A book titled "The Screenwriter's Journey" resting on top of a wooden desk surrounded by a vintage film camera, film reels, clapperboard, and notebook.

What to Do After You Write a Screenplay – The Complete Roadmap (50+ Expert Tips)

Congratulations! You’ve finally finished writing your first screenplay after months or even years of hard work. Seeing the word “Fade Out.” at the end feels amazing. But now that you’ve typed those magical words “The End”, the real work begins.

You’ve likely heard that writing the script is only half the battle. Now you need to shift your focus to navigating the next steps to get your script seen, considered, and hopefully sold.

In this complete guide, we’ll walk you through everything you should do after finishing writing your screenplay to set it up for success on its journey to production.

These essential steps include:

  • Taking a break and getting feedback
  • Registering your script with the copyright office
  • Properly formatting your script for submission
  • Crafting a logline, synopsis, and query letter
  • Researching relevant production companies and contacts
  • Submitting your script through contests, queries, or paid submission sites
  • Beginning your next script while submissions are out

Follow these steps and you’ll have the best shot at getting your screenplay into the right hands. Let’s get started!

  1. Take a Break and Get Feedback

You probably feel both exhilarated and exhausted now that you’ve typed “Fade Out.” Take some time to celebrate your huge accomplishments before jumping into revisions or submissions. Give your mind a chance to rest and recover from the intense creative process.

Even a break of just a few days will help you return to the script with fresh eyes. After some time off, you’ll likely start seeing things you want to change or improve rather than just seeing the words you’ve been staring at for months.

As part of this break, avoid the temptation to immediately send your script out to everyone you know. While it’s exciting to finally be finished, the script likely still needs refinement before it’s ready for wider sharing.

The next vital step is to get quality feedback on your screenplay. Start by having a few trusted readers provide notes. This should include:

  • Other screenwriters or film industry professionals
  • Friends or family who like films similar to your script
  • People willing to provide honest, constructive criticism

Make it clear you want detailed feedback, not just a pat on the back. Good notes will help you polish the dialogue, refine characters, address plot holes, and improve the overall story.

Listen carefully to the feedback without becoming defensive. Then, go back through your script to implement the notes that make sense to you and elevate the material. Don’t take every suggestion, but let quality feedback strengthen your work.

After a break and some revisions, your script will be that much closer to being ready for potential buyers.

  1. Copyright Registration

Before widely circulating your script, it’s essential to legally protect your work by registering it with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Submit your screenplay for an official copyright registration record. This simple process provides huge benefits:

  • Legal evidence of ownership of the intellectual property
  • Ability to collect statutory damages in infringement lawsuits
  • Prerequisite for filing infringement suits in the U.S.
  • Deterrent against plagiarism since your rights are established

Submit both an electronic copy and a hard copy of your script along with the small registration fee. In several months, you’ll receive an official registration certificate and your script will be added to the Library of Congress records.

Registering your script also allows you to place a copyright notice on the title page. While not required, this gives clear evidence of your established rights.

For maximum protection, only share your script after the registration is complete. This small upfront investment provides peace of mind and establishes you as the legal rights holder of the intellectual property if needed.

  1. Format for Submission

With the script protected, it’s now time to properly format it for submission to industry players. While writing, you likely formatted for ease of altering drafts and edits.

Now, reformat it following the expected industry standard of screenplay submissions. This requires thought and attention to detail.

Here are key formatting tips:

  • Export the script as a PDF (doesn’t allow edits)
  • Use industry-standard screenwriting software like Final Draft, Celtx, or Fade In. Set to industry specs.
  • Use 12 point Courier font for body text
  • Only include scene numbers, scene headers, and key actions/dialogue
  • single-space action lines and double space between paragraphs
  • Remove any page numbers, headers, or footers
  • Ensure proper indents of action and character names
  • Only insert page breaks when starting a new scene
  • Review the PDF carefully to check margins, widows/orphans, odd breaks

Following the expected format signals you know what you’re doing. Using improper formatting like Times New Roman font or 1.5 spacing will get your submission tossed quickly.

Take the time to get the PDF perfect. It shows respect for the reader’s time and presents your script in the best light possible.

  1. Create a Logline, Synopsis & Query Letter

To pitch your script effectively, you’ll need three selling tools – the logline, synopsis, and query letter. Each has a distinct purpose.

A logline is a 1-2 sentence “elevator pitch” that succinctly sums up your story, hooking the reader’s interest. For example:

When an orphaned boy discovers he has magical powers on his 11th birthday, he gets swept away to a secret school for wizards but must conquer an evil sorcerer trying to kill him.

Polish your logline until it captures only the most essential story elements. You’ll need this quick pitch when introducing your script.

Next, write a synopsis – usually 1 page or less – that summarizes the broad strokes of the characters, plot points, and story without revealing the ending. Think of it like an extended back cover blurb.

Finally, draft a query letter to send to agents, managers, producers, or contest admins. This 1-page letter should:

  • Introduce yourself and your credentials
  • Explain the concept, genre, logline
  • Describe the main characters and central conflict
  • Convey the story’s tone and style comparisons
  • Make the script sound exciting and marketable
  • Provide any relevant credits or contest wins
  • Thank them for their consideration and invite them to read your script

Take your time to get the logline, synopsis, and query letter just right. They are often the first impressions of your story.

