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Basic Script Writing Business Skills:
Scripts are good setups for writing and maneuvering a show.
Whether you’re writing it for an upcoming show.
Or just trying to see how your talents can be shown, to write a script, follow these guidelines
Have a title page.
Your script will need a title page.
This will include the title and your name,
but it will also include your contact information and your agent’s information (if you have an agent.
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Use the correct font, margins and breaks.
You will need to use Courier font (typewriter font) (12 point) when writing your script.
This will give it a more professional appearance but it is also key for making it easier to read.
Similarly, you should use the correct indentations for each part of your script,
as it will help the reader differentiate between dialogue, scene description, etc
Give helpful details about the setting and characters.
Use slug lines before each scene.
These say whether the action is taking place inside or outside,
what the location is, and if it is day or night.
A character’s name should go in all caps above, or next to,
their dialogue (depending on what you’re writing for).
You can also put instructions, such as pauses, in parentheses.
Use the correct formatting for your intended method of presentation.
If you want to write a movie script, then you will have to write your script in that format.
If you want to write a play script, then you will have to write your script in that format.
While they are largely similar, there are distinct differences and learning them all can take time.
Read lots of scripts in your intended medium to see how the pros do it.
Make sure you haven’t written too much.
Scripts usually last about one minute per page, though there is certainly some wiggle room.
Scripts are not like books in that word counts. It is a definitive way to gauge length.
Formulate a premise.
Write a short sentence or phrase of the fundamental concept which drives the plot.
This can be something which is the message or idea behind your story, an extremely short plot idea,
or something else to give you a goal and unifying idea to work toward.
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Create an outline or treatment.
Before you begin actually writing dialog and script,
it might help to create a basic road-map/story of what will happen in your story.
So you don’t get sidetracked and can work out any plot holes or kinks.
Sketch out a general plan and envision how events will unfold.
This should be told in the third-person.
Flesh out your story.
Write the entire premise of the play, movie, etc.
with lots of details and ideas, paying no mind to style, format, repetition,
Or anything else that gets in the way of your creative flow.
Your finished product should cover the plot, personalities,
relationships, character arcs, and a larger point to the story.
Sometimes, drawings or diagrams may be used as a temporary storyboard to show to other persons.
To demonstrate facets of your plot and characters, etc.
Your characters should drive the action on the stage or screen,
so make sure they are interesting and innovative.
It may not be necessary for you to fully develop them right away, however,
As they tend to take on lives of their own as the script-writing continues.
Trim the story down.
Now that you have everything on paper, look for dead weight, weak links,
irrelevant details, over-explaining, sidetracking, elements that drag,
And anything else that weakens the overall trajectory.
Be harsh; just because you fell in love with something you worked on.
In the exploratory phase doesn’t mean it should survive the revision phase.
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Research after writing your first draft.
Watch plays, tv shows, and movies which are similar to the work you’ve just written.
Examine your own work in comparison to these others.
Do you fall into too many tropes? Is your story over done?
See if you can find ways to distinguish yourself from these works.
Work on making profound contributions to the subject you’ve written.
Take a philosophical approach to the topic and challenge conventional ideas.
This will make your work much more engaging.
Simplify your writing.
You don’t need overly fancy dialogue or crazy scenes to keep your audience engaged.
Much like with writing a book, our work shines the most when we are showing, not telling.
Make your character’s choices speak for them.
And put more meaning into what they don’t say than what they do.
Write the plot in script format.
The exact format will vary depending on whether you’re writing for theater,
TV, or the silver screen – and in what country.
(For example, the American TV industry’s standard script format is modeled on the business plan.)
Use proper headers to introduce scenes, identify each speaker, and so on;
many production companies won’t even look at a script if it isn’t properly formatted.
Consider purchasing script-writing software for this phase of the process.
There are several programs that will guide you through the formatting.
Or even convert an already-written script into the correct layout.
Maintain your style.
Remember, scripts are all about action and dialog.
Make sure your characters speak realistically, and try not to mix styles of speech.
And vocabulary too much unless you are going for a certain effect.
Set the scene.
Don’t forget to include important details such as time of day,
setting, and actions of the characters in the scene.
These are nearly as important as the dialog that occurs.
Describe action only briefly.
Provide a sense of what’s happening on screen,
but leave it to the director to fill in the details.
Writing out all of the action is not the writer’s job.
Trying to include too much of this will only leave you disappointed when things are changed.
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Spend a lot of time working on your dialogue.
Dialogue will make or break your characters and their relationships.
What’s worse, dialogue is extremely difficult for most people to write.
To get your bearings, write down or record real conversations to see.
How people really speak and which expressions they use.
- Be sure to listen to a variety of speakers so that you can give your own characters more flavor and individuality.
- Ensuring that different characters have their own “voice” and “persona” based on their background will keep them from blending into one another. Remember, their persona will affect their attitude, word choices and dialect.
- Read your dialogue aloud as you go, paying extra attention to whether or not it sounds halting, stereotyped, over-the-top, or totally uniform
Edit your work.
Polish it, but don’t be a perfectionist; work toward perfection, not to it.
Show your finished work to people whose opinion you respect.
Choose people who not only come from different backgrounds and have varied personal tastes,
but are also willing to provide honest feedback.
- Don’t let yourself feel insulted, controlled, upset, or angered by a critiques or remarks; they’re opinion, not fact. Laugh and be enthusiastic about help and advice, but weigh your critics’ opinions against your own judgment before implementing any changes.
Revise your work as many times as necessary.
Painful as it may be, you’ll be glad when you’re finally able to convey your vision.
1. Finish your script.
This is so important. So many people spend years tinkering over one idea and never move on.
The more work you complete, (no matter how toe-curlingly bad) and move on, the better you’ll be.
2. Read along as you watch.
Choose your favourite TV show or film.
Get a copy of the script and a grab-bag size of your favourite crisps,
and read the script as you watch.
It’s a great way to decipher what the writer intended and what the director bought to the piece.
3. Inspiration can come from anywhere.
Run out of ideas? Listen to a piece of music,
put a random name into a search engine and see what images come up.
Pick a story from The Metro, and use these as starting points for a character, a scene, a story.
And let your imagination go.
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4. Make sure your characters want something.
From your protagonist, to the waitress in the café serving tea.
When you know what your characters want, your next job is to make it hard for them to get it.
5. Show. Don’t tell.
Whatever a character wants or feels, it’s always more interesting to learn this through their actions,
as opposed to dialogue.
6. Write to your strengths.
If you’re naturally funny – then bring that into your work.
If you’re not a fan of research then don’t start with something that requires 10 years in the British Library.
7. Starting out – write about what you know
Work. Family. Childhood. Or things that get you excited.
Things that make you so mad you want to throw bricks. Write the script instead.
8. Free your characters from cliché
Worried you’re writing a clichéd character?
Characters we may have seen before?
Then switch an element of that character around.
Change their sex, age, class, occupation.
This can often turn a cliché on its head and lead us to something interesting.
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9. Make mistakes, and learn from them.
‘Writer’s block’ is mostly ‘writer’s fear’.
The fear of getting it wrong. That nobody will like it.
The idea that any writer sits down at their laptop one morning,
And by 5pm they have a hit on their hands is nonsense (or luck).
10. Less is more.
My top tip for scenes… ‘start late, and get out early’.
Scenes don’t need to be fully-realised stories –
don’t worry about describing how we got here, just get on with it!
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