Useful Tips

How to write a script: 10 basic steps

Perhaps at least once in my life every amateur graphomaniac thought that it would be interesting to try his hand as a screenwriter. This is an interesting experience - perhaps the Oscar is just around the corner! Composing and writing seems to be very simple. But this is not so. Any scenario, like a book, is based on certain rules and principles, which would not hurt to get acquainted with a novice screenwriter.

Idea and genre of the future scenario

The main driving force of the narrative is an idea. This is what underlies the whole scenario. You need to carefully think through and work out the idea. It should be fresh and original. Since it is an unprocessed idea that is the most common mistake of novice screenwriters.

An idea should be formulated and written down on paper. If you like it and the idea seems interesting then everything is fine. You can conduct a survey among friends and acquaintances, only it is better to hide their authorship. If most are indifferent to the idea, you can try to look for another.

Anything could be an idea for the script.: read book, seen movie, heard news. The events of everyday life can also often serve as a good basis.

Each genre has its own specific features. But it’s better to choose a genre that reveals the main idea. Even in the choice of a genre, it is important that the author is comfortable writing within it.

From the video you will learn how to choose an idea for the script and how to learn how to combine several ideas correctly.

Name selection

Title - one of the components of the success of the script. The main goal of a good name is to intrigue, attract attention. This means that it should not only be spectacular, but intriguing - the reader should want to know for himself what is hidden behind the name.

The idea for a good name is not likely to come right away. It is quite common practice when something sensible comes to mind at the end of writing. For this, there is such a thing as a “working name”. When shooting films, directors also often use the working title of the film.

You can find out how studios choose scripts from this video.

The most common basic pattern is it is a threefold structure. It is the basis of most popular films. It consists of three acts:

  • tie
  • the hero’s struggle with obstacles,
  • denouement.

Adhering to the structure is very useful for writing a script - it helps to not get confused in the intricacies of storylines, characters of characters and dialogs.

This video reveals the secrets of a better script.

Act 1. Introduction and the plot of history

Very important part. It is in it that the main sides of the conflict should be highlighted, the main character, the place and time of the future film is shown. It is necessary to be able to interest the reader from the first 8−20 pages. After all, if the potential reader, and, possibly, in the future, the buyer, is not intrigued immediately, he will not read further.

The following issues should be addressed in Act 1:

  • acquaintance with the main character, his character, disclosure from different angles,
  • an event that will serve as the plot of the whole scenario,
  • the main villain who will confront the hero,
  • it is necessary to designate the main goal of the hero.

At the end of Act 1, you need to introduce a turning event that will change the life of the main character and smoothly bring the reader to the second act.

You can try your hand at writing a scriptwriter. The video will help you with this.

Act 2. The struggle of the protagonist with difficulties on the way to a given goal

The second act is the main part. In it, the main opposition of the hero and the antihero takes place or the main character struggles with the difficulties encountered in his way. The second act is the most voluminous, so it is better to conditionally divide it into three parts.

1 part of the second act

The beginning of Act 2 opens with the confrontation of two driving forces - a hero and an antihero. The main character accepts the challenge. All bridges are burnt, and the path is only forward to the designated goal.

2 part of the second act

Obstacles in the way of the main character are becoming more complicated and dangerous, and the cost of defeat is high. Bids are raised, and in the event of a loss, the hero will lose everything he cherished. The hero finds himself face to face with great troubles. The second part ends with a major defeat of the protagonist.

3 part of the second act

This is a kind of preparation for the climax. Circumstances are not in favor of the hero, it seems that the battle has already been lost. The main goal seems unattainable. Suddenly, the main character gets another chance to rectify the situation in his favor. He decides to continue the struggle and strives for victory.

Act 3. The protagonist comes out the winner

Last act - this is the most emotional part. The main character reaches his goal and emerges victorious from the struggle. He finds answers to all riddles and questions. The action came to a climax, after which came the denouement of history.

At the end of the story, you need to take a small place in order to show how the fate of the characters after the adventure.

2 effective ways to come up with a plot - in this video.

Script characters

Study of the main and secondary characters a very important point, because flat or, even worse, implausible characters can ruin even a very interesting idea of ​​the script. The main thing in creating a character is realism. It is necessary that the reader empathize with the hero, identify with him. It should be remembered that in all senses there are no positive heroes, nor hopelessly negative. The hero must have a story, be controversial, but at the same time the reader must, like Stanislavsky at one time, exclaim: “I believe!”

Habits, character traits, and the appearance of everyone, even a minor character, should be considered. Make their heroes as different as possible from each other.

Dialogues and action descriptions

Should try maintain moderation in the use of dialogs in the script - it bothers the viewer if the script is to make a film. But also, which is very important, the dialogue between the characters must be realistic. Too correct and detailed remarks sound false.

In each scenario, in addition to dialogs, there is a description of the actions. An action image is everything but dialogs. It includes: a description of the interior, the appearance of the characters, actions. The description is rarely long, but if this happens, break it down into small paragraphs.

Script editing

Experienced screenwriters advise: when the text has already been written, set it aside for at least 1–1.5 weeks. Then start editing. This is necessary in order to take a fresh look at the text.

The script is checked for spelling, stylistic and punctuation errors. You should be aware that there are certain standards for script design. These standards apply to the design of the title page, font size, recommended number of pages, information, from whom the narration is being conducted. Most likely, you will have to redo some dialogs and throw out scenes from the text that do not affect the development of the plot.

Pixar tips in this video.

Common Errors

The list of the most common mistakes that beginners make:

  1. Writing a text about what the author himself is poorly versed in.
  2. An introduction to the plot of boring, template characters.
  3. Failure to follow the sequence of narration.
  4. Long and boring dialogs with elaborate remarks.
  5. Revision of too many scripting tools. This is very confusing for beginners at the beginning of the development of the craft of writing.

Studying this video will help you write a script.

Where to start writing a script


Photo: freepik.com

Screenwriting is creative work, but the film industry requires a formalized approach. There was no time for producers and directors to read huge volumes, so they developed a generally accepted system of “creative documentation”, which allows us to understand at the initial stage whether it is worth undertaking a project. The main recommendations in this regard are contained in the documents of the Writers Guild of America, which sets the "fashion" around the world.

The proposed scheme in general is suitable for writing any scripts, with the possible exception of series, which require a special approach.

1Idea. You must clearly understand what you are writing about. The author’s imagination is not limited, but the work needs an approximate format — a full-length movie, a cartoon, or something else.


Photo: freepik.com

In addition, you need to know the market conditions and the popular formats of various film studios and television channels in order to immediately imagine who can sell their idea.


Remember that an idea that sounds like a 100% blockbuster to you doesn't necessarily catch the rest. The author is often not able to objectively distance himself from his work, so at the very early stage it is useful to skip the idea through a critical filter of those whose opinion you can trust.

2Logline - the shortest possible summary of the idea of ​​the film, formulated in one or two sentences. It should contain a description of the characters, their actions and a certain result of dramaturgy. Try to enter some kind of conflict into the logline and demonstrate the originality of the plot. Here, for example, is a login that you can easily recognize.

A young bachelor who regularly celebrates New Year with friends in a bath, by coincidence, is in another city and finds himself in an apartment with a young pretty woman. Where will this chance acquaintance lead them?

3When the general concept of the film fits into your head, you need to pick up 3-5 similar films in the same genre. They will become a guide for you, but this does not mean that you can borrow ideas from them.

The venerable scriptwriters advise to regularly analyze other people's films, to analyze them according to the scenes and frames, noting the author’s tricks - this way you can gain experience.

4It's time to ask the question "How to write a script?" What will be the plot, climax and denouement of the plot, who will become the main character, and who will be secondary, what will be the main line of the film, and which scenes can color the “second layer” of the story?


Photo: freepik.com

This will be the structure of your scenario - its skeleton and work plan. A separate document that also precedes the writing of the script is a characteristic of the characters. She describes the appearance, character and history of the protagonist, as well as other characters.


If you take responsibility for the preparation of these two documents, it will be much easier to work. A clear plan and structured vision of the plot is half the script.

5It's time to get to synopsis. With it, you can "sell" the script to producers. Synopsis is the quintessence of your script. It should briefly describe the plot, the anchor points of the plot, the climax and the denouement of the film. But you shouldn’t immediately open all the cards - the synopsis should make the producer read your entire script. The volume can be from 1000 characters to two to three printed pages. With a well-developed synopsis, you can already begin to search for a producer and director for your future film.

Often the fate of even the best idea ends here - a poor-quality synopsis, a slurred presentation of the plot and banal grammatical errors will send your future film to the trash can before the producer can discern its potential.

6To present your idea more fully, a title may be required. In fact, this is an extended synopsis of 10 pages, sequentially setting out the plot without long dialogs. It helps the producer better understand what the viewer will eventually see on the screen.


Photo: rawpixel.com

In Russia, instead of a caption, a scripted application was distributed. It reflects the key elements of the project: name, login, target audience, and the main idea of ​​the script is presented in an arbitrary form.


The main task of the caption and scenario application is to grab attention, intrigue and sell your idea to a future customer. It is with them that you will go to the “big people” from movie studios.

7The producer liked the synopsis, the investors were impressed with the caption, your portfolio contains a contract of intent (or even better - a volume deposit in foreign currency). Now it's time for the first draft.


Photo: rawpixel.com

Do not limit your imagination, do not monitor the volume and quality of the text. You write the first version of the script solely for yourself in order to transfer the whole story from beginning to end in a kind of logical order on paper. At this stage, the script includes all the scenes of the future film with all the dialogs, the actions of the characters and a description of the scenery.


Beginning authors often make the same mistake - barely putting an end to the text, they begin to reread it and try to put it in order. And the idea of ​​the film no longer seems so attractive, the dialogs look strained, and the characters become like unicellular amoebas. Do not give in to pessimistic writing - close the text, take a break and be distracted by something else until you are again visited by inspiration.

8It is time to transfer the entire resulting stream of consciousness into the strict framework of the script itself. First you need to decide on the recording format.

In the Russian tradition, the script looks like saturated prose with rare scriptwriter notes regarding the time and place of the action, the scenery and the characters in action. It is convenient to read such a scenario, but few will be making a movie on it today.


Photo: rawpixel.com

The world adopted a more standardized and concise "American" format. It looks like an extremely truncated play, and each scene is written according to strict rules. In addition to the two “classic forms”, there are also specific forms of script recording for commercials, music videos and “silent” films. It is always better to check with the customer exactly what technical requirements he makes for the script so as not to redo the work twice.


The first edition should put you in the audience chair. Only putting yourself in his place can you see the advantages and disadvantages of the future film.

9And hereafter, the following editorial versions begin, which may be several dozen. In the second edition, you need to decide how well the structure of the film you planned is reflected - whether all plot twists are taken into account, which can be thrown out without loss of meaning. At the third run, pay attention to your characters - maybe someone "got out of character", you need to replace it or even send it to the piggy bank for the next project.


Photo: rawpixel.com

In the fourth edition, the dialogues must be rigorously revised. Speak them out loud - is this like natural human speech? Finally, in the finale, go through all the stylistic, grammatical and spelling errors so that the text is not ashamed to show to the customer.


Learning to look at your text as someone else’s is difficult, so at any of these stages it’s useful to connect friends and acquaintances to the work. In large film studios, a team of professional editors immediately connects to work on the first draft, and this stage may become the most difficult for a screenwriter. They “better” know how to write a script, and often before the eyes of the author they change his original idea beyond recognition.

10After putting the last point after numerous editions, return to the beginning - it's time to come up with a name. All the headings with which the previous documents were signed are just working options. But only now, when you have fully revealed your whole idea, prescribed the whole plot and characters, you can decide on the final name.

The title should be short, clear and reflect the essence of the film. Remember that these words, born of sleepless nights, will then show off on each poster, billboard and in the title of articles devoted to the film.

Scenario for the film: a sample

Here, for example, looks like a sample script for a documentary filmed in 2018. It is written in the "American" format, which is executed according to a strict standard.

Firstly, the script is written only in Courier New font and the 12th size - this allows you to put each page in about one minute of screen time. Secondly, each new scene begins with a brief description of the place and time of action in accordance with generally accepted abbreviations. And after that there is a description of the action in the most compressed format and character dialogs.


Photo: rawpixel.com

At the same time, the requirements of different movie studios may vary slightly, so it is always better to get a sample of an acceptable format in advance in order to focus on it in your work.

SCENE 37. INT. VILLAGE HOUSE - EVENING

Double exposure: an image appears through a scroll - VEVEODA holds a scroll, on the table manuscripts

And the mountain is up by the Amur River, and silver ore is in it, and from that mountain many people sit in villages, and in the villages of yards fifty and a hundred and a half, and arable land, and there are a lot of horses and every small and small animal and wine

SCENE 38. EXT. RIVER COAST - DAY

The leader descends from the embankment to the Amur River

From the banks of the Lena, Russian explorers penetrated the Amur and the first was the written head of Vasily Poyarkov. He brought important information about the Amur River, about its wealth, about the peoples inhabiting it. Но чтобы получить эти сведения, ему пришлось пройти через очень суровые испытания

СЦЕНА 39. АНИМАЦИЯ. КАРТА

Анимация, графика: Карта, по ней плывёт кораблик казаков, показан маршрут их движения

The Cossacks of Vasily Poyarkov crossed the backbone and went down to the valley of the Zeya River, a tributary of the Amur River, where they put the winter hut