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Become A Screen Writer

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Working As A Screen Writer

  • Thinking Creatively
  • Getting Information
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $72,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Screen Writer Do

Writers and authors develop written content for advertisements, books, magazines, movie and television scripts, songs, blogs, or other types of media.

Duties

Writers and authors typically do the following:

  • Choose subject matter that interests readers
  • Write fiction or nonfiction through scripts, novels, biographies, and more
  • Conduct research to obtain factual information and authentic detail
  • Write advertising copy for newspapers, magazines, broadcasts, and the Internet
  • Present drafts to editors and clients for feedback
  • Work with editors and clients to shape the material so it can be published

Writers and authors develop written material—namely, stories and advertisements—for books, magazines, and online publications.

Writers must establish their credibility with editors and readers through strong research and the use of appropriate sources and citations. Writers and authors select the material they want to use and then convey the information to readers. With help from editors, they may revise or rewrite sections, searching for the best organization and the most appropriate phrasing.

An increasing number of writers are freelance writers—that is, they are self-employed and sell their written content to book and magazine publishers; news organizations; advertising agencies; and movie, theater, and television producers. Many freelance writers are hired to complete specific short-term or recurring assignments, such as writing a newspaper column, contributing to a series of articles in a magazine, or producing an organization’s newsletter.

An increasing number of writers are producing material that is published directly online, in videos and on blogs.

The following are examples of types of writers and authors:

Copywriters prepare advertisements to promote the sale of a good or service. They often work with a client to produce written content, such as advertising themes, jingles, and slogans.

Biographers write a thorough account of a person’s life. They gather information from interviews and research about the person to accurately portray important events in that person's life.

Bloggers write posts to a web log (shortened to “blog”) that usually pertain to any topic or a specific field, such as fashion, news, or sports.

Generalists write about any topic of interest, unlike writers who usually specialize in a given field.

Novelists write books of fiction, creating characters and plots that may be imaginary or based on real events.

Songwriters compose music and lyrics for songs. They may write and perform their own songs or sell their work to a music publisher. They sometimes work with a client to produce advertising themes, jingles, and slogans, and they may be involved in marketing the product or service.

Playwrights write scripts for theatrical productions. They come up with a concept, write lines for actors to say, produce stage direction for actors to follow, and suggest ideas for theatrical set design.

Screenwriters create scripts for movies and television. They may produce original stories, characters, and dialogue, or turn a book into a movie or television script. Some may produce content for radio broadcasts and other types of performance.

Journalists write articles and reports on current events. For more information, see the profile on reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts.

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How To Become A Screen Writer

A college degree in English, journalism, or communications is generally required for a salaried position as a writer or author. Experience can be gained through internships, but any form of writing that improves skill, such as blogging, is beneficial. Excellent writing skills are essential.

Education

A bachelor’s degree is typically needed for a full-time job as a writer. Because writing skills are essential in this occupation, many employers prefer candidates with a degree in English, journalism, or communications.

Other Work Experience

Writers can obtain job experience by working for high school and college newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, advertising and publishing companies, or nonprofit organizations. College theater and music programs offer playwrights and songwriters an opportunity to have their work performed. Many magazines and newspapers also have internships for students. Interns may write stories, conduct research and interviews, and gain general publishing experience.

Employers also increasingly prefer new applicants to have the ability to code and program webpages or manipulate data to create a visual story using tables, charts, and maps.

In addition, anyone with Internet access can start a blog and gain writing experience. Some of this writing may lead to paid assignments regardless of education, because the quality of writing, the unique perspective, and the size of the potential audience are the greatest determinants of success for a piece of writing. Online publications require knowledge of computer software and editing tools that are used to combine text with graphics, audio, video, and animation.

Writers or authors can come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences as long as they demonstrate strong writing skills.

Training

Writers and authors may need to gain some writing experience through on-the-job training with more experienced writers and editors before their work is ready for publication.

Writers who want to write about a particular topic may need formal training or experience related to that topic.

Because many writers today prepare material directly for the Internet, knowing graphic design, page layout, and multimedia software can be advantageous.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some associations offer certifications for writers and authors. Certification can demonstrate competence and professionalism, making candidates more attractive to employers. For example, the American Grant Writers’ Association (AGWA) offers the Certified Grant Writer® credential.

