Original Screenplay Outline Examples (PDF)

Writing a screenplay does not only take time, but it takes true creative genius and imagination to bring it to life. Adapted screenplays are one thing. From the word adapted, it indicates that it is obviously derived from a piece of literature and from there, will add his or her own twists in order to bring in new elements to something familiar.

During the 90th Academy Awards held last March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theater, Call Me By Your Name won the Oscar for Best Adapted Movie Screenplay. As for the Best Original Screenplay, Get Out won the Oscar for the said award.

In Get Out, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the part where the “boy meets parents” part of dating, and she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with her parents, Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could never have imagined. 

Directed by Jordan Peele (writer and producer), the film addresses racism, but it is not done in a traditional way. The kind of racism this film address is a little more subtle– a type that is more covert and not so obvious.

Even when you are writing an original or adapted screenplay, you would still need to go back to the basics and essentials of writing the said screenplay. You can refer to this article showing you how to write a good script outline. Here are a few tips from Oscar-nominated Tony Gilroy, the writer of the Bourne series screenplays.

Screenplay PDF Example

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1. You cannot teach someone to be imaginative

Imagination comes from deep within the person. They say the limits of imagination comes from within the mind. A story is still a story, however big and however small. Every story, executed and planed the right way is important and can be made a success, with sufficient details and added elements to that story. When Academy Award Winner Jordan Peele wrote the screenplay for Get Out, it took him years before directing the movie.


2. Begin with a small idea

“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. This quote came from the famous astronaut Neil Armstrong also known as the first man on the moon. When Star Wars was first conceived, it was not received well by the potential film studios during George Lucas’ time. After the success of Lucas’ first directed movie American Graffiti, suddenly, the idea of getting a movie made about space pilots and galactic empire didn’t seem so far-fetched.

Unfortunately for Lucas, most studio executives failed to see the potential in the Star Wars concept; Lucas’ plans for the movie in 1973 were rather hazy, and both the United Artists and the Universal Studio passed on the project due to budgetary concerns. To make the long story short, he and his concept got accepted by the good people under 20th Century Fox and from 1973 to 1975, he took his time in developing the concept from a sci-fi reworking of Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress to a draft called The Star Wars: From The Adventures Of Luke Starkiller. You may also see Movie Review Outlines.

giant leap

3. Play with it

Mess around with your screenplay. Incorporate new ideas that may fit in well with the story. Add a bit of dialogue here and there. Bring in new elements to the story that you think might pique the audience’s interests. If you think that there are some scenes or dialogues that needs improvement, then put that in the box of ideas which you can later collaborate with the team. The good thing about writing an original screenplay is that you have complete control as to how you want your story to end and what direction it should take. You may also see Informal Outline Examples.

4. You have to know and understand human behavior

Human behavior is studied by the specialized academic disciplines of psychiatry, psychology, social work, sociology, economics, and anthropology. Behavior is impacted by certain traits each individual has. The traits vary from person to person and can produce different actions or behavior from each person.

Human behavior is defined as the responses of individuals or groups of humans to internal and external stimuli. It refers to the array of every physical action and observable emotion associated with individuals, as well as the human race.

You do not need to study any of these things to fully understand human behavior. You have been around different kind of people your entire life from all walks of life. All that’s left to do is to simply incorporate those behaviors into those characters. You may also see Outline Examples in Word.

5. Develop an outline

Remember, an outline simply serves as a guide for screenplay writers so that they may know and fully understand the flow of the story and as to where it is heading. Yes, they are a burden sometimes but keep in mind that by following a certain sentence outline, you do not need to go back to square one of the whole thing in case something gets messed up or needs redoing.

Tony states that you have to know the end of your movie so that you can build to it. This is particularly important for thrillers or other scripts where you’re forced to plot things out, building to that surprising or shocking ending. For people who do not like to work with outlines, you still have to know the major story points — if not through a physical outline, then through many sessions of visualization.

6. Improve the Outlined Story While Writing the Actual Script

Even with an outline, it will not always be perfect. In fact, there will still be some details or elements that you have missed out when writing the said topic outline. Flexibility and adaptability are the two most important traits a screenwriter should possess, so that the writer may be able to see eye-to-eye with the director and producer on certain things about the movie. It is also good to bring engage in a discourse to allow the exchange of ideas and insights to each other.

7. It’s about instincts, not formulas

Gilroy quickly states that it should be instinctual, as far as what choices you make. We’ve all been sucking up narrative since we were born. We know more about storytelling than anything through books, television, movies, plays, and stories told to us by our parents and teachers. You may also Training Outline.

The Omen Screenplay Example

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Die Hard Screenplay Example

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  • PDF

Size: 62 KB


Bridesmaid Screenplay Example

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Size: 44 KB


These are not the only ways to write a great original screenplay. One advice would be to watch movies and take a little breather to allow all that creative juices and inspiration to just flow right into you to have the ideas needed to make a great screenplay for film studios to eventually recognize your talent. You may also see Documentary Script Outline Examples.

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