How to write a script: practical tips

Author of the article: Tatiana Zhakova
Journalist, linguist, teacher of storytelling with 10 years of experience
In 2015, she created and promoted her project about Nizhny Novgorod, after which she created the author's course "Storytelling: How to Tell Your Story" on its basis. More than 4,000 students have taken the course.

A linguist by training, she is very quick to master new fields. Now she is actively studying screenwriting and storytelling in films/series, about which she writes in the blog of her project.
Writing a screenplay is a painstaking and creative process that requires a lot of time, patience and effort. However, if you are willing to invest your energy and time, creating a screenplay can be an exciting and fun experience. In this article, I will cover a few steps that will help you write a good screenplay.
Step 1: Define your idea
The first step in writing a screenplay is to define your idea. It can be something you already have in your head or something that inspired you, whether it's a news story, article, movie or book.

The key here is to develop the idea and make it unique. Come up with a main character and his or her goal, and then develop the plot around that. Start by simply describing the idea and then ask yourself questions about what might happen to the characters, what obstacles they might encounter and how they will overcome them.

When you define your idea, it's important to keep in mind the audience you're writing to. Understanding who will be watching your movie or TV series will help you articulate your idea in a clearer and more interesting way.

Keep in mind that a script is not just an idea, but rather a structured document that will be used to create a movie or TV series. Therefore, at this stage it is also important to think about how you will organize the plot and how you will describe the characters and actions in the scenes.
Step 2: Create an overall concept
At this stage, you should identify the main elements of your story and the structure of your script. The overall concept should give a clear idea of what happens in your movie or TV series and how it develops.

The main elements you should identify in the overall concept include the main characters, the storyline, the obstacles they encounter and how they overcome them. You should also identify the main themes and mood of your screenplay.

In addition, you need to determine the structure of your screenplay. This means that you must decide how you will organize the plot and how you will use script elements such as action, characters, and dialogue to tell your story.

The overall concept should be detailed enough that you can see where you are going, but it can also be changed as you progress in writing the screenplay. Keep in mind, however, that the clearer and stronger your overall concept is, the easier it will be to keep writing the screenplay.
Step 3: Write the overall plot
Writing the overall story begins with choosing a theme and creating a main character. The topic should be interesting and relevant, and the main character should be charismatic and unique so that the viewer can empathize with him or her and worry about his or her successes and failures.

Then, you need to develop a logically connected plot, which will be based on the main character's goal and the obstacles he will have to overcome to achieve this goal. It is important that each episode of the script is logically connected to the previous and the next so that the story is clear and engaging for the viewer.

While writing the overall plot, the genre of the script and the length and structure requirements should also be considered. For example, a comedy script will have a completely different plot than a drama or fantasy script.

Writing the overall plot is the first step towards creating a quality screenplay. It is important to give enough time and attention to this stage so that you don't encounter problems and difficulties in creating a script later on.
Step 4: Write a character overview
In this step, you need to create and describe all the characters and heroes that will appear in the script. This includes the protagonist, antagonist, other important characters, and side characters.

Each character should have their own unique personality, goals, motivations, and characteristics. The more thoroughly you develop your characters, the more compelling your script will be, and the more strongly the audience will be able to empathize with the characters.

When writing a character overview, it's important to ask yourself a few questions that will help define the characteristics of each character:

  • What is the character's motivation?
  • What are the character's goals and objectives?
  • What is the character's personality?
  • What are the character's strengths and weaknesses?
  • What connections are there between the characters?
In addition, you need to consider the characters' interactions and reactions to the events in the script. It is important to understand how each character will react to the actions of other characters and how this will affect the course of the story.

It is also important not to forget that each character should be unique and have a distinctive voice, way of thinking and behavior. This will help to create a quality and convincing image that will be easily remembered by the viewer.
Step 5: Write a script
Step 5 of writing a screenplay is the screenwriting process itself. Once you have developed a concept, defined a plot, and created characters, you are ready to begin writing the screenplay itself.

A screenplay is the text that describes the action, dialog, and setting of each scene in the movie. It should be organized according to a specific structure that includes acts, scenes, and actions.

The basic elements of a screenplay include:

  • Scene titles: each scene should have a title that summarizes what is happening on screen.
  • Scene description: the scene description should include information about where the action is taking place, who is present, and what is happening.
  • Dialogues: character dialogues should be written according to their unique personality and character. They should be natural and reflect their motivations and goals.
  • Director's Instructions: the script may also contain director's instructions that describe what shots should be filmed and how the scene should be organized.
  • When writing a script, it is important to consider structure and grammar to ensure that it is easy to read and understand. It is also important to consider the viewer's perspective and create strong, compelling scenes that will make the viewer interact with the characters and their story.

Writing a screenplay is a process that can be time-consuming and requires patience and perseverance. But with the right approach, the result will be a quality and engaging movie that will capture the audience and leave them with an unforgettable experience.

Step 6: Editing
Step 6 of screenplay writing is editing. Once you have finished writing your screenplay, you need to edit it to make sure it fits your concept and has a logically connected and compelling plot.

Editing involves the following steps:

  1. Reading the entire script. Start by reading the entire script to get a general idea of its content and style.
  2. Checking the structure and plot. Make sure the structure of the script meets standard requirements and that the plot is logical and appealing.
  3. Character Evaluation. Check that the characters are unique and distinctive and that their motivations and actions are logical and consistent with their personalities.
  4. Dialogue Check. Make sure the dialogs sound natural and reflect the characters' personalities. They should also relate to the plot and drive it forward.
  5. Bug Fixing. Check the script for grammatical and stylistic errors, as well as typos and other mistakes.
  6. Checking the length of the script. Typically, a script should be 90-120 pages long. Make sure your script is not too long or short.
  7. Read aloud. Read the script aloud to make sure the dialog sounds natural and that the scenes are well described.
  8. Feedback. Ask someone to read your script and give you feedback. This can help you determine how the script is perceived by others and what could be improved.
  9. Editing a script is a process that can be time-consuming and requires care and patience. But with the right approach, the result will be a quality script that will interest producers and directors and can be the basis for a great movie.
Writing a screenplay is a creative process that requires a lot of skills and patience. But if you follow the right approach and use the tips described in this article, you have a good chance of creating an appealing and engaging script.

Remember, every screenplay is unique and there is no one right way to write one. But with the steps outlined in this article, you can create a quality script that will meet your goals and objectives.

Don't forget that editing is an important step in writing a screenplay, and don't hesitate to ask for feedback from others. And remember, a good script is the key to the success of your future movie.