November 1, 2013 4:27 pm

Twin brothers Chad and Carey Hayes wrote this summer’s blockbuster, The Conjuring, using OneNote. Now the acclaimed screenwriting duo share their top five tips for beginning writers.

1: Write. Write. Write.

The secret to being a writer is no secret at all. Just write. Write anywhere and everywhere you can. OneNote is great for writers because you can use it virtually anywhere and on nearly any device. Have a few minutes in a coffee shop? Write a couple paragraphs on your tablet. Get an idea on the bus or train? Open OneNote on your phone and write it down. Writing is a skill that must be honed. We write every chance we get.

2: Read everything you can get your hands on.

Great writers read as much as they write. If you’re a screenwriter, read scripts. If you’re a novelist, read novels and short stories. Read bad stories then think about how you would make them good. Read good stories and come up with ways to make them better. We are reading scripts all the time, for both work and our own enjoyment. OneNote makes it easy because we can carry hundreds, even thousands of scripts everywhere we go on our tablets.

22223: Start with an outline.

This part is so important, we’re going to repeat it here: start with an outline. We work out the big ideas in outline form long before we write a single line of dialogue or action. Remember, “If it doesn’t work in the outline, it won’t work in the script.” The outline is your roadmap; don’t be afraid to return to it again and again as you craft your story. We keep our outline in OneNote right next to the working draft of the script for easy access.

4: Write. Edit. Repeat.

Writers are revisionists; that’s the nature of the job. For The Conjuring we had roughly 150 drafts of the script before we reached the final one. And we have every single one of them saved in OneNote. We rewrite sections (and sometimes entire drafts) dozens of times before we ever submit a script. Then, we’ll incorporate notes from studio executives, producers, actors, and the director again and again during the production process. OneNote inking technology lets us easily annotate on the script during meetings using our stylus and touch. Then we can quickly revise it and send another draft to everyone involved. No more hours-long editing sessions. No more costly printing. No more lost notes. It’s all done right there in OneNote.

5: Try writing with a partner.

We may be a little biased here but having someone to bounce ideas off of is a great way to stay creative and push the story. We write together during the day, and then at night we each take the working script home in OneNote. There we’ll make notes about the day’s work – inking up the script, writing questions and exploring ideas right in OneNote on our tablets. And we can each see what the other has written in real time. Working with a partner has given us that ability to expand our creativity and writing in ways we never could have done on our own.

Bonus: Get OneNote

If you haven’t picked up on it by now, we’re big fans of OneNote. We’ve used it for years to write our screenplays. OneNote lets us keep all our research together along with our outlines and various drafts. We can easily use the search function to find exactly what we need, when we need it. OneNote is like having your own personal writing assistant.

Chad Hayes & Carey Hayes

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This post was written by Nadia Vella