written by: Kumara Velu•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/7/2010
What would you do if you were writing a screenplay and hit a bad patch with tricky questions impeding your progress? Instead of forking out cash for screenwriting consultation, you should consider joining the best online screenwriting group with the help of these pointers.
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Screenwriting Books: Drawbacks
Most of us who don’t have the opportunity to undergo face-to-face training in screenwriting often resort to books to learn the craft of screenwriting. Books on screenwriting, mostly from the USA, are in plentiful supply. However, there is only a handful that really inspires and teaches the aspiring screenwriter the nuts and bolts of screenwriting.
If you’re a beginner, reading too many how-to books may leave you more confused than enlightened. For example, some books say plot is more important than characters and others say you don’t need a premise or theme for a screenplay if you have a good story to tell. All said and done, an overdose of these books would only serve to undermine your original thoughts.
The other drawback is that books on screenwriting don’t necessarily answer all the questions you may have relating to the problems you face in the writing process. If you’re writing a screenplay scene and you're looking for various ways to show tension for something you may not feel comfortable writing – for example, would you need a bedroom scene to show marital tension between an unfaithful husband and a career-driven wife? - what other ways could you show the tension? You may wish you could ask some experienced screenwriter this question.
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Online Screenwriting Group
One way to solve the problem is to pose the question to an online screenwriting group. A screenwriting group, forum, or community is a virtual space where folks, experienced and inexperienced, passionate about screenwriting gather to discuss and share their knowledge on all aspects of screenwriting.
Just as there are thousands of websites discussing screenwriting, there’s an equal number of forums, which have a growing membership. A Google search for the keywords screenwriting forums or screenwriting groups unearth thousands of resources.
Which you choose to join is ultimately your preference but you would want to consider the following tips to help you make an informed decision on choosing the best online screenwriting group.
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You will want to look at who’s moderating the group. Does the person has the credentials to offer advice and guidance to community members? Is he or she a working screenwriter, a screenwriting teacher or an author of screenwriting books? As a general rule, you should avoid groups or forums where the background of the moderator is vague or nonexistent.
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Once you’ve identified a screenwriting group, you should study the quality of the discussions. Do they offer anything of value that you normally won’t find in books or websites? Do they promote objective discussions or are they more of personal exchanges? In short, when deciding on the best online screenwriting group, you will want to look at the quality of the members. What kind of language do they use? Are they serious or just having fun to pass time?
Is it a vibrant group with daily postings? Does the group allow you to post samples of your writing for feedback from members?
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Searching for the best online screenwriting group through Google would leave you with hundreds of thousands of results. If you want to narrow down your search and quickly find a group that’s worth your time, head to Yahoo Groups! and do a search for screenwriting. At the time of writing, there are 1372 groups relating to screenwriting.
When choosing a group, you should consider the number of members, when the group was created (the older the better), when the latest activity was, and whether the group is moderated. You should always choose a group that’s moderated to avoid being swamped with spam postings that have nothing to do with screenwriting
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Scriptologist.com: An established online group on the art and business of screenwriting
DVXuser.com: Quality discussion on screenwriting, even with links to interviews with Hollywood screenwriters.