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Screenwriting

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Screenwriting

Screenwriting is the act of writing what's known as a script or screenplay for film, television and webseries. It involves a special set of rules that makes it different from a book or play.

Writing the script is part of the pre-production process. Once it is written, it will be edited (often several times) and passed on to the director.

Scripts include all essential information such as: the setting of each scene, character details, dialogue and behaviour. But there’s a lot more in a script than these things.

Character

The characters take us through the story. We experience the story from their perspective. Through the characters, we can feel empathy (for a hero), or even fear (if they are a villain). The more the audience learns about the characters, and the more interesting and complex the screenwriter makes them, the better the script will be.

Plotting and structure

Every film or TV drama is structured. So before you write a script you will plot and plan out the bones of the story. There are different ways to do this, and we'll introduce you to a few.

Theme

When planning a script, start with a theme or an idea. You can separate theme from plot by saying the plot is what happens in the film, and the theme is what the film is about. Your theme might change or grow as your story develops, but it gives you a great starting point. To  identify a theme you might want to explore, start by asking yourself these questions:

What makes me excited?
What makes me angry?
What is important to me?
What do I notice about the world?
What concerns or excites me about the world?

Treatment

After screenwriters have done their plotting, created their characters, and identified their themes; they’ll write what’s called a ‘treatment’. This is where you write the story of your script in prose form. You generally don’t include dialogue or specific description in a treatment. Instead, you focus on the plot and characters. It’s the story in a nutshell. 

Formatting

There is a universal way of writing scripts which means that once the writer has finished, the script can be clearly interpreted by everyone who works on the film from the director to the cast, art department to editors. It has to be consistent so it can be used to plan locations and shots.

We recommend scriptwriting software such as Celtx or Writer Duet. These programs make formatting easy. You can also get Google Doc add-ons such as Screenplay Formatter.

Lessons

Structuring stories and screenplays: Learn how to effectively plot and structure your story before you start writing

1.1 Structuring stories and screenplays

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Formatting and writing scripts: Get ready to write your own script by tackling the basics of script formatting and advanced shorthand

1.2 Formatting and writing scripts

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Writing characters for your script: Create engaging protagonists as well as antagonists, and plot character arcs

1.3 Writing characters

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