Best guide on how to write a script for movies or books

You don’t need to tell me, for I know that many people, even writers, are scared of writing scripts. Many fear that it is hard to do, while some are not just ready to be laughed at, because they think they will make mistakes. But rest assured you will learn how to write a script now.

Do you think that anyone was born a scriptwriter? No. Everyone strives to learn. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, because everyone is unique in his way.

ATTENTION: My article will be based on the two sides of the same topic. The reason is that I got to understand that different people have different points of view on this question of How to write a script? Some search for this question on Google, awaiting a result on; how they can convert their already written story into a script. While some want to know how they can come up with a script. This is a new topic on its own.

So, I will be covering both points of view in this article. Let’s get started.

What Is A Script? 

Simply put, a script may be referred to as the written version of a play. And that’s why we have play texts today. In fact, there is actually no difference between a play text and a script. 

In ages past there was nothing like script writing in Literature. The telling of stories then was basically done orally. Even if drama would be acted in their local streets, back in the days, only a narrator is needed. 

He or she comes to tell you how to imitate a character. And puts you through. Yeah, we are talking of times before William Shakespeare’s era. 

That’s not the case today

Come to think of it, which is the best way of letting your characters know their role; the oral means, or through a script? Script!

With this illustration, I’m sure you now understand what a script is and its essence. It has to do with the art of writing. 

A person who writes a script is called a Scriptwriter. This is similar to the work of a playwright/dramatist.  

You should also know that a script could be a screenplay. Scriptwriting, what we are dealing with now, is the act of writing a play, for a movie production, stage drama, etc… 

Why Do We Write Scripts?

Why do you intend to write a script? I’m convinced that you would not truly understand how writing a script works if you don’t know the reason why you are doing it. 

How to write a script for movies and books

To avoid the waste of time, let’s liken this to the importance of a script in a play. 

1. The major aim of using a script during a movie production, is to guide the action of every character: Hence, your script should tell your actors and actresses, every action they are required to take at each point.

Having this at the back of your mind may influence your choice of words. Most writers choose the most relatable of words, usually very simple, that anyone, especially their target audiences, can understand easily. 

Simply put, when you understand that you are giving out your write-up (the script) to people, that must understand it for a good result, you would make it very simple. 

I will dwell more on this, in the next subheading of this article. Keep reading. 

2. To tell the complete story: More like the first reason, you should know that your script ‘must tell’ the complete story you intend to see, probably on screen. 

By complete story, we mean something detailed, and of course do not mean to overlook the point that some works are open-ended. 

3. Again, your script must tell all that the camera should see. Here, your camera includes not only the literal camera, but also your audience. 

Gradually, you and I are beginning to see how we can write a good script. Let’s consider again, the nearest topic.

Features Of A Script

  • The list of characters at the opening of the script

One first important thing, you should write at the beginning of the script, the full list of your characters. 

For instance, In A Raisin in the Sun,’ by Lorraine Hansberry, we have: 

Walter Lee Younger

Ruth Younger

Lena Younger

Beneatha Younger

Travis Younger 

Lena Younger (Mama)

Joseph Asagai

George Murchison

Karl Lindner


Moving Men

Mrs. Johnson

Just like most play texts used to do, you should also summarise the actions of your characters, so that your audience may get familiar with them, from the outset. This idea is optional and may be unnecessary with plays that are not meant to be sold as texts but to be performed. 

A good example is this:

“The protagonist of the play. Walter is a dreamer. He wants to be rich and devises plans to acquire wealth with his friends, particularly Willy Harris. When the play opens, he wants to invest his father’s insurance money in a new liquor store venture. He spends the rest of the play endlessly preoccupied with discovering a quick solution to his family’s various problems.” This is the summary of the account of Walter Lee Younger, written on the first page of the play, in ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’

This may also be regarded as characterization in literature. 

  • The script is divided into acts, then further divided into scenes

For example, Act 1 Scene One, Act 1 Scene Two. Acts are the umbrellas under which scenes come. 

  • An illustration of the setting before each scene

Don’t hesitate to be elaborate in this sense. You should illustrate the setting (i.e, the location) of every single scene. 

For instance: Imagine someone tells you that he found your brother smoking.

Before taking any action, the next thing you want to know, prompts your first question, which will be, where? 

The picture may not be complete on your mind until the person tells you where he found your brother. You need to know the location. Otherwise, all attempts to find your brother may fail. 

Therefore, you must make the location of each scene known, before it begins. 

In the play text, ‘A Raisin in the Sun,’ the settings of each scene are boldly written above the page. 

A worthwhile example is what I extract from page 56 (the beginning of Act 1, Scene 2) in ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’

It is the following morning, a Saturday morning, and house cleaning is in progress at the Youngers’ Family. Furniture has been shoved hither and Ruth and Mama are giving the Kitchen-area walls a washing-down. Beneatha in dungarees, with a handkerchief tied around her face, is spraying insecticides into the cracks in the walls. As they work, the radio is on and a Southside disc-jockey programme is inappropriately filling the house with a rather exotic saxophone blues. Travis is the sole idle one, learning on his arms, looking out of the window.”

This write-up, at the top of Scene Two, gives readers clear details as to how the place (where the camera sees) looks like. 

Hence, people who intend to act the play text get a clearer picture of how to go about it. 

