and is this possible to send my story for a famous screen writer to accept that?
    thanks very much

    • Stephanie Palmer

      The best thing you can do is to write the best script that you can. While some famous screenwriters do work on assignments, they generally prefer to write their own ideas and can be very expensive.

  30. Raymond

    Hello Stephanie,

    I am new to your site and have been fondly scrolling through its depths. I noticed in this article, under the strategy section, for career section, you have “A Approach…” I have a feeling you know what I am getting at.

    Knit-pickiness aside, I love the site, I just have a force of habit drilled into me by an English teacher from my high school days. Goes without saying, but that class was a living Hell. Your site, far better than Hell! Looking forward to reading more articles, your advice is wonderful.


  31. Gino Tarabotto

    Thank you very much Stephanie for this fabulous article. I admit that I fell into the group that believed that one needs to write one great script and the second step is selling it, nothing else. I am currently editing my first script and will be submitting into a competition. I live in NYC, are there any associations or events you would recommend I check out? Thanks again.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      There are lots of great organizations and events in NYC. I would get involved with the Tribeca Film Festival, NYU Film school events, Writers Bootcamp, and I’m sure there are many others. Any readers from NYC? Feel free to make suggestions here.

  32. celestina

    hi i need ur help

    • Stephanie Palmer

      What can I help with, Celestina?

  33. Salome

    Hello, I am a lady who look forward to study a script writer course. I wrote few books even now.may you help me to achieve my talent.

  34. Amy Bold

    Thank you so much for concise and brief introduction to writing as a career. My passion is to write and never really knew how to go and get paid. Recently, I have been thinking about getting into it as a profession. Education wise I have always trained for something other than writing, do you think it would be a problem?

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Unlike other professions that require certifications or college degrees, specific credentials are not required for screenwriting. It is an extremely competitive field as I’m sure you know, but if you have the skills your background in another field shouldn’t be an issue.

      • Rose Flor

        Hi ,How are you? i’m a haitian. i passionate by films,i always dreamed to be a actress. In fact i summarize scripts ,and i have many ideas inside my head. i would like to share with someone to play movies with them . i Don’t know what to do. i want to help me please.

  35. Benjamin Willis

    Obviously I have a lot of work to do. It’s not just about going to ‘film school’, having a good concept, and writing a quality script. But how does one break out of having to spend time working to survive when one dislikes the work and instead wants to write? Hmm…. might be a great concept, tweaked well. A great step forward (one of a lot of needed ones) came this week — accidently bumped into an independent writer and producer locally. … has is own film company. The key thing seems to be that one has to immerse one’s self into this, and that takes time and focused effort. And it’s not always even paced or even linear. Thanks for the common sense ‘nuts and bolts’ of reality.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks, Benjamin. It sounds like you’re on the right track.

  36. Brandy Fulcher

    Hi Stephanie! I am contacting you to ask some general advice on behalf of my 17 year old son. I know it’s normal for moms to brag, but I have four children and my son, Davis, is exceptional. His imagination is extraordinary. His vocabulary is vast. But, his sense of humor and quick wit is beyond anything I’ve ever seen for someone his age. He has read every comic book known to man, he is an avid reader, memorizes movies, studies, characters, and wants to do creative writing or possibly screen writing more than ANYTHING. He could go to school to do anything he wants. His grades are exceptional. But, this is his dream and he IS ABLE to accomplish it. He is a fighter, never gives up, has the attitude that I only WISH that I had. Could you give me some advice on some possible contacts, conventions, folks that can guide him on the correct path. I know that you probably hear this all the time, but if you met Davis for 10 minutes, you would believe me. He has a notebook of about 50 screenplays that he has written. He guards them with his life. He wakes up in the middle of the night writing. It’s amazing. I hope you can help!

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks so much for your note, Brandy. If Davis is particularly interested in pursuing a Hollywood career, then I would recommend applying to schools with excellent programs and strong alumni networks. There are quite a few to choose from, but some of the top schools in my opinion are UCLA, USC, NYU, BU, Chapman, Emerson, and Carnegie Mellon (my alma mater).

