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How to Write a Screenplay - scriptwriting for beginners

I'm gonna tell you everything you need

to write your first screenplay we're

gonna go over story structure formatting

software and more stay tuned the first

thing you need to do if you want to

write screenplays is actually read some

screenplays I put links down below for

all kinds of websites that will have the

scripts for your favorite movies now

there's one thing you need to keep in

mind some of these are production drafts

or shooting drafts and some are spec

scripts you need to make sure you're

writing a spec script there's a separate

video that I made that is telling you

the difference between the two you need

to know the difference that's gonna be

in a playlist at the end of this video

next you need some software to help you

write your screenplay the industry

standard is final draft that's what all

the pros use a runner up to that would

be movie magic I happen to like that one

because of the way it handles notes but

there are plenty of free software

programs that are gonna help you write

your screenplay

like trobee and celtics some people like

write or do it it has a trial so there's

no excuse to have a script that is not

properly formatted again there's links

down below for some software that you

can use to format your script now that's

gonna help you get the margins correct

but you still have to know something

about the basic formatting and the first

thing to know is that your screenplay

needs to be in 12-point courier font it

needs to look like it was written in a

typewriter

so let's look at the title page you're

gonna have the title in all caps in the

middle of the page now here's where you

can kind of veer from the rule that is

your entire script should be written in

12-point courier font it's becoming in

vogue now to use a different font for

just the title or maybe even a graphic

for just the title and if you have a

Windows computer and you want to learn

how to do that I made a video about that

as well but the rest of your script is

gonna be 12-point courier font now one

thing to note here too don't use new

courier cuz a lot of people are reading

things on tablets and phones and it's

too light so use a darker courier so

you're gonna have

your title in the middle of the page

then below that you're gonna have either

written by or by and then below that

you're gonna have your name then on

either the bottom left or the bottom

right you're gonna put your name and

your email address and your phone number

it's becoming kind of not so much in

vogue anymore to put your address so you

don't need to put your address there so

now let's look at the first page of your

script there's not gonna be a number on

the first page the rest of the pages of

the script will have numbers on them the

first one does is so don't think that's

an error when you're printing it out

then you used to have to write fade in

as the first thing in your script we

don't really do that anymore because

it's kind of a given if we're gonna see

something we must have faded in so

you're just going to start with your

slug line or your scene heading this

basically tells us where this scene

takes place and what time it takes place

so it's gonna start with either e x t or

int that is short for either interior or

exterior is this an inside shot or an

outside shot so if it was at the park it

would be ext exterior park if it was in

a living room it would be interior int

period living room then at the end

you're gonna put the time now really all

you have to put here is day or night

don't go crazy and start putting mid

afternoon early evening 4:00 a.m.

