The Key to Writing a Successful Screenplay with Julia Yorks
Julia Yorks is a screenwriter for television and film, having worked on the staffs of DreamWorks/Netflix's "The Adventures of Puss in Boots" and "Trolls: The Beat Goes On," and recently sold an original screenplay to Freeform.
In this episode of The Storytelling Lab, Julia breaks down exactly what you should focus on as a first-time screenwriter, how to follow the right structure to sell, and how the business of screenwriting works.
Have you ever had an idea that you think would make a great movie?
Or, have you ever thought that you might want to pursue screenwriting?
OR, is it your lifelong dream to write movies and television but you don't how?
If one of those sounds like you then you've probably gotten frustrated at some point by the lack of transparency in the world of screenwriting.
I have been there before myself.
Heck, I'm there right now!
I just came off a four-day writing retreat at a cabin in the woods where my goal was to start my first feature screenplay.
I have written shorts before (even one that won an award!), but I'm ready to move on to a feature-length film.
Over the weekend, I was able to successfully outline my project and identify the hero and her goals and needs, the villain, the theme, the logline, and the significant story beats that shape the screenplay.
All of that was possible because of my conversation with Julia Yorks.
Julia Yorks is a writer for film and television who recently sold her original idea to Freeform.
But she's worked as a writer on different projects (like the DreamWorks/Netflix series "The Adventures of Puss in Boots") for years. I found her TikTok channel while trying to learn more for my screenplay and I immediately followed her.
All of her content is catered to the crowd of writers trying to break into the industry or just starting out in the industry.
She does this so effectively because she is open and honest about the typically opaque business.
One of the best bits of information I got from her was the importance of a "beat sheet" that outlines all the major story beats of my story.
A story beat is a moment in your story that propels it forward.
And a really good place Julia gave me to start was Blake Synder's Save the Cat. I read it this past weekend and used it to make tremendous strides in my script.
Tips like this are where the rubber meets the road for first-time screenwriters.
There is a difference between having a great story to tell and having a great script. A lot of people have great stories to tell. That is the hard truth of becoming a screenwriter. To break into the industry you need something that makes you stand out. And what makes you stand out is a great script. The best way to break into the entertainment industry is to have at least one really great sample. - Julia Yorks
The problem that most aspiring screenwriters face is how to actually work like a professional. That's exactly what Julia reveals.
No glitz, no glamour. No romanticizing the notion of having your story made into a movie.
Just hard truths about how to make it possible and what will eliminate your chances.
Fortunately, things have changed in Hollywood.
There are more opportunities and inroads than ever before for artists, creators, and writers to get their stories produced.
But no matter which path you take, at some point you'll have to pitch the story.
And that might be where Julia is the most transparent and gives the most value.
People always ask things like "How do I get an agent?" or "Who do I pitch my idea to?" Not only does Julia answer these questions for her audience, but she also records her own pitches live and gives you the recording!
Gates lifted; curtains open.
Now it's just up to you to execute and write your screenplay.
If you are interested in turning your story into a screenplay for television or film, this is the episode for you!
Some of the highlights of our conversation:
why she felt like she was the perfect "kind of mid-level writer voice that is missing" from screenplay social media content
how to be careful with creator burnout when your real job requires creativity
the way she's able to stay consistent with her content creation
why she finally decided to start script consulting on the side and how it helped her career
the best way to follow your momentum & elevating your chance at success
her "homework" while watching her favorite shows and how it helps her understand story structure better
how to raise the stakes and propel your story forward like a pro
how to maximize your "real estate" on each page
what a story beat is and why they're so important for your structure
the 15-beat sheet outlined in Save the Cat and why she loves it
the skill behind a successful pitch for a show or movie idea
what really happens behind closed doors in those pitches
the difference between a great story and a great script
how Hollywood has changed in the past three years and how screenwriters can capitalize on those changes
As always, I hope you enjoy the episode!
Peace and Love,
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For more storytelling tips and tricks,
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