1. Formulate a premise.
Write a short sentence (27 words or less) of the fundamental concept which drives the plot.
2. Create an outline or treatment.
Before you begin actually writing dialog and script, it might help to create a basic road-map/story of what will happen in your story so you don't get sidetracked and can work out any plot holes or kinks. Sketch out a general plan and envision how events will unfold. This should be told in the third-person.
3. Flesh out your story.
Write the entire premise of the play, movie, etc. with lots of details and ideas, paying no mind to style, format, repetition, or anything else that gets in the way of your creative flow. Your finished product should cover the plot, personalities, relationships, character arcs, and a larger point to the story. Sometimes, drawings or diagrams may be used as a temporary storyboard to show to other persons to demonstrate facets of your plot and characters, etc.
Your characters should drive the action on the stage or screen, so make sure they are interesting and innovative. It may not be necessary for you to fully develop them right away, however, as they tend to take on lives of their own as the script-writing continues.
4. Trim the story down.
Now that you have everything on paper, look for dead weight, weak links, irrelevant details, over-explaining, sidetracking, elements that drag, and anything else that weakens the overall trajectory. Be harsh; just because you fell in love with something you worked on in the exploratory phase doesn’t mean it should survive the revision phase.
5. Write the plot in script format.
The exact format will vary depending on whether you’re writing for theater, TV, or the silver screen – and in what country. (For example, the American TV industry’s standard script format is modeled on the business plan.) Use proper headers to introduce scenes, identify each speaker, and so on; many production companies won’t even look at a script if it isn’t properly formatted.
Set the scene. Don't forget to include important details such as time of day, setting, and actions of the characters in the scene. These are nearly as important as the dialog that occurs.
Describe action only briefly; provide a sense of what’s happening on screen, but leave it to the director to fill in the details.
Maintain your style. Remember, scripts are all about action and dialog. Make sure your characters speak realistically, and try not to mix styles of speech and vocabulary too much unless you are going for a certain effect.
Consider purchasing script-writing software for this phase of the process. There are several programs that will guide you through the formatting or even convert an already-written script into the correct layout.
6. Spend a lot of time working on your dialogue.
Dialogue will make or break your characters and their relationships. What’s worse, dialogue is extremely difficult for most people to write. To get your bearings, write down or record real conversations to see how people really speak and which expressions they use. Be sure to listen to a variety of speakers to so that you can give your own characters more flavor and individuality. Read your dialogue aloud as you go, paying extra attention to whether or not it sounds halting, stereotyped, over-the-top, or totally uniform.
Ensuring that different characters have their own “voice” and “persona” based on their background will keep them from blending into one another. Remember, their personal will affect their attitude, word choices and dialect.
7. Edit your work.
Polish it, but don't be a perfectionist; work toward perfection, not to it.
8. Show your finished work to people whose opinion you respect.
Choose people who not only come from different backgrounds and have varied personal tastes, but are also willing to provide honest feedback.
Don't let yourself feel insulted, controlled, upset, or angered by a critiques or remarks; they’re opinion, not fact. Laugh and be enthusiastic about help and advice, but weigh your critics’ opinions against your own judgment before implementing any changes.
9. Revise your work as many times as necessary.
Painful as it may be, you’ll be glad when you’re finally able to convey your vision.
- All scripts should contain conflict, progression and status changes, or will be uninteresting to read or watch.
- You may want to attend a scriptwriting class, which will give you helpful hints on the nuances of writing a full script, especially things such as plot development, character development, and dialog.
- A stage play should have a cover page clearly showing the title of the play, the author of the play, and the approximate length of the play. Stage direction/other direction is written in italics.
- Before pitching a screenplay, you'll want to get electronic proof-of-creation. You can do this online.
- If you’ve written a movie script, you may want to use one of the film industry's online scouting services, to get your story and screenplay reviewed by industry executives in a protected platform of exposure.
- If you would like to have your script performed on stage or screen, you will need to contact an agent who can help you send it to the necessary people (producers and directors). It is often a long and arduous process to get a script accepted, so be patient.