Last Updated: May 22, 2024


Behind every movie that you have seen and every theater play that you have attended, there is a pad of paper that refers to the detailed outline of the story being portrayed. This group of sheets is what we call “script.” Though watching your favorite comedy show entertains you, most of them have scriptwriting that is no joke. In this article, we are going to discuss the basic principles and nature of writing a script. Read through and be the scriptwriter of the next phenomenal movie.

A script (also known as a screenplay) creates a outline of the whole story to be acted out by actors for a film, a stage play, a television program example, etc. Aside from the dialogue, also narrates the actions, expressions, and movements of the characters (i.e. actors). If you haven’t seen a script before, this is now your chance. Here are some examples to let you have a glimpse of what they look like.

What is Scriptwriting?

Scriptwriting, also known as screenwriting, is the process of writing the text or dialogue for a screenplay, which is a blueprint for a film, television show, play, or other visual storytelling medium. It is a specialized form of writing that focuses on creating a narrative structure, dialogue, and descriptions that guide actors, directors, and other crew members in bringing a story to life on screen or stage.

Scriptwriters, often called screenwriters, play a crucial role in the storytelling process for visual media. They are responsible for crafting the plot, developing characters, writing dialogue, and describing the settings and actions within a screenplay. A well-written script serves as the foundation for the entire production and helps translate the writer’s creative vision into a format that can be easily understood and executed by the cast and crew.

In screenwriting, there are specific formatting guidelines and industry standards that writers must follow to ensure clarity and consistency. Screenplays are typically divided into scenes, with each scene described in detail to convey the visual and auditory elements required for the production. Proper formatting and organization are essential for a script to be professional and practical for production.

Scriptwriting is a collaborative process, and screenwriters often work closely with directors, producers, and other creative professionals to refine and develop their scripts. The goal of scriptwriting is to create a compelling and engaging story that can be brought to life on screen, stage, or in other visual media.

Script Writing Format

1. Title Page

  • Title of the script: Centered and in capital letters.
  • Written by: Beneath the title, also centered.
  • Writer’s contact information: At the bottom left corner (optional).

2. Scene Heading (Slugline)

  • INT. or EXT. indicating whether the scene is interior or exterior.
  • Location: A brief description of the setting.
  • Time of Day: Usually DAY or NIGHT.

3. Action (Description)

  • Describes the setting, characters, and what is happening in the scene.
  • Written in the present tense and only includes what can be seen or heard.

4. Character Name

  • When a character is introduced for the first time, their name should be in all caps.
  • Above their dialogue, centered on the page.

5. Dialogue

  • Underneath the character’s name, the dialogue is centered and enclosed in quotation marks.
  • Keep dialogue lines concise for readability.

6. Parenthetical

  • Directions for actors (how they should say their lines) are placed in parentheses, just below the character’s name and before the dialogue.
  • Use sparingly.

7. Transitions

  • Terms like CUT TO:, FADE IN:, FADE OUT., etc., are used to indicate changes between scenes.
  • Typically aligned to the right of the page.

8. Extensions

  • Used next to character names to indicate off-screen (O.S.) or voice-over (V.O.) dialogue.

Formatting Specifications:

  • Font: 12-pt, Courier font is standard.
  • Margins: Left margin 1.5 inches, right margin 1 inch (approx.), top and bottom margins 1 inch.
  • Spacing: Dialogue is typically single-spaced, while action and scene descriptions are double-spaced.


  • Many screenwriters use specialized software like Final Draft, Celtx, or WriterDuet, which automatically formats the script according to industry standards.

Example of Script Writing

Certainly! One of the best examples of scriptwriting is the opening scene from the classic film “Casablanca.” This scene is not only iconic but also showcases excellent scriptwriting in capturing the mood, character dynamics, and setting. Here’s a brief description of the scene:

Title: “Casablanca” – Opening Scene


The setting is Rick’s Café Américain, a bustling nightclub in the city of Casablanca during World War II. The atmosphere is smoky and filled with an eclectic mix of people, including refugees, expatriates, and shady characters. The hum of conversation and music creates a lively backdrop.


  • RICK BLAINE, the enigmatic and sophisticated owner of the café, impeccably dressed.
  • CARL, the affable and observant bartender.
  • VICTOR LASZLO, a heroic resistance leader, and his companion ILSA LUND, an elegant woman with an air of mystery.


