Screenplay writing workflow
Work through the workflow below to develop your screenplay and supporting documents.
Aim for a 5-minute script, including dialogue, movement, action, music and credits. As a guide scriptwriting software allocates one page to one minute of footage.
Start with a stimulus. This could be a photograph, movement, twisted fairy tale, story, Dreaming story, poem, painting, cartoon, metaphor, question, song, memory, film or concept. See ‘Turning stimulus into an idea’ for more information.
Create the logline – a one sentence summary of the film’s plot.
Decide who is your target audience. Your filmmaking decisions should keep the audience in mind and what they will relate to.
Design a storyboard (on paper or using digital tools such as KeyNote, photoshop, Word, Celtx or Boords) that maps out a plot or a sequence of drawings. Plan a dramatic arc that takes the audience on a journey. Decide when and how to introduce the main character/s.
Break the script into a few scenes. Add scene headings that tell the actors where the action takes place. If your script is based on a complex issue, Act 1 introduces the characters to build empathy, Act 2 explores the issue to build tension, and Act 3 presents the climax and resolves the issue.
If your script is based on a complex issue, Act 1 introduces the characters to build empathy, Act 2 explores the issue to build tension, and Scene 3 presents the climax and resolves the issue.
Produce the dialogue or voice-over script.
Use elements of the dialogue, voice-over, sound effects and/or setting to suggest time, place and context.
Refer to the moodboard to help refine your ideas. Include ideas for costumes and shot types.
Include 'big print’ in your script, describing things that can be seen or heard, including:
- stage directions
- entry and exit of characters on-screen
- movement and dance
- characters using props
- sound effects
- feelings and attitudes.
When you think the script is ready, read it aloud to yourself before handing it to a team member or family member to read.
After a few days, go back to the script. Review it with fresh eyes, refine the story and incorporate any feedback offered.