Monday, January 30, 2012

Movie Script Writing - Book into a Movie : Screenplay Format

Book into a Movie -- Screenplay Format

Author: Danek S. Kaus

If you want to be successful at screenwriting, you must first learn proper screenplay format. Screenplays look very different on the page than novels do, and they have certain length requirements. If your script doesn't look right, it will get tossed without further consideration.

[caption id="attachment_168" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Movie Script Writing - Book into a Movie : Screenplay Format Movie Script Writing - Book into a Movie : Screenplay Format[/caption]

It must also be the proper length. Newbies to screenwriting often make their scripts too short or long. They need to be between 90 and 120 pages. If a script is too short or too long, it will get thrown away without further consideration.

Left hand margin should be 1.5 inches. This allows room to punch holes for brass brads that hold the script together. Right hand margin is one inch. One inch margins top and bottom.

Be sure to use only Courier or Courier New 12-point font. The reason for doing this is that movie makers use a rule-of-thumb that one page of a screenplay is equal to one page on screen time. Using different fonts would make that rule unreliable.
When you begin your script, write FADE IN: in the left-hand margin, one inch from the top of the page.

Screenplays are written in scenes, not chapters. Every scene begins with a slugline that states where and when the scene takes place. They begin with either INT. (interior) or EXT. (exterior). Next you indicate the specific location followed by a dash and the time of day.

Here is how the slugline looks:


Next, drop down two lines and describe who is in the scene and what they are doing. The first time you introduce a character in your story, their name should be ALL CAPS. After that, use traditional capitalization. For example:

ALICE WALKER, early 20's, wearing an inexpensive suit stands, at the blackboard, writing out math problems in the empty classroom.

Begin the dialogue at 2.5 inches and end it at about 6 inches. Character names in dialogue are in ALL CAPS and set at 3.5 inches.

If dialogue jumps to the next page, put (CONT\'D) below it. Begin the next page with the name of the character followed by (CONT'D) on the same line.

There are some more rules for screenwriting format, but these will get you started on the right track.

If you're really serious about a career in screenwriting, consider investing in screenwriting software. The two industry standards are Movie Magic Screenwriter and Final Draft.

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About the Author

Danek S. Kaus is a produced screenwriter with two films in development. Three of his screenplays have been optioned. Several author have hired him to adapt their books into movies. To learn more visit his  Screenwriting site. You can also learn about his Screenwriting Services there.

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