How To Write A Well Structured Movie Screenplay

The word “writing” is an art and writing a movie screenplay has to do with some level of creativity.  It is a made belief by most people that writing a movie screenplay is so simple with thousands of people ignoring that there are some rules or laid down principles attached to it. It is one thing to be creative and it is another thing to know the techniques in writing a movie screenplay. We have different kinds of writing but the one we are particular about here is movie screenplay (Screenwriting).

Movie Screenplay

What is Screenwriting and Who is a Screenwriter?

Screenwriting simply means writing for the screen such as Movies, TV series, Advertisement etc. It is a craft that can become a Profession if that person knows how to think visually. There is a software used for writing a movie screenplay which is called final draft. They are being written in present tense.

A Screenwriter is an architect that designs the layout of a movie through his/her movie screenplay, which is the blueprint usually written with words that depict Visual details that we can see. They give an instruction in the movie screenplay (Movie Script) to the Actors/Actresses, Directors, Producers, Set designer, Costumier, Gaffer, Hair and Make-up artist, Location Manager, Production Managers, Script Supervisors, Editors etc. Movie Screenplay always emerges from an idea. It can be an event that happened in the past, fiction, or real-life story. The story is king when it comes to Screenwriting?

GENRE:                  

This is the way of classifying movie of the same kind in a movie screenplay. It is what gives the viewers what they are expected to see. For example; you can be watching a comedy movie and later you are seeing blood, occult, monsters and supernatural. That isn’t comedy anymore because it has deviated from what we expect to see, which is humorous moments.

TYPES OF MOVIE GENRE IN A MOVIE SCREENPLAY:

Let’s briefly look at them and how we can have them in our movie screenplay.

1. Action/Adventure: This has to do with survival and rescue.

2. Animation: These are stories that contain cartoon characters and puppets.

3. Comedy: These are stories that contain humor-filled with plot lines, plot, subplots and scenes well-structured to make you laugh.

4. Crime and Detective: This is filled with crimes, private eyes, and detectives.

5. Drama: This is personal, historical or real-life events.

6. Epic: These are longer movies that combine different genre.

7. Horror: This deals with blood, occult, and monsters such as zombies and vampires.

8. Musical: It is filled with singing and dancing.

9. Romance: These are stories about love.

10. Science Fiction: In this kind of movie, it deals with events that are not real.

11. Thriller: Stories filled with suspense that involves crime

12. War: stories about military battles, rescue etc.

Read Also: How to write a good Movie Review

There are certain steps that we are to follow sequentially when writing a Movie Screenplay and they are:

1. PREMISE:

This is a concise story of the Movie Screenplay usually written in one or two sentences showing the main character(s), wants and conflict. All stories must have conflict. Before the movie screenplay itself, the Premise is the first thing to be written down which contains the major idea of the story. It is also called log-line. The main aim of a Premise is to introduce the character(s), illustrate conflict and leaves the listeners anticipating for more.

Example of a Premise: Wallace a dwarf who’s in love with Rita, later finds out she was the King’s daughter unfortunately for him the King has vowed not to do anything with dwarfs after his Parents were killed by them right in front of his eyes.

This tells what the main story is, telling us the characters, illustrating the conflict and leaves us wanting more.

2. CHARACTER BIO:

In any movie screenplay, the character is very important because they are the heart of the movie screenplay. In every story, we have a lead character or characters that are engaging and fascinating. It is so impossible for characters to be sounding and acting alike. They must be different in terms of goals, individual differences, backup stories, conflicts, educations, flaws, addictions and the way they talk in our movie screenplay.

TYPES OF CHARACTERS IN A MOVIE SCREENPLAY

Let’s have a look about how our fascinating characters can be grouped in a movie screenplay.

I. CENTRAL CHARACTER – This is the individual that our story is about in the movie screenplay and who we are mostly concerned about. It is also known as Protagonist/Main character.

II. RIVAL/ENEMY – This is an opposition that tends or arises to oppose our central character. It can be a character, self, nature or addiction as the case may be depending on the genre of the movie screenplay.

III. FRIEND(S) – The protagonist will have one or two friends, that he spends his or her time with for relaxation or for advice but there can still be conflict among them along the line in the movie screenplay.

IV. ADVISOR OR MENTOR – This is a person in the story that helps the lead character to overcome flaws and addiction and make him or her to attain his/her goals.

V. SECONDARY OPPONENT – Apart from the main opponent, there is also a secondary character that leads to the subplot that helps to make the storyline more interesting.

VI. TRAITOR – This is a character that betrays the main/central character in the story.

VII. UNEXPECTED HELPER – The central character might luckily find a helper who helps him or her in time of need.

3. PLOT LINES/PLOTS/SUBPLOTS:

Plot lines are events that move the story or our movie screenplay to another direction or dimension. The plot is the major sequence in a story and it is the story’s skeleton. They tend to drive the story forward. Subplots are mainly carried out by secondary characters. In here, pops out a question.

What is a sequence? This is a series of scenes that follow the three act structure in a movie screenplay – beginning, middle, and end that helps in advancing vital part of the plot and development of character.

4. SYNOPSIS: This is a detailed summary of the story starting from the beginning to the middle and to the end. They comprise the major plots in movie screenplay.

There are two types of the synopsis:

I. Working Synopsis: This is a synopsis that a screenwriter writes before and during the writing process as a guideline to follow so that it won’t go away from the central theme of the story.

 II. Selling Synopsis: This is a synopsis that a screenwriter writes after the writing process in order to market it to a potential director, producer or someone in the movie industry.

5. OUTLINE/INDEX: This is the breakdown of each scene, the time, place, the characters involved, the tone of the scene and the location. It can be written in a chronological order or as a sentence.

For example:

I. Outline in a chronological order:

INT. ADAM’S ROOM – DAY

  • Adam enters his room.
  • He sees a white envelope on his bed and becomes frightened.
  • He moves closer to his bed to pick it up.
  • He eventually finds out it is a heartbreak letter from his girlfriend.
  • She opens the door and walks inside.

II. Outline as a sentence

INT. ADAM’S ROOM – DAY

Adam enters his room., sees a white envelope on his bed. Immediately, he becomes frightened. He moves closer to his bed to pick it up. When he eventually finds out it is a heartbreak letter from his girlfriend.  Who opens the door and walks inside.

6. SCREENPLAY: This is the actual writing of the movie screenplay itself that has to do with character’s dialogue and action. It consists of the first draft and rewriting. A first draft is a raw form of writing while rewriting is the editing process.

Sample of a screenplay in PDF VERSION

Conclusively, one has to know the technical aspect of screenwriting so that he can become a professional because technicality and creativity are two different things in a movie screenplay.                     

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