August 12, 2016 at 4:06PM, Edited August 12, 4:07PM


Some advice for writing scripts

There are infinite ways one could use to approach writing a film script, all of the valid and many proven effective. However, it is up to each writer to decide what works for them and what does not. Nevertheless, there are some good pieces of advice and tools out there that could prove themselves useful when writing your next movie.

One of the best advices I have received and put into practice is to focus enough time on the outline. Creating a good outline will help you get a better flow when you start writing the actual script. It can be very beneficial in creating rhythm and arches of action that will captivate the audience. This can be done by investing a good amount of time in pacing the beats of each scene, sequence and act. Since a script is basically a structure for the filmmakers to follow and create a movie, it is a good idea to make sure the foundation of that structure is pretty solid before filling it with dialogs, actions and descriptions. This will definitely help you write an exciting and captivating script.

Second, there are many pitfalls for writers who approach the writing of a script, so having some of the in mind will be helpful in order to avoid too many cliches or too simple of a script and plot. For instance, you have to make sure your protagonist is not too passive; your hero has to take action and do stuff. Also, it’s good when he or she doesn’t have a lot of friends, thus making it more difficult for him to accomplish his goals; on top of making the risks taken as high as possible. Not only will he loose his house, he will also have to save his wife from the city mafia and stop a drug cartel in the process in order to survive.

Always have in mind that each scene has to have its own conflict, so avoid writing scenes which have no conflict in them or that are too long; each one of them should move the story in some direction. This relates directly with the fact that the script should not have too much explaining or exposition in it; this all should be done by the characters and their actions more than their dialogs; this way you will avoid having characters who don’t learn, change, or achieve something by the ende of the film. This will help you differentiate the characters and make sure they don't all sound the same. They must have their own voice, make them authentic.

Finally, some of the best tools to create a good script, other than having a good story, are:

-“Don’t talk too much”: Make sure you break your character’s dialog with action. Avoid having more than three or four paragraphs of dialog in a row without breaking them up with action. This will help the director and the actors connect emotions to their words through their actions.

-“Start your scenes late and finish them early”: You should try to start your scenes in the middle of the action, when things are already happening, and try to end them before reaching a passive point in order to keep your audience on its heels.

-“Show, don't explain”: Movies are a visual medium. Don’t spend screen time with actors or narrators explaining things. Have their actions show their emotions and intentions, not so much their dialog. It’s better for a character to show he is sad rather than tell you he is sad.

-“Read, read more”: Read movie scripts that are considered as great films, read the ones that have left a mark or a good impression on you, read books about writing, read books about different genres, books about the themes you want to explore, blogs, websites, news from around the world, strange news, history, just read a lot! Remember that fact is stranger than fiction and you never know where you can find inspiration to write a great story.

-“Watch movies”: This one is pretty self-explanatory. Watch all the movies you can, watch them more than once if you want, watch movies that are out of the ordinary, just watch and learn everything you can from each film.

-“Break the Rules!” Once you have learned all the theory and the rules of writing film scripts, bend and break them! When you master the art, creating new rules as well as breaking and bending old ones will define your style and make stand out from other writers.

-“Write!”: You have to write and keep on writing. Take notes when you are on the go. If you feel a ‘writer’s block” coming your way, just continue writing. If you continue writing, the block will vanish and you might produce some great stuff or you can just edit later whatever it was you wrote during your “block”. Remember that writing just five pages a day will get you a script in less than a month!



September 11, 2018 at 12:49AM, Edited September 11, 12:49AM

Mohamed Isaaq
Script Supervisor, Writer & Director


March 12, 2020 at 3:22AM


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