How To Write a Screenplay: The 5 Step Process

Have you ever wondered how to write a screenplay? Have you fantasized about writing a Hollywood movie or, with a bit of luck, making the next enormou TV series?

How to Write a Screenplay

In a visual senility, with the decline of traditional publishing, you might look to write writing as a channel to create the” literature of the future .”

But what is the process of writing a screenplay? How do you even begin? And why is it important to know how writing cinemas are different, but too can be similar, to writing a novel?

In this pole we’re going to look at the five step process professional screenwriters use to write a screenplay.

Learn how to write a movie script that filmmakers–and an audience–loves!

FADE IN 😛 TAGEND Why I’m Thinking About Writing a Screenplay

Earlier this week, a friend who’s a lawyer approached me about a writing opportunity. He was closing a dire but mesmerizing speciman, and he thought it had possible to be a major film.

At first, I shrugged it off.

Screenplays are like volumes, everyone thinks they have one in them, but then he told me the tale, and it was awesome–a family’s search for the American dream, drug dealers under the scrutiny of the law, police immorality, an adrenaline powered shooting, everything you were able to want in a major motion picture.

Still, I held back.

The hardest part of making a movie isn’t writing a good movie script. It’s coming someone to fund the process of raising the tale to life( do you have a hundred million dollars lying around to fund a movie ?).

Show Me The Money GIF | Gfycat

Fortunately, said the lawyer, he’s friends with several people at a major Hollywood studio. He told me,” We have everything we need … except for a great screenplay .”

“Hmm…” I recollected.” Maybe this isn’t a ended waste of time .”

In my experience, most writing programmes like this don’t work out, but when they show up, it’s important to give them your best.

After all, at the very least, it’s good writing practice. And, like always, practice is always good for you writing process.

Are you thinking of writing a screenplay? Check out Oscar-winner and TV-hitmaker( The West Wing ), Aaron Sorkin’s masterclass .

How I Learned To Write a Screenplay

In college, I took a class with John Wilder, a veteran Hollywood film and TV scribe, who began the class by writing,” STRUCTURE! STRUCTURE! STRUCTURE !” on the chalkboard.

” What’s the largest part of a screenplay ?” he would ask at the beginning of nearly every class.

It was obvious what he concluded. Not screenplay format. Not service industries standard. Not even prime characters.

The most important part of screenwriting is STRUCTURE.

Afterward, I wrote three short-lived screenplays, one of them with a producer of MTV’s Made.

After getting my judgment around the strange dialogue writing formatting( which is easiest to lord by means of a solid screenwriting software ), I learned that forming unique fibs for cinema creation in such a tightened organize is hard.

But it’s been several years since I tried my hands at writing a screenplay. My default is novelist , not screenwriter.

I needed a step by step process that would allow me to write a spec dialogue I was proud to share.

A good story that was worth a yield company’s investment.

“ A good story that is worth a make company’s investment starts first and foremost with a solid organize. Tweet this

So before I began working on this new project, the one pitched by my lawyer friend, I had to re-familiarize myself with the write writing process.

I needed a plan that uplifted my friend’s pitch with an entertaining plan and STRUCTURE.

Something more than script format alone.( Although, since write format is important when writing a script, I will give you some tips-off on this at the end of this post .)

I came up with one. In five steps.

The 5 Steps to Write a Screenplay

Craft Your Logline Write a Treatment: Your First Sketch Structure Your Screenplay’s Outline Write a Flash Draft Edit BONUS. Screenplay Format Must Haves

Most screenwriters follow these five steps to write a screenplay.

While this doesn’t mean you should follow these steps accurately, hopefully this will be a helpful how to guide as you write a screenplay of your own.


1. Craft Your Logline

A logline is a one-sentence summary of your tale, and they’re primarily used as a marketing tool.

When a studio executive asks you to give him your best pitch, your logline is the first thing you’ll mention.( It also should be used in your elevator lurch .)

Loglines likewise function as a helpful guide to focus your writing on the main aspects of your fib. In other commands, loglines help your story stay on track.

Loglines generally contain three ingredients 😛 TAGEND

A supporter( central attribute) An foe A point

It’s also helpful to threw a summarizing adjective in front of your references to give a sense of their personalities. This, actually, may even be more effective than using a character’s name.

For example, the logline of Star Trek are likely to be 😛 TAGEND

A headstrong orphan and his Vulcan nemesis must save the Federation( and themselves) from a revenge-seeking Romulan from the future.

