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Site Updated: Oct 20, 2014. I'm a longtime user of Final Draft Software and recently upgraded to Final Draft 9, but I just came across a new online screenwriting software program that has a lot of the same features. I'll check it out and post what I find out later. The other students in my screenwriting course seem to really love it. Because Final Draft 9 just came out, I haven't been able to find any promo codes yet, but email me any codes you find for Final Draft Screenwriting Software and I’ll post them. I just received screenplay coverage back on my latest screenplay and I'm heading into a new revision. I mention this because it was a tremendous help in identifying areas in my screenplay that needed a rewrite. Shoot me an email if you've thought about getting screenplay coverage or development notes.

Introduction

If you are new to screenwriting, planning to write a screenplay or script of any kind, the good news is that writing in screenplay format is easier and more intuitive today than at any time since first Lanier Word Processing Machine. Advances in screenwriting software now save the hours you would previously have spent learning how to write a screenplay in professional Hollywood format can now be allocated to polishing your plot, honing your dialogue, or learning screenplay structure. Some think screenplay writing is eclipsing the pursuit of the Great American Novel but it certainly isn't any easier. At any rate the making of movies is a collaborative process which demands that those in screenwriting produce a document in particular format, notation, and length called a 'script.'

This overview will begin acquaint you with the screenplay format writing rules and screenwriting etiquette you'll need to know about, and as you browse the following material you may notice the words 'don't', 'avoid' and '...' unless you are directing the movie.' Take that advice to heart. As you become more familiar with the world of screenwriting you'll understand why but for now the scope of this document prohibits a deeper explanation.

Learning how to write a screenplay involves many facets but I hope this basic information will give you a head start on your endeavors, including practical information to help you get your scripts read. And hopefully turned into movies.

Table of Contents

  1. What Exactly Is a Script? What Makes Good Story?
  2. Script Styles, Submission Scripts, and Shooting Scripts
  3. Spec Screenplay Page Properties and Script Length
  4. Script Elements and Scene Heading
  5. Action
  6. Character Name
  7. Dialogue
  8. Parenthetical
  9. Extension
  10. Transition
  11. Shots
  12. Page Breaking, Finer Points, Dual Dialogue, and Adlibs
  13. Abbreviations and Montages
  14. A Series of Shots and Short Lines/Poetry/Lyrics
  15. Intercuts
  16. Titles or Opening Credits, and Superimpose or Title
  17. Title Page
  18. Production Drafts, Top Continued and Bottom Continued
  19. Locking Your Script Pages and Locking Your Scenes
  20. Header, Do's and Don'ts
  21. Other Script Formats
  22. Title Page of TV Movies