Updated: Mar 2
I'm sure as a future writer you've been advised to write what you know. This can be frustrating, but there is some strength behind the phrase.
To create believable characters for your script, it's imperative to model real people experiences, emotions, dimensions and situations. The best way to do this is to write about people or scenarios you have lived and witnessed.
However, don’t think that just because you haven’t lived the life of a secret agent that you can’t write about it. Utilise the vast amount of research outlets that are available to you such as; libraries, old footage, documentaries/documents and historical figures et al. The difficulty maybe, attaching this research, your real-life emotions and experiences into your script and into the characters that would otherwise be alien to you.
Remember, that your viewing audience goes to the movies/watches films to escape real life, to be captivated and transported, regardless of the genre the stakes are high. As a writer, you need to craft premises and characters to fulfil that fundamental expectation. If what you know doesn’t sizzle, it’s not going to gain traction and get sold.
When offering the script to be read, you need to be aware of who you will be pitching to. You will be pitching in front of creative executives, agents, and assistants with pessimistic dispositions, short attention spans and a tremendous lack of free time. They’re a tough bunch, so make your script count. Have a logline (a two sentence description that summarises the script down to its essential dramatic narrative), that pops, engages and hooks.
Writing is hard enough without limiting your possibilities from the outset. Pick a subject matter that will sustain you through writer’s block and the patches of self-doubt. Write what you know if you believe in it but most importantly write something you are passionate about.