How to win a screenwriting Competition
Screenwriting competitions are a great way to get your script out there. Not only do you have the opportunity to win cash prizes, but you also get feedback from judges who can help improve your script.
In this article, I’m going to outline the most critical points for how to win a screenwriting competition and explain how to maximize your chances of success.
What Is a Screenwriting Competition?
A screenwriting competition is where writers submit their scripts, and a panel of judges critiques the scripts.
There are usually cash prizes for winners, and there is a high probability of you getting honest feedback on your script. Competitions also offer networking opportunities with other writers who have submitted scripts and a chance to showcase your script.
Screenwriting contests are a crucial part of your development as a writer for anyone serious about their craft.
What Judges look for When they Pick a Winner
Judges don’t usually publicly release what they are looking for when it comes to picking a winner, but there is some information that you need to know.
Most competition judges read your script front-to-back during the judging process to ensure they have a good feel for it. Your script will be judged on how well you execute the three essential elements of writing (story, structure, and craft).
Judges are looking for originality in their premise and characters that make them stick out from the norm. Therefore, your story needs to be tailored for a specific and relevant audience, with a clear concept and direction supported by strong characters.
As the screenwriter, your scenes need to have clearly defined goals, stakes created through conflict, and your ending should provide some resolution that leaves the reader wondering what comes next.
Agents not only look for creative ideas, but they also take a close look at how you format your script. For example, if your formatting is inconsistent and messy, it will be hard to read because the reader will have difficulty figuring out what’s happening in different scenes.
If you’re submitting electronically (e.g., emailing or uploading your script to a website), make sure that your script is in a standard format.
The industry standard is the format, and your script must be in this format if you want to get industry attention.
Producers want to look at all different aspects of a script. They want to see things from the character’s perspective, the director’s perspective, and even their own as an audience member.
This means that your script needs to have point of view (POV) shifts and perspective changes for each scene. For example, the first-person POV is told from the characters’ perspective, while the third-person POV is told from the perspective of a narrator.
Always Check the Final Draft
You are your own worst critic, so when you’re done writing and editing your script, ask a friend or someone else in the industry to read it for you. They will be able to give you honest feedback on what’s working and what needs work, which will allow you to create a better final product.
That way, you will have a higher chance of winning a competition.
If your script is formatted correctly and you know what the judges are looking for, there’s a good chance that you will win one or more competitions with your script in hand.
As we said, a Script’s Success Is Based On:
1. Story – This comes first, and it’s what attracts readers to your script. Few will want to read further if you don’t have an engaging story with a unique hook. In addition, your main character needs to have a compelling and relatable problem that they must overcome.
In addition, you need to provide enough backstory for readers to understand your main character’s motivations and give the right amount of information about all your characters, which allows them to relate your script with people in their own lives.
Your story also needs to be consistent from beginning to end with no inconsistencies or plot holes.
2. Structure – This is the backbone that holds your entire script together and allows readers to read it seamlessly from beginning to end without losing interest. A good structure will maintain a balance between rising action and falling action on each page and keep the story moving along at a steady pace.
The structure of your script also needs to provide a definitive ending that resolves conflict and answers any questions surrounding what is happening. We call it “an organic resolution,” meaning that it makes sense for your main character. The ending should be a natural progression that comes from the characters’ actions and intentions.
3. Craft – This refers to executing the actual words on the page, including dialogue, narration, imagery, formatting, and grammar.
A well-crafted script shows a professional competence that will help attract readers. It would be best to make sure that every scene has purpose and functions within a larger whole. The dialogue should be compelling enough for the characters to carry the story, and it needs to do so in a unique way.
In addition, you need to avoid cliches and adverbs. Finally, craft includes editing your manuscript until it sparkles with beauty and perfection.
An award-winning script from a past competition can help you get your scripts to read and can get you noticed by industry professionals. In addition, winning a contest will show the world that you’re on your way to becoming a great screenwriter.
Reasons You want to Win a Competition.
As a writer, there are reasons that you will want a big break into the industry.
There may be a particular contest that will jump-start your career and could lead to great things for your future scripts. Winning competitions shows that you know how to write and tell a good story, leading to features or even television pilots!
Let’s look at some of the benefits that you will get when you win a screenwriting competition:
1. It builds up your confidence and encourages you to keep writing.
2. It gives you an extra push to finish that screenplay because now it’s time to submit them for a competition.
3. It enables you to share your work with other writers, directors, producers, and agents who may give you notes on how to get better.
4. It will give your screenplay a professional look that can help you submit to the people above or sell it directly to them.
5. It helps in getting your scripts into competitions, and you will have an advantage since you are already familiar with the requirements for entering one of these contests.
6. It will get you feedback in your writing, which can help you understand what works and what needs work, which will allow you to create a better final product. That way, your final draft will have a higher chance of winning a competition.
7. You can make a career out of screenwriting, which requires you to know how to write well and in a way that most people want to read.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do production companies get scripts?
You can submit your script to a production company with a query letter explaining why you submit your screenplay. It should also include the screenplay’s title, a logline or summary of what happens in the story, and your contact information.
Can screenwriters make a living?
Some people make money as screenwriters in Hollywood. However, it is essential to note that it is not the most straightforward job or something that everyone can do. Therefore, it would help if you were dedicated and persistent when making a career out of this field.
How can free screenwriting software help?
There are many pieces of free screenwriting software that you can download for your computer. These programs will track your story, remind you about writing deadlines, and even review your work. In addition, you find script templates such as fonts and page layouts to help you format things the way they want them to be seen.
Are managers needed for screenwriters?
A manager is handy for screenwriters since they can look over your scripts and find ways to get them into competitions.
Can a blog be helpful for screenwriters?
It can be. If you have a blog, you can talk about your screenplay and how you got the inspiration for writing the story.
Winning a screenwriting competition is an incredible opportunity to get your script recognized and read by industry professionals.
You’ll also have the chance to win prizes, network with other like-minded writers, etc.
There are many benefits from winning a screenwriting contest, including getting recognized as an expert on writing scripts by industry professionals and taking ownership of competitions where winners influence who gets selected.
We hope that you’ve found these tips helpful and that you can use them in a screenwriting competition.