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Screenwriting or scriptwriting is the art and craft of writing
scripts Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developi ...
for
mass media Mass media refers to a diverse array of media Media may refer to: Physical means Communication * Media (communication), tools used to deliver information or data ** Advertising media, various media, content, buying and placement fo ...
such as
feature film A feature film or feature-length film is a narrative film (motion picture or "movie") with a running time long enough to be considered the principal or sole presentation in a commercial entertainment program. The term ''feature film'' originall ...
s,
television production A television show – or simply TV show – is any content produced for viewing on a television set A television set or television receiver, more commonly called the television, TV, TV set, tube, telly, or tele, is a device that combines a ...
s or
video game#REDIRECT Video game A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, computer keyboard, keyboard, or motion sensing device to generate visual f ...
s. It is often a
freelance ''Freelance'' (sometimes spelled ''free-lance'' or ''free lance''), ''freelancer'', or ''freelance worker'', are terms commonly used for a person who is self-employedSelf-employment is the state of working for oneself rather than an employer. G ...
profession.
Screenwriter A screenplay writer (also called screenwriter for short), scriptwriter or scenarist, is a writer who practices the craft of screenwriting, writing screenplays on which mass media, such as films, television programs and video games, are based. ...
s are responsible for researching the story, developing the narrative, writing the script, screenplay, dialogues and delivering it, in the required format, to development executives. Screenwriters therefore have great influence over the creative direction and emotional impact of the screenplay and, arguably, of the finished film. Screenwriters either
pitch Pitch may refer to: Acoustic frequency * Pitch (music), the perceived frequency of sound including "definite pitch" and "indefinite pitch" ** Absolute pitch or "perfect pitch" ** Pitch class, a set of all pitches that are a whole number of octaves ...
original ideas to producers, in the hope that they will be optioned or sold; or are commissioned by a producer to create a screenplay from a concept, true story, existing screen work or literary work, such as a novel, poem, play, comic book, or short story.


Types

The act of screenwriting takes many forms across the entertainment industry. Often, multiple writers work on the same script at different stages of
development Development or developing may refer to: Arts *Development hell Development hell, development purgatory, development limbo, or production hell, is a media Media may refer to: Physical means Communication * Media (communication), tool ...
with different tasks. Over the course of a successful career, a screenwriter might be hired to write in a wide variety of roles. Some of the most common forms of screenwriting jobs include:


Spec script writing

Spec script A spec script, also known as a speculative screenplay, is a non-commissioned and unsolicited screenplay A screenplay, or script, is a written work by screenwriter A screenplay writer (also called screenwriter for short), scriptwriter or sc ...
s are feature film or
television show A television show – or simply TV show – is any content produced for viewing on a television set A television set or television receiver, more commonly called the television, TV, TV set, tube, telly, or tele, is a device that combines a ...
scripts written on speculation of sale, without the commission of a
film studio A film studio (also known as movie studio or simply studio) is a major entertainment company or motion picture company that has its own privately owned studio A studio is an artist An artist is a person engaged in an activity related to cr ...
,
production company A production company, production house, production studio, or a production team is a business that provides the physical basis for works in the fields of performing arts, new media art, film, television show, television, radio, comics, interactive ...
or TV network. The content is usually invented solely by the screenwriter, though spec screenplays can also be based on established works or real people and events. The spec script is a Hollywood sales tool. The vast majority of scripts written each year are spec scripts, but only a small percentage make it to the screen. A spec script is usually a wholly original work, but can also be an
adaptation In , adaptation has three related meanings. Firstly, it is the dynamic evolutionary process that fits s to their environment, enhancing their . Secondly, it is a state reached by the population during that process. Thirdly, it is a or adapti ...
. In television writing, a spec script is a sample teleplay written to demonstrate the writer's knowledge of a show and ability to imitate its style and conventions. It is submitted to the show's producers in hopes of being hired to write future episodes of the show. Budding screenwriters attempting to break into the business generally begin by writing one or more spec scripts. Although writing spec scripts is part of any writer's career, the
Writers Guild of America The Writers Guild of America is the joint efforts of two different US labor unions representing TV and film writers: * The Writers Guild of America, East The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) is a trade union, labor union representing film ...
forbids members to write "on speculation". The distinction is that a "spec script" is written as a sample by the writer on his or her own; what is forbidden is writing a script for a specific producer without a contract. In addition to writing a script on speculation, it is generally not advised to write camera angles or other directional terminology, as these are likely to be ignored. A director may write up a shooting script himself or herself, a script that guides the team in what to do in order to carry out the director's vision of how the script should look. The director may ask the original writer to co-write it with him or her, or to rewrite a script that satisfies both the director and producer of the film/TV show. Spec writing is also unique in that the writer must pitch the idea to producers. In order to sell the script