  1. Research Production Companies & Contacts

Now you need to identify the best targets to submit your script to. Start by researching relevant production companies accepting unsolicited submissions. Search for ones making films similar to your script’s subject matter, style, and budget level.

Some places to look for open submissions:

  • Film-specific databases like IMDb Pro and FilmFreeway
  • Individual production company websites
  • Annual film festival guides and websites
  • Screenwriting contest partners

Make a prioritized list of companies that seem to be a strong match. Search for the names of specific submission contacts like producers or development execs.

You can also research film producers who’ve worked in your genre. Many have online submission forms or accept queries. Search for their names in reputable entertainment databases to find contact info.

Having a targeted list of 20-50 companies will help you focus your submissions strategically versus sending blindly. Personalize your query letters for each recipient. Sign up for news alerts to stay on top of new opportunities and open calls for submissions that arise.

  1. Submit Your Screenplay

You’re now ready to start putting your script out into the world. Be prepared that getting a script sold can be a slow, frustrating process requiring persistence. There are several routes you can take:

Screenwriting Contests:

  • Enter respected contests like Nicholl, Austin Film Festival, Sundance, etc.
  • Benefits include peer jury feedback, industry exposure, partner options
  • Check each contest’s past success rates, judging criteria, and prizes
  • Be strategic about which to enter based on genre/budget


  • Send query emails with your logline, synopsis, and sample pages
  • Target individual producers, agents, and managers open to queries
  • Follow up politely if no response after 30 days
  • Sign up for Virtual Pitch Fests to present your script live

Paid Submission Platforms:

  • Upload your script to monitored sites like The Black List
  • Pay for industry members to evaluate your script
  • Can help unknown writers get on pros’ radars
  • Weigh the cost versus reliability of the reader feedback

Whichever strategy you choose, understand that healthy persistence is key. Follow up periodically with new scripts and project pitches. Don’t pin all hopes on just one submission. Use any results or feedback to keep improving your craft.

  1. Begin Your Next Script

While your latest script makes the submission rounds, the most productive thing you can do is start writing your next one.

Don’t obsessively check your email, hope for “the call”, or stop working. Odds are your first few scripts won’t sell regardless of their quality. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint.

Keep yourself motivated and continuously improving by beginning a new story right away. This allows you to:

  • Practice and enhance your writing skills
  • Experiment with new styles, genres, and techniques
  • Build a diverse portfolio of scripts
  • Be ready when asked, “What else do you have?”

The more quality material you have, the more opportunities will eventually arise. Resist waiting idly and self-doubting. Dive into your next exciting idea and see where it takes you as a writer.

Just be sure to avoid working on two scripts simultaneously. Finish one before starting the next.


Following this process after typing “Fade Out.” will give your screenplay the best possible start on its journey from script to screen.

Here are the key next steps covered:

  • Take a short break then get quality feedback
  • Register your script with the copyright office
  • Format your script properly for submission
  • Write a logline, synopsis, and query letter
  • Research relevant production companies and contacts
  • Submit strategically through contests, queries, and sites
  • Start writing your next script right away

Remember that selling a screenplay takes immense patience and effort. However, implementing these steps will put you miles ahead on the path. Stay confident, keep writing, and be ready when your big break arrives.

The completion of your script is worth celebrating, but the real work starts now. With smart strategy and perseverance, your words will someday come to life on the big screen.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get funding for a script?

There are several ways to get funding for a script including applying for arts grants, crowdsourcing, taking on a writing assignment for pay, entering screenwriting contests for cash prizes, finding investors or producers, or funding it yourself if the budget is low enough.

Can you get paid for writing scripts?

Yes, many professional script writers earn income from their writing through avenues like selling spec scripts, getting hired for writing assignments, securing options or sales for existing scripts, residuals from produced films/shows and screenwriting awards and fellowships. Income potential rises with experience and credits.

What is the screenwriting grant for 2023?

Some notable screenwriting grants in 2023 include the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program, the Sloan Foundation Screenwriting Fellowship, and Film Independent’s Fast Track Film Finance Market. Many grant programs have annual deadlines.

Is script writing profitable?

It can be, but it generally takes time to build a profitable screenwriting career. Income potential rises as you sell scripts, get produced credits, enter agreements with studios, obtain residual payments from produced work, or qualify for fellowships or grants. But it takes consistent effort and quality material.

How much will Netflix pay for my script?

Netflix does not publicly disclose what they pay for scripts, but reports indicate numbers ranging from the low thousands for emerging writers up to the low-mid six figures for established screenwriters. The WGA minimum for a feature film script is around $73k currently.

Do script writers get credit?

Usually. Contracts stipulate conditions for credits. If a script is produced, the writer typically gets a “Written by” credit, or “Screenplay by” if rewritten. But credits can be negotiated, and sometimes writers work “off the books” without credit.

How much do beginner script writers get paid?

On the low end, new writers may get between $500-5,000 for optioning or selling their first few scripts to smaller indie producers. But pay rises quickly with experience and demand. WGA minimums provide pay floors as well.

Are script writers in demand?

Yes, skilled scriptwriters are very much in demand, especially those with produced credits and experience writing for film, television, digital, animation, etc. Streaming wars have vastly increased the demand for quality content and scripts.

How much does a first time screenwriter make?

Somewhere between $5,000-$30,000 is common for a first script sale or for assignment work as an unproduced screenwriter. However, it depends greatly on the buyer, project budget, potential reach, and the writer’s experience and representation.

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