  • Your dialogue lines in the script play the role a tyre plays in a bicycle. (I’m sure you understand this.) It is what keeps the play moving. Unless it’s a pantomime or so, where dialoguing is not particularly defined. 
  • The name of each character comes before the line of dialogue. For example, let’s act something:

You: You are a boring guy.

Me: Thanks, all fingers are not equal. 

You: Must you be the short finger? 

Your arrangements of dialogue between characters continue in this manner…

  • In a script, stage directions are used to educate performers on how to act or what to do

One who directs the stage is called a stage director. For Example:

It instructs actors on when to come in, and go out of the various entrances that are available. 

Read Also: How to write a response to literature essay

A common slogan among movie actors is, “Your play is no longer yours when it gets to the director”. The director can so much determine what becomes of your work. 

  • Stage guidance and settings description are written in italics

It is important to write your stage directions and settings illustration in Italics. It helps your readers easily distinguish the directions from the dialogue, etc.

I’m glad that you have now learned the features of a script. It will help you to relate excellently to the steps I will be talking about. Congratulations to you, if you have skipped reading the features of a script. The reason is that you will have to go through it now. Haha. 

How To Write A Script (Converting a story to a script)

In addition to all the long stories I have been saying, we should be done in three steps. 

How to write a script for movies and books
  1. Draft down your story: In doing this, you should make sure to employ both narrative and descriptive storytelling techniques. We want to assume you already have a story. 
  1. Reread: Don’t forget to proofread your story. 
  1. Write your script: With the help of the topics I have treated above, convert your story to a script. 

How To Write A Script (Developing Ideas)

Here are some ways you can easily get ideas together for your script. 

  1. You should understand what a script is: 

I have earlier explained the concept of a script to you. The next thing you should know is that a script is either developed based on a true-life story, or an imaginary story. Of course, we call it a lie, outside literature. But inside it, it’s called fiction. 

A fictional story is a story (series of events) that only you know. The reason you are the only one who knows it is because it didn’t really happen; you made it up

It is a story that you thought of in your mind. With your great imagination, you can come up with a full story. Remember that you must have a story first, before penning it in a script format. 

Secondly, we have Non-Fictional Stories. They are ideas that you gathered from reality. It’s a non-fictional piece when you tell a story about a great warrior in your village, for instance. Precisely, this type of story has to be real. Biographies are examples of non-fictional works. 

Lastly, you are allowed to combine the idea in your mind (fiction) and some things that happened around you (non-fiction), in a script. It’s sometimes called faction

In a script: Most importantly, you need to show your audience what is happening, not telling them. 

  1. Go for a simple project

The aspect that you can’t take away. If you don’t like to do research, you should not lay your hand upon a project that will require you to spend some decades in the Library. As a newbie, you should not put a high project ahead of you, to avoid dabbling in one idea.

Always ensure that you finish your work, and move on. If you wish to do something outstanding, go ahead and do just that. But “Give it your best, but don’t k!ll yourself.”

  1. Learn from Others

An African proverb that I will never forget says; ‘He who knows one thing, does not know another.’ Again, another proverb says; “The day you stop learning, you start dying.” 

Always try to learn from professional scriptwriters. 

You should, for instance, get a copy of the script for your favorite film. Then read along as you watch the movie. By doing this, you will see for yourself, what the scriptwriter planned, and what the director could attain for the piece. 

  1. You Can Get Inspired By Different Things

It is not a crime, it is normal to run out of ideas. How you attend to this situation is what matters.

You can, for instance, take a walk on the street, listen to music, or go to a game shop, to get ideas. Someone in the game shop can make a statement, that will end up stimulating the title of your script. Having gotten a title, you can imagine the characters and scenes of your play. Then start writing your first draft.

  1. Know what your characters want:

The major characters in your play should be the antagonist/s and the protagonist. Under them, comes other characters. For you to be able to know what your characters want, you must first explain the story to yourself. 

Having know what your protagonist want, develop your scenes, by thinking of ways through which getting those things becomes hard for him/her. 

  1. Ensure that your audience understands what your characters feel without a dialogue. In this aspect, you should work on the actions of your actors. Remember that, ‘Actions speak louder than words.’
  1. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes:

The best way to learn in life is by neglecting what people may say about you when you get it wrong. Remember that you can learn how to speak a language if you don’t want to be laughed at. You should be ready to make mistakes and learn from them, in the course of making your script composition. I have talked about this earlier in this article. 

  1. Less is Usually Better:

According to Frazer Flintham, the top-secret for developing good scenes is to ‘start late and get out early.’ A scene doesn’t need to be a fully realized story. Make it short.

  1. Discover Yourself

You need to know who you are, so you can write the script to your strengths. For instance, if you are not good at the use of magniloquences, you should make your use of words very simple. 

  1. Identify the Themes

Having what you want people to learn from your story at the back of your mind, will help you have a clear-cut target. 

11. Summarise your story.

12. Having gathered your ideas, you put up your first draft

13. Share with your family and friends. You can’t be your audience, that is why you need to hear from others. A new pair of eyes is usually necessary. 

14. Write your first script

15. Congratulations! You are done with your first script. 

Of a truth, I tell you. It won’t be my joy that you do not learn anything in this article. For this reason, I have a summary below. 

In Summary, Follow These Steps To Write A Good Script

 1. Come up with an idea

 2. Research your content

 3. Develop your ideas 

 4. Consider your audience 

 5. Know your Theme

 6. Make an Outline (As a story) 

 7. Write your script.

Having done research online and offline, I am convinced that this will help you write a good script. 

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