Movie Scripts

Horror movies can contain some of the most thought provoking writing and story elements of all film. However, most horror films used to thrill and scare the audience without much thought to a gripping narrative. As a would-be horror writer, you must think about all of the elements that make up a good story as well as the elements that give people the hibbie jibbies. Making a engrossing story with terrifying elements will help you make the next “Exorcist” as opposed to the next “Piranha 3D”. In this article we’ll consider a few tips that will help you learn how to write a horror script.

When writing your horror script, you’ll want to make sure you have some level of passion or interest in it. There will be times where you will be asked to write a script about an idea you’re interested in, but it’s best to work as hard as you can to spin elements into the story that you are passionate about. Most people can tell the difference between a script written by an apathetic writer and a script from a writer who cares about what they’re writing so make sure you write with passion.

Next, spin horror into your story that people will connect with. Keep it to the basics. People are naturally afraid of things that they are unfamiliar with but experience in everyday life. For example, a story about a man who walks down the sidewalk at night and kills jogging women will relate with more people than a plot with a killer purple octopus terrorizing a space colony on the moon. Most very successful horror movies have villains and plots that keep things simple. For example Nightmare on Elm Street, one of the most successful horror movies of all time, captivates people because everyone relates with bad dreams. When people watch Nightmare on Elm Street they can relate with their own nightmares where they couldn’t wake up. This, of course, makes the movie even more terrifying.

Another thing to keep in mind when learning how to write a script is to keep it simple and then build layers of detail on top of it. If your plot can’t be explained in less than one or two sentences, you’ve probably made your story too complex (of course there are a few exceptions).

One of the most important things to remember when writing your horror script is have fun. There will be times where the stress about getting things right will get to you but it’s always important to get perspective about what you’re doing. If you’re writing a fantastic story that will scare the snot out of people, don’t forget that writing is fun.


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.


Writing a script for a film is much different than writing a short story or a novel, though many writers who know how to write a good story in any form can write a good script once they learn the basics. An interesting bit of information regarding this is that Ann Rice actually wrote the script for the film adaptation of her novel, “Interview with the Vampire.”

There are many books on how to write a script for a play and how to write a film script; some of them are good, but the best way to learn is from an experienced scriptwriter and by doing it yourself. If you are set on learning from a book, ‘How to Write a Selling Screenplay by Christopher Keane is a good book to start with. What makes this different from other books on the subject is that it looks at all of the step-by-step basics of a screenplay and closely examines a selling screenplay written by the author. This book also looks at many of the various job titles and salaries in the film industry, and examines the movie and television trends.

Another book that one may find helpful is How Not to Write a Screenplay. This book is simply what its title describes; it goes through all of the mistakes that first time scriptwriters make. The author talks about everything that script readers do not want to read. A quote from Denny Martin Flinn, the author, is that after reading this book you will “you may not write a particularly good screenplay, but you won’t write a bad one.”

One of the first things to do before actually writing a script is to come up with an outline; this is recommended, but depending on your style may not be what you wish to do. Many new writers make the mistake of thinking that they do not need an outline because their work flows better when it is new and they simply want to let the story carry them. This is a good idea in theory, but many writers are not actually good at doing this. A writer who does not use an outline but should will often have writing that sounds rushed, sloppy, or just odd. Taking the time to create an outline can help a writer think about what they really want to say, and sometimes have confidence that their story is worth reading.

Often the most important things to do, and the hardest, is to make your characters into real people. They should not do what everyone thinks they should, and they should not change easily. Real people are not predictable, and they take some of the greatest pleasure in conversation. No matter how much dialogue is in your script make sure to spend time on it and make it sound real.


Learning How to Write Movie Scripts

When learning how to write movie scripts there are four important parts to the process that aspiring screenwriters need to understand to complete a script. Those are fleshing out a movie idea, developing a treatment, script formatting, and finally the writing itself. Each part builds on the next in order to give you the very […]