  37. Umang

    Well thanks a lot for this post, its just been a day since i found about your website, and it has really pumped in a lot of positivity in me, it feels like there is someone to guide the young new writers. I’m an Indian and I’m seventeen, i have started with writing a few short films and and am planning to write a few screenplays shortly. I aspire to make it large, but here in India connectivity and relationships are major issues and my age is such that pitching will be a tough side to hit, so please guide me

  38. Niko Chiesa

    Thanks for your amazing inside info.

    As i comment on my mail I already got the first 3 parts done and I pitched and sold a Series Original Idea to Fox.
    BUT in Spanish and for being produced for Latin America.
    Now im oultining my first specs and an Original Series in English language to pitch on the big leagues!

    and all the stuff you are sharing is really mind opening

    Best Wishes

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Glad this is helpful, Niko. Thanks for your comment.

  39. Nassolia ovs

    Thank you very much for this post I have learnt what I didn’t know really do appreciate am still on step 1 but I know I will make it to the next level

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Keep at it!

  40. Pete Seely

    I have a great idea for a new sitcom (just like everyone else) Im not a great writer but I am funny as hell.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Being funny is a terrific asset, Pete! Unfortunately, there isn’t a market for sitcom ideas as most televisions shows are developed internally by established TV writers. However, you could create a web series on your own and bring your idea to life.

  41. Barbara P. Manninf

    Stephanie…..My promise to my talented mother before she passed on was to copyright our collaborative writing efforts of four children’s musicals(short film category) that were produced by American Association of University Women’s Reno Branch Children’s Theatre. In its 25 year existence of children’s theatre annually the opportunity was given for children from ages third grade to twelfth grade could audition for that year’s production. Each production was performed by children to the children’s audience at the University of Nevada Reno Theatre. My mother was an active member of this endeavor from the get go and directed many of the productions. Our final four productions were musicals before the decision was made to end this glorious non profit worthwhile project that had been for so long appreciated by northern Nevada youth and community. I am just finally getting these four musicals to the copyright office of the Library of Congress. My desire is to get them published. I am a seasoned theatre and music performer all my life although my career was in public school education and I retired as a principal. My age dictates that I would not warrant a life time career move as a screen writer as I am age 70. That being said…….I still enjoy and possess a passion for my writing and the creative juices remaining in my soul. I am also working on my own book of poetry regarding familiar times and people in Nevada where I lived for forty years. What do you suggest? Oh! By the way, I have videos (need to get them on CD’s) of the performances of said musicals. I am taking a leap of faith that you possibly could be a stepping stone for me and to at least critique my efforts if they are even worthy of note! Thank you for any thoughts you offer.

    • Barbara P. Manninf

      OOPS! My name is Manning with a g not an f! good grief!

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Hi Barbara, my condolences on the loss of your mother. She sounds like a very talented and special lady. It sounds like you are already in the the process of copyrighting the work, but here is some more information that may be helpful: Copyrighting And Protecting Your Work.

  42. Luis

    I would like to sit down with someone and pitch my life story

  43. DON TRAN

    Hi Stephanie,
    I am very happy to receive your e-mail. I read some your blog, I learn a lot from you. I am a new screenwriter. I will take the time to read all your wrote. I knew it is very difficult to start a new career, but there are probably no more difficult than when I was with 12 other people on a small boat crossing the sea looking for freedom in 1988. I will do a best I can to write film scripts, rewrite and rewrite them until maybe amazon or agents, directors to accept my first film script.
    Thank you so much, Stephanie.
    Wishing you lots of happiness!
    Best Regards,
    Don Tran

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Wow, Don. You have clearly has some incredible life experiences and your resilience will help you as you pursue this new career. Wishing you lots of success!

  44. Jhan Beaupre

    Good information to know…

  45. Lirim

    Hello Stephanie

    Great article, very inspirational and makes me hopeful for my future dreams.
    I’ve been looking very much on the internet with regard to screenplay and other stuff about the movies but today I found this webside and I’m very happy with everything here, I’m here about 3-4 hours reading and analyzing almost everything, and really It is very helpful for anyone who wants to be a successful writer on screenplays in theirs future.

