A Detailed Guide On The Process Of Screenplay Writing

Everyone loves watching movies. They take you to another world and make you have strong feelings for characters you were introduced to just a few minutes ago. Quite often, they can also cause you to introspect.

The ability to write a story that is so moving that it can leave a lasting impact on the minds of the moviegoers is a dream come true for every screenwriter. However, writing a movie script is quite different from writing a book or a short story.

If you have always wanted to write a script but did not know how to go about it, here is a detailed guide to help you out.

Find The Idea

Everything starts with an idea. An idea creates a spark and lights the flame of your imagination. You need an idea or an inspiration for writing the script.

If you are looking for ideas and inspirations, then start by reading the news, talking to people, reading books, or even watching more movies.

Sometimes all you need is to hear about a small incident from someone, and that can set you off on the rollercoaster ride of scriptwriting.

Write The Logline

Now that you have an idea for the movie script, you start writing the script. You start by writing the logline. If someone asked you to tell them what your movie is about in a single sentence, how will you describe it? The answer is your logline.

Logline is a one-sentence description of the movie that briefs the reader about the protagonists and antagonists, their goals, and the point of conflict. It is the shortest yet complete summary that you can give of your movie.

When you take your script to the producers, most of them read the logline first. If it piques their interest, they read more. Your logline must be exciting and interesting. Today, it is also often used for marketing the movie once it is made.

Writing the logline also gives you an outline that you need to follow for the rest of the story. It prevents you from straying from the story and getting confused.

Write The Treatment

The logline should be followed by the treatment. The treatment is the summary of the script. It is typically two to five pages long.

It contains the title of the movie, the logline, a list of all the characters in the movie, and a short synopsis.

While the detailed script describes the movie scene by scene in great detail, the synopsis is a shorter version of the same. The treatment is another way to create the outline of the story before delving into the details.

You start from the most abstract version of the story in the form of the logline and then proceed to add more details to it.

Writing the logline and the treatment first helps writers stay grounded. It prevents you from getting lost in the details and losing sight of the big picture.

Just as with logline, many producers read the treatment before deciding if reading the whole script is worth their time.

Flesh Out Your Characters

A script is only as interesting as the characters that inhabit it. There is no point in having a great story without well-defined characters. Most of the audience will identify or empathize with the characters, and that is what draws them to the movie.

You need to create well-fleshed out characters that seem real. Their like, dislike, motivations, goals and actions should be coherent with the personality.

Flesh Out Your Characters

You can use character profile worksheets to help you with this step. While all scriptwriters will pay close attention to developing a great personality for the protagonist, the antagonist mostly ends up getting the short end of the stick.

The antagonist is just as important to the story as the protagonist. Their motivations should receive just as much attention as the protagonists.

Plot The Outline

Now that the characters and treatment are finished, you need to get into more details. It is time to set up your scenes and plot the outline of the script.

You need to chalk out all the different scenes, where they will take place, who will be in the scenes, and a summary of what will happen in each scene. You are bringing your script to life here.

The outline helps you visualize the movie and give it a structure. You can use flashcards where you write down each scene and move it around to get a timeline that works best for your movie.

Write The Complete Script

Everything is in place now for you to finish writing the script. Fill in the dialogues in each scene and add all the details that you left out till now.

What you create now on your screenwriting software is your first draft. It will typically be 70 to 110 pages long. The key to writing the first draft is to write quickly.

Do not dwell too much or overthink every scene. When you do that, you start questioning everything and lose focus. Instead, write what comes to your mind at the moment.

Write the Complete Script

This is only your first draft. You will revise before presenting it, so there will be time to check for mistakes.

Take a Break and Get Reviews

You have been deeply involved with the story up to this point. Once you have finished writing the first draft, take a break and step away from the script. It will give you a unique perspective when you get back to it.

You can also use this time to send the script to your friends or colleagues for reviews. Their feedback can be invaluable while writing the second draft.


Read the script again and consider the feedback you got. Figure out any loopholes that need fixing. Look for places that need improvement and then make the changes.

Take a break and send the script for review again. Repeat the write-break-review-write cycle a few times to finetune the script.

Start Writing!

Now that you have a complete guide, all you need to do is start writing. Scripts usually follow a standard format, and if you do not know how to format a screenplay or do not want to waste time on it, then it would be better to write on scriptwriting software.

It is time to let your brain get buzzing with creativity and start writing.

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