How to Write a Script for a Movie

The majority of people do not know how to write a script for a movie. They might have an excellent plot but lack the necessary formatting skills. Others may know how to format but lack the ability to create an engaging story. If you want to be successful in Hollywood, you must know how to do both.

To learn how to write a script with a good plot, you must first review existing screenplays. The Internet Movie Script Database contains hundreds, both new and old. Use this resource to review at least five blockbuster movies. Make a note of what made each script stand out. When you are finished, review five more scripts. However, this time focus on movies that received bad reviews. Try to figure out why these scripts ended up flopping.

Once you get a good idea of what makes a decent script, you can begin the process of writing your own. Focus on a genre that matches your creative talent. If you are not a funny person, focus on a drama or a fantasy movie. Conversely, if you are a naturally humorous, you will want to write a comedy.

Now, your actual storyline will be the same regardless of what genre you choose. You will have one main protagonist who suffers with a major conflict. Side characters will either help or hinder the protagonist in resolving the conflict. This includes any love interests, who are also side characters.

As the story progresses, the protagonist must encounter stumbling blocks before they can resolve their conflict. A few “successes” can be mixed in, to help build up excitement. Either way, the story must end with some type of resolution. Happy endings usually resolve the conflict, while sad endings result in the protagonist’s defeat. Neutral endings try to combine these approaches by finding happiness in a tragedy.

After you have brainstormed your plot, you need to write your script in the proper format. Scriptwriting software is highly recommended, though you should still be aware of basic screenplay jargon. They are detailed below.

1. The Slug Line

The slug line introduces the location of a new scene. It begins with INT or EXT. INT tells the camera crew to shoot the scene directly from the location, while EXT tells them to shoot from a sound stage.

After these keywords, you include the name of the location followed by the time of the scene. If there is a sub-location, (such as a room in a house), make sure you include it on the same line.

If characters are moving through a series of sub-locations, and there is no change in time, you will need to use the keyword CONTINUOUS. The original location can then be omitted, (as only the sub-location is needed).

2. The Action Sequence

Action sequences are written in a journalistic style. You simply state what the characters are doing. You do not have to be poetic, as most producers want these sections to be straightforward.

In terms of location, action sequences can be found anywhere in the script. However, if you want to stick to proper form, you should have at least one directly after your slug line.

3. The Dialogue

To initiate a dialogue, you must start by entering in the name of the character speaking. The name will be in all caps and centered. The dialogue will then be placed beneath the name.

When creating your dialogue, do not use quotes and make sure you keep things brief. You want the conversation to flow naturally.

If necessary, you can use a parenthetical in between the dialogue to give specific instructions to an actor. For example, you can tell him or her who they need to talk to or what type of facial expression they need to make. You can also use the keywords (V.O.) or (O.S.) to let the actor know if they are doing a voice-over or making a presence off-screen.

4. Shooting Instructions

Beyond INT or EXT, it is rare for modern-day scripts to contain a medley of instructions for the producer. At most, you might use CUT-TO or SMASH CUT to indicate an abrupt change in scene.

In conclusion, learning how to write a script for a movie does not have to be a chore. By following the suggestions listed above, you can create a Hollywood blockbuster with very little difficulty.

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