    So, I’m an imaginary man and I seem to understand the world differently than others, Normally every person understands the world in its own way but I think I have a lot of ideas in my head, different ideas from most movies that are similar to each other. And I think I can write a lot of movies because I can easily imagine any event or anything more. But I’m a beginner and I need help & support.

    I have some questions:

    1. What is the best software to write a screenplay? Because I wanna start writing from today..

    2. After I finish the first script where can I sell it or where can I publish it or what I have to do with it?

    And the main question is: How can I get any manager or agent how can I sell any script when I’m not living there..
    I live in Europe in a new state, Kosovo. And we do not have the right to go abroad the state without having any visa or any guarantee, and this is the only problem that makes me lose hope for success. Thank you so much for these great articles.

    Please Reply to my Questions.

  46. Jeffrey

    I would like to know when do I know that my writing is too heavy or thick reading and is this a good thing?

    • Stephanie Palmer

      If you mean that it is very dense and hard to read, in general, this isn’t good in screenwriting. I recommend getting some feedback to see if unbiased readers find it clear or too dense.


    I am a nigerian and i want to know more about screenwriting, i need your coaching to develop my litle knowledge. Thank you.

  48. Danielle

    Ok, so I get your emails and I’m tooling around through the website. I am a writer who has always wanted to write movies. I decided instead of waiting until I have a book, to skip the book part and go straight to movies. I am finding your information very helpful but am confused on one topic so far. How do I decide what genre to focus on? I have a few favorites that are my go to’s. I like to say my one finished story that is novel length is a murder, suspense, who dun it. What would you suggest?

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Good question, Danielle. As it happens, I’m developing a course on the subject because it’s not an easy question to answer. In the meantime, I recommend choosing your favorite genre – something you could focus on for three years – and focusing there. That’s the best short answer I can give. A longer, better answer will be coming soon….

  49. Kierstyn

    I’m very young. I’m not even in high school yet. But I’m going to do your steps right after college for sure! FYI my names not actually Kierstyn!

  50. Ammar Shaikh

    Today i learn many things by reading your article and also i ispired by all this
    Thank you.

  51. Svetlana

    Thank you so much for sparing this useful information with us. I’m just a beginner and appreciate every advice concerned the Screenwriting. There are a lot of passionated young boys and girls who want to become a professional in this field of film industry. But I was wondering (because I’m too old (33) to start studying Arts if there is a chance for someone who’s just as passionated in writing as those young students, to succeed in the film industry as a screenwriter. I think that having diploma doesn’t mean that you’re a talented writer. It’s just a proof that you’re educated in that area. Do you may be know writers who educated themselves and became successful? I hope so. That would inspire me and move me forward. Because this is what I really want to do. Pity that I’ve never thought about it before.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Svetlana – yes, in Hollywood, youth is an advantage, but I have seen older writers succeed, and in my opinion, it’s never too late to pursue your dreams.

  52. robbin nell

    I’m a children book writer. I would like to make one of my books into a movie.

  53. Jesus Sifuentes

    Brilliant article Stephanie! This could easily translate to directors, producers, and other industry professionals. A clear roadmap!

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thank you!

  54. Karl

    Very helpful advice! You’re like the John August for the business side of screenwriting!

    • Stephanie Palmer

      You’re welcome, Karl.



  56. Trudie

    Thanks so much. I’m learning a lot. Thanks.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      You’re very welcome, Trudie!

  57. Jordan

    Thanks for this informational post. One question, are the scripts supposed to be movie scripts or television series scripts? Or does this matter?


    • Stephanie Palmer

      Hi Jordan – These guidelines work both for features and TV. Thanks for asking!

