My Screenplay

  • Commit to writing a Screenplay

    • In the timeline, add writing milestones you want to achieve on your way to finishing your project.

    • Pro tip: Think about when you want to finish this writing project and the 3-4 big things you want to accomplish between now and then.
    • Break down your first milestone into smaller, more actionable tasks.

    • Pro tip: You're more likely to make progress if your tasks take an hour or less to finish.
  • Refine your timeline

    • Click on the arrow below this task to expand a task writing area

    • Don't hold back. Remember why you want to write and just do. This is where you can write notes. There's a writing space under every task under each milestone. 'Refine your timeline' is your first milestone for this project. If you've finished this task, make sure to click on the checkbox above to cross it off!
    • Click on the 'My Timeline' button above the title of this milestone and check out your new timeline

    • Add dates to your timeline

    • This custom smart project has a ton of great guidance and information to get you started on an awesome screenplay. However, it's a great idea to go through the milestones and their respective tasks and add or edit according your specific needs. One first step would be to add dates to your milestones, starting with the last milestone. Start there and ask yourself when you want to finish this project. Then, work backwards until you've given yourself deadlines for each milestone. Don't worry, you can always adjust later!
    • Add any missing milestones and tasks

    • Feel free to take a little time to go through each milestone and task and refine this project for your needs.
  • Brainstorm story ideas

    • Set a timer and freewrite for 5 minutes

    • Suggestions: Think about movie characters, films, or plays you've enjoyed in the past. Or freewrite about settings or periods you've always been interested in (ie, 1950s America, Ancient Egypt, etc). Press the play button to start the timer and write here...
    • List out character types and feelings you'd like to convey in your writing

    • It's important to have an idea of characters you might want to develop and the emotions or feelings you'd like to explore as part of your screenplay.
  • Create your main characters

    • Create your protagonist's character profile

    • Basic Statistics Name: Age: Socioeconomic Level as a child: Socioeconomic Level as an adult: Hometown: Occupation: Talents/Skills: Family: Physical Characteristics: Height: Weight: Eye Color: Hair Color: Skin color: Distinguishing features: How does he/she dress? Mannerisms: Habits: (smoking, drinking etc.) Health: Hobbies: Favorite Sayings: Speech patterns: Disabilities: Style (Elegant, shabby etc.): Greatest flaw: Best quality: Intellectual/Mental/Personality Attributes and Attitudes Educational Background: Intelligence Level: Any Mental Illnesses? Learning Experiences: Character's short-term goals in life: Character's long-term goals in life: How does Character see himself/herself? How does Character believe he/she is perceived by others? How self-confident is the character? Does the character seem ruled by emotion or logic or some combination thereof? What would most embarrass this character? Emotional Characteristics Strengths/Weaknesses: Introvert or Extrovert? How does the character deal with anger? With sadness? With conflict? With change? With loss? What does the character want out of life? What would the character like to change in his/her life? What motivates this character? What frightens this character? What makes this character happy? Is the character judgmental of others? Is the character generous or stingy? Is the character generally polite or rude? How character is different at the end of the novel from when the novel began: Additional Notes on This Character:
    • Create your antagonist's character profile

    • Basic Statistics Name: Age: Socioeconomic Level as a child: Socioeconomic Level as an adult: Hometown: Occupation: Talents/Skills: Family: Physical Characteristics: Height: Weight: Eye Color: Hair Color: Skin color: Distinguishing features: How does he/she dress? Mannerisms: Habits: (smoking, drinking etc.) Health: Hobbies: Favorite Sayings: Speech patterns: Disabilities: Style (Elegant, shabby etc.): Greatest flaw: Best quality: Intellectual/Mental/Personality Attributes and Attitudes Educational Background: Intelligence Level: Any Mental Illnesses? Learning Experiences: Character's short-term goals in life: Character's long-term goals in life: How does Character see himself/herself? How does Character believe he/she is perceived by others? How self-confident is the character? Does the character seem ruled by emotion or logic or some combination thereof? What would most embarrass this character? Emotional Characteristics Strengths/Weaknesses: Introvert or Extrovert? How does the character deal with anger? With sadness? With conflict? With change? With loss? What does the character want out of life? What would the character like to change in his/her life? What motivates this character? What frightens this character? What makes this character happy? Is the character judgmental of others? Is the character generous or stingy? Is the character generally polite or rude? How character is different at the end of the novel from when the novel began: Additional Notes on This Character:
    • Create any other character profiles by adding new tasks here

