Basics of Screenwriting for Dummies

Screenwriting for Dummies: Looking for a solution to learn how to write a movie script, then this article is suitable for you. If you are an absolute beginner, then this step by step guide is going to help you to learn the basic approach to screenwriting. Dummies who are passionate about this craft, they must have to spend lots of time to practice.

Basics of Screenwriting for Dummies
Read: How to write a Script for a Short Film in Five Easy Steps?

Read: How to become a Screenwriter in Bollywood?

Movie script is a certain way projection of a story. There is a story and we develop a script based upon the story. Some writers develop an original story from an idea, then develop a script. Where as other writers prefer to adapt existing novel, then they come up with own version of story and then they develop a script.

The process of writing the document for a screen is known as screenwriting. The document is known as screenplay. Most commonly movie script. The approach or technique of screenplay writing is commonly known as screenwriting. Screenwriting is a craft. And a craft can be learned with right training and lots of practice.

To better understand screenwriting craft, we have to ask ourself, why there is need of a script even though we have a potential story. Secret to successful screenwriting career lies in the answer. Because a story is in a format when a reader reads the story, its visual forms inside the mind. Therefore it lacks lots of information to shoot. To shoot a story we need various details related to the story. Therefore a need to certain kind of document arise. That kind of document not only helped actor, director, producer to pre-visualise the story on screen but also helped to estimate and restricate budget. In the initial days, that document used to be rough description of action. Later on, stage play writing adapted into the business. Thus the document came into existence which is known as screenplay these days.

Remember in earlier days of film making there was no sound. There scripts used to contain only visual action details. Later on when technique came into existence to capture sound, dialogues were included in the draft.

Now we need to understand script contains scenes. Each Scene is about some action taking place in a location in certain time. If location changes or time changes then it becomes a new scene. The sole purpose of a scene in a script is to shoot a story easily. This provides indefinite creative freedom to tell a story in indefinite way. That’s way ten writers can come up with ten different potential script from a single story.

To write a movie script,

  • - First we need an idea
  • - Then develop a story from the idea(If you are adapting a novel then novel is the base story to proceed)
  • - Then break down the story in terms of scene. Write each scene in one or two sentence. Less words are best.
  • - Then rewrite each scene with scene heading, action details and dialogues if any.
  • - Once you got your first draft of script, then go for multiple drafts until unless you are happy with the developed draft.

But wait, what about script page length?

On an average the length of a feature film is 2 hours or 120 minutes. In general it is believed one page length of script transforms into one minute on screen. Therefore our script should contain 120 page. If you are absolute beginner then keep your script length in between 100 and 110.

Scene Format

Scene must follow industry standard format. It should always begin with a slug line or scene heading. Scene heading tells reader about the location of action taking place. It also tells us whether the action is taking place inside or outside. To indicate inside, we use INT keyword at the beginning of scene heading. And also scene heading tells user about the timing of the action. Whether the action is taking place in day time or night. This two vital information is very essential for cinematographer. They are going to arrange the lights accordingly.

Then action follows. In a scene, after scene heading there must be action. Action is the activity we watch on screen. It could be characters movement. It could be anything that we watch on screen.

Then if any conversation take place then dialogue is written in the scene.

Example:

INT. HOSTEL ROOM 201 – DAY

RAJ, 18 is reading a novel on bed. RAHUL, 18 is watching movie in his laptop. ROHAN, 18 rushes in.

ROHAN
Tomorrow is dry day!

RAJ
Are you kidding?

ROHAN
Wine shop owner messaged me.

RAHUL
Its time to arrange the stock.

In the above example, it is a simple scene with three characters. It begins with scene heading. Scene heading tells us that the scene is taking place inside hostel room. The location is interior. It is taking place in day. Just after scene heading there is action. It tells us the activity we are going to watch on the screen.

Remember: In movie script, in the action, the name of the character if appears for the first time then his/her name is written in capital letters along with his/ her age.

Remember: In movie script, scene heading is written in capital letters. Character Name is also written in capital Letters.

Write down 100 to 120 page long movie script based upon your developed story. While developing first draft of script, dont bother about corrections. Target to complete 100 to 120 page long script. Once your first draft of script is ready, then go for corrections, improvisations etc.

Warning: Until unless, your first draft of script is not ready, dont share your movie story or movie idea with any one.

Warning: Until unless, your third draft of script is not ready, dont even think to send to any studio or producer or production houses