  • The camera pans across the café, highlighting the diverse patrons and their interactions. A jazz band plays in the background.
  • Rick stands behind the bar, calmly observing the crowd, a half-smoked cigarette in his hand.
  • Suddenly, Victor and Ilsa enter the café, drawing everyone’s attention. Victor is stoic, while Ilsa is both beautiful and anxious.
  • Rick watches them closely, his demeanor unchanging.
  • The band strikes up “La Marseillaise,” and the patrons join in, singing the French national anthem in a show of unity and resistance against the German occupiers.
  • Rick’s eyes remain fixed on Victor and Ilsa, revealing a depth of emotion beneath his cool exterior.

Scriptwriting Examples & Samples

1. Script Writing Format Examples

2. Script Writing Examples for Students

3. Radio Scriptwriting Examples

4. Short Scriptwriting Examples

5. Cartoon Script Writing Examples

6. Movie Script Writing Examples

7. Documentary Script Writing Example

8. Social Script Writing Example

9. Story Script Writing Example

10. Screenplay Script Writing Example

11. English Script Writing Example

12. Commercial Script Writing Example

13. Broadcast Script Writing Example

14. Sample Candidate Script Writing

15. Beginner Program Script Writing Example

16. Research Script Writing Example

17. Script Writing Format Example

18. Script Writing in PDF

19. Professional Scriptwriting Example

20. Creative Scriptwriting Example

21. Scriptwriting Workshop Example

22. Screenplay Writing Format Example

23. Short Films Scriptwriting Guide

Importance of Script Writing

A script is a key tool used to ensure the success of the portrayal of a specific story. It also serves as a plan of the scenes to be portrayed by the actors, and script writing creates such a plan. Scriptwriting also showcases the talent of different scriptwriters in the field of mass media. Following a script minimizes the time intended to direct the actors on how to portray a certain character. Having the scenes planned beforehand lets the actors and directors focus more on the portrayal of the story, saving time and resources in the process.

Thus, script writing is considered as a fundamental process for the completion of a particular film or play.

How to Start Writing a Script

Let’s assume that you already have some marvelous scenes in your mind and you want to write them on papers. For sure, you would like to make a script that is as superb as the scenes itself, right? In writing your own screenplay, the beginning should be as competitive as your ending since it gives the judgment whether the audience stays or not. To give you a great start with your script composition, read this section before writing one.

1. Know what scripts are.

Just like any composition, the first thing you need to consider is to make sure that you really know what you are writing. In other words, it is indeed necessary to have an in-depth understanding of what scripts are and the technicalities behind it. You must also be aware that screenplays are not the work of a single man. In fact, there will be several people who would keep hold of your composition and edit or revise it accordingly. With this, writing will be not just easier but also clearer.

2. Get some inspiration.

It may sound unnecessary, but the truth is that reading the script of the movies you consider the finest and the best is indeed essential. By doing this, you are able to gain some ideas on what styles and approaches you need to apply in your own script. It would also be preferable to pick those movie screenplays that belong under the same genre with yours. You can also refer to our given samples.

3. Sketch out your concept.

If you already have ideas and scenarios in your mind, drawing a sketch of all the details of your idea is the next thing you need to do. In any clean sheet of paper or board, make a comprehensible map pertaining to the necessary elements of your story such as the plot details, the personality traits of your characters and their relationship towards each other. Consider what techniques would you use in your screenplay, too. Moreover, take notes of the critical points of your story.

4. Create a story outline.

After crafting a sketch of your story, it is now time to turn it into an outline. In doing this, start with the basic run of your narrative and keep an eye on your story’s conflicts. Remember, conflicts are the lifeblood of stories. Also, start with details that are small but plays a big role in the story. Furthermore, in making the outline, consider the estimated length of your work. If you can make your story much concise, do it since long screenplays have less probability of being successful. In a standard script format, a page indicates a minute of screen time. Usually, dramas are 2-hours long while comedies are briefer which are about one and a half hours.

5. Divide your story into three acts.

In a script, acts are defined as a set of scenes that creates an essential piece of the story. It is depicted by elements such as rising action, resolution, and climax. Usually, a story is comprised of five acts; however, several modern stories utilized the pillars of a screenplay, the Three Acts namely, the introduction, middle, and conclusion. Though each act can stand independently, it should also be considered that it should create the complete arc of the story when joined together.

After doing these five initial steps, you may now proceed to more technical procedures such as adding of sequence, dialogues, more specific scenes, etc.

