What is a Screenwriting

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Screenwriting is indeed the foundation of all video media. An effective screenplay will make or break a movie, TV episode, or a short film. Screenwriting is essentially creating a detailed script and outlining a story for the media in which they are producing. In preparation for this essay, I read many screenplays from popular projects, along with an instructional guide on writing screenplays for video media projects. Screenwriting Down to the Atoms: Digging Deeper into the Craft of Cinematic Storytelling, by Michael Welles Schock is the book that I read in preparation for this report. Though humdrum, I found the book very informative and very easy to understand. But, I found that examples of screenplays aided me more, because of the visual examples that they give.

In order to write an effective and clear screenplay, you first must know what a screenplay must convey. Stanley Kubrick, who directed some of the most culturally defining movies of all time, such as The Shining, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and A Clockwork Orange, once said “If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.” That is essentially the purpose and the job of an effective and well written screenplay. A screenplay must convey many different things in order to be comprehended and understood well. A screenplay must convey dialogue between the various characters involved in the conflict of the story. A screenplay must also direct the camera, and how it shoots the scene, and how everything within the shot works, behaves, and is positioned. Another job of a proper screenplay is to say, in detail what the characters do and how they act and their body language while acting. If an actor has trouble comprehending the screenplay, the translation to the screen will be choppy, confusing, and just difficult overall.

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Without a doubt the most boring part of my research was the strenuous and boring formatting rules that a screenplay must abide by. It will be difficult to describe how to format a screenplay in a paragraph format but I will do so to the best of my ability. Formatting for screenplays are required in order to ensure that the screenplay can be comprehended and understood by anybody who reads is.

The earliest recorded written screenplay was written in the year 1902, the screenplay was for a silent film entitled, A Trip to the Moon. Many other films in the early 1900s shaped what our modern screenplays are today.

Every scene in a screenplay begins with how the camera perceives the beginning of the scene. This action is positioned to the right of the screen, and is typically in all capital letters. At the beginning of the scene there is what is called a “scene heading.” A scene heading basically establishes where a scene is taking place, this description is comprised of words that form no cohesive sentence. A scene heading will tell you if the scene is indoors or outdoors, it will tell you if its day time or night time, and it will also tell you the location of the scene. For example, It somebody filmed a scene at the park at night, the scene heading would read EXT. PARK-NIGHT. The abbreviation “EXT” meaning exterior which means outside. Typically directly following the scene heading it the scene’s action. A action of the scene basically tells you a very shortened interpretation of anything that is happening in the scene prefacing the character’s dialogue. Building off the park at night scene, our scenes action could read “In the dead of night, the swings creak, due to the strong winds.” Another component to a screenplay is instructional clauses that are given to the editors. These will essentially guide the editor on how to edit the scene, and if there is anything special that they need to do or perform. Now that the scene us set up, the writer can finally introduce the scenes characters. When a screenplay introduces a character for the first time, it is proper to provide a brief description of that character. A description is only required when the character is first introduced or speaks. For example, GABBY, loud, outgoing, softball player who isn’t afraid to voice her opinion. After a character is described, you can finally put some dialogue down. Before you write the dialogue though, put the character speaking in all caps, centered on the page. That will set the dialogue apart from the actions of the scene, making it easier to comprehend. The dialogue below the characters name does not have to be capitalized, but it still has to be centered on the page. Sometimes when a scene is already established, a whole other header is not required and will be very redundant. Examples of sub headers for our park scene would be TENNIS COURT, PARKING LOT, SWING SET. So essentially sub headers are easier ways to establish scene locations. Another smaller, but still aspect to a screenplay are text parentheticals. These are basically descriptions on how a character speaks and the format in which they speak. Parentheticals obviously go in parentheses, and are very important to emotional scenes. An examples of a parenthetical is (sad), (happy), or (over phone.) Another element to a screenplay that is very similar to parentheticals are called extensions. Extensions indicate how dialogue will be heard, this essentially tells you if the characters speaks on or off screen. This is indicated by an (O.S.) following the character’s capitalized names. When a character’s dialogue goes from one page to another page, and indication is required. That indication is simply the word “more” in parentheses on the last line of the page. Once you’re on the second page of the screenplay, you should indicate what page you’re on by putting the page number on the very top right of the page. There are many other optional elements to screenplays, such as intercuts, which are basically just scene transitions that are immediately following the character’s dialogue.

If all of the elements are properly used, a cohesive screenplay is the result that both executes the scene in mind flawlessly, but also is appealing to read. A proper formatted screenplay for a scene at the park would look like this.

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What is a Screenwriting. (2022, Jul 07). Retrieved from


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