By: Laura Huie
What’s the key to completing a script? Deadlines. Having a set date for completing your writing goals can motivate you to get it done on time. So whether you’re working towards the first draft of your feature screenplay or trying to punch out a short film outline, it’s always good to mark your calendar and create an action plan toward finishing your goal. Remember, every time you write, you get that much closer to completing something great.
Let’s dive into how Contest deadlines can help finish your screenplay, along with some tips on how to craft an action plan that works.
Progress, Not Perfection
Deadlines are a tool to help you achieve your ultimate goal, but keep in mind that deadlines are just that—a tool. Don’t put too much stress or pressure on yourself to meet exact deadlines, but rather use it as a guide to hit milestones.
Often, we get feedback from writers that having a contest deadline has motivated them to finish their scripts. We recommend using the early, regular, and late deadlines to help plan your progress over a few months.
For example: If you were writing a feature, your action plan could look something like this:
Early deadline: Outline and write Act 1
Regular deadline: Write Acts 2 & 3
Late deadline: Proofread and revise
Or if you’ve already written your feature script, you could plan your revisions around the contest deadlines. Every time you polish another draft, it’s always good to get feedback. Script coverage services are a great way to get objective feedback from someone who has never read your script.
Consider using Shore Scripts’ contest deadlines as a blueprint for screenwriting success! Better yet, we will always provide writing advice, guidance, and resources in our newsletter and on our website.
What’s Your Action Plan?
Well, it all depends on what stage you’re in with your screenplay. Whether you’re currently in the brainstorming or outlining phase or on to revising your third draft—we suggest always having an action plan in mind. Besides using contest deadlines as a timeline, here are some tips that can help you finish your screenplay:
Create a beat sheet: The popular beat sheet method has existed for a long time among writers, and it works for a reason. It’s a great tool to summarize your whole story within a page or two. The sequence of major events is stated plainly, and this structure will help guide your script toward success.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself: Yes, this is an article about how deadlines can help you finish your script, and deadlines are known to increase pressure rather than lessen it. However, too much stress on writing sometimes causes procrastination and analysis paralysis. To combat this anxiety, use your beat sheet! Set a goal to write one beat a day, or even half a beat. Something is always better than nothing.
Avoid revising as you go: Writing a first draft can be tough, but sometimes the best thing to do is just write! It can be tempting to revise as you go, but this can also slow down your progress. To not get bogged down in constant micro-revisions, try to get the whole draft down without looking back. Then, when you’re completely finished, you can knuckle down and start revising!
Keep the Momentum Going
If using contest deadlines to fuel your writing momentum interests you, our 2023 feature, television pilot (one- and half-hour), and short film contest are the perfect opportunities.
Check out our Feature contest details
Check out our TV Pilot details
Check out our Spring Short Film Fund details
We’re dedicated to helping screenwriters make authentic connections and reach their goals of writing great and impactful stories. You got this!
Check out our other Screenwriting Articles & Screenplay Downloads for more free resources on how to write unique, compelling stories.
Laura Huie is an experienced writer and editor involved in comedy-drama screenwriting, fiction editing, and full-time marketing copy. Laura is also a freelance article writer for Shore Scripts and has worked with Script Pipeline on their live Symposium series. She is one-half of screenwriting duo, Bloom & Huie. Together, they have written multiple television series as well as a feature-length film. Their mission is to write honest and witty female stories wrapped up in unbelievable worlds.
Don’t miss a deadline. Download our Contest Calendar!