How to Write a Good Screenplay

A good script describes the story in full detail, engages both the actors and directors and captivates the audience. Though it may be challenging at first, practicing to read more samples and educational articles pertaining to screenplay writing is extremely helpful. Allow yourself to compose the script of the next blockbuster movie by following these steps:

1. Learn the basics.

First of all, a scriptwriter can’t make a screenplay with creativity alone. Since the script is the manual of the film and is what the whole production follows, the writer should at least know the basic standards, terms, and technicalities in composing a script. In scriptwriting, knowledge is the gateway for the experience.

 2. Read other movie scripts.

Scriptwriting has no standard contents but even just a reader, you can already identify which scripts could make it to the big screen. By scanning through the different scripts from various movies, you will be aware of what makes a script good or not. Furthermore, this will also give you a general idea on how the dialogue is developed, how the characters are portrayed, and how the story transitions from one scene to another.

3. Compose a draft.

Create a draft on the sequence of events and how the story progresses from the beginning. Write all the necessary plot details and create an outline of your story. In this step, it is alright for you to commit some erasures and alterations since it is still a draft. However, do your best to construct the initial picture of your entire movie concept already.

4. Split your story outline.

Divide the outline of your story into three acts. Act one is where you introduce the characters and their backstory. Act two is where the characters develop. Act three is where the characters experience the plot twists and conflicts, and where such conflicts are resolved.

5. Write the scenes and dialogues

There are two of the most important elements of the script. Scenes are the events of your story. Dialogues give your characters their voice. In this part, you can make an initial writing process of scenes by including all the interesting and relevant ideas you have. Nevertheless, in making your final script, see to it that all scenes are making important sense in the whole movie. If not then remove them.

6. Peer review

Though you can review or proofread your own work, it would still be a better choice to consult a friend that is knowledgeable in these matters. A friend may give you a few ideas on how to improve your story, peer review would be a more preferable option because basically, most of us cannot distinguish our own mistake. Moreover, be open to constructive criticisms, nobody is perfect, remember?

7. Polish your script

After a great discussion with your friend, you might spot any errors including the minimal ones. This is where you correct them. Also, you omit the unnecessary scenes that only confuse your audience and add a few details to your story as necessary. Revise your story as needed before producing the final screenplay.

In writing your screenplay, always remind yourself of the running time of your script. On average, a bankable movie runs from one hour and thirty minutes while short films take less than forty minutes in their screen time, including the credits.

Where to Read Scripts

Considering the rapid advancement of modern technology, the internet has been the extensive library of the scripts from different movies, plays, short films, etc. Nonetheless, the internet is a big place to search in; thus, it could still be a challenge for you to look for great references. Aside from this website, here is a list of sites from New York Film Academy for downloading and reading scripts from various media.

  • IMSDB – Internet Movie Screenplay Database
  • Go Into the Story
  • Drew’s Script-o-Rama
  • Simply Scripts
  • Awesome Film
  • Screenplays For You
  • The Daily Script
  • The Screenplay Database
  • The Script Lab
  • Movie Scripts and Screenplays

What are the six basic steps in writing a script?

1. Concept and Idea Generation

Start by brainstorming ideas and concepts for your script. What story do you want to tell, and what message or theme do you want to convey? Consider the genre, tone, and style of your script. It’s essential to have a clear vision of your story before moving forward.

2. Outline and Structure

Develop an outline that outlines the major plot points and structure of your script. Determine the acts, sequences, and scenes that will make up your story. Create a clear beginning, middle, and end to guide the narrative flow.

3. Character Development

Create well-rounded and relatable characters. Define their backgrounds, motivations, strengths, weaknesses, and arcs. Characters are at the heart of any script, and their actions and interactions drive the story.

4. Writing the Script

Start writing the script itself, following the appropriate industry formatting standards. Screenplays typically use specific formatting rules, including elements like scene headings, character names, dialogue, and action descriptions. Ensure your script is clear and easy to read.

5. Revisions and Polishing

Scriptwriting is often an iterative process. Review and revise your script multiple times. Pay attention to dialogue, pacing, character consistency, and plot logic. Seek feedback from others, including peers and experienced scriptwriters, to make improvements.

How do you write a script for beginners?

1. Start with an Idea:

Begin by brainstorming ideas for your script. Think about the story you want to tell, the themes you want to explore, and the characters you want to create. Your idea can come from personal experiences, books, news stories, or simply your imagination.

2. Study the Craft:

Familiarize yourself with the basics of scriptwriting. Read scripts of movies or TV shows in your chosen genre to get a sense of formatting, structure, and style. There are also many books, online courses, and resources available to learn more about scriptwriting.