  58. Pamela Funk

    Hello, I came across your page while starting to write my very first screen play. I have written a book and self published it. Now I am wanting to make the book into a screen play. I also have two other books going after the first book in the same genre. I am learning to use a program called Celtx which is based in Canada. I am a Canadian. So, I hope to read all of your important expertise and take it as a daily commitment. Any advice for me? Thank you, Pamela Funk

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Keep writing, Pamela! Best of luck!

  59. Elizabeth

    Thank you for this insight. I just have one hit film in my head and with the right team it would be hilarious. Is there such a thing where you can meet other screenwriters who help to decide which bits would be narrated, which dialogue, etc?

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Hi Elizabeth – Thanks for your comment! Most major cities have screenwriting groups that you could join so I’d look for those near where you live. If you are in an area that doesn’t have anything like that, please email me at and I will send you a recommendation for someone who can offer you individual guidance.

  60. Moses Akroma Toffah

    It my dream to become one of the best writer’s in the world’s especially be in holyhood with you for more tguidance.
    Am working on a scripts for now I need more help and I no you be my manager after

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Hi Moses – Thanks for your comment! Please email me at and I will send you a recommendation for someone who can offer you individual guidance.

  61. nobuhle

    I want to be a scriptwriter becouse I had a dream

  62. Ellen Sue Stern

    Hi Stephanie
    First, thank you for your generosity of spirit, humility, and down to earth approach in sharing your deep well of knowledge in a way that empowers and encourages aspiring writers. I’m the author of twenty books, translated to 14 languages, and have spent many years coaching aspiring writers. Recently a screenplay dropped in my lap that blew my away. It’s the first of a Utopian AI Humanitarian trilogy that I think has enormous potential for film, books, series, merchamduse…it’s the whole package. The writer is a newbie, with series techie chops and impressive writing skill, despite his lack of experience. I’ve been working with him and am trying to decide whether or not to represent him and/or become more involved as a collaborating co-writer. I have numerous contacts in the business, both in NY and LA, , but have never worked in film and will need to network my ass off to make this happen. One question for you: Do you feel it’s cricial to get an AList director/actor and or producer attached before any studio or network will look at it? It’s ready to go out-logline, synopsis, 15 page outline and 120 page screenplay. The second two in the trilogy are in the process of being fleshed out. I’ve been pitching all my life and I’m a hard wired “room worker.” My only hesitation is whether it’s realisric to try to agent this myself, without having a CAA level Rolodex. So I guess that’s two questions. Hey, and thanks again. Your personal story is inspiring and will help lots of emergimg talent to be less intimidated in manifesting their dreams. Cheers, Elle

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Hi Ellen – Thanks for your comment! Your question regarding the type of attachments your project needs in order to get it sold is a great one. But one that’s a bit more complex and with too many variables to answer with any depth in this forum. Please email me at and I will send you a recommendation for someone who can offer you individual guidance.

      • Laura

        Hi Stephanie. I have an idea for a movie for which I would like to develop a screenplay. I am not looking to develop this into a career so I’m wondering if it’s possible to be a “one hit wonder” and develop just one project. It’s a personal story that I think deserves to be told.

      • Stephanie Palmer

        Hi Laura – Great question! In some ways, being focused on getting one project made (as opposed to building a career) has its advantages… if it’s the right project. It’s very hard to get anything made, but if you’re prepared to devote a decade or more to getting one specific one made (and are not worried about using entertainment to support your life), then you do have time on your side.

  63. Niecy Morton

    I’m quite interested in hearing but learning more.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Please email me at and I will send you a recommendation for someone who can offer you individual guidance.

  64. Dipak

    One of the best articles I’ve read on the subject. Thanks.

  65. Mickey Greco

    Excellent blog! Stumbled on it looking for a script. Please add me to mailing list. Thanks! MG

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Sure thing, Mickey. And thank you for the incredible kind words!

  66. Vijay Ganwani

    Hii Madam,
    Thanks for your valuable shares . And could you please help me how should I start my writing skills more powerful and excellent to become a successful screenwriters in movies ??? Awaiting for you valuable reply and material as well

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Please email me at and I will send you a recommendation for someone who can offer you individual guidance.