A Beginners Guide To Script Writing

So you’ve been meaning to get into script writing for AGES but you just don’t know where to start. There is so much information and advice at our fingertips, which is amazing! But your style and process might be very different to other writers, you need a good rhythm that works best for you when it comes to progress with your script writing.

Script writing is a long-term process which is a magical mix of great characters, action, objectives, obstacles and emotion, but how on earth do you figure all of this out once you have written your title and underlined it?!

Below, I have compiled some of the best tips I have found most helpful when script writing and I hope they can be useful for you too.

1. Character and Story Prep

Well duh, right?! It sounds so obvious, but having a clear (ish) visualisation of your characters and potential, rough story line before doing any writing at all, is really helpful. There are no restrictions when it’s just you and your mind having total freedom, ideas can get strained once you feel the fear of actually writing. Start by people watching in a coffee shop (without being too obvious) this is a great way to spark creativity and see how people actually behave in preparation for your script writing process. Writing Dialogue for Scripts is an amazing book that helped me when starting out.

2. Three Act Structure

When script writing, it’s useful to remember the Three Act Structure. This is the journey from the beginning, to the middle, through to the end. You can apply this structure to any film, tv, theatre script. The Three Act Structure helps you draw the audience in and create obstacles for your characters to overcome. Not all stories follow this exact structure, some will have no wrap up before the end, leaving the audience hanging.

Some stories have a really slow beginning and others begin with a huge incident. Take a look at the Three Act Structure below (but there are no ABSOLUTE rules that you must follow every single pointer)

3. The Ending

Don’t worry about creating your story around the ending, this can work for some script writers, but it can also take away creativity and new ideas if your focused on everything coming together for your end goal. Often, it’s exciting to not really know where your story might end. Starting with the beginning, is always the best idea.

4. Technicalities

Getting bogged down with techniques and skills to spark your imagination is easily done and can overwhelm you when preparing for script writing. Sometimes looking too much into ‘how to begin script writing’ can have the opposite affect and you don’t want to do any script writing at all! Get yourself a coffee, go for a drive or a walk outdoors, often the best ideas come to you when you’re not thinking about it all. So, make sure you always have something to write your ideas on!

5. Format

Sometimes it can feel like there are so many rules to consider when script writing, especially when it comes to the format. Depending on what sort of script writing you are doing, the format may be slightly different. There are various online tools that can provide helpful guides on formatting. Here is The Screenwriters Bible which is brilliant.

6. Reading as your watch

This one sounds a bit daft, but printing out a script from your favourite programme or film (mine would be Brooklyn 99) and watching it whilst you read the script is so helpful. It can really bring the writers intentions to life, as well as enabling you to see how the director lifted the words from the page.

7. Punctuation

Punctuation is vital to consider when script writing. When actors analyse a script, the punctuation within it can tell a lot about a character. It allows you as the writer, to convey how you feel the actor should be expressing the ideas and emotions of your character.

8. Don’t Give Up

Read as much as you can and just keep on writing. Your in it for the long haul and it’s never going to be perfect first time (or ever!) Immerse yourself in creativity and surround yourself with positive people who will inspire you to keep going.

If you have any questions, it would be great to hear from you.

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