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Characteristics of a Good Scriptwriter

by Chris Miksen, studioD

Cathrine Kellison, author of "Producing for TV and Video: A Real-World Approach," says at least 100,000 scripts are written for television every year, of which roughly 30 are shot as television pilots. The scriptwriters who do have success may have different personalities, but they all almost certainly share similar characteristics when it comes to writing. Adopt those characteristics and your chances of finding success as a screenwriter will improve.

Thick Skin

You won't go far as a scriptwriter without being thick-skinned. Much as you'd like to send your scripts off and have them well-received every time, it's not going to happen. Whether you're aiming for an agent, querying producers or waiting for your first review, prepare yourself for rejection and criticism. The best scriptwriters embrace criticism because it enables them to learn and identify their weaknesses. Don't take rejections or analysis of your screenplay personally. If you feel that's difficult, here's a trick: stuff the critique in your closet and don't pull it out for another day or two. You can be more level-headed when you look at things after you quiet your initial emotions.

Solid Writing Skills

You may think that this goes without saying, but successful screenwriters have great writing ability. And that writing ability goes far beyond understanding the foundations of writing that you learn in school, such as grammar and sentence structure. Good scriptwriters create intriguing characters, develop an interesting plot and understand how and when to create drama. Movies and books -- masterpieces and poorly received ones alike -- serve as excellent tools for honing your writing ability and the way in which you approach a script. Watch for how all the elements, from character personalities to plot pacing, come together to create that perfect or not-so-perfect piece of work.


You probably won't find too many successful scriptwriters who lack creativity. Without creativity, your script likely won't grab the attention of anyone. It's true that just about every general story idea has been done before, so to succeed as a scriptwriter, you need to execute those ideas in a different manner, similar to a novelist. For instance, consider "Star Wars" and "Harry Potter." Both share a common foundation: an old man lends his knowledge to a promising young character who then goes on a journey outside of his comfort zone to defeat an evil that threatens the world. Same basic idea, but the execution is so wildly different that you don't think of them as the same.

Ability to Work Under Pressure

Once you have a steady supply of projects, you'll also have a steady supply of deadlines. You turn in one script and another comes back with revisions that you need to make within a week, which is also when another script is due. Good scriptwriters don't have the option of floundering under pressure: they deliver or they don't find work.


Good scriptwriters sit down, pump out their work and don't procrastinate, browse the Internet for hours and waste portions of their day. You're going to have days where you don't feel like writing. You're going to encounter times when the words aren't flowing. If you want to excel at your craft, you need to write no matter the circumstances.


Passion drives the best screenwriters. They write scripts because they're in love with movies or TV shows. Script consultant Ray Morton believes that you can't possibly write an effective script if you don't learn about, understand and appreciate the industry as a whole. And without passion, it's difficult to bring everything else together.

About the Author

Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.

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