because that just Flags you as an

amateur because you have to understand

what someone's gonna do with this script

eventually down the road if it sells

because your script is gonna sell if

someone has to break down this script

and they need to know how to shoot this

and if you wrote 4 a.m. the whole crew

is not gonna sit around for half a day

or stay up all night waiting for 4:00

a.m. to shoot your scene if it needs to

be daytime outside they're gonna shoot

it whenever they can if it's nighttime

they're gonna shoot it whenever they can

so just put either day or night that's

it then under that you're gonna have

your description or action lines and the

first thing you're gonna write is

something to kind of orient us to the

setting just a little snippet

and again you don't want to go crazy

here a good rule of thumb is to write

the way you would describe a movie that

you saw to a friend so let's say we have

our two bad guys go to a bar and they

start talking about their diamond heist

if you were describing this movie that

you saw to a friend you wouldn't say

okay so they go to this bar and the bar

has green barstools and there's a

dartboard and there's three pool tables

in the back and the bathrooms are at the

very back and the bar is kind of long

and there's two TVs over the bar your

friend would be like what are you

talking about why are you telling me

about the barstools what why do I have

to know where the bathrooms are just

tell me the story if you were describing

this movie to a friend you would just

say so the bad guys go to the seedy bar

and then they start doing whatever

they're gonna do you just want to give a

vibe of the location because you're

gonna let the set designer figure out

the specifics you're not gonna start

telling us what's on the walls and what

color things are a screenplay is not

like a novel so you're just gonna very

quickly give us the vibe of the setting

is it say a modern office is it a living

room decorated in yardsale finds you

know something really quick that just

gives us the vibe of where we are and

this is where I'm gonna go on my

squirrel rant because I do this so often

a good way to show that you're new and

yet don't know what you're doing is to

start asking for very specific things

that are unnecessary and my favorite one

is they'll say its exterior Park Day and

they'll say it's a beautiful day at the

park and a squirrel runs across the

ground does the squirrel factor into the

story is this the movie about squirrels

does the squirrel come and bite somebody

and they get rabies and it starts to

zombie apocalypse no the squirrel is

just stuck decoration it is pointless it

is meaningless and the person putting a

squirrel in there for no darn good

reason doesn't know what they're asking

for because you're gonna have to ask the

production to hire a swarm a trained

squirrel that's good

across the walk and you're probably

gonna have to have a squirrel Wrangler

with the squirrel you might have to have

a bad girl you might have to pay PETA to

come babysit the situation to make sure

no squirrels were harmed in its

production then you have to house the

squirrel and the squirrel Wrangler and

also transport them home wherever

they're being housed to the back you're

asking for all this money and all this

effort and all this time and it doesn't

matter so do not put anything in your

screenplay that doesn't actually matter

no pretty set decoration no Faberge eggs

just sitting on the shelf just to be

pretty you want to give very general

ideas of things they can use whatever is

available and give us some vibe without

unnecessary details then you're gonna

introduce your characters now every time

you introduce a new character you're

gonna put their name in all caps what

that does is the person breaking down

the script later after your script sells

and somebody has to break it down to

shoot it it tells them this is the first

time we've seen this character so they

can then keep track of them during the

script so the first time they appear

their names gonna be in all caps then

you're gonna give us either an age range

like 40s or you might give a specific

age if they're younger like 16 17 then

again a brief description without

getting too specific you're not gonna

tell us everything they're wearing from

head to toe you're not gonna tell us

that they have blue eyes and brown hair

that's for the casting agent that is for

whatever after they find you're gonna

give us more of a vibe like their goth

or their nerdy or their prep be read

screenplays and you'll kind of get more

of a gist for it so that you'll

understand how to introduce characters

so what else is gonna go in your action

lines and your description lines is

exactly that action or description so

you know Ted walks across the room

someone goes and picks something up

anything you see on screen is going to

go in the action and description lines

and a general rule of thumb is that

every time you start a new paragraph you

are implying a different camera shot so

if you want everything to kind of have

same shot you can put it all in the same

paragraph if you're kind of cutting back

and forth between two different shots

then you're gonna start new paragraphs

you also don't usually want to have

paragraphs that are any longer than four

to five lines because when you get a

bagel block of text the person reading

is just gonna curl up in the fetal

position and cry because they don't want

to dive into that you want to make it

easy to read they say in Hollywood you

want a lot of white space when you look

at your page you want to see a lot of

white space now after action lines comes

the dialogue you're gonna have your

character's name and all caps in the

middle then below that is going to be

what they say now you sometimes have an

extension after the character's name

that would be either vo or os or OC vo

is voice over that's when you have

something that was recorded somewhere

else this coming on top of the scene os

or OC is off screen or off camera that

would be if the camera is looking

somewhere else but the other actor is

still in the vicinity so we can hear

them we just can't see them underneath

the character's name you might have

Wiley's or parentheses that would be an

action that is happening while the

character says something so let's say

Tom asks bill to pass the salt and so

bill passes the salt as he says sure

here you go you would put that in a

Wylie under the character name passing

the salt he says here you go now if he

doesn't say anything and he just passes

a salt then it would just be in the

action line bill passes the salt what

can also go in the Wiley's of the

parentheses is some kind of a modifier

of how they say something so if you want

to put smiling or sarcastic or something

like that but you really really want to

limit the use of these actors find them

annoying because you're telling them

what to do like you know better and it

just kind of clutters up the read and

usually they're redundant someone will

write sarcastic and it's a line that's

very obviously sarcastic or someone will

say screaming and then it'll be all caps

with exclamation points where it was

kind of obvious to help you with

dialogue I made this

again this will be in the big ole

playlist of videos at the end that

you're gonna watch after this video that

will help you avoid some really common

dialogue mistakes now a general rule of

thumb is that each of your scenes should

be around two pages long so some will be

shorter you might have some scenes that

are half a page one page some will be

three pages four pages maybe sometimes

you have a really long scene but if all

your scenes are like three pages four

