So why is learning screenwriting something that requires a project? Well, firstly, it’s something I’ve never done before. It’s a format I’m completely unfamiliar with. I’ve never even read a screenplay. I’ve read plenty of plays and scripts, but those were all theatre-oriented. Screenwriting is its own beast. And it comes with its own challenges for me.

The biggest challenge, I think, will be to force myself to switch into writing with a camera in mind instead of a reader. Readers are great. They fill in the gaps. They paint the world you write in their own minds, with little direction. You mention a girl and a sofa and a lit fireplace, and the reader fills in additional surroundings, because reading is a magical thing.

But a camera doesn’t do any of that. It will only see what you put in front of it. And the actors will only say the words you give them, and follow the stage direction you set for them. My thinking is that screenwriting must be so much more intentional. And direct. It feels like the purest form of “show, don’t tell” to me. Though maybe I’m wrong. I’m new at this.

The other big challenge I think I’ll be having to deal with is the formatting. The only thing I know about screenwriting is that the formatting needs to be specific. By this I mean that there are rules regarding how the actual document is formatted. This is why there exists a market for screenwriting software that does all the formatting for you. So I’ll need to learn these rules and follow them.

Two big challenges. Doesn’t seem insurmountable.

The formatting stuff I think I can work out by just tracking down some style books or something. I’m sure the NYC Midnight challenge website probably even has a formatting guide. Or at least I hope it does, because that’s going to be the first place I look.

As for the style of writing, the writing for a camera rather than a reader, I think the only answer will be to read some screenplays to see how others have done it. Learn by example, as it were. So that will be the other big focus for the research phase. Find some scripts and read them. I’m actually looking forward to that part.

So these will be tomorrow’s goals. I’ll let you know how it goes.