How To Win Screenwriting Competitions

Learning how to win screenwriting competitions can be a fast track into the world of movies. Screenwriting contests happen on a regular basis throughout the year. These screenwriting competitions often feature everything from cash and screenwriting software prizes to opportunities to pitch your movie to a major agent or studio. Sometimes, winning scripts are optioned or produced. The American Screenwriting Competition, The American Zoetrope Screenplay Contest and Bluecat Screenplay Competition are some of the regularly held screenplay events offering screenwriters a chance at the big time. The competition at these events is fierce, but if you know what it takes to write a winning screenplay, entering a screenplay competition could be your ticket to the silver screen.

  1. Submit a screenplay with a good story and strong characters. Your story should be original or an original take on a classic theme. If you're considering submitting your script to a competition, you should already know how to write. Take the time to have the screenplay read by someone with professional knowledge of what makes a good screenplay, even if this means paying a professional for coverage. All of the weak spots in your story should be addressed before you consider submitting to a screenplay competition. Your script will go up against a lot of other good scripts in the same genre, so it needs to be well written.
  2. Avoid shooting scripts for screenplay competitions unless requested (and this will likely not happen). Your job as a screenwriter is to tell a story, not direct the film. Leave out camera angles and transitions. Don't tell actors how to speak lines. Your script should include only action and dialogue — what you can see and hear.
  3. Read the rules of the competition you're entering. Be sure to submit the type of script requested. If you're submitting a horror script, be sure the competition accepts this genre.
  4. Format your screenplay properly. In screenwriting, proper script format is everything. You can find guidelines for properly formatting a screenplay in books and online. The film industry is specific about format. Screenwriting competitions are no different.
  5. Submit your best script with any required fee and wait. If you've followed all of the competitions rules for submission, written a strong story, and submitted everything properly formatted, your screenplay has its best shot at winning. Most importantly, don't let a loss discourage you from other screenwriting competitions.
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