We’ve all heard the adage “write what you know” but some writers take the wrong message from that. It doesn’t mean literally the life you’ve lived. When I was working for a TV production company, I must have read/been pitched 50 stories about a college graduate with a degree in writing who couldn’t find a job and lived on “funemployment”. (Their word, not mine.)
It's not what you know, but why do I care
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great scripts and series based on the writer's life experiences. The trick is knowing why you want to write that story.
When you don't know why you want to tell your story, it's hard to write a compelling script. Your story will lack focus and direction. It’ll be difficult to get your audience invested in your characters and their journey.
The first thing most agents, producers or execs will ask a writer is some version of "why are you the best person to write this script". Rather than backwards engineering a forced, insincere answer, come up with the "why" before you start.
How do you find your "why"?
Once you have a clear understanding of why you want to tell your story, you'll be able to write a script that is both personal and universal. Your story will resonate with your audience on a deeper level, and it will be more likely to succeed.
Up next…now that you understand your motivation for writing the story, be sure your character’s motivation is clear.