Who should never write a script

Writing a script: step by step from the idea to the film

A script is the basis for every film. However, the writing process and the form differs significantly from that of a book text. Scripts have to fulfill several tasks at once. In the following, we will explain what these are and how you can get to your own script step by step.

Screenplays are a slightly more complex type of text and have to be many things at the same time. They have to contain dialogues, have descriptions of scenes, possibly have notes ready for the director, point out comments for the mood and atmosphere and much more. In addition to the actors, scripts are read by the director, the producer or, for example, the prop. All readers must be able to imagine the film through what has been read. In addition, make yourself aware that you are not writing the script for ordinary reading consumption, but for a visual medium. It serves, so to speak, as a template for everything that is to be implemented in the film.

The idea for the script

Writing a script: Even a big story has to fit in two sentences

The idea of ​​a film has to fit into two sentences. If that doesn't work, the story is too boring or too complicated. To practice how exactly you pack a film idea into one or two sentences, you can practice with already wacky blockbusters or your favorite films. This will give you a feel for how a good film idea works. Here are a few examples of films that you must be familiar with.

Lord of the Rings: A mythical creature tries to free the world from an evil ruler. The ruler's power is bundled in a ring that must be destroyed by the mythical creature.

Starwars: A boy fights with his spaceship against a great power that threatens the whole universe.

The synopsis for a script

The synopsis is like the first concrete step towards the script. It's a brief summary of the idea. The length of an exposé is usually one or two pages and does not require any dialogues or precise descriptions of the scene. In principle, you can understand it as a synopsis of your film. Above all, the synopsis is important because production companies or film subsidies decide on the basis of the synopsis whether they finance or produce the film.

Writing style of a script

As with many other texts, you can orientate yourself on a top priority when it comes to writing style. Short and clear sentences. In addition, the script should always be written in the present tense. Avoid too many stage directions and, above all, unnecessary information that has nothing to do with the story and the scene.

Layout of a script

Of course, there is no fixed norm for a script. Nevertheless, over the years some standards have established themselves in the scene, because the scripts should also be clearly laid out and therefore easy to read. The following formatting suggestion could be very suitable for your script.

  • Format, orientation: A4, portrait format
  • Font: Courier or Courier New or similar non-proportional fonts
  • Font size: 12pt
  • Line spacing: simple
  • Edges: 3.0 cm each
  • Tab stop 1 at 3.0 cm: scene headings (in capital letters), description of the plot; z. B. or
  • Tab stop 2 at 4.5 cm: description of the dialogue (in brackets); z. B.
  • Tab stop 3 at 5.5 cm: Name of the speaking role or source of the voice in capital letters; z. B.
  • Tab stop 4 at 16.0 cm: scene transitions in capital letters; z. B.

The page number is usually in the top right corner of each page. But you also have leeway.

The cover sheet of the script should read:

  • title
  • version
  • Author (s)
  • address

If you prefer to work differently, you can also use different software. There are of course paid offers, such as Final Draft or Movie Magic Screenwriter with many good functions. Free programs such as Fountain, Trelby and celtx are also suitable for the narrow thaler.

Instructions in the script

Every script must inevitably contain instructions for the director, the actors and the various trades in a film production about what to do on the set and how. During the shoot, everyone knows how the idea should be implemented and what kind of images and situations the author has in mind. While these instructions are no guarantee that the idea will be turned the same way, they are indispensable.

Scene heading

The scene heading is one of the most important pieces of information in a script. Not only is the name of the scene named here, but the scene itself is also described. So before it comes to the concrete action, you have to describe where (inside or outside and the concrete place) and when (day, night, noon and so on) the action takes place. The scene heading is always divided into three parts and is usually completely capitalized. Here is an example of a possible heading.


Action instruction

The instruction comes in the script directly after the scene heading. Be as brief as possible. Write concisely and in the present tense and avoid unnecessary empty phrases. Each of the instructions should be relevant to the act being played. When a person appears for the first time, the person's name should be capitalized in full. Here is an example of a typical instruction.

Example: TOM sits in his office chair in front of his computer and keeps nervously looking at his watch. There is a knock on the office door. Tom is startled and sits motionless.


The dialogue is of course one of the most important parts of a script, because after all you don't want to make a silent film. Here, too, more or less norms have established themselves as to how a dialogue is written in a script. A dialog is usually divided into three parts. The first thing to do is the speaker's name, as mentioned above. At the first appearance, of course, in capital letters. In the second part you describe how the scene is spoken. In the third part, you then write the actual dialogue between the people in normal notation.




Tom? Are you in there



Yes I am here. What do you want from me?

Camera instruction

As a rule, you shouldn't write camera instructions in a script. Technical instructions for other trades involved in the film, such as lighting or setrunner, can be found in a separate technical treatment. Nevertheless, you can incorporate certain camera settings into the scene description. In this way you can make it even clearer how the individual scenes should be structured dramatically. Here are a few examples of what camera instructions look like.

Example: T = total, N = near, POV = point of view, CU = close up


Important: clear instructions for all parties

Of course, every script has at least one, but mostly a large number of characters. So that the reader has an understanding of the character and appearance of the protagonists, they are usually described in one or two sentences at the beginning of a scene in which they appear for the first time. Only mention the things that are essential for the role and the scene and leave out everything that is superfluous.


TOM sits crooked in front of his PC. He's nervously typing on his keyboard. Tom is a short man with thinning, blond hair and a slight belly. He always wears a light blue tank top.

Many steps for writing a script

Basically, the formal structure of a script is of course the basis for it to be read properly. Nevertheless, it should be clear to everyone that a good script requires many more work steps that are not described here. This includes, for example, an exciting, moving, sad or, in other words, interesting story. A long preparatory work with a lot of research on locations, characters and story is therefore always necessary. For this reason it is logical that the clear, external form is only one of many steps to your own script.

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