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write a script

How to write a script

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The complete guide to the screenwriting process.

In this post, I’ll show you how to write a script, from start to finish with screenwriting examples, tips, and exercises.

Every movie or TV series begins with an IDEA. Whether it is an original idea or a book you want to adapt to the screen.

You have an idea. Maybe it’s vague or general, and maybe you’re not sure if it’s any good – but it’s a beginning.

Write your idea, on a piece of paper or on your laptop. It doesn’t matter. No one will see it but you. Write it in quickly, whatever and however, it comes to mind. No judging. Get it out of your head, it doesn’t need to be more than a few sentences. Write it down and move on to –


Do the Pre-write right and you will save you time and feel less frustrated. Therefore, you will have a better chance of not quitting and actually finishing your script. That is why I made you a special “write a script like a pro” training.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Identify and design your main character.
  • Build the main conflict.
  • Structure of the main story points.

It is a simple and efficient process to start a new project. It’s a process I have successfully used and taught for many years.

World Building

World building is especially important for films and TV series that take place in worlds that are different from ours (such as Game of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale, etc.).

However. every film or series has a world that needs to be built.

World building is an easy and fun process, so take as much time as you want and have fun with it. Put some real thought and creativity into designing your world, and I assure you, your script will benefit from it.

What is world building and how to do it?

Imagine the world in which you want your story to take place. Picture it as vividly and with as many details as you can.

For example, what kind of technology is available in your world? Is it more advanced than our technology? How do people there communicate with each other? Phone? Letters? Crows? Telepathy?

How are nature and the climate there? And how does that affect the politics, economics, and architecture?

Is it a religious place? If so, what religion? Is it a religion we know or a religion you created?

What is the history of the world? Clothes? Food? Anything you can think of…


Write a paragraph or two about your world. Consider all these elements:

Think of your hero in this world.

How does he behave? what does he know and what doesn’t he know? What is his past story, what are his wants and needs and what are the obstacles that stand in his way?

World building is not only for fantasy or science fiction.

Think of New York in Friends, Sex and the City, Girls and The Sopranos. So different, right? The choices the show’s creator made built the world that is the specific “New York” that was right for the story.

Characters, relationships, and conflict.

You got your world, and now you need characters to roam the world and get in trouble. In order to do that, you need to ask (and answer, in writing):

  • Who is the main character?
  • What does the character want?
  • What prevents her from getting it?

The answers to these questions are your compass. They will guide you on how to build the plot and what obstacles to put in your character’s way. Another benefit of answering these questions is you’ll know what choices and decisions your character will make when facing a dilemma.

If you want to know how to write a script – you can’t skip this part!

These answers will change more than once during the work on the script, and that’s fine. It’s more than fine; it’s the way it should be.

More than one main character

Even if you write a TV series or a movie that has more than one main character (which happens, especially in TV), I suggest that at this stage of the process, you focus on one character.

After you’ve defined who the main character is and what she wants and why she has trouble getting it, repeat the process for the other characters as well. Or at least for another 3-4 character.

Now, add 2 more questions:

What do they want from the main character?

What does the main character want from them?

Answering these questions will give you the conflicts between the characters. Conflict is drama.

Once you have established your characters and their relationships the writing will be easier and the screenplay will be better. GUARANTEED.



Before you write a script, you should write a synopsis.

A Synopsis is the essence of the story, told in the order the audience will be watching it.

The synopsis should have all the significant plot points.

  • Beginning – Everything from the moment the film/episode starts and up to the inciting incident.
  • Inciting incident – An event that sets the story in motion. The inciting incident HAS to have a significant effect on the hero.
  • First turning point – The hero starts the journey and deals with the new situation caused by the inciting incident.
  • Call to action – The hero’s goal gets more specific.
  • Point of no return – At the midpoint of the story, the hero will have to risk everything.
  • All is lost – Complications and great danger. The hero will have to rise to the occasion and find new inner strength.
  • Second turning point – Change in direction. Stakes are higher. The hero has one last shot at redemption.
  • Climax – The goal is met, the problem is resolved actively by the hero. The hero succeeds or fails in an irreversible way. (In a TV episode, that may not be the case).
  • The end – The film/episode ends.

Remember: synopsis is a tool for you to make the work easier.
When you submit your script to producers, you will write a more
“salesy” synopsis. Don’t worry about it now. When the script is done,
writing the synopsis is easy.


If a synopsis tells the essence of the story, the treatment will describe – shortly – everything that will happen in the film/episode.

3 steps of building a treatment:

Step 1 – Get the episode’s main building blocks in place.
Step 2 – Write down every scene in a few short lines. Now you have a page or two that tells the story.
Step 3 – Elaborate on every scene. Bring your unique tone and voice to the show.

Remember – it is not a formula, you should do what’s right for you and your scripts. But keep in mind, these are principles that work, so try to use them.


Good dialogue, in my opinion, is a dialogue that sounds authentic for the world and the character.

Tips for writing good dialogue:

  • Choose a uniqueness to each character. Be subtle.
  • Say the dialogue aloud. Hear if it sounds natural. If it doesn’t, change it.
  • If you feel you’ve heard it before, take it out. Check this list of the most overused sentences in films. It’s hilarious and a good wake-up call to all screenwriters.
  • DON’T let the character say the subtext – the subtext is the true meaning of what we say. In real life, people usually do not say what they want to say directly.
  • Most times, the first draft is full of subtext, and you can easily fix it in later drafts.


What is the subtext is this beautiful scene from “Good Will Hunting“?

It is Ben Affleck’s character telling Matt Damon’s character – I love you, I want what’s best for you.


You have to write in format, because:

1) These are industry requirements. No one will read a script that is not in format.

2) The format allows you to know, roughly, how long (in minutes) the script is.

3) Why not?

If you do not want to invest money at this time in script software, there are free software for writing in a format, such as Celtx.

Another free option is to create your own template in Word, here is a tutorial on how to set your script template in word.


Screenwriters fall into two groups: those who think rewriting is the easy part, and those who hate to rewrite (ME!). Whether you like it or loathe it, you have to rewrite, and you have to rewrite well.

Here are some tips to effectively rewrite (without wanting to die)

Get notes from the right people

Screenwriting can get lonely. For days and days, it’s just you and your laptop.

But you need someone you appreciate, who wants the best for you, to read your work and give you notes. However, we are screenwriters, and we are sensitive souls. It is not easy for us to receive feedback. The wrong kind of feedback can get us stuck, or even cause us to give up entirely.

That’s why it is important to get notes from people whose opinion we value, AND with whom we have the kind of relationship that allows them to tell us their opinions, as good or as bad as they may be, and we won’t get hurt.

Surround yourself with kind and supportive people

If you do not have this kind of person in your life yet, look for one. It usually means reading their scripts and giving them respectable, good and serious notes. It’s worth it, both on a personal and a professional level.

You can find a rewrite-buddy in Facebook group or rewritting community.

Understand what’s behind the notes, and make corrections accordingly.

You don’t have to accept all the notes. But try to understand what’s behind them. Maybe something is not clear. Many times, something is so obvious to us that we do not describe it on paper. Or, maybe the character or conflict doesn’t work. Use the notes you got to see the script with fresh eyes.

Let it marinate

After making corrections, don’t read the script for a day or two. Things will look different (for better or for worse) when you read it after a short break.

Repeat, but not too much.

Sometimes, rewriting excessively kills the script. But how much is too much? Unfortunately, I have no rule of thumb. Use intuition and consult with friends.

If you feel the original spirit of the script is lost, read the first version. Maybe you rewrote too much and you need to go back to older versions.

Preparing for submission

Whether you are submitting your script to a contest or a producer, add half a page telling why are you writing this script.

Producers know how hard screenwriting can be. They need any assurance they can get you’ll finish the work. If you let them know why is this specific script important to you, they will know you will do anything to get it done.

Read this post about how to write a killer logline. It is crucial.

  1. How to write a script – the steps:
  2. You start with an idea.
  3. Pre-write.
  4. Build your world.
  5. Set your characters, conflict, and relationships.
  6. Write – synopsis, treatment, and then the script itself.
  7. Write in format
  8. Rewrite
  9. Submit!
  10. A final note

Sometimes, it seems there is no chance that anything you write will ever be produced. IGNORE THAT INNER VOICE. All writers hear it. The professionals ignore it and write.

The one thing that makes a difference between professional screenwriters and amateurs is persistence.

Read before you Write

In order to write scripts, you have to read scripts. The more you
read, the better you write.

And why is that? A script is a tool in which we convey the story we have in our mind to paper. This paper goes to actors, directors, and all the other departments that work together to get your vision to the screen.

When you read a script, you put yourself in the reader’s shoes, and you’ll intuitively learn to write better scripts.

Also, it is so much fun to read a script of a show or film you

Here are links for some GREAT scripts you can read for FREE:




Choose a script you like (You can use the links above).

1) Read the script once from start to finish; try to do it in one sitting.

2) Read the script again. This time, identify the screenwriting terms. Pay special attention to identifying the hero and the conflict.

Screenwriting Terms

Part of the problem comes from the fact that there are quite a few terms in script-writing that were coined in ancient Greece. For example, Plato coined the term “protagonist” in his book Poetics, and since then, there have been generations of play-writers, writers and screenwriters who felt badly for not knowing what it means.

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