Screenwriting: where do you start?

Where do you start when you sit down to write a script? Do you think of an ending, then build towards that? Do you think of a character(s) and build the story around him/her/them? Do you do an outline before you start writing or do you just sit down and freewrite and fill in and fix stuff later? What's your method I guess is what I'm asking.


My writing style is largely character-driven, so most of the time I think of a character or two (depends on the situation whether I have a protagonist or antagonist in mind first). Then I try to think of a situation that would challenge that character (or those characters) the most. After that I try to think of a few endings that would work the best for that situation so when I'm writing I have something to build toward.

I've tried both freewriting and doing an outline ahead of time and following the outline, but I haven't decided yet which I like better. Sometimes I enjoy the freedom of just sitting down and writing and letting my thoughts carry me wherever they may, but other times I like the structured feeling of an outline so I know exactly where I need to go at which point.

The freewriting is cool because sometimes it takes me to places I didn't originally think of, but at the same time the freewriting always seems to need more editing afterward than when I follow an outline.

The biggest thing I've noticed, though, is that it's always so much easier to complete a script if I already have an ending (or multiple endings) in mind when I start. Most times when I just have a basic idea for a story, I get going, then I get stuck b/c I don't know where to go next.

First, the general idea or concept comes to mind, and then I construct a story around that. I don't like to pigeonhole myself with a fixed plot or story, I have a genreal idea where I want my "stories" to go, but I usually let it take it's natural course.

Characters are easy, for me at least, if you have a grasp on basic human psychology and character traits you can run with this easy. Dialouge is very easy for me too.

The only planning I usually do is a page or two treatment.

Related question -- how do you get started getting your script sold once it's written?

Do you just write a script or two and mail it to someone? How do I know I won't write my script about Captain Jones and the Army of Sea Monkeys, and then one day George Lucas releases Admiral Smith and the Navy of Brine Shrimp?

Do you have to know someone?

some good stuff here; might help answer some of your questions or
raise more...:

I've not gotten that far. Mostly I just write scripts for myself, nothing to sell yet. I do know that you'll need an agent though (just like a novelist trying to sell a book).