1. lipton_lover
    Offline

    lipton_lover Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Messages:
    228
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Michigan

    Getting into script writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by lipton_lover, Jun 19, 2009.

    I'm considering a change from my norm, short stories. I want to try my hand at movie script writing. The problem is, I'm really not sure what rules I need to follow. Are there font/spacing/paragraphing rules? How much of the action should I write out gunshot to gunshot? Special effects? How long should a decent movie's script be? Any help will be gratefully accepted.

    Thanks, Nate
     
  2. cybrxkhan
    Offline

    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Messages:
    423
    Likes Received:
    13
    I don't have any hard data with me right now, but I know for certain there is a VERY CLEAR SET OF GUIDELINES for the formatting of a script. You better follow it - or else. Basically this formatting applies to everything in the script - dialogue, description of the scene, special effects, character movements, characters themselves, everythin.

    Also, from my little experience with scriptwriting, one of my creative writing instructors said that each page in a script is about one to two minutes (or maybe just one, I can't remember exactly).
     
  3. Velvet Muse
    Offline

    Velvet Muse New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2009
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    In the freedom and *equality* of America
    I believe this is what you are looking for:

    http://www.filmscriptwriting.com/scriptformatting.html

    I love scriptwriting because it is usually more character driven. It also incorporates imagery and visual symbolism, which I find more powerful (cinematically). If you're seriously interested, then you can join Script Frenzy, a just-for-fun competition that challenges scriptwriters to compile a 100 page script in a month. I'm sure they have formatting rules and writing tips:

    Script Frenzy

    Velvet Muse
     
  4. lipton_lover
    Offline

    lipton_lover Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Messages:
    228
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Michigan
    Thanks both of you :)

    Velvet, I'll definitely look at those sites.

    Thanks, Nate
     
  5. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    Maia can give you a great list of books to help you in this area of writing, such as "The Screenwriter's Workbook" by Syd Fields.

    A screenplay is between 90-120 pages, and there are many rules for formating, so it is recommended that you use software like Final Draft.
     
  6. cybrxkhan
    Offline

    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Messages:
    423
    Likes Received:
    13
    When I was in my Creative Writing class, we found out there's actually a lot of free scriptwriting programs online. Just type in "free scriptwriting program" or something on google. Trust me, it's a lot easier than trying to do the formatting on MS Word.
     
  7. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    yes, many!...

    there's no set rule... you have to learn by studying/doing...

    ditto above...

    depends on the genre... 110 pages is current preferred length for all but comedy, which should be around 10-20 pages shorter...

    i mentor many aspiring screenwriters [that's what they're called, not movie script writers], so will be glad to help you get started... drop me a line any time and i'll send you my 'tools of the trade' list, plus some tips on the basics...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  8. EyezForYou
    Offline

    EyezForYou Active Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2007
    Messages:
    456
    Likes Received:
    5
    Lipton, in screenwriting there is no telling. Zero, zilch, nada.

    Therefore, if you really hunker down and learn the craft of a screenplay, you will improve greatly in the field of novel writing as well.

    Remember, there is no telling in script writing. Only showing.
     
  9. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I think that is an oversimplification. As in any kind of fiction, showing delivers more depth. But a lot of telling takes place in the form of exposition in dialogue. It isn't always a bad thing, either. Scripted works operate under more stringent time constraints than novels and short stories, so exposition may need to be delivered quickly and concisely. Showing isn't necessaarily more verbose or time consuming than telling, but for expository materrial, it often is.
     
  10. lipton_lover
    Offline

    lipton_lover Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Messages:
    228
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Michigan
    Ok thanks everyone!

    Cog since I'm not planning on selling myself to a company, I'm writing for personal pleasure only. So I have all the time in the world to make the greatest script ever :)

    Thanks Eyez but I agree with Cog. As with any other fiction, there's a time and place for both.

    Maia, I will definitely do that :) and just for the record, I'm not completely stupid lol. I listen to the screenwriters podcast which is fascinating.

    Thanks, Nate
     
  11. ManhattanMss
    Offline

    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Messages:
    626
    Likes Received:
    14

    Hi, Nate--

    There are plenty of guides out there to choose from--and, yes, there are very precise rules you must follow in order to interest a script reader. The guide I've used with screenwriters I've worked with is David Trottier's SCREENWRITER'S BIBLE, and I've known screenwriters who worked with him directly. He does an exceptionally good job of identifying flaws and correcting problems and making suggestions (for a price, I'm sure).

    The link someone else gave you to the formatting tools will be crucial in ensuring that your screenplay avoids a lot of flaws that signal to the reader that the writer's a "novice" before they even look at the script itself. Be aware, however, that there are variations and a modicum of allowance made for a particular style--not much, and not nearly as much as with novels and especially short stories. But there are things that change over time, and some of those changes are often debatable because not everyone in the industry shifts at the same moment.

    The guidebook is helpful, because it discusses some of these variations and provides many examples and samples to make various points. It also discusses the storyline trajectory and how the screenplay must proceed from beginning to end, in addition to why the formatting is important, which has to do mostly with timing of the storyline as it relates to the length of the film, but also with separation of responsibility for directing, staging, costuming, and other key elements of filmmaking and the space needed for notes and that kind of thing.

    I'm a big novel and short story fan myself; and I admit I don't much enjoy reading screenplays, although I find it interesting to read how the screenwriter uses dialogue well, and/or (more often) does not. I do, though, believe the experience of writing screenplays can be exceptionally helpful to novelists and short story writers, too. You'll be sorting out dialogue from gestures, setting, and action, which probably helps sharpen up the ability to write each in a way that's concise and visual (which can be useful in writing prose, too).

    Good luck. Enjoy. Report back on your experience with it.
     
  12. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I was referring to the time the script has to tell the story, not the time to write the script. The time passage from beginning to end for the scenes to play out is an major constraint.
     

Share This Page