First Draft: Five Criminally Underrated Elements of Successful Screenplays

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In partnership with Creative Screenwriting and ScreenCraft, “First Draft” is a series on everything to do with screenwriting.


What if you could learn some X factor elements of screenwriting that would help you create truly successful screenplays—beyond just a good story and some compelling characters?

A screenplay is successful long before it hits the Hollywood market and is represented, purchased, and produced. A successful screenplay is one that captivates the reader and offers a memorable cinematic experience. Everything that happens after that is icing on the cake because a great script will always rise above the rest—as long as you put forth maximum effort to get it out there.

You’ve read about creating excellent story and character arcs, script structure, dialogue, and scene description — but what are those underrated and underutilized elements that can tip the scales in your favor when it comes to crafting what others will deem as a successful script?

Here we offer some of the most underrated components of a screenplay from the perspective of a studio script reader—me. These are pieces of successful screenplays—some big, some small—that have always been found in the best scripts on the market.

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