3. Choose Your Format:

Determine the format for your script. The most common formats are screenplays for movies and TV, stage plays for theater, and teleplays for television. Each has specific formatting guidelines, so make sure to choose the appropriate one for your project.

4. Create an Outline:

Develop an outline that sketches out the main plot points, characters, and the overall structure of your script. Consider the three-act structure often used in storytelling, and identify key turning points in your plot.

5. Develop Your Characters:

Create well-rounded and relatable characters. Define their backgrounds, motivations, and character arcs. Understand their strengths, weaknesses, and how they evolve throughout the story.

6. Write the Script:

Start writing your script, following the industry-standard formatting for your chosen medium. Common script elements include scene headings, character names, dialogue, and action descriptions. Be concise and clear in your writing.

7. Focus on Dialogue:

Pay special attention to writing natural and engaging dialogue. It should reveal character traits, move the plot forward, and reflect the characters’ unique voices. Read the dialogue out loud to ensure it sounds realistic.

Types of Script Writing

  1. Screenwriting for Film: This involves writing scripts for movies. Screenplays include detailed descriptions of scenes, character dialogues, and directions for actors and cameras. The narrative can range from short films to feature-length movies.
  2. Television Writing: Scripts for TV shows can vary greatly depending on the format, including serialized dramas, sitcoms, reality shows, and news programs. Writers often work in teams to produce episodes for a series, following specific guidelines to maintain consistency.
  3. Playwriting for Theatre: Writing for the stage, playwriting involves crafting scripts for live performances. Plays require dialogue and stage directions to guide actors and directors, emphasizing strong character development and plot to engage the audience in a real-time setting.
  4. Radio Scriptwriting: Radio scripts are written for a broadcasts, focusing on dialogue, sound effects, and music to tell a story or convey information without visual elements. This form includes radio dramas, talk shows, and commercials.
  5. Video Game Writing: This involves creating the narrative for video games, including character dialogue, story arcs, and world-building elements. Video game writing is interactive, requiring multiple scenarios and outcomes based on player choices.
  6. Documentary Scriptwriting: Writing for documentaries involves crafting a narrative that combines factual information with storytelling. Scripts may include voice-over narration, interviews, and visual descriptions to guide the documentary’s flow and structure.
  7. Commercial and Advertising Scriptwriting: This type involves creating scripts for commercials and advertisements, focusing on persuasive language and compelling narratives to promote products or services within a very short timeframe.
  8. Web Series Writing: Scripts for web series are created specifically for online platforms, catering to a diverse and often niche audience. Web series can vary in genre and format, allowing for creative freedom and experimentation.
  9. Animation Writing: Writing for animation involves scripts for animated films or series, requiring imaginative storytelling that complements visual art and animation techniques. It includes character dialogues, actions, and sometimes musical sequences.

What is difference between script and screenplay?

Aspect Script Screenplay
Medium More general and can refer to any written document intended for performance, including scripts for theater, radio, and more. Specifically refers to a written document for a film or television production.
Audience May be intended for actors, directors, or theater production teams, depending on the context. Primarily intended for filmmakers, including directors, producers, actors, and crew members involved in film or TV production.
Format Formatting and style may vary depending on the medium (theater, radio, etc.). Follows industry-standard formatting guidelines specific to the film or TV industry.
Description Generally used for a broader range of performances and may include more narrative description and stage directions. Focuses more on visual and a elements relevant to film or television, such as camera directions and scene transitions.
Detail May contain more detailed descriptions of the characters and their actions to guide actors and directors. Typically contains less character and action description, as this is often left to the director’s interpretation.
Usage in Film/TV Less common in the context of film and TV, as “screenplay” is the preferred term for these mediums. The standard term used for writing for film and television.
Example A stage play script, a radio script, or a script for a live theater performance. A script for a feature film, a TV series episode, or a teleplay for a TV show.

General FAQ’s

What makes a good script?

A good script is compelling, with well-defined characters, engaging dialogue, a strong structure, and a clear theme, offering a meaningful story that resonates with its audience.

How do you write a script with no dialogue?

To write a script with no dialogue, focus on visual storytelling. Develop a clear concept, outline, and rely on actions, expressions, and imagery to convey the narrative effectively.

How long does it take to write a script?

The time to write a script varies widely, depending on the type, complexity, and writer’s experience. A feature film script may take several months, while a short script might be completed in a few weeks. It’s influenced by factors like research, planning, revisions, and individual writing speed.

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