Not too hard, right?

( Check out loglines on IMDB for other examples .)

For specific instructions on how to write loglines, call my pole on writing a story’s premise. This post also includes a premise worksheet to help you hammer the three factors mentioned above.

2. Write a Treatment: Your First Sketch

Also principally a marketing document, medications hand execs an idea of whether the fib is worth their money. However, like the logline, it dishes as a helpful tool for the writer, a kind of first sketch of the story.

For most of the history of artistry, depict was prohibitively expensive, and so before Monet or Picasso would aim a full scale cover, they are able to do a “study,” a sketch of their subject( masters do this today, too, of course ).

If a cartoon wasn’t coming together, they might save their decorate and not realise the paint, or else revise the study until it appeared worthwhile.

In the same way, a treatment is like a firstly sketch of a film.

Treatments are generally two to five page epitomes that interruption the story into three deeds. Here are the three main elements of a medication 😛 TAGEND

Title of the Film Logline Synopsis

Treatments may include snippets of talk and description, but the main focus is on synopsizing the story.

Filmmakers can recall a treatment and have a good idea on whether or not your write is worth investing in( they can probably foresee a ballpark range it will cost) and producing.

Script GIFs | Tenor

3. Structure Your Screenplay’s Outline

In this( extremely important) step, you focus on the structure of the story. As Wilder said, in order to be allowed to to surmount screenwriting, you must master,” STRUCTURE! STRUCTURE! STRUCTURE !”

Your screenplay’s outline is the first step you should perfectly focused on creating. You likely will never establish this to anyone but your writing partners.

Most feature films are from 90 -1 20 pages, and have around forty situations. These places likewise follow a strict 25 -5 0-25 failure, with twenty-five percent given to acts one and three, and fifty percent taking up act two( which can be split into two even segments ).

As the screenwriter, your work in the outline is to map out the decided and major events of each place. You might include major dialogue as well.

The most notable book to understand the structure of a film is Save the Cat by the late Blake Snyder. If you want to learn more about how to write a good screenplay, or even a good story, I highly recommend it.

However, having squander many years in the writing life now, I do think you can take Blake Snyder’s fifteen outstrips a bit further.

I’ve invest a very long time developing The Write Structure to do this, and while writing a feature film has its differences when it comes to certain details, like formatting, organizing fibs has it’s core similarities.

Regardless of what design you have selected, recollect your screenplay’s summary is primarily for you.

Write as much or as little as you need to.

Do the writing process you need to finally finish your notebook. Discover The Write Structure >> The Write Structure Cover 4. Write a Flash Draft

This is the fun part, your first real sketch, and the same recommendations apply here as to your story writing 😛 TAGEND

Write promptly Don’t think too hard Don’t edit

Wilder told me his purpose was to write the entire first draft of a screenplay, about 120 sheets, in three days. If you’ve done the hard work of organizing your narration in your sketch, this should be easy.

By the course, if you’re not sure how to format your screenplay, don’t forget to read the bonus step below.

Screenwriting software can save you a great deal of meter with formatting, extremely. Final Draft is the industry standard, but Scrivener, which is what I use to write volumes, has supportive screenwriting tools, too.

And others, like Celtx, are free( recommended if you’re getting started, and just want to writing a spec script a shot ).

5. Edit

As with records, I recommend doing at least three drafts.

After you finish your working draft, read it through once without editing( you can take notes though ).

In your second drawing, focus on major structural modifies, including filling gaping excavations, deepening characters, removing attributes who don’t move the narration forward, and even rewriting entire representations from scratch.

In your third sketch, focus on polishing, specifically, on meeting your talk dad. If this is your final sketch, don’t forget to add a entitlement sheet and double check all other screenwriting formatting musts.

Once your script is complete, it’s time to get feedback and begin transmitting it to studios. Keep in subconsciou, most product fellowships don’t make unsolicited writes, and if this is the case, you’ll need an agent.

P.S. If you just wanted to hire a developmental editor to review your story’s structure and make it the best draft it can be, check our certified Story Grid Editors.

Get the editing that’s right for you.

Get in handle

Good luck!

BONUS. Screenplay Format Must Haves

If you’ve never written a screenplay before, you might feel overtook by a screenplay’s format. Keep in mind that if you purchase a screenwriting software like Final Draft, the software will take care of most of the particular requirements, like sheet margins( like the left margin, which is 1.5 ”).