pages five pages seven pages they're too

long you got to start cutting that and

start speeding up the pace now how long

should your screenplay be the old

numbers about ten years ago where that

your screenplay should be like 95 to 120

pages that's come way down now the

longest your screenplay should probably

be aim for like 105 pages so you can be

like 90 to 105 now after you're finished

your screenplay how are you going to get

it to Hollywood most of the times

submissions are made through email with

a PDF so in your screenplay software

you're gonna generate a PDF and you're

gonna send that and the very first page

of the PDF will be the title page now

let's say you actually need to bind your

screenplay because a friend of yours is

having a pool party and Steven

Spielberg's coming and he said he would

read a script on the way home in the

plane are you gonna go to Kinko's and

get the most expensive awesome binding

they have so you'll impress Steven

Spielberg no because the industry binds

the screenplays in a very particular way

you're gonna get two blank pieces of

cardstock white is great another neutral

color is fine one on the front one in

the back the whole thing is three-hole

punched but you're only gonna put one

and a quarter of brass fasteners in the

top and the bottom and then so that

those stay in nice and cozy you're gonna

use some brass washers there's links for

those down below now we're gonna talk

about story structure you'll hear a lot

about three-act structure you start kind

of with the ordinary world set up then

around page 1215 you have what's called

the inciting incident that kind of sets

the story in motion then you've got like

a climax plot point kind of at the end

of Act one

you've got something exciting and

amazing happening in the midpoint

something else unbeliev

the exciting and amazing is happening at

the end of Act two and then you've got

your climax at the end and then a

resolution after the climax now that's

too mathematical for you and that makes

really no sense I hear you and a more

simple way to think about it comes from

Emma Coates who wrote a list called the

22 rules of storytelling according to

Pixar once upon a time there was a blank

everyday blank one day blink because of

that blank because of that blank until

finally blank so if you can kind of fit

your story into that template then

you'll kind of have the plot point

without necessarily getting too

mathematical about it now some books

that you can read that pretty much all

screenwriters have read whether they

actually use them or not they're still

aware of them Syd field screenplay story

by Robert McKee save the cat by blake

schneider now there are a lot of

different ways to go about structuring

your story and I have my own particular

way I made a video about it and this

could have been a book because it's a

revolutionary way to plot your story

starting from the middle then going from

the middle to the end then going

backwards and it solves one of the

biggest problems that I see in the

scripts that I read and that is

repetitive boring screenplays because

usually when you read structure books or

you look at structure templates you have

a character has a goal and they're

fighting towards their goal and they

have setbacks and the keep fighting

towards their goal and they have

setbacks and you end up with this really

repetitive story and you don't have much

of a character arc as well and I'll talk

about character arcs in a second here so

after you watch this video and you watch

the playlist of all the videos I'm

mentioning you're going to watch this

video which is your screenplay needs

candy

it's about candy stepping it's about a

series of progressive related goals and

it works for both character driven or

plot driven scripts you can look at

silver linings playbook or you can look

at die hard or Silence of the Lamb

and it's still gonna match this template

and if you use my technique it's gonna

give you a much more exciting script and

it's gonna really help you understand

what should be there and it's gonna make

you avoid the horrible horrible

repetitive screenplays that are so

rampant now let's talk about character

arc usually somebody has to have one

they'll talk usually about it being your

main character having one but it doesn't

always have to be your main character it

has to be some character and I talked

about this in this video

advanced screenwriting you can watch

that as well so your arc is gonna be you

forcing a character to change and grow

though and do what they need to do so

all these external things that you're

forcing your character to do and suffer

are to push them to change and grow so

you also want to very much keep in mind

your characters arc or the character arc

that is in there if it's not your main

character when you are plotting your

screenplay so I have a video on that as

well it is structure with character arc

now after you are finished with your

screenplay if you wanna you can

copyright it if you're a little paranoid

that somebody's gonna steal it

you can register it with the Library of

Congress or the WGA to help protect your

copyright now you have copyright whether

you officially registered or not but if

it makes y'all cozy to not have to worry

that somebody's gonna steal your movie I

put links down below for the websites

you need to go to if you want to

register your script for copyright now

after you finish your script you're

gonna need some feedback you need to

refine it and make it better now your

mom is great but she's probably not

gonna give very constructive criticism

because she's gonna be too nice and give

you cookies you want people that are a

little more inside the industry a nice

first step would be so trope which is

the website that Francis Ford Coppola

made and it's basically peer review it's

other screenwriters newer screenwriters

like you and you're doing review swaps

you read their script and they'll read

yours now the best way to learn

screenwriting is to evaluate and read

other

people screenplays because you will see

the mistakes they make and they will

annoy you so much you will never make

those mistakes again so so Trump is a

great site to go to for feedback but

then eventually you're going to want

feedback from people who are in the

industry who are reading the scripts

that are currently out there so there

are a lot of different places you can go

to one of the ones I happen to use is

screenplay readers I also use the

screenplay mechanic and Amanda script

gal so there's links for those down

below I am very very very rarely

available for notes and I'll have a link

for me down below but it's a waiting

list and I have no idea when I'll be

available then after you've gotten all

kinds of feedback and everyone cries

tears of joy when they read your script

and it's everything you want it to be

and it's ready to go then you're gonna

want to watch my video how to sell a

screenplay it's gonna talk about

contests and pitch fest and all kinds of

avenues into Hollywood there's all kinds

of ways to break in and that is

everything you need to know to write

your amazing screenplay and I encourage

you to do it even if you've never

written anything even if you don't

consider yourself a writer you will just

become a more interesting fascinating

happy person if you embark on this

journey and especially if you have a

story that is burning inside of you that

wants to come out so write that

screenplay the playlists for all the

videos I mentioned is going to be at the

end I hope you appreciated this video if

you did don't forget to give it a thumbs

up and don't forget to subscribe and I

will talk to you later