Screenwriting : General Script Question by Tiffany Millsap

Tiffany Millsap

General Script Question

I was wondering if anyone has any helpful tips on how to get an idea to paper? How to make it sound as good as in your head? :)

Anthony Moore

It's NEVER going to sound as good as it does in your head. Have you ever said anything in your life that sounded as good coming out of your mouth as it did in your head?

Here are some helpful tips on screenwriting:

Keep it simple. Write it down. Flesh out the idea/story before trying to put it in screenplay format. If you can put down 3-5 paragraphs on paper that tell a story with a beginning, middle and end, then you are already halfway there.

Use screenwriting software to help with formatting. I use the 5-5-5 method. No descriptions longer than 5 lines, no character introductions longer than 5 words, and no scenes longer than 5 pages. Don't be boring. Every scene should have conflict and a point. Every piece of dialog should be as short as possible. Never let your characters babble or run more than 10 lines without a break.

Finish it then edit the crap out of it. If you can do this, you will have a decent screenplay.

Eric Christopherson

Read a lot of scripts that turned into good movies.

Marjolein Smit

Read scripts of movies that are similar to your idea. Then just start writing and editing untill it is what you want. You can do it. Good luck!

Nathan Smith

Start with a synopsis which is basically a short story of your idea without dialog. Write it all out to get it all down and then go back and make changes, tweek things, move things around and make it the best story that excites you. Then when it's time to write the script you've got a great road map laid out for you already.

Chad Stroman

"generally speaking" learn the technical terms on paper (or on your computer) for what you see in your head and then put what you see down on paper (or again, on your computer)

It's harder than it sounds and I recommend first outlining what you see and even jotting down some scenes if they are defined enough.

Jim Boston

Tiffany, I agree with Chad about outlining what you see, and then jotting down any well-defined scenes.

Since I got back into screenwriting in 2016, I've started using a combination outline/scene list. After putting the outline/scene list together, I research the heck out of the subject matter I want to put into my script when I can't draw on my own life experiences.

For me, it's about trying to not only make it as fun as possible, but also about trying to be as believable as possible.

All the VERY BEST to you, Tiffany!

Chad Stroman

Jim Boston The sad part for me is when I do think I have a great idea for a scene and so I quickly write it out so it's "on paper" so to speak, then when I go back later I end up having to cut it down significantly or just cut it out completely. All that beautiful seeming dialogue and interaction wasn't as great as I originally thought or the "set piece" doesn't do anything to move the story forward or reveal character.

I highlight the scene or text in question, hover my thumb above the keyboard, whisper "Sorry my darlings", and press delete.

Well I don't really do that, mostly just cringe, swear under my breath and delete.

Bret Fitzgerald

Write down the name of your protagonist and what is it that they want. Then, write down the name of your antagonist and what they do to prevent your protagonist from achieving their goal. Start with your characters, they will tell your story.

Doug Nelson

I find that a legal pad & a #2 lead pencil work pretty well during the initial 'story storm' phase.

Craig D Griffiths

Perhaps paper isn’t your first step. Perhaps talk it onto your phone. Then listen back. It may be easier when it is out of your head.

Most mobiles have a transcript function. I normally just start with prose, dot points and then move to script segments. They finally merge into a script.

Stephen Floyd

Don’t force it to sound or be like anything in particular, even what’s in your head. It’s more important to have a story and characters that develop and flow organically than to have a story that meets exacting specifications. Sometimes what your characters come up with is better than what you planned, anyway, so let the story meander where it may.

Craig D Griffiths

Stephen Floyd is 100% correct. Never kill a story by making it for a form.

Tiffany Millsap

Thank You all. I really appreciate all the feed back. Alot to think about. Ya'll have a blessed day :)

Rosalind Winton

My screenplay is an epic that spans many decades and the prospect of writing it was very daunting in the beginning, so I started off small, by thinking of it as a short, a twenty minute film telling the crux of the story with the main characters, so I had 20 pages to play with, which gave me my outline. Then, I built it up from there, it's taken two years, two lots of industry feedback advice (which was amazing and something I highly recommend), hundreds of edits, rewrites, thinking I had it, then thought of more ideas, for the beginning, for the end, bits and bobs in the middle and I now have over 90 pages of script and I'm still going. When you're writing, if you run it through it in your head as though you're watching it on film, that is something I find really useful, sometimes you can 'see' in your head if something is going to work or not, or if a piece of dialogue sounds too sickly etc etc. Imagine in your head an actor you know, playing the part, what does that look and sound like? Depending on the answers, you can alter your script accordingly. Make your characters 'real', I know that sounds pretty obvious, but even if your script takes place on another world, or time, the characters have got to be believable, that to me is the most important thing.

John Myatt

First tip: Save often. I am having to write this twice. Thank you windows updates. Sigh,

There is a difference between an Idea and a story. Ideas are cheep and most will not carry story length. Stories are about people and how they CHANGE on the INSIDE. If you can swap the main character out with someone else, all you have is a lists of events. 99 percent of writers get this wrong form what I hear.

So with the characters in mind, sometimes I start writing dialog, sometimes events, and fill in the other. It also depends on your style of writing, Are you more of an out liner or seat of the pants writer. Outlining is boring and Panting is fun. But most need to do at least a little of both.

Begin with the end in mind so you don't have a train wreck at the end and / or write yourself into a corner, and just start writing. HANDS ON KEY BOARD. Your characters will show you what happens. Just don't let them wonder to far from the goal. First drafts are horrible even for the best writers and they will tell you. That's what rewrite is for. And remember. "IT'S ALL ABOUT THE STORY. If it does not move the story forward, cut it out.

Allow 3-4 hours to just write. It will take you 30-60 min just to get into your zone and then the rest of the time will fly by. You will then get tired and need to recharge. That's what naps are for. Find an activity (like driving on a boring road) that stimulates your mind just enough to keep it active but not too demanding.

The ideals fill flow. WRITE THEM DOWN anyway you can! ( i use the "todo" area of "out of milk" cell phone app.Love it. You will not remember most of them! Terrible feeling. You only need a few words to bring each one back to memory. Hope this Helps.

Karen Stark

Well there are many ways and whilst we all agree on certain things, we also all do things in our own way. Some people find index cards useful before hitting the key board. Some write a treatment ( short story like document ) first. Some plan every scene in their minds before typing a word. Others do it all. Most importantly you have to understand how to structure your idea within your chosen format. You need to firstly understand story and then understand formatting. If you have an idea and you don't understand how to turn it into a screenplay, you will waste valuable time and energy and easily become disillusioned. So I would say study how to, then take your idea and apply what you know and move forward productively. Writing a screenplay is like learning to ride a horse. You have the idea of riding but you don't just climb on a horse. You have to first learn how to put the bridle and saddle on. There are good books on structuring and story concept. You Tube really has some good resources available too. Also read as many screenplays as you can and cross analyse them whilst watching the films. It's a craft that has to be learned before ideas can ever come to life and work effectively.

Imo Wimana Chadband

Watch movies. Read the scripts. Write. Rewrite until it sounds as good in your head.

Good luck Tiffany! (^_^)

Dan MaxXx

Mazin and John August just did a podcast “how do you know when you’re ready to write a script?”

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