What is a Scriptwriter?
Many people refer to a film or tv script metaphorically as a "blueprint" -- a plan for the finished program, with the production process presumably being metaphorically reduced to that of general contracting and construction. In truth, most architects probably have far more influence on the creation of a building, and their blueprints are followed much more faithfully than a typical director follows a typical script.
So if the metaphor is flawed, is it worthless? Not really. Outside of academia, architecture has no reason for existence except in the creation of buildings. And usually, each one requires teams of people, with different specialties, working in concert to create something unique. Well, all that is true of scriptwriting, too. Although "desktop production" is changing some of the rules, traditional media are not disappearing anytime soon. Thus, most film and television production remains a highly collaborative process.
Also, consider that the purpose and result may vary in either of these crafts. Architectural blueprints may lead to fantastic new buildings with great usefulness and visual appeal, just as easily as they can result in humdrum collections of ticky-tack suburban houses. In the same way, one scriptwriter might have a gift that can lead to wonderful revelations about the human condition, while another might be limited to treacle that appeals only to the lowest common denominator of the viewing public.
But let's not be too melodramatic. Most scripts fall between the extremes, being neither sublime nor ridiculous. The important thing is that one sincerely tries -- and after giving one's best effort, one can accept the results without qualm.
If this sounds like something you want to try, the links below can help you get started.
Essays and Personal Commentaries about Scriptwriting
The Business of Scriptwriting
- US Dept. of Labor's Occupational Outlook for Writers and Authors (including scriptwriters)
- Screenwriting as a Career, from About.com
- WGA (The Writers Guild of America, West) - Hollywood
- WGA (Writers Guild of America, East) - New York
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