Screenwriters work primarily in the film and television industries and write screenplays for films, television programs, video games, and other outlets. They may write films from scratch or based on novels or real-life events, or episodes of established television shows with familiar characters, locations, and situations. Some may need to follow particular formats for presenting screenplays, especially those writing for television.
Screenwriters must be creative and able to bring characters to life to engage the audience. They must be able to work independently with minimal or no supervision, but also incorporate suggestions and criticism from others to reach a final draft. They also collaborate with design and art staff to develop compelling plots and subplots. As they must write all dialogue and on-screen story text, they must brainstorm a variety of conflicts and character interactions and rewrite their work extensively to incorporate ideas and suggestions from consultants.
Employers may require that screenwriters have a bachelor’s degree in English, creative writing, film, or another related field, though talent and practical experience are also important qualifications. Communication skills are important, and they must be flexible and open to changes and potential new directions for a story. They may occasionally have strict deadlines, especially in the TV industry, and excellent critical thinking, editing, and research skills are also beneficial. Screenwriters should also develop personal portfolios to demonstrate their skills.