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Getting published: scriptwriting
Having a script picked up by an agent or producer can be challenging; here are a few tips to help you on your way.
Is my script ready to submit?
Not only must your script be completed, and extensively redrafted, you will also need to have a synopsis and pitch ready to go with it. In many cases, you will be expected to send a synopsis or pitch first. Always be sure to read any submission guidelines very closely and remember it's normally better to send a script sample rather than the whole thing.
Where do I send my script?
Writing for television, film and radio can present an exciting challenge to writers but, as with all writing, it is difficult to break into. Even commissioned scripts often remain unmade. That said, there are regular opportunities available for unsolicited scripts. Adaptation can be a good way to generate income and to learn more about writing for different formats, as well as giving you a ready-made story to work with. Radio drama can also be a good way to break into the industry; upwards of 300 hours of drama are commissioned each year.
Do I need an agent?
You don't necessarily need an agent when you're first starting out. In fact, many agents will be more likely to be interested in taking you on if you’ve had some success such as an option or commission for one of your projects. Decent production companies should also be able to recommend a good agent for you.
Who can I approach?
Once you’ve completed your script to a high standard and done your research, you should know which channel it would be most suited to. But don’t forget about independent production companies, as you may have more luck with them than major broadcasting houses. Research and find out which ones make the kind of show or play you’re writing and contact them from there – be sure to pay close attention to their contact guidelines.
Is it worth targeting a particular producer?
Definitely. If you can find a producer who is likely to have a lot of enthusiasm for your project, it will be easier to find broadcasters – who may expect you to come with a producer on board. That said, it can be considered bad manners to approach several at once, so tread carefully. Do plenty of research, personalise your submission and choose producers most likely to identify with your script.
How can I improve my chances of getting a script picked up?
Writing the best possible script is the most important thing, but you may improve your chances by:
- Researching widely: watch or listen to the kind of things you want to write. Assess what works and what doesn't and get to know what's already out there in terms of industry and also audience.
- Refining your skills: studying script structure and getting to know everything from formatting to the dramatic rules will save you a lot of time in the long run. The BBC Writers Room(this will open in a new window) has a great selection of scripts available to download for free, ideal for seeing how other scripts are constructed. Get to know your medium, whether you're writing for radio, film or stage.
- Getting feedback: whether from peers, tutors, script reading services or well-watched friends, feedback is crucial if you want to see your writing improve. Ask a variety of trusted people and take their feedback on board. Experiment with edits and, if possible, do press those trusted souls into dramatic readings. Hearing your work out loud can make all the difference.
Who else can help?
Here are a few organisations that may be useful: