Basics: 1) What is a script and what makes a good story?

What Exactly Is a Script A script is the basic blueprint of your film.  It is a document that outlines every aural, visual, behavioral, and verbal element required to tell a story.  Yes, I said outline because film is a…

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Basics: 2) Types of Scripts

Below are the most common script formats in use today. We will be dealing with Feature Film/Television Movie of the Week.  The other types are distinctly different not only from Feature Film screenplays, but from each other. Their style guides…

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Basics: 3) Script Layout, Margins and Length

Page Layout Rules Here’s a screenshot from Final Draft, a popular, maybe the most popular, screenwriting software.  Screenwriting software gets all the margins and formatting perfectly for you and makes adjustments as you do.  But sometimes, especially starting out, screenwriting…

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Basics: 4) Scene Headings

A scene heading, often refereed to as a “slug line” always consists of at least two elements and usually three: an interior or exterior indicator, a location or setting, and typically the time of day. Font Alignment Spacing After Spacing…

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Basics: 5) Action / Description

A well-written script tries to create in the reader’s mind the experience of watching a movie. That means describing images, sounds, actions, and speech in such a way that the scenes unfold in the reader’s mind like they will on…

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Basics: 6) Character Name / Cue

This is the identification of whom is talking.  While sometimes it looks like the character name is centered, it is not.  It is left justified. Font Alignment Spacing After Spacing Before Left Margin Right Margin Character Courier, 12 pt, ALL…

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Basics: 7) Dialog

This is the spoken word of the characters.  Again, sometimes it looks like this is centered, but it is not.  It is aligned left and left justified. Dialogue rules apply when anyone on screen speaks: During a conversation between characters….

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Basics: 8) Parenthetical / Personal Direction

Also known as a “wryly” because of the propensity of amateur screenwriters to try to accent a character’s speech — as in BOB (wryly) — an inflection to a speech noted by a writer. Of course, in stageplays, all stage…

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Basics: 9) Transitions and Shots

Transitions A script notation denoting an editing transition within the telling of a story. For example, DISSOLVE TO: means the action seems to blur and refocus into another scene, and is generally used to denote a passage of time.  Typically…

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Basics: 10) Montage and Series of Shots.

Writers are often confused about how to present a series of short scenes that are illustrative or transitional in nature. When the shots are so short and disjointed as to make it awkward to present them as scenes, then a…

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