Format… What Format?

Ah…. so your writing a screenplay. Well, welcome to the madness that comes with writing. You know the outline, note-cards, sticky’s on the wall and little pieces of paper that have a note here, a scene there and some dialogue. All those little pieces that you know are going to get you through writing your masterpiece. But here’s the question, can you format a script?

Yes, I know you bought yourself a snazzy program, or uploaded a free one, and you think all I have to do is write. (LOUD BUZZ) Nope! You will be surprised how many scripts I read or see in production that lack format. They have no flow, inproper numbering, or a flashback you can’t follow? Oh and that montage you want with a monologue voice over. No one can figure it out!

There is more to writing a screenplay then putting words into a program. Especially when you decide you want a flashback inside another flashback. The last thing you want is to lose your reader. So, this short note is to remind you that when formatting, there are Four key elements to writing a screenplay:

  1. Sluglines (also known as scene headings)
  2. Action
  3. Characters
  4. Dialogue

Seems easy right? Well, often many writers are so caught up into writing, they often overlook consistency with their sluglines, character names, and even the dialogue. Yes dialogue, writers often think they are giving the right character the line, the next thing you know…. the MAN is barking and the DOG has the best line in the movie. Not to mention typo’s and just plain spelling errors. Transitions have also found a way to “FADE OUT” of many scripts. Everything is left to “Quick Cuts” and the editing department. But if you have the vision for your transitions, then take the time to put them in.

There are many other little details that go into formatting a screenplay:

  1. Proper Font, Margins and Spacing
  2. Action Sequences
  3. Parentheticals
  4. Voice Overs (VO)
  5. Off Screen (OS)
  6. Scene Numbers
  7. Camera Direction (though a good spec script should have very little to no Camera direction at all)

Formatting can be addressed in editing your script. However, from my own personal experience many writers lack the ability to edit their own script. They often read it as they wrote it, and it becomes easy to oversee small errors. So don’t be afraid to let someone else edit your script and double check the format! Format sure can make a difference in flow, and of course my favorite, pre-production breakdown!

Well, as much as I would love to give you all the tips to formatting a successful screenplay, I will leave it up to SCRIPT FRENZY to give you the highlights. Please check out SCRIPT FRENZY FORMATTING PAGE, for all the basic details you need to format your screenplay. You won’t be disappointed!

Happy Writing!

Categories: film, formatting, screenwritingTags: , , ,

2 thoughts on “Format… What Format?

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