As the old saying goes, if you want to be a writer, read. If you want to be a screenwriter, read screenplays.
While news of fantastic paydays for spec scripts from unknown writers have convinced millions of people to take a crack at screenwriting, the truth of the matter is that your odds of getting rich from selling a screenplay are – for most people – about the same as winning the lottery. Hollywood is full of scripts and most of them are bad. How can you distinguish yourself from the pack?
For starters, you can read the scripts for films in the running for major awards. With the Golden Globes fading in the rearview mirror and the Oscars on the horizon, most studios have made the screenplays for their biggest films available online in PDF format. That means all of you aspiring screenwriters out there can go download them – for free – without worrying that you’re one of the reasons Congress is trying to cram SOPA and PIPA down everyone’s throat.
If you’re going to learn, you may as well learn from the best – and the scripts of any given year’s awards nominees are about as good as it gets.
CBS’ Celebrity Circuit blog has been nice enough to gather links to all of this year’s biggest titles in one nifty little post, so fledgling Steve Zaillians can actually study the writer’s adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and hopefully learn something about how screenwriters take a novel and change it around so it works on the screen.
The list features 26 links in all, leading to scripts like My Week With Marilyn, to Spielberg’s War Horse. It’s a veritable screenwriting master class – without having to pay the exorbitant fees of guys like Robert McKee charge for their weekend seminars.
Check out the full list here – then get reading. Hollywood needs more great scripts…desperately.