(A Helpful Guide)

Step Number One: Figure out what the story’s about. Try to have it not be about bears. No one likes bears; they’re big and stinky. Animatronic bears are even worse.

Two: When you’re done, write your story down. Try to make it about ninety pages. These ninety pages are your screenplay. Congratulations! It’s done!

Three: Go to Kinko’s and make lots of copies. Then go bury them places. This, so if anyone ever steals your idea, you can dramatically confront them with the evidence.

(Note: If you bury your screenplay in a place where bears are, don’t bury it with food. Bears will smell it and dig it up, and once a bear’s got it, you’re screwed.)

Four: Now it’s time to approach agents! Start by identifying an agency. It will be the building with the men in suits in it. Go inside and ask them for money.

Five: Grab a pen and get ready to take “notes.” Don’t worry, it’s not important. If anyone asks why you haven’t changed anything, just tell them their ideas were dumb.

Six: Now all you do is wait a couple years, and then you go down to the movie theater. Your movie will be the one with the bears in it (unless there were bears in your screenplay).

Make sure you bring lots of friends along, so you can all stand silently in the parking lot. Then just hope they won’t expect drinks, because all the money is gone.

Later that night, you can lie in bed, and stare up at the ceiling. This will be a good time to contemplate the future, whatever the hell that is. If you can’t sleep, you can drive downtown and go buy one of those “newspapers.” Open it up and read a few stories.

Notice they’re better than yours.

Now go home and stare at the wall.

Now go home and cry.

Now try again. And again. And again.

Now keep trying until you die.

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BEN LOORY's fables and tales have appeared in The New Yorker, on This American Life, at Word Theatre, and on Selected Shorts. His book Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day (Penguin, 2011) was a selection of the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Program. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

5 responses to “How to Write a Screenplay”

  1. Ducky says:

    I’m howling and have bears in my head. I should be crying though, since this is so accurate.

    Did you ever see the movie The Bear?

    • Ben Loory says:

      I WROTE IT!!!!!!!

      actually, no, i didn’t. that wasn’t true. i never wrote any movies about bears; especially not that one about the bearylandjamboree or whatever the fuck it was. i’m not sure if i saw the bear. i want to say i did but i don’t know. i may be confusing it with white fang, or bambi. or that horrible gorilla scene in trading places.

  2. The answer to the age old riddle, “Do bears shit in the woods?” is yes, they do; and they wipe their asses with buried screenplays.

  3. […] how to write a screenplay without reading Syd […]

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