Judging by the writers thread, there maybe a few around here who would be in to screenwriting, so I thought would start a thread with some writing resources that people have used and their opinions. Maybe Ron Moore will join the thread (wishful thinking).
This post is long, but I thought it might be useful so I went ahead just left it as it is. Feel free to skip sections.
FREE RESOURCES - Websites
Let me start by covering some of my favorite free resources. Why start with free, well, most writers (or wannabe writers) are like me, broke. My first free item is TriggerStreet.com. This is a website started by Kevin Spacey and friends. Is it a great place to have long conversations with Kevin Spacey, no. Trigger Street is a place where writers of all backgrounds and skill levels talk scripts, review scripts, submit their own scripts for review by members of the community, and more.
For me Trigger Street was a great way to see what was good and what was truly bad. That helped me to get over the fact that my first few scripts are crap. I am not being hard myself, it is just the reality that unless you have been writing professionally in other areas and have a knack for writing, that you will be among the 99.9% that will write a bad script for your first few. That is not to say you will not be able to salvage the ideas in your early scripts. For me, seeing how badly some did, helped me to say if these other writers are willing to put themselves out there with their scripts, I should do the same. Thus, I am about 1/3 of the way through what will be my first submission to Trigger Street. It feels great to be writing and not caring to much about how bad it will be. With that said, I am trying to make it the best I can at this stage of my development.
For those who might be worried about someone stealing your idea, odds are slim you have a truly 100% original idea and there is a good chance someone may have something that is close to your idea. From all the books, podcasts, and websites that I have gone through, the most common comment is you have to put your ideas out there for someone to discover them. Warner Brothers or Universal is not going to call you in to write a fat check for your idea if you have no track record.
The best thing you can do to protect yourself is register your first draft scripts with the WGA and record dates for all your work. When you share your scripts, make notes about whom you talked or submitted work with and keep those records handy. If the day comes you see a studio making something that looks like your script, see if you can find anyone associated with the production that may have seen your work and stole it. Based on what I read and heard so far, stolen ideas are not as common as you would think. Just use common sense. If you find out the writer of a script that got made is a member of Trigger Street and he has no proof of making their script before the script they made, then you may have a leg to stand on. When you see how many other writers have submitted scripts to Trigger Street, I think it will make you feel like it is a something you can do without to much fear of getting ripped off.
The bottom line with Trigger Street is you can learn many things at the site, get advice directly from other writers, and hear the latest news for writers related to entertainment media.
One last note about Trigger Street, the website and the production company are not directly tied together. The site is considered their own organization, so do not expect someone from Trigger Street Productions to be calling you just based on the script you submitted. With that said, if your screen play is rated best of for the month or year, it could open some doors.
As odd as it sounds, Google was a great way to find many sites featuring free movie and television scripts to download. Reading other scripts that have been made into movies is a great way to learn how to do scriptwriting. Just keep in mind, the older scripts may not reflect the current standards for script formatting, but great dialogue and story telling is the same no matter what.
FREE RESOURCES: Podcasts
On The Page
Another great free resource is iTunes. Yes, you read it that right, the same place I discovered the great GWC podcast is where you can find a few excellent screenwriter podcasts. For excellent talk about the mechanics of writing and interviews with people active in the business, “On The Page” is a great podcast. Pilar Alex Alessandra and Matt Belknap have a very conversational tone to the podcast that is easy to listen to and learn from. It is not a lecture style podcast. Alessandra does a very useful DVD she recently put out, but she does not push hard on the podcast. Her core business is teach script writing and doing script consulting, but again you are not pounded with buy my product or use my services, unlike a few podcasts I have found which feel like informercials.
Sam and Jim goto Hollywood
The next podcast I would suggest is for those looking for some inspiration is called “Sam and Jim goto Hollywood.” This is podcast is done by two guys who lived in Minnesota and had a pair of successful restaurants, but they pull up tent and moved to Hollywood to become screen writers. Their podcast is more like dairy of their adventures or some weeks, lack of adventures. I say their podcast is inspiring, but maybe a reality check is better word for it. Regardless of how you want to describe it, these guys tell it like it is. They are chasing the dream and they are sharing their ups and downs with anyone who wants to listen. As you listen you will pick up useful writing tips, but the focus is more about their story as they try to become show runners or maybe producers.
Creative Screenwriting Magazine Podcasts
My next suggested podcast is the “Creative Screenwriting Magazine Interviews” series. Jeff Goldsmith is a screenwriting uber geek and has interviewed a large number of top screenwriters. If you listen to this series, you can learn many things, but it is not a podcast to help to learn the basic of writing. You will learn how different writers broke into the business and how they approach writing. Some interviews are better than others, but overall the series is a good one to listen to if you are serious about becoming a writer.
KCRW’s The Business & The Treatment
The two podcasts from KCRW are good quality podcast. “The Business” is as it sounds, about the business. They cover news and do some great interviews. I really enjoy this podcast. It may not help you to much as a writer, but it is still a great podcast related to Hollywood. “The Treament” is all interviews. Some times I find myself drifting off when listening to this one because the host, Elvis Mitchell is very low key. This show will also do very little to improve your writing skills, but it is a good show.
Before this post become fifty pages long, I will stop here. I would love to hear about anyone elses experiences in their efforts to write movie or TV scripts. Post about any books, DVDs, etc, that you found useful or useless for helping your writing. If you want post about where you draw your inspiration for plots or dialogues that is cool. If there is a script you read which you think is awesome, mention that.
I hope there are a few screenwriters crawling around these boards besides me. Kudos to anyone who has taken on the challenge of making scripts. It always sounds so easy, but the reality is you will work your butt off to make a really good script and if you really want to make a living at it, you need to do it everyday. This is where I need a screenwriting group that is kind of like AA, expect instead of checking to see if I have not taken a drink, they will be checking to see if wrote a few pages each day.