Here a Script, There a Script

Continuing with the theme of scriptwriting, set by a previous post, let’s touch upon a few “must know” / “must do” notes.  The dry yawny stuff.  But totally relevant and required.


Here are some quick [painless] facts:

Fact:  Scripts/screenplays are typed on 8 ½” X 11” white paper.  Who knew it’s supposed to be 3-holed (obviously not me, LOL).  As I’m assuming you’re simplifying your life by using software like Final Draft, I’ll refrain from margin dimensions and page numbering (zzzzzzz).

Fact:  Courier 12 is the font of choice in the great U.S. of A.  Why?  Interesting enough, it’s all about timing. One script page with this font = 1 minute of on-screen time.

Fact:  The average feature film script is between 95 and 125 pages long, (with an average of 114).  Dramas are generally longer than comedies.

Fact:  Scripts are written in three acts.  (If you’re really curious, go on-line to check the actual number of pages per act in relation to a given genre.)  The first introduces characters and situation(s) and sets up the plot.  The second provides challenges and obstacles, and character development.  The third presents resolution.

Fact:  Action is written in present tense, active voice.  (Tom watches furtively from behind a curtain as Cecilia takes aim.)

This circles back to editing (something I thoroughly enjoy, though there can be some agonizing this-really-needs-to-go moments).  Check for dull dialog, nonsensical actions or reactions, flat characters.  Watch the number of scenes—is each one moving the story/plot forward?  If not, delete it.  You want a clean, crisp script . . . just as you want clean, crisp writing (be it a novel, article, or post).

All the dos and don’ts truly comprise a [big, fat] book.  But if you use scriptwriting software, you’re halfway on your exciting quest.  The rest comes from doing due diligence and practice.  Get feedback, too; don’t be scared to show your work to friends and colleagues.

Happy scriptwriting.


So You Wanna be a Scriptwriter?

I do.  I sort of am . . . or, rather, I used to be.  (Did a few for an existing company that has yet to make sales.  One day, perhaps.)

I’m actually writing one for a San-Fran based acquaintance.  Hence the post about scriptwriting, a deviation from the intended [continued] one about editing.  And yet, scriptwriting is all about editing, because you must use a limited number of pages to communicate to [effectually] detail action, mood, and dialog.

If you’re thinking of writing a script/screenplay, but are intimidated, don’t be.  There are some great programs out there to help.  I use Final Draft and have dabbled with Celtx.  Both are good and will enable you to conform to required criteria, including rules re physical format.  You can develop a professional-looking script—without breaking into a sweat or tirade.

Assuming we all know what a script entails, the first question will likely be: where to start?  Have a book, idea, story outline ready.  Or, if you’re feeling confident, do it from scratch (something already summarized or sketched makes it a trifle easier, but to each his/her own).

You’re not narrating a tale, but showing it.  A script involves visuals—you are documenting what the viewer is seeing and hearing.

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You want your audience to emphasize with your main character, to be drawn into the plot, to feel as if they are part of the action.  You also want conflict, which is integral to any story, on screen or off.  There should be some sort of struggle, be it physical or mental/emotional.

This is where I’m currently at: creating a logical struggle the protagonist must undergo before evolving into a true hero.  Writing a script is great fun.  It’s challenging, sure, because you do need to write your tale within a set number of pages, but descriptions and details abound.  The sky’s the limit.  You just need to utilize your creative noodle.  How fun is that?!