But, because screenwriters should understand screenplay formatting and when to use particular formatting musts, here’s a list of formatting elementaries be taken into consideration as you write your first draft 😛 TAGEND

scene heading

Scene Heading

A scene heading, or slug wrinkle, indicates where the action in the brand-new vistum is happening. This argument is in ALL CAPS and bold.

In the line, you’ll discover INT.( interior) or EXT.( exterior) and the locating for the representation, be accompanied by a rush and then the time of day.

Slug rows distinguish the start of a brand-new vistum, and help the reader maintain appreciation of push between locations.

action lines

Action Lines

Action ways lead beneath the panorama leader. They are as descriptive as possible but short, focusing on the action occurring and visuals.

Action cables, unlike statement is set out in works, will often be more direct than diction that five impression writing that aims to create an feeling response.

There will rarely( if ever) be more action boundaries in a screenplay than dialogue.



Character lists appear above the dialogue and are always in ALL CAPS. Every time a different courage speaks, we will see a new epithet above the dialogue.

In some suits, activity flouts up talk, but the same courage is speaking.



Dialogue is the most important part of a screenplay. It is the majority of a what’s written in a write, and utters filmmakers and performers counseling about how the tale is told.

Aaron Sorkin( Oscar winner for The Social Network among other films and TV hitmakers like The West Wing) is a beloved screenwriter in Hollywood, most notably known for his attainment of dialogue.

If you’re hoping to learn how to master dialogue like Sorkin, you might consider checking out Aaron Sorkin’s masterclass .



Extensions tell the reader how dialogue is heard. These go next to the character name in parentheses.

This is a formatting that most screenwriting software takes care of when “youre using” it.

Some cases where you would use an extension include 😛 TAGEND

Voice Over( V.O .): when we hear a narrator who isn’t on screen, and the characters on screen also do not hear the narrator( minus me exclusions for comedic impacts, like George of the Jungle) Off Screen( O.S .): when the character speaking is heard by the other attributes on screen but is not on screen themselves, like two statements moved over an intercom Into Maneuvers: when a courage is speaking into a invention, like a telephone Pre-Lap: when exchange started at the end of one sheet provides onto the next page Continued( CONT’D ): when the same character is speaking as the previous indication of exchange broken up by action

Like reputations, all expansions are in ALL CAPS.

Extensions are also technical tendencies, indicating where the actor saying the line is, versus…



A parenthetical is written like an extension( in parentheses beneath the character name in all caps ), but instead explains how a line should be performed.

Sarcastically, for example. Or Laughing.

Or, thumped written in lower subject, which indicates a pause.



Transitions tell an journalist how they should edit a scene. This is when you’ll see something like CUT TO: on the right side of the page.

Sometime Consumed: Camera Shots

Keep in memory, while you’ll read camera shots in finalized writes, screenwriters don’t always include this in their spec script.

This is because shot hand-pickeds belong to the director, and they very likely might alter what’s written.

If You Sell Your Script, Watch As It Gets Torn Apart

The film industry is collaborative.

For most movies, numerou screenwriters work on a script, and then, in the production process, the script constantly varies because of feedback from creators, performers, and the director.

It’s not easy being a screenwriter in Hollywood. Often, the first columnist on a screenplay won’t even get credit because so much of the original screenplay has been revised.

Others might sell a write for six toes, but then always have concerns about not being able to sell the next one.

This is something I’ve been thinking about as I work on my new project.

Even if our film is luck enough to get bought, my chances of having my honour on the film as a first-time screenwriter and industry outsider are still quite small.( I’d likewise want to make sure that I’m part of the Screenwriters Guild)

Fortunately, I learned this last-place assignment from John Wilder 😛 TAGEND

” That’s why arrangement is just as important. They can perfectly rewrite the dialogue, specific actions, and the create statements, but if you have a solid design, you’ll still see your name at the end of the cinema .”

Wouldn’t that be a treat?


Have you ever written a screenplay? What is your process?

To learn more about what’s inside each exercise of Aaron Sorkin’s Masterclass on Screenwriting, click here.


Write a logline, either for your work in progress or for a brand-new legend. You can use my proposition template to help you with this.

When you’re finished, berth your logline in the comments section.

And if you post, make sure to comment on a few loglines by other novelists. Let them know whether you’d like to see their film or not!

Note: Some of connections above are affiliate relates. We merely recommend journals and implements we’ve employed and known helpful, and by purchasing them, you help support this writing community. Thanks!

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