"How to Write a Screenplay"


Utilize the richness of the English language to create powerfully descriptive verbs, that greatly enhance screenwriting efficiency. Nouns, sounds, attitudes, etc. can all be combined into one verb--thereby enlivening and economizing your writing.

  • "The BOY galumphs to the shed."

With no descriptors on the boy or the building, we see the mud, his footwear, his way of moving, his attitude in doing it. Don't you? Get all this into your verbs.

  1. Overuse of the verb "to be" is a pet peeve of many, many Hollywood readers. Replace it wherever possible with an active verb.
    • "Two MEN are outside." becomes "Two MEN linger outside."
  2. Make the progressive verb form (-ing) active.
    • "He is dialing the phone" becomes "He spins the dial."
  3. Eliminate "it" and "there" where they are used impersonally or without meaning (keeping them only when "it" is used as a real live pronoun or "there" as an indication of direction or place).
    • "It is raining." becomes "Rain falls." Or more simply "Rain."
    • "It's your turn!" becomes "Your turn!"
    • "There are bottles everywhere." becomes "Bottles litter the room."
  4. Pick out-of-the-ordinary verbs wherever possible, skipping the overworked ones such as "to go" or "to say". Reach for a little help from a thesaurus.
  5. Especially mix it up with the most overused screenplay verb "to look".
    • "Bridget ogles Paul."
    • "She gazes off."
    • "Perkins glimpses Heaven."

Carefully choosing verbs should make your writing more exciting—both to create and to read. Helping them "get" the visual with more descriptive, individually-selected verbs economizes your screenwriting, and just may get your script sold.

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