How to Write a Script For a Movie + Storytelling Techniques
How to Write a Feature Film Script
Writing a 90 to 120 page movie script isn't as difficult as it might seem at first thought. You can do it, but only if you are prepared to deal with the exceptional amount of thought and planning that needs to go into it, along with time to painstakingly re-craft a lot of the writing to polish it up to perfection. It's not as daunting in the doing, so read on and then do it!
Find a story that you like.or, preferably, find a story that youlove. This is going to be a process that will seem difficult or insurmountable at times, so it better be about something you don’t mind thinking and/or agonizing about for several months. Research your particular genre, and stay with in the rules of that genre, if you are looking to sell your script. The film industry is always looking for marketability over originality. That's not saying a little originality is a bad thing.
Get screenwriting software.Not getting it will only annoy you and potential readers who are used to seeing dialog placed at an exact four inches from either side of the margin. If you can’t afford Movie Magic or Final Draft or Montage, try “Celtx”. Stick three “w’s” and a “.com” to the name and you’re golden. I am starting to use it now. It is pretty much fully functional and adds the option of putting your scripts in an online database for collaboration and sharing. Who knows? Maybe that is the next big thing.
Formulate a premise.Write a short sentence (15 words or less) of the fundamental concept which drives the plot. It will help you to identify if your film is too complex and seek feedback.
Make an outline.It is easy to get lost over the course of one hundred pages. Seek feedback.
Create a character bible.Even more than a plot outline, characters can make or break your story. List the characters and give a complete description of them, physically and characteristics like if they are smart, good and likeable or, as it tends to be these days, if they are dumb, evil and hateful but in a likeable way (see Richard III by W. Shakespeare for ideas) then you have got yourself a movie. If they are the same people you have seen again and again and have been bored with yourself at the movie theater, keep thinking. If your protagonists and antagonists are characters, make sure you list out their flaws. During the course of the story the protagonist overcomes his/her/their flaws and the antagonist flaws becomes his/her/their downfall.
Do not ignore the three-act structure.Yeah, so a lot of established writers have done away with it and done well but that is because they areestablishedwriters. Producers are willing to take chances on them because they have made money before. Most movies are written in the format of The Hero's Journey, which there are a number of articles on the web relating to The Hero's Journey. Another good reference isThe Writer's Journeyby Christopher Vogler andStoryby Robert McKee
Learn the three-act structure.If you have no idea what the last step was about…learn it. Here it is, in the briefest of brief forms: ACT I tells us about a world and characters as they are meant to be, and introduces a problem they need to solve. For example, “The Goonies live their lives happily in their little section of the world, until they discover that developers want to turn the goon docks into condominiums, so…” ACT II develops the characters more and deals with the problem. For example, “So, the Goonies enter One-Eyed Willy’s maze and try to get through all the traps in order to…” In ACT III, several things happen, probably the most important being that the hero, early on in this part, gets to a point where he or she is ready to give up.BUTand this is the important part: he or she is somehow given the idea that giving up is not the answer and instead figures out a way to win the day. For example, “Sean Astin, in Goonies, figures out a way to turn One-Eyed Willy’s traps against the villains and instead manages to get enough jewels to save the Goon docks.”
Dialogue.Dialogue is best written after you have written the rest of the script, this way it makes sure that your story is told visually. Keep dialogue short, simple and make sure it is not on the nose. If you are struggling you could improvise it in a # reheasal.
Description.Remember each page is roughly equivalent to a minute in film time. Write action and describe how something feels instead of writing description. And finally and most importantly, keep it simple and easy to read.
Write out every scene heading on a note card, along with the characters in that scene.This will give you the general flow of the scripts and make it easier to tell where the story is moving.
Write your first draft.Make sure your dialog is very colloquial (characteristic of or appropriate to ordinary or familiar conversation rather than formal speech or writing). An exercise in helping write colloquial is to eavesdrop on someone else's conversation and record it word for word.
That is not all.Not even close. Once you have written a first draft, go back and revise the heck out of it. If, at this point, you have written one hundred and twenty pages, then you have probably written at least thirty pages too many. Go back and start cutting things out, simplifying characters, and making it a tighter, easier to read package.
Once you have done that, do it again, and again.Until you feel it is finished.
If you are serious about selling your script.Send the script away to a respectable script reading service. For a fee, they can send you critical information on what parts of the script need improvements and much more.
Sample Script and Outline
QuestionHow do I know how long my film will be?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerA page of script is roughly one minute screen time so one hour is about 60 pages or more.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do when planning to write a script?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThink of the characters: who they are, what they like, what they want, whether or not they get it, etc. Also, think about their surroundings, environment, and what makes these characters relatable or sympathetic.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I start producing scripts that I have written as a Nigerian woman?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThis is a very broad question. Find a director or actors and film them scene by scene. Assemble the scenes into a movie.Thanks!
QuestionWhat's the best way to write someone's real-life story?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThere is no "best way". The best way is what works best for your story. Gather all the information you have, lay out the big events and moments, and look at it. How does it fit together best? What do you really want to say?Thanks!
Where can I find sample scripts?
Where can I find sample scripts?
Where should I show or upload my script?
I want to write an action thriller film script, what are the important points on it?
- The general rule of thumb when talking about length is one page equals one minute of screen time, though this is not accurate as there may be more action than dialogue.
- You are an artist, and you deserve to let yourself be an artist. Write what you love in the way you love to write. Maybe you will get picked up, maybe not, but write. It is the cheapest part of film-making.
- Do not direct the thing on paper. They do not want to know, and some other person wants to direct it. Unless this is for your buddies, back off from thecuts and thedissolves and thepan tos.
- Be as smart and as good as you can be. There is a lot of competition out there. All the same, don't disbelieve in your ability; yours just might be the one with enough originality and spice to bethe one.
Video: First Step In Writing A Screenplay by UCLA Professor Richard Walter
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