Certification can also increase opportunities for advancement.

Advancement

Beginning writers and authors can get a start and put their name on work immediately by writing for smaller businesses, local newspapers, advertising agencies, and nonprofit organizations. However, opportunities for advancement within these organizations may be limited because they usually do not have enough regular work.

Writers and authors can advance their careers further by building a reputation, taking on more complex writing assignments, and getting published in more prestigious markets and publications. Having published work that has been well received and maintaining a track record of meeting deadlines are important for advancement.

Many editors begin work as writers. Those who are particularly skilled at identifying stories, correcting writing style, and interacting with writers may be interested in editing jobs.

Important Qualities

Adaptability. Writers and authors need to be able to adapt to newer software platforms and programs, including various Content Management Systems (CMS).

Creativity. Writers and authors must be able to develop new and interesting plots, characters, or ideas so they can come up with new stories.

Critical-thinking skills. Writers and authors must have dual expertise in thinking through or understanding new concepts, and conveying it through writing.

Determination. Writers and authors sometimes work on projects that take years to complete. Freelance writers who are paid per assignment must demonstrate perseverance and personal drive to meet deadlines.

Persuasion. Writers, especially those in advertising, must be able to persuade others to feel a certain way about a good or service.

Social perceptiveness. Writers and authors must understand how readers react to certain ideas in order to connect with their audience.

Writing skills. Writers and authors must be able to write clearly and effectively in order to convey feeling and emotion and communicate with readers.

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Screen Writer Typical Career Paths

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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Movie Writer 3.2 years
Screen Writer 3.0 years
Film Writer 2.8 years
Writer/Director 2.5 years
Writer 2.0 years
Staff Writer 2.0 years
Assistant Writer 1.4 years
Top Careers Before Screen Writer
Internship 12.5%
Writer 6.3%
Manager 6.3%
Editor 4.7%
Bartender 4.7%
Consultant 4.7%
Producer 3.1%
Top Careers After Screen Writer
Director 8.2%
Internship 5.5%
Editor 5.5%
Server 5.5%
Consultant 5.5%
Instructor 4.1%
Driver 4.1%
Writer 4.1%
Author 2.7%

Do you work as a Screen Writer?

Screen Writer Demographics

Gender

Male

49.3%

Female

35.2%

Unknown

15.5%
Ethnicity

White

55.4%

Hispanic or Latino

15.6%

Asian

12.6%

Black or African American

11.6%

Unknown

4.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Chinese

25.0%

Japanese

12.5%

French

12.5%

Spanish

12.5%

Polish

12.5%

Korean

12.5%

Arabic

12.5%
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Screen Writer Education

Schools

New York University

12.5%

Purdue University

8.3%

Academy of Art University

8.3%

Brown University

4.2%

New York Film Academy

4.2%

University of Florida

4.2%

Northeastern State University

4.2%

Full Sail University

4.2%

Art Institute of Phoenix

4.2%

Walden University

4.2%

Fisk University

4.2%

Middlesex County College

4.2%

Wichita Area Technical College

4.2%

Sierra College

4.2%

Los Angeles Film School - Hollywood

4.2%

Ohio University -

4.2%

Wayne State University

4.2%

Alliant International University

4.2%

Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York

4.2%

University of Oregon

4.2%
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Majors

Communication

20.8%

Photography

17.0%

Journalism

7.5%

English

7.5%

Writing

5.7%

Business

5.7%

General Education, Specific Areas

3.8%

Entertainment Business

3.8%

Theatre

3.8%

Fine Arts

3.8%

Counseling Psychology

3.8%

International Business

1.9%

Teaching Assistants/Aides

1.9%

School Counseling

1.9%

Animation

1.9%

Music

1.9%

Audiovisual Communications Technologies

1.9%

Medicine

1.9%

Mathematics

1.9%

Computer Applications

1.9%
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Degrees

Bachelors

40.3%

Masters

19.4%

Other

19.4%

Associate

6.9%

Certificate

5.6%

Diploma

4.2%

Doctorate

4.2%
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