Research. What it means for a screenwriter: watching a lot of television and movies. And sometimes a lot of reruns. The reasons why are obvious in some ways, while others I hadn’t thought of until I started screenwriting.
One reason, the most obvious I feel, is to learn the craft. Watching tv/movies, picking out where jokes land, when the commercials happen. The flow of the story itself. For instance, when does the climax pop up and how does it conclude if you’re watching a movie. In this type of research you also get a feel of how the writers and showrunner directs the storyline throughout a season. Who is the big bad guy (I watch a lot of Arrowverse shows on CW)? What is the conflict within the secondary plot with the characters? And this goes for each individual episode as well. Learning the feel for the flow of the season’s flow is just as important if you want to work in a television scene or a writers room for a show.
Second would be to support and appreciate someone else’s work. Especially, ESPECIALLY, if you ever want to meet or work with said person. Even IF that work (show) isn’t your usual watching genre. For instance, if you appreciate, like and want to meet a screenwriter, showrunner, director or producer in the future, you HAVE TO watch their work. Now, I want to enter here that you do NOT have to watch it ALL, though that would be beneficial if you ever have to work with this person, and you don’t have to LIKE that particular show, but you have to watch it, appreciate it and support it. There are also tons of recap resources you can read too if you don’t have time to watch a lot of tv. That’s a good back up, but not a great substitute. It will do in a pinch.
Last would be inspiration. I watch a lot of DC comic shows, obviously, lol, and though I don’t write similar stuff, I do find a lot of writing motivation after watching Arrow and Flash. I find I will watch a show and then right away feel the itch to write, even something completely unrelated.
What do you do for research in Screenwriting? Anything in particular or different?