    • Character is plot, plot is character. - F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Create a script outline

    • Create a skeleton screenplay outline

    • Do a bit of research on what length or specific structure your screenplay needs to be, which may differ depending on your type of screenwriting. Figure out how many scenes your piece needs (ie, 40-80). Figure out how many pages and/or word count you need to hit (ie, 120 pages). Figure out how many acts you need (ie, 3 acts). Feel free to use this writing space to construct your outline and create a side by side reference as you draft on the left.
    • Flesh out Act 1

    • Generally, Act 1 is about setting up the world, the characters and the inciting incident that gets your protagonist(s) started on their journey. Make sure you incorporate motives, goals and character decisions when deciding what the inciting incident would be. You want to set it up so your character's actions and decisions are believable.
    • Flesh out Act 2

    • This should be the longest part of the outline. This is the bulk of your screenplay where your characters' goals and motives become clear. There must be well thought out and developed conflict and tension.
    • Flesh out Act 3

    • This is where you outline out the climax, character resolution (how have your protagonists changed?), and the ending of your script.
  • Create a treatment for your screenplay

    • Look up some example screenplays and study their treatments for an idea of formatting and elements

    • Always good to keep tabs on some examples (for reference and comparison). Generally, treatments are good ways to start a first draft and once refined, are helpful for submissions.
    • Create a working title

    • You can always change your title later, but feel free to use this space to brainstorm a few and maybe even pick one to begin with for now.
    • Create a log line

    • A log line is a one sentence summary of your screenplay. It should also be your one liner pitch. The only elements it really needs are your main characters (usually at least a protagonist and antagonist) and a goal. You can easily Google some great log lines to get you inspired. Use this space to brainstorm and work on a working log line for your treatment.
    • Create a synopsis

    • Before you start a first draft, this can be a helpful reference and/or guide for you during screenwriting. Keep it to 2-3 pages and work on the main plot points and character inflections. Your finished treatment will probably have dialogue and will have a polished version of this, but it's good to get one down before you start writing.
  • Create a flash draft

    • Take a minute to refine/add any necessary tasks for yourself

    • You got this! One task at a time. Use this note space if you need it.
  • Work on a second draft with formatting

    • Take a look at examples of your favorite screenplays to note formatting, character/setting descriptions, etc.

    • Tip: Do you know where all your notes are? Take inventory of what you have and write down what you need to compile below.
    • Add in sluglines for your scenes

    • Remember, ALL CAPS! As long as you have location/time of day, you should be fine for a rough second draft.
    • Add in transitions for your scenes

    • Examples: FADE IN and FADE OUT CUT TO, which is a quick jump to a new scene DISSOLVE TO, as one scene fades out, a new scene fades into place
    • Add in other action oriented cues

    • Examples: CLOSE UP or TIGHT ON: This indicates a close up to a person or object on screen. FREEZE FRAME: This is when the picture will stop moving and become a still photograph on screen. b.g.: Stands for “background” to note when something is occurring in the background of the main action. O.S. or O.C.: Stands for off-screen or off-camera. This means the character’s voice will be speaking off camera or from another part of the setting. V.O.: stands for voice over, which is when an actor reads script over a scene, narrating the scene. This appears under the character’s name, before their voice over dialogue. Montage: A series of images showing a theme, a contradiction, or the passage of time. Usually used to show the passage of time in a short period of time on screen. Tracking shot: A tracking shot means a camera follows a person or an object. As long as the camera isn’t locked down in place on a tripod and is following a subject, it is a tracking shot.
    • Work on Dialogue

    • Make sure your dialogue has a lot more back and forth instead of monologues. Make sure your characters' speech patterns are distinct and make sense for their character when spoken out loud. Format your dialogue in a way that makes it easy to read (take a look at screenplay examples for ideas). Make sure you use ALL CAPS.
  • Read your screenplay out loud

    • Set aside time to read through the entire screenplay out loud and make sure you're taking notes

    • Tip: If you're comfortable, it might be fun to have friends join you and read different parts.
    • Take your notes and synthesize them into more tasks and/or milestones for a third or fourth revision

    • Tip: Do you know where all your notes are? Take inventory of what you have and write down what you need to compile below.