by Alison Ward

Films are witty, funny, or moving because the script has an idea that’s elegantly expressed. Every movie begins with an idea. It doesn’t matter if it’s an original one or an adaptation of the literary source. It’s essential to have an idea. Once you put it on paper, you can start writing your to-do list. Needless to say, writing for visual media is different than writing for print media. More exactly, you need to be capable of transforming your thoughts into pictures.

No matter if it’s a short film or a feature film, the script plays a key role in its success. If you want to write a movie script like professional screenwriters, continue reading. Let’s go over all the necessary steps to get your story on the page and into the manager’s hands.

Create a beat sheet and start the story

Like all stories, movies are made up of moments that build upon one another to create a whole. You can use a beat sheet to map the story. It will outline the emotional moments, plot points, generally speaking, the “beats” that define the story. Each scene comprises several different beats. While some of them are subtle, others are blatantly obvious. If you can make it all the way through the beat sheet, you have a guarantee that you’ve got a good idea. As opposed to other outlining techniques, the beat sheet is made up of short bullet points. Gather the beats in one place and organise them in a logical, meaningful way. In other words, offer your screenplay direction.

Examples of beats you can include in a script are:

  • Events
  • Realisations
  • Resolutions
  • Interactions

Describe the world that you’ve come up with for your characters and provide the background. Tell people what happened to them before the camera found them. You must indicate your characters’ problems and suggest possible solutions. Go beyond the traditional 3-act structure and write a great screenplay. When the beat sheet is ready, you’ll know who the protagonist and supporting cast are. When you have that figured out, the scrip basically writes itself.

Think about the hero

The protagonist is the most important character. Without a hero, you don’t have a story. What qualities make your hero? What’s their past? What obstacles stand in their way? These are all questions you have to answer. It’s up to you to create an interesting protagonist that audiences will love. You can have more than one main character. There’s no rule about how many characters you can manage. However, it’s recommended to have 3 to 5 protagonists. The last thing you want is to overwhelm viewers. There shouldn’t be too many love triangles or storylines because it can become overly complicated.

When depicting your hero, think about the characters you’ve come across in the past. Examples of great protagonists include Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, and Spiderman. It’s recommended to make your character rich and full. Pay close attention to how they speak, their tics and twitches, etc. Characters can sometimes express themselves without words, which can have a deep meaning. Analyse what makes your hero stand out and use that. You can steal information from real life. The ideal protagonist is neither a hero nor a villain. They’re complex, interesting, something in between.

Use proper script fonts and margins

The font used when writing movie scripts is Courier 12 points. The monospacing makes it perfect for a more accurate read, which is paramount in screenplaying. It creates a screen ratio of 1:1. What happens is that one page of the script takes only one minute to read. If you want your movie script to look professional, use 1” for the top, bottom, and side margins. It might be necessary to make annotations, which go on the side margins. If you use a cloud-based document storage system, you’ll be able to access the screenplay from anywhere and make changes.

Prepare for submission

Now that your screenplay is ready, you have to figure out what to do with it. Well, you can try submitting it to a manager or producer. Before you send the script off to other people, go through it one more time and make sure there aren’t any mistakes. Hand it over to a friend and get their honest opinion. They don’t have to say nice things just because they know you. Along with the script, you should have a script treatment and a query letter. The script treatment is practically a document that outlines the storyline and content of the script. The query letter is like a cover letter that’s sent when emailing companies.

Email submissions are becoming more and more common. When sending a script, it’s highly recommended to send it as a PDF. Not only are PDFs simple, but also you can split a file or several files. You can split PDF to enhance readability. With other formats, you can encounter several risks. For instance, if you send the script as a Word document, the person reading it might accidentally hit a button and add unwanted characters or delete important information. No one wants to receive Word files or Celtex, Final Draft, Movie Magic files, etc. Regardless of what screenplay writing software you’re currently using, there’s the option to save the script as a PDF. Use it.

Finally yet importantly, there’s a fair chance that your movie script will be rejected. Rejection is inevitable, so you must learn how to deal with it. Maybe it’s time to write a new script. Rather than thinking that your screenplay should have made it, focus on what you’re doing now. This time, avoid the temptation of cutting corners. Don’t include too many genres in just one script and make sure that the paragraphs read just like in a novel. Look for typos, grammatical errors, and missing pages. Have someone proofread the script for you. Someone will want to make a film based on your script.



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