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MHS Library | The Year My Voice Broke

How to write a screenplay - WikiHow 

Scenes

You’ll see that each scene is numbered. And “INT. OFFICE. DAY” indicates that it’s an internal shot, in an office, during the day.

Dialogue

The character speaking the dialogue always appears above their dialogue. And this is indented 3.4cm from the left AND the right. That makes it easy to distinguish the dialogue from the instructions.

Action

If you’re describing action, you write it in present tense. Example: “He walks towards the toilet door.”
Source:
 How to format a screenplay (Australian Writers' Centre)  
Writing a script - Georgetown University Library

 

How to write a screenplay (Brighthub)

Basically, screenplays are broken into four main pieces: Character Dialogue, Scene Headings, Names and Scene Action. The purpose of this is to break up your screenplay into scenes, which assists in the flow of the screenplay and helps actors learn individual scenes.

First of all, let’s discuss how you will set up your character dialogue or what the character (the “who" of the scene) is saying. Generally, this is done in one of two ways. Either the character name will be slightly indented or centered over the dialogue. The name is always in all caps. For example, see below:

CAROLINE

I want to go out to eat tonight. I don’t feel like cooking.

Dialogue is always single-spaced so that more of it can fit on a page. Unless you’re writing a novel, quotes are not necessary, only the name of the character.

Scene Headings

Next, we’re going to move onto the scene headings. These are often referred to as sluglines. The headings tell the “where" of the screenwriting scene or where the action is taking place. For example, see below:

EXT. FRONT PORCH – LATE NIGHT

Scene headings go over the location of the scene (FRONT PORCH), time of day (LATE NIGHT) and whether or not the action is taking place inside or outside (EXT for exterior and INT for interior). This helps the director and production crew figure out where they need to set up the action. For example, if INT is used, they may be working on a sound stage or even inside a home.

Character Names

Character names alert actors who should be speaking the lines. Like the above example, the character names will always be above the dialogue, and they will always be in all caps. If you just have stock character (i.e. shop girl, crowd member, etc.), you may just give them a generic name. This will also appear in all caps above the dialogue.

  • Action

    The final part of the entire scene is the action or the “what" of scene. The action describes what’s going on and which characters are involved. For example:

    Caroline passes the room in an anxious way, picking up random objects and just as quickly putting them back down. She jumps as Jack walks into the room.

    The action explains what the characters should be doing when there is no dialogue. The action description follows standard sentence grammar, but it should be single spaced and should always be in the present tense. Even if the action took place in the past, the action description will still be in the present tense. The scene heading will say whether or not the action took place in the past.

    If you wish the character to be doing an action while speaking, add parenthesis with the action information. For example, see below:

    Caroline

    (turning towards Jack)

    I’m ready to go.

    If someone is talking off in the distance, this is known as off screen (O.S.). This just needs to be added after the character name. The same can be done for voice over (V.O.), which means that the character is talking from some place that is not seen, i.e. within the character’s head.

     
     
  • Scene Sample

    Now that you know what the basics mean, let’s put it all together.

    EXT. FRONT PORCH – LATE NIGHT

    Caroline passes the room in an anxious way, picking up random objects and just as quickly putting them back down. She jumps as Jack walks into the room.

     

    CAROLINE

    I want to go out to eat tonight. I don’t feel like cooking.

    (Source: Brighthub.com)