Person climbing crumpled paper mountain to reach screenwriting award at summit

How to Write a Screenplay in 10 Days: Secrets to Lightning-Fast Writing

You’ve had a brilliant idea for a movie, but the thought of writing an entire screenplay seems daunting. What if I told you it’s possible to write a screenplay in just 10 days? While it’s an ambitious goal, with the right strategy and dedication, you can transform that seed of an idea into a fully-fledged screenplay in under two weeks.

In this step-by-step guide, we’ll walk through the process of writing a screenplay in 10 days, from developing a solid premise to polishing your final draft. Buckle up and get ready to put your screenwriting skills to the test!

Step 1: Develop a Solid Premise

Before you dive into writing, you need a strong premise – the foundational idea that drives your entire story. A great premise hooks the audience and leaves them wanting more. It should be simple yet intriguing, with room for plot twists and character development.

For example, the premise of “The Shawshank Redemption” is: “A man is wrongfully convicted of murder and spends decades in prison while plotting his escape.” This simple yet compelling premise sets the stage for an unforgettable story of hope, perseverance, and ultimately, redemption.

To craft a strong premise, start by asking yourself:

  • What is the central conflict or problem your protagonist faces?
  • What are the stakes if they fail to resolve this conflict?
  • What is unique or intriguing about your premise?

Once you have a solid premise, you can start building your story around it.

Step 2: Create an Outline

While some writers prefer to fly by the seat of their pants, creating an outline is crucial when you’re working against a tight deadline. An outline serves as a roadmap for your story, helping you stay focused and ensuring a cohesive narrative.

A basic three-act structure is a good place to start:

  • Act I (Setup): Introduce your protagonist, their world, and the inciting incident that sets the story in motion.
  • Act II (Confrontation): Your protagonist encounters obstacles and complications as they pursue their goal.
  • Act III (Resolution): The climax and resolution, where the protagonist either succeeds or fails in their quest.

Within this structure, you can map out your plot points, character arcs, and major events. Don’t get too bogged down in the details at this stage – you’ll have time to flesh things out during the writing process.

Here are some tips for creating a solid outline:

  • Develop compelling characters with clear motivations and flaws.
  • Identify your protagonist’s goal and the obstacles they’ll face.
  • Plan for plot twists and moments of escalating tension.
  • Consider the emotional journeys your characters will undergo.

With a well-crafted outline in place, you’ll be better equipped to write a cohesive, engaging story within your 10-day timeframe.

Step 3: Write the First Draft

Now it’s time to start writing. Set a daily word count goal – around 10-12 pages per day is a good target – and commit to meeting it. Don’t worry about perfection at this stage; the key is to get your story down on paper (or screen).

Here are some tips to help you stay focused and productive:

  • Eliminate distractions and create a dedicated writing space.
  • Use writing prompts or exercises to warm up before diving into your screenplay.
  • Take breaks to recharge your creative batteries, but don’t let breaks turn into procrastination.
  • Celebrate small wins, like hitting your daily word count goal.

Remember, the first draft is about getting the bones of your story down. You’ll have time to revise and polish later.

Step 4: Take a Break

After you’ve completed your first draft, it’s important to take a break – even if it’s just for a day or two. Writing a screenplay in 10 days is intense, and giving your mind a chance to rest will help you approach the revision process with fresh eyes.

During this break, engage in activities that refresh and recharge you. Go for a hike, read a book, or watch a movie that inspires you. The key is to step away from your screenplay for a bit, allowing you to return to it with a renewed perspective.

Step 5: Revise and Polish

Now it’s time to dive back into your screenplay and start refining it. This is where the real magic happens, as you sculpt your raw material into a polished, engaging story.

Here are some areas to focus on during the revision process:

  • Dialogue: Ensure your dialogue sounds natural and reveals character traits and motivations. Cut any unnecessary lines and tighten up conversations.
  • Character Development: Deepen your characters’ arcs, making sure their actions and choices are consistent with their personalities and motivations.
  • Plot and Pacing: Identify any plot holes or areas where the story lags. Rework scenes to maintain tension and keep the narrative moving forward.
  • Formatting: Follow proper screenplay formatting guidelines, including proper scene headings, character introductions, and stage directions.

During this stage, it can be helpful to read your screenplay aloud or have someone else read it to you. This can help you identify areas that need improvement and ensure your dialogue sounds natural.

Step 6: Get Feedback

While it’s ultimately your story, getting feedback from others can be invaluable in the screenwriting process. Fresh eyes can spot issues you may have missed and offer new perspectives on your work.

Here are some sources to consider for feedback:

  • Writing Groups: Joining a local or online writing group can provide a supportive community of fellow writers who can offer constructive criticism.
  • Friends and Family: Ask trusted friends or family members to read your screenplay and provide honest feedback. Just be sure to take their comments with a grain of salt – they may not be your target audience.
  • Professional Script Consultants: If you have the budget, consider hiring a professional script consultant or editor. Their expertise can be invaluable in identifying strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.

When receiving feedback, it’s important to be open-minded and not take criticism personally. Not every suggestion will resonate with you, but be willing to consider different perspectives and make changes that improve your story.

Step 7: Final Revisions

With feedback in hand, it’s time for one final polish. Go through your screenplay line-by-line, making any necessary tweaks and adjustments.

Here’s a checklist to ensure your screenplay is in top shape:

  • Double-check your formatting (margins, indents, scene headings, etc.).
  • Proofread for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.
  • Ensure consistent character descriptions and names.
  • Tighten up any remaining loose ends or plot holes.
  • Read the entire screenplay aloud to catch any awkward dialogue or pacing issues.

Once you’ve addressed these final points, your screenplay should be ready for submission or production.


Writing a screenplay in 10 days is no small feat, but it’s a challenge that can be conquered with dedication, focus, and a solid plan of attack. By following the steps outlined in this guide – developing a strong premise, creating an outline, writing the first draft, taking a break, revising and polishing, getting feedback, and making final revisions – you’ll be well on your way to completing a screenplay in under two weeks.

Remember, the key to success is staying disciplined and committed to your daily writing goals. It won’t be easy, but the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when you type “FADE OUT” on that final page will make it all worth it.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your favorite writing tools, clear your schedule, and get ready to embark on an exhilarating 10-day screenwriting journey. Your story deserves to be told, and with perseverance and passion, you can make it a reality.

If you have any questions or need further guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out. And if you’ve already taken on the 10-day screenplay challenge, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

Happy writing!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you write a screenplay in 10 days?

Yes, it is possible to write a screenplay in 10 days, but it requires intense focus, discipline, and a solid plan. By setting a daily writing goal, creating a detailed outline, and eliminating distractions, you can complete a first draft within this ambitious timeframe. However, it’s important to remember that the first draft is just the beginning – you’ll still need to revise, edit, and polish your work.

Can I write a screenplay in a week?

Writing a screenplay in a week is even more challenging than 10 days, but it can be done with meticulous planning and an unwavering commitment to your writing schedule. You’ll likely need to set a higher daily page count goal (15-20 pages per day) and minimize any potential distractions or interruptions during this intense week-long writing sprint.

How quickly can you write a screenplay?

The speed at which you can write a screenplay depends on several factors, including your experience level, writing habits, and the complexity of the story. Some seasoned screenwriters can produce a solid first draft in as little as 4-6 weeks, while others may take several months. However, for those on a tight deadline, it’s possible to complete a screenplay in as little as 10 days with a focused approach.

What is the #1 rule when writing a screenplay?

The number one rule when writing a screenplay is to show, don’t tell. This means that you should convey the story, characters, and emotions through actions, dialogue, and visual descriptions, rather than relying heavily on exposition or narration. Showing rather than telling creates a more immersive and engaging experience for the audience.

How many pages is a 2 hour movie script?

A typical 2-hour movie script is around 90-120 pages long. This is based on the industry-standard convention that one page of screenplay equals approximately one minute of screen time. However, the page count can vary depending on the pacing, dialogue density, and overall structure of the screenplay.

How short is too short for a screenplay?

While there’s no definitive rule, most industry professionals consider anything under 80 pages to be on the short side for a feature-length screenplay. Screenplays shorter than 70 pages may be perceived as too brief or underdeveloped, unless the story calls for a more condensed format (e.g., a short film or one-act play). Ultimately, the length should serve the story you’re trying to tell.

What are the odds of making it as a screenwriter?

The odds of making it as a professional screenwriter are relatively low. According to some estimates, only about 1 in 10,000 aspiring screenwriters actually sell a screenplay and have it produced by a major studio or production company. However, the odds improve with persistence, talent, and a strong network within the industry.

How much should a screenwriter write a day?

The amount a screenwriter should write per day can vary depending on their schedule and writing style. However, a common goal is to aim for 3-5 pages per day when working on a first draft. This pace allows for steady progress while still leaving time for revisions and other professional responsibilities.

How much do screenwriters make?

Screenwriter salaries can vary greatly depending on experience, the budget of the project, and whether the screenplay is for a major studio or an independent production. According to the Writers Guild of America, the minimum payouts for a low-budget screenplay are around $67,000, while high-budget screenplays can earn writers upwards of $400,000 or more. Established screenwriters with successful films under their belt can also earn lucrative deals and residuals.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *