Wednesday, April 17, 2019

How to write a movie script for Absolute Beginners in 2019

Screenwriting is the first step towards any movie making business. Earlier Studios used to develop script inside their office boundary with the team they had. Later on, studios started to hire professional writers to develop a script for them. But these days 99% of case studios have their own agents and they help studios to get best screenplays in their hands. Note here, best screenplay. Here the competition rises. If one wants to sell their screenplay to studios, then such writers must have to master the craft of screenplay writing.

How to write a movie script for absolute beginners in 2019

In this article, we are going to learn a complete novice aspiring screenwriter from where should begin and where to head. So this article is going to help absolute beginners how to write a movie script in 2019.

Screenwriting Art Vs Craft

"Writing for Movies is an inborn talent and that's why most fail" - If you have heard this often then don't worry there is not even 1% fact in such statement. And if you have not heard so far then you are bound to hear soon. The secret here is, screenwriting is not art. Screenwriting is a craft. A craft can be learned with the right training and sufficient practice.

Ideas are real wealth

In this profession or even during the learning stage, we are almost dying to share the ideas that are popping up in our minds. And what we do? We share with friends, relatives or family members. And then what happens, few would appreciate highly and others will criticize deeply. Either way, you are going to lose faith and trust in your own idea. Eventually, you keep on dropping wealthy ideas whose potential you have missed to identify. So keep practice, of keeping ideas to your self. And never ever share until unless two drafts of the screenplay are ready. And believe me, if you have followed the right path to screenwriting, then you would be ready with all the answers to the questions you are going to face during narration moment.

And also remember one vital point: One idea might appear silly to some writer but it could be a potential one for another writer which could change the life of the writer. It all depends on the perspective of a writer. So think thrice before opting and idea and also think thrice before dropping an idea.

Write and write and Write

Stop thinking, how Good or bad you are writing. Are people going to like or not? Don't even allow such thoughts to crawl in your mind. Just write. You don't know the format of screenwriting. Does not matter at the initial stage. All you have to do is push yourself to write a 100-page story. Write in your own way. Nothing comes to mind. Imagine your enemy is there and you could do anything to your enemy. So how far would you go to destroy your enemy in your imagination? Write it down. Or it could be a situation: imagine, you have loved someone like anything is not important than your love but you lost her for some reason and now this is the opportunity. Imagine and write down on paper how beautiful you could make her life if she would have with you today. Or it could be simple like what changes you could bring to society to lead to a bright future. Imagination is the ocean and writers job is to bring fish to the people at the shore.

Once you master the game of imagination, then rest thing would be easy.

Structure matters

What is the structure?

Let's understand with an example:

I read a headline from the newspaper: "John escaped from Naxalites demanding 10 Million Ransom"

The moment we read this few questions immediate land up in our minds:

> Who is John?
>How did he was kidnapped?
>10 Million Ransom, is he so rich?
>How did he survive in their custody?
>What kind of tortures he had faced?
>How did he escape?

The answers to the above questions form a beautiful story. In storytelling business we don't believe in the story rather we believe plot. From a theoretical perspective story and plot, both are same. But from a filmmakers perspective when we say plot it differs slightly from a story. There is thin line difference between story and plot.

There was a king, who was rude and selfish and eventually died is a story.  But 'there was a king who died because of his rudeness and selfishness during an enemy attack' - is a plot

Plot: Sequence of events that are responsible for an end result

The plot is like a set of cause and effect situations in a story.

Lets back to the story in above I have mentioned - kidnap one.

John was not kidnapped because he was poor. The kidnappers must have spied and figured out that John could get them 10 Million Ransom. So it is a cause and the effect is the kidnap.

John who is so rich, it is obvious after kidnapped, he is not going to cry and beg for life. Rather he would find a way to escape from the situation. It might be negotiating with the boss or even it could be tracking and killing the kidnappers. Because he tries these things, the smart kidnappers among them understand and torture him. (See cause and effect) And so on and at last he escapes.

This story has a structure. It begins from John's introduction and ends at john's escape. The middle part is all about his struggle to escape. Therefore a story has three parts. Beginning, middle, and end.

So when you practice writing, then decide the beginning, the middle and then end.

Screenplay Format:

Okay once you know the story(Plot) and you believe it has potential a studio might be interested too, then it is time to write the screenplay. At this point, it is super easy for you to determine the scenes to tell the story.

Lets again take the example of john's escape. We know the story. Now its time to write the screenplay.

In the screenplay, we write scenes.

Scene: Any action that takes place in a location at a certain time is known as scene. If time change, or location changes or both changes then its a new scene.

If still puzzled, then imagine if a studio going to shoot the kidnap story then what would be the audience going to watch on screen. That simple.

Let's try the screenplay for the John escape(Opening scene):


In the presence of office staff, media and political leaders, JOHN, 40 hands over a cheque worth 1 million dollars to NGO GUY. 

Hall fills with applause and cheers. 

The NGO Guy steps down from the stage. John reaches near the mic.

I know the pain of hunger. Employment is a true cure. Being the director of Snaktech solutions, I am gladly donating this fund to establish Software Park.

The crowd applauds and cheers again. 

This is the first scene. I just wrote even without thinking much. There might be grammatical errors, or the actions might not be appealing. But that's not the point at this moment. The goal is to write a scene. Once all the scenes are done. Then improvise.

A scene begins with slugline or heading. It tells about the location to the reader where the actions are taking place. Character cue is always written center of the page. Dialogues follow the respective character.

The challenge is to visualize how a scene is going to appear on the screen and then write it down on to the paper in the exact order.

Keep writing until unless all scenes are not penned down to paper. Once all scenes are figured out, then take a break. It is essential. It could be one week or one month. Whatever, it depends upon you. The goal here is to forget everything about the screenplay you have written so far. Then back to the screenplay and read with proper attention. The script itself going to tell you the corrections that you are required to make, the improvisations that you need to make. Improvisations could be reduced down dialogues for certain character or add new characters or remove certain characters or change the locations for certain scenes. Go ahead, and keep improvising.

Prepare at least three drafts of the screenplay is ready. Then pitch to friends, family members, agents or whoever you want.

Read Screenplays:

Screenwriting craft has its own vocabulary. Read and gain good screenwriting vocabulary. It will help you to write five line actions into one single line actions.

Share with Care

The competition in the market is too high. People who are well trained can easily spot the weak point in the script and can come up with a brilliant script within weeks. So don't share with anyone whom you encounter. I am saying this because people upload on facebook with a hope that the studio might spot the script and might purchase. But this is not going to happen. Find right agent, pitch to them and keep on writing. Keep writing new drafts of the screenplay. Keep approaching to studio agents.

So this much is all about screenwriting

Ha ha ha ha ha ha.... No, Not at all. It is not even 1% of the professional screenwriting. Screenwriting is a vast subject. But yes, this article is sufficient for absolute beginners to understand where to begin and where to head.


> Screenwriting is a craft and craft can be learned
> Ideas are real wealth. Don't ignore them quickly.
>Ideas are a sensitive element. Don't share with anyone.
> Keep writing regularly
> Follow the structure. Beginning, middle, and end
> Once story(Plot) is there, its time to write a screenplay
> Follow industry standard screenplay format
> Read screenplays regularly