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How to start Scriptwriting Part 5: Writing the Script

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Posted 23rd June 2009 at 10:23 AM by Peter Neal

You're prepared, you know where you want your story and characters to go: Time to write!
But before you start writing you should remember that there'll ALWAYS be a 2nd draft, a 3rd, probably many, many more.
Which means- to me at least- that the first draft is still very much a testing ground.
Thanks to the treatment, you don't have to think about the whole of your script for each and every line, you can concentrate on your script scene by scene, as the path you've intended to go with this is already lined out.
Professionals often try to dedicate 1 minute of their movie's/radioplay's etc running time to 1 page.
The idea is to stay focussed and to give the reader a far better feel for the potential length your story will need to be told in.
It'll also help you greatly to avoid that biggest of sins in screenwriting, to get lost in detail and descriptions.
This applies very much to the treatment, but even more to the actual script!
You see, the directors/producers want to read what's supposed to happen on screen, BUT it's THEM who'll determine the way things are going to look and feel.
You can give them hints, but don't bore them with all too loving detail.
You shouldn't drive yourself nuts about that during the 1st draft though, but remember that you'll most likely have to do a lot of cutting back during the rewrites.
With the first draft, you get your story in written form from start to finish and when you're done with it, you'll most likely find more than enough to change around, explain better or simply leave out.
"To Kill your Darlings" is one of the writer's hardest lessons, but along the way you'll deliver an instinct for what's necessary and what could/should go to give your plot a better pacing and flow.
You never know: What might not work for this script might be your saving grace in the next one.

Again, if you want to send a script out on its journey to production companies, please consult some expert books on scriptwriting about the desired, professional look first....

...but here's in a nutshell how a script's page can be build up:

-You write on every page, which SCENE we're in.

- Next up is the LOCATION:
Give a description, which captures the necesary info.

- Then you name the CHARACTERS present at the beginning of each scene.

- Write the characters' names OVER their line of dialogue.

- If there's- for instance- a SOUND, which can be suddenly heard during a character's dialogue, make this extra information easily identyfiable for the reader, so that he has no trouble distinguishing it from the dialogue's flow.

- Choose a format for your script that's easy on the eye and even easier to mark and read.

Well, I guess that's about all you need to know for starters, but if you're really interesting in reading about writing, you won't have to worry to run out of expert literature- alltough I strongly and personally believe that it's a "Learning by Doing" process for the most part- but not entirely.
It also makes far more fun to break or ignore some of the stellar rules in scriptwriting WHEN you know them.

Good luck to you all and many cheers from far up north,
Peter Neal
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  1. Old Comment
    Pete's Avatar
    Good Stuff Pete, very helpful

    Having read your blogs i might have a go at writing a script.

    Your english is better than mine
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 23rd June 2009 at 10:29 AM by Pete Pete is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Peter Neal's Avatar
    Thank you very much for your kind words.
    Writing a script is huge fun, but also pretty time consuming. Prepare for having a way smaller time window for watching DVDs- for starters...
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 23rd June 2009 at 10:34 AM by Peter Neal Peter Neal is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Pete's Avatar
    I'll make time for both

    I remember when i was in college we had to write a story and it was so much fun. Mine was called Zombie Creeping Eaters.
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 23rd June 2009 at 10:39 AM by Pete Pete is offline
  4. Old Comment
    KPWNINJA's Avatar
    These Scriptwriting blogs are excellent! Extremely helpful Peter. ^ ^
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 29th June 2009 at 01:29 PM by KPWNINJA KPWNINJA is offline
  5. Old Comment
    Daemonia's Avatar
    I've nearly finished a screenplay right now...any tips on how to get an agent, get people to read it etc?
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 23rd August 2009 at 10:34 PM by Daemonia Daemonia is offline
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