What Should A Screenwriter Know Before Writing A Screenplay? by Erik Bork

Film Courage: Erik we’ve taken some questions from viewers via our Youtube community tab. We have so many here and apologies to those we don’t get to one of which is from Melissa Rose and Melissa writes “Is there one thing you feel is essential for screenwriter/writer to know before starting?”

Erik Bork, Screenwriter/Author: Well there are a lot of things but I think the reason I wrote this book about making the idea process a priority is strictly based on my feeling that you need to know that choosing the idea that you’re going to write is so important and so essential and not easy to pick an idea that is going to be a worthwhile thing to write. Worthwhile meaning it would have a chance at moving it forward in the industry.

It’s always worthwhile to write and have the experience for yourself and for your growth. But from a commercially marketable can move-my-career-forward standpoint, to me the most important thing which is why I wrote this book [The Idea: The Seven Elements of a Viable Story for Screen, Stage or Fiction] is to understand what the elements are of a viable story idea and to make coming up with one your main priority and take the time and get the feedback necessary on your ideas before you launch into 6 months or a year or several years writing and rewriting a script. Because you can write or rewrite a script several times to make it somewhat better but if it was based on an idea that it was really going to have a tough time moving forward no matter how you executed it, a manager or agent would call that somewhat wasted time. So that’s probably my first obvious, self-serving answer based on my book being about that. 

Film Courage: Well that makes sense. Maybe we can actually go back to some of the words in this P.R.O.B.L.E.M. acronym. So “Original,” we hear so much about “it’s got to have this writer’s fresh voice” and all of that but hasn’t so much already been done? It must be very challenging today to have something “original.” 

Erik: It is tough to be really original and it goes back to writing things that are really personal to you. Sometimes the most original things do come from taking your real life or taking something you have witnessed or experienced and using that as fodder for material. So there can be a value for that if you can find a way that we talked about which is find a perspective so you can make it viable, entertaining and compelling to millions of people who don’t know you. But it’s not easy to do.

Originality it’s a tricky one because you can only be so original because so many things have already been done right? So many types of stories and genres and types of story situations. I just saw EIGHTH GRADE last night which was a very original voice which is something we’ve already seen 4 million examples of which is kind of a misfit teen who the popular people are mean to trying to find their way in a social universe of school. Is there anything that has been done more often than that?

But yet you watch the…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).


About Erik Bork:Erik Bork is a screenwriter best known for his work on the HBO miniseries BAND OF BROTHERS and FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON, for which he wrote multiple episodes, and won two Emmy and two Golden Globe Awards as part of the producing team. Erik has also sold series pitches (and written pilots) at NBC and FOX, worked on the writing staff for two primetime dramas, and written feature screenplays on assignment for companies like Universal, HBO, TNT, and Playtone. He teaches screenwriting for UCLA Extension, National University and The Writers Store, and offers one-on-one consulting to writers.


BUY THE BOOK – THE IDEA: The Seven Elements of a Viable Storyfor Screen, Stage or Fiction by Erik Bork







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