The world of entertainment has been around for centuries. From traveling circuses to modern art museums, rock concerts, Shakespeare plays, and the silver screen, Americans are obsessed with the entertainment industry. In our digital society, we are able to take in more of our favorite stars on and off the screen, especially with the advent of the Internet and social media. Countless people are entertained by the works of Hollywood and Broadway, and some of these people are inspired to seek careers in these fields. One way to get into entertainment is by writing scripts. Writing is a key component in the entertainment industry. Without good writers, TV shows wouldn’t stick around for more than one season, and Oscar-winning actors wouldn’t have the careers or the awards they have.
Writing Scripts for Theater
The first step in writing a play for the stage is deciding what kind of play you are going to write. There are a variety of different types of stage productions out there, including 10-minute plays, one-act pays, full-length plays, and musicals. Once you have a format in mind, then you can begin the writing process. You will need to decide the kind of story you are telling: Is it going to be a sad story or one with a positive message? What will be the overall theme or lesson of your show? Why will people want to talk about your show? From there, you can begin to develop your characters. Decide how many characters you will need as well as their names, genders, and overall personality and style. Consider how these characters will interact with each other. Who will get along with who? What kind of qualities or personality flaws will each character have? Map all of these ideas out and create profiles for each character. You can use this as a reference as you write your play.
With your characters figured out, you can consider where you want your play to take place. When choosing a location, think about how the message of your story would change if it were set in a variety of places. For example, if The Little Mermaid was set in the countryside, how would that change the story? Setting is a key element in writing a script: It sets the tone for each scene and creates the environment your actors will perform in. Once those factors are decided upon, begin to write. Let your ideas and the dialogue flow out. As you figure out your ideas, you can organize them into logical scenes. While writing, think about other elements that might be important, like props, lighting, and music, which you might want to note in your script
Writing Screenplays for Film
Writing something that has to be translated into a movie must include a lot more attention to the details. It should also be completed in a very specific format so that is understood by people in the film industry. Doing so ensures that your initial vision is properly translated from paper onto the screen and therefore able to be shared with audiences across the world. As a standard, the start of each scene in a screenplay should be “Fade In.” This symbolizes the start of your screenplay. Then, you should include a scene heading, or a description of the scene that includes what time of day it is, the weather, and any other pertinent details. If your scene requires a transition, that note should come next.
At the first appearance of any character, their name should appear in all caps and include a description of their appearance. Then, of course, comes their dialogue. After the character has been mentioned once, their name should always appear above their dialogue. Other key elements of a screenplay include the action, or the events taking place in that scene; parentheticals, notes on how a character should deliver a line or action; and extensions, or technical notes as to how the character will be heard on screen. For example, you might write “ALEX, V.O.” to mean that the character Alex is doing a voice-over of the dialogue in that particular scene.
- Screenplay Basics
- Screenplay Format Example
- How to Write Dialogue (Video)
- Script Sample (PDF)
- How to Write a Script (PDF)
- Character Narrative and Structure (PDF)
- Basic Elements of Theater
- How to Write a Play
- Scriptwriting Essentials
- How to Write a Script
- Tips for Writing Engaging Scenes
- The Standard Stage Play Format (PDF)