"How to Write a Screenplay"


The properly-formatted screenplay opens doors in the movie business and improper format closes them quickly. Here's help for you getting it right, even the international writer.

Use screenwriting software

The fastest and easiest way to make sure your screenplay is formatted properly is to write it using popular screenwriting software such as . .

  1. Final Draft 9—the number one selling, fully-featured screenwriting software package in Hollywood;
  2. Movie Magic—running a close second; and
  3. Hollywood Screenwriter—being a less expensive alternative

Free templates can also be used with popular word processing packages. Celtx offers a free version and an excellent way to collaborate throughout the production process. It comes in a variety of foreign languages, translating amongst many of them.

Most of these software packages can handle international formats. All greatly ease and speed your screenwriting, while putting your words into proper format along the way.

No matter how good the screenwriting software, it pays to know the nuts and bolts of screenplay formatting yourself, in case: 1) the software doesn't get it right for some reason; or, 2) you have special needs it doesn't handle so well. Much of screenplay formatting requires human decisions and input. And check all the default settings to make sure they're to spec before you send your script off.

Consider screenplay format examples

To give you a quick overview of what a 'properly formatted' screenplay looks like in Hollywood, take a peek at screenplay format examples online . .

  1. Nicholl Fellowships Screenplay Format Example from the screenplay competition people at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
  2. Scriptologist.com's example of a properly-formatted scene in a screenplay.
  3. BlackScreenplays.com screenplay format example, which has a few extra things in it, so take care.
  4. The Visual Writer scene example, which they admit is a bit difficult to present in HTML.

Purchase screenplay format guides

Many published guides to proper Hollywood screenplay formatting exist, each offering some portions of example screenplays. Consider, for example . .

  1. The Screenwriter's Bible: A Complete Guide to Writing, Formatting, and Selling Your Script
  2. The Hollywood Standard: The Complete and Authoritative Guide to Script Format and Style
  3. The Screenwriter's Manual: A Complete Reference of Format & Style

The ScriptBuddy Screenplay Format Guide--an 8.5 x 11" (when closed), laminated, four-page, folded card--might be just the thing to carry around with you.

See screenwriting format tips and pointers

To get a better sense of the ins and outs of screenplay formatting, review some of the related tips and pointers . .

International writer resources

Non U.S. writers wanting to submit to the U.S. market may want to look over US Screenplay Presentation at Between Borders. U.S. writers wanting to submit abroad might consider these resources Movie Making: Manual Screenplay Format.

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