View Full Version : Scriptwriting: How to do it correctly?

02 February 2005, 10:18 PM
Hello all. I am in the process of writing my own script for a new television series. Now, I know that writing is all about re-writing, but I would just like to know the correct format of how I should write one. How do I write someone's actions, reactions, dialog? What is the correct format? Any little tips, tricks, even some little ideas that you've used to make the writing better are appreciated. Thank you.:)

02 February 2005, 03:03 AM
Just hunt around for a good book that shows general TV format or buy software that does it for you. There's plenty around. Here's an excellent online resource store. I shop there all the time.

02 February 2005, 07:30 AM is a thread here with some useful observations, like that some of the format info may be found online at places like including macro's.

Shakespeare apparently wrote lines of dialogue without indentation, not indicating who the speaker was. This is a fast method and isn't hard to copy with Wordpad. If you add the speaker above his/her line, on the left-hand, you've got basic playwrighting format.

02 February 2005, 08:47 AM
Go read scripts at Get a feel for format there.

Generally, write only what can come across onscreen. Don't write what a character is thinking about, or what he's feeling. Write only what the audience is going to see, because they're not going to have access to the script. If a guy is angry, don't write "John is angry," write "John slams the door" or something like that. Express things through action and dialogue, not text.

This will probably be particularly tough for you; having the handle "Novelist" I would assume that's where your experience lies. You're used to describing everything because the text is the final product. Resist that impulse when you get to screenwriting. The script is not the final product, it's only the beginning.

M. Scott

02 February 2005, 04:21 PM
Thanks you guys. You've been really helpful. :thumbsup:

02 February 2005, 04:23 AM
one thing to watch out for when looking up scripts is determining which are shooting and production scripts and which are ones that are screenplays, that is the script ment to be read as a story.

I did these two examples since someone asked me what the difference is.

this is a screenplay

this is a shooting script

The screenplay is alot easier to read while the shooting script is good since it breaks down the number of shots and gives a good idea of the camera views needed as well.

Script O Rama is a good place to check out. My two favorite scripts they have that are easy to read and have great flow where Jerry Maguire and Alien 4 Resurrection. Even if you don't like the movies check out those scripts since they have a more novel like aproch to writing. I come from a short story background so these fit the same kind of flow. May of the others are production scripts and should never be used as an example to write a screenplay. They are--however--good for seeing how to break down a script into every little shot that needs to be there.

02 February 2005, 09:54 AM
this is a screenplay

this is a shooting script

The screenplay is alot easier to read while the shooting script is good since it breaks down the number of shots and gives a good idea of the camera views needed as well.Actually the shooting script has numbered scenes, not numbered shots. There's no way to number shots in a script because you generally do more than one setup, and/or things overlap.

The screenplay sample is OK except that it should be double-spaced between elements (between paragraphs, between action and dialog, before scene slugs, etc.). Single-spaced within elements, double-spaced between. Like this:



The small bedroom is a complete mess. Books and papers are strewn everywhere
and the green banker's lamp on the roll-top desk is lying on its side.

The door opens and Bob enters. His smile quickly disappears. He shakes his head
in disgust as he surveys the mess.

.......................(to himself)
...............Aw, geez, not again. I'm gonna kill
...............that guy.

He reaches down and picks up a book. Its pages are bent and the binding is broken.
Bob sighs.


A run-down diner in the middle of nowhere. This place looks like it's been here
forever, and no one's ever bothered to clean it.

(Excuse the dotted lines in the dialog area. That was the only way I could get it to format correctly with the CGTalk tools.)


02 February 2005, 02:53 PM
i wrote the screenplay in final draft so I know it was right, but the blog trashes the format. It was ment more for understanding the flow of words than the exact format. To write a screenplay you're going to need to use a screenwriting app or read about the exact format anyway.

The numbers per scene is used normally but I needed shot numbers so I could layout my folders and determine how many shots I needed to animate. In a personal project I tend to use what ever makes my life easier.

Hope I didn't confuse anyone

02 February 2005, 04:48 PM
i wrote the screenplay in final draft so I know it was right, but the blog trashes the format.Ah, OK, sorry. I know what that's like: I had to "cheat" in this forum to get mine to look right. :)


02 February 2005, 08:50 PM
Yes, more advice. I'm lvong it. Everything mentioned has been a lot of help. Here's a little exerpt from what I'm to critque?

Candles adorn most of the cave, basking the last part in shadows. XAVER sits in the shadows on a beautifully decorated throne. Across from the throne is a wooden table. Atop the table rests a few small chests with circular indentations.
In most of the slots rest balls of golden rings with multi-colored mists inside them. Xaver holds out his hand. Hovering above his palm is one of the balls, its rings spinning. There is no mist within this one. He growls and puts the ball on a shelf.

(to himself)
Where is that blasted—

What a warm welcome.
Xaver gets up from the throne and walks out of the shadows. He walks up to LILITH.

Do you have them?
Lilith SMILES.

Of course. Why would I not?

Show me!

Patience is a virtue.

Since when do we believe in virtues?

Good point.
She reaches into a pouch at her side and takes out two more balls of the spinning rings. The mists inside are turquoise. Lilith sends them hovering to Xaver. He examines them.

Are you sure these are good? Are they pure?

Of course they are.

Xaver sends the balls hovering to one of the chests and they land perfectly into two of the slots. He smiles.

XAVER (cont’d)
We’re one step closer. All we need are five more essences and our plan will be complete.
Lilith smiles and walks over to him. She touches his neck lightly and sits on the throne.

Yes. And if we keep getting idiots like the one we used today to do our dirty work, we won’t have had to lift a finger.

Speaking of which, where is that damned demon?

I killed him.

You what? Why would you—?

We don’t want our plan leaking out, now do we? If anyone else found out there’d be demons and what-not everywhere either wanting some of the glory or wanting to destroy us because of their own plans. We’re far too close to let something so trivial stop us.

So...what do you think? It's a small little exerpt, not really too much going on, but a little criticism never hurt nobody.

02 February 2005, 02:59 AM
good read. It seems you got the flow right. Keep going.

One problem i have is in the beginning. you mention him on the thrown and table across from him with balls. he puts one ball back on shelf. is the shelf next to him? did you mean chest? if he is sitting on thrown then how does he reach any shelf... magic? may want to clear that up.

I wont mention formatting since the forum will make any attempt at format a full time job.

rest is good

02 February 2005, 08:21 PM
Whoa. Yes, I meant chest. I don't know why it says shelf, I

ll fix that. And thanks for the comment!

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