When trying to sell a screenplay, you’ll have more success if you write what you know. When it comes to advising anyone who wants to write film and television scripts, the Internet and a number of real-world “professionals” have plenty to say. Some individuals will call for screenwriters to create scripts based on a recently successful idea—say, the genre or overall concept behind a just-made movie. Others claim that the best way for writers to become noticed is to write scripts that are fast-paced, dramatic, and unlike any others that’ve been created. Finally, others yet will provide utterly useless writing styles for potential Hollywood professionals—writing in front of a bonfire to improve ideas, for instance!
All of these suggestions have little value.
The truth is that screenwriters should write what they know. Ricky Gervais, creator of The Office, has consistently advocated this position. For example, if you’ve never stepped foot in London, England and know nothing about horses, it would not be wise to write a screenplay about a horse trainer in London. Personal knowledge and understanding of a matter will translate to and better script and improve the chances of your screenplay of someone buying and producing your screenplay.
To alleviate the worries of fantasy writers who happen to be reading this article, this doesn’t mean you can only write about fantasy in the real world. Instead, focus on storylines and in-script events that are familiar—storylines and events within this fantasy world. Sometimes, you can metaphorically write what you know and apply something seemingly different to something familiar.