How to Write a Script: Step by Step Guide for Beginners

How to Write a Script: Step by Step Guide for Beginners

script writing basics

Want to pursue a full-time career in script writing? Struggling to learn basics of script writing? You are at the right place. Let’s Start.

You must’ve watched several movies and certain scenes and characters must’ve made you think, “How did this amazing scene got created?”

Or

maybe you wanted to know how a particular character was formed, how was its personality developed?

Well, to break it to you in very simple terms, all the magic that takes place on a screen, be it a big cinema hall one, or a theatre play stage or even your laptop and mobile screens- all of it begins with a script.

Yes, all of that magic that looks so well curated on screens, all of it was on paper someday!

Now, you must be thinking what makes a script so good?

I want to know what it takes to make a script (never rejected).

 

8 Basic Things to Remember Always in Script Writing That You Must Know:

script writing basics

Well, writing a great script always have some basics indeed. and you don’t have to worry about getting an answer to that.

Yes you read it right.

Because in this post, we are going to tell you of 8 things that make a script great.

You just have to have a good read and who knows, you might be the next great scriptwriter in cinema! So, here we go:

 

1. Watch with a Pen:

You remember the times when your professor used to speak and you scribbled down as much information as you could in your notebook?

Well, that activity never really ends if you have a passion for writing of any sorts.

So, when you sit down to watch a movie or a show, make sure you take notes of things that capture your eye.

These things can be anything from a personality trait of a particular character to the attention to detail provided in a scene. If it something that intrigues your mind into exploring it further, NOTE IT DOWN!

 


 

A Must Read Post For Documentary Creators (3 mins read)

How to Make a Documentary | 7 Tips Revealed for Filmmakers

 


 

2. Read scripts; Follow the Basics, Take inspiration:

script writing

There is nothing more effective in order to be good at something than having knowledge of what you’re doing.

Liked a short movie?

Get your hands on its script. You thought a play was a breath of fresh air for its execution, find its scripts.

Impress about how a character in a movie was multi-dimensional, well, get the script!

You will learn about things only when you push yourself to enquire about them.

Try to read as many scripts as you can. Collect scripts that made blockbuster hit movies and scripts that crashed terribly.

Read them all so you’d know what works and what doesn’t.

 


 

Some books that you may find helpful are:

Making a Good Script Great- Linda Seger

Screenplay- Syd Field

Your Screenplay Sucks! – William M. Akers

 


 

3. Add a logline: Logline Examples

logline examples

A logline is a single sentence or two which aims at answering one question: what is your story about?

It may very briefly define the plot’s major twist or maybe what is the world of your story and how it adds to your character’s life.

Having a logline would help you stay focused and prevent you from adding elements which might be unnecessary and irrelevant to the story.

Some questions that you may use to form your logline are;

  • How is your protagonist going to be involved in the world you set up?
  • What is the relevance of the various perspectives you are going to portray?
  • What incident in the story is going to move it forward?

 

Here are two loglines from actual movie scripts to help you have a better understanding of the concept:

 

1. Monsoon Wedding, 2001, Mira Nair:

The story depicts romantic entanglements during a traditional Punjabi Hindu wedding in Delhi.

 

2. Forrest Gump, 1994, Robert Zemeckis:

Forrest, a man with low IQ, recounts the early years of his life when he found himself in the middle of key historical events.

All he wants now is to be reunited with his childhood sweetheart, Jenny.

 

4. Add the ‘Treatment’ to Your Script Copy:

how to write a script

Now that you’re done with the short summary, it’s time for the longer one to be created.

A treatment is basically a slightly longer version of the logline and it includes elements like script’s title, the logline, a list of your main characters, and a mini synopsis.

A treatment is one of the first things that draws attention towards your script.

It’s like the blurb on a book cover which we read before buying a book.

If the blurb is interesting, we buy it.

In the same way, if your treatment is interesting, producers and directors will be inclined towards investing their time into reading it.

And that is why, you need to write a treatment that is interesting and catchy.

The synopsis you add should describe your story in a gripping way.

Your characters should be introduced with relevance to the vibe of the story and the major twists and turns should be mentioned like you’d want them to be portrayed- magnificently.

 

5. Research Before Writing Your Script:

what is script writing

Has it ever happened to you that you’re watching a movie and something is shown in a way that contradicts the reality and it takes away the realistic element and you just cannot fathom it?

A good example would be the portrayal of courtroom scenes in Bollywood movies where witnesses are kept a secret till the climax and are introduced to the characters and the audience at last.

Well, these types of errors are something that should be avoided at all costs.

No matter how common of a topic your story follows, double check everything.

You do not want people to mock the story because of the unrealistic portrayal of the protagonist firing two machine guns simultaneously.

Contradicting the common reality without giving a justification for it is not a smart move. So, before you add something in writing to your script, consider the basics first and make sure you have the right knowledge of it.

 


 

Also Read (3 mins): How To Become a Film Director | 6 Behind the Lens Secrets

 


 

6. Development and Relevance:

One very commonly missed out on aspect of movies and shows is the lack of development.

Things like characters, sub plots and settings can be on the receiving end of this scarcity of development.

You have to keep in mind that as your story progresses, you will have to show a certain amount of development.

If your protagonist has changed due to a particular incident, your side characters will also have to be affected.

If you’re taking a leap of time, certain advancements in technology will have to be shown.

Similarly, your main characters aren’t the only ones who will develop into the ‘final product’.

You will have to establish a connection between the sub plots and side characters that you have introduced and explored earlier.

Never introduce an element that has no relevance to your story, be it in the form of a character, an incident or a sub plot.

 

7. Write your Script:

script writing basics

We have by far discussed all the crucial elements of a good script and basics of writing, now it is time to understand that writing a script does not merely mean writing a story in a notebook or typing it in your laptop.

Before you prepare your first draft, keep in mind that:

  • Your script should be in printed form.
  • It should consist of about 90-120 pages.
  • Printed on 8.5″ x 11″, white, three-hole-punched paper.

The use of font:

The font used to write scripts is Courier, and that is not something you should change.

The first page:

Although you can easily use formatting programs to convert your entire text into a script format, it is always good to know the rules yourself. The first page of the script is drafted as follows:

  • The top, bottom and right margins of a screenplay are 1″
  • The first item on the first page should be the words ‘FADE IN:’
  • The entire document should be single-spaced.
  • The first page is never numbered.

 

8. Script Writing Format: Elements in a Script:

 

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how to write a script

 

script writing for beginners

 


 

Scene-heading:

The scene heading consists of one-line description of the location and time of day of a scene. It is always written in all caps.

Sub header:

A sub header is used when a new scene heading isn’t required but a distinction in the action is to be shown.

You might use them to make a number of quick cuts between two locations. Here, you would write ‘INTERCUT’ and the scene locations.

 


 

(Pro tip: a lot of sub headings are not liked by producers).

 


 

Action:

This is the narrative descripting of what is happening in a scene and is always written in the present tense.

You need to keep in mind to add only things that are visible and/or audible to the audience.

Character:

Characters are introduced in actions.

In their first scene, their names are written in all caps.

In scenes where they have dialogues, their names are written and their dialogues follow in the next line.

Characters which do not have much prominence can be written as DOCTOR or TEACHER.

Dialogue:

Dialogues are the lines that each character speaks.

Additionally,

use dialogue formatting whenever your audience can hear a character speaking, including off-screen speech or voiceovers.

Conclusion:

With this, we come to a conclusion. Hopefully you will find it helpful, understood script writing basics and will write a great script. We insist you do it soon because it’s a packed race and we want you to win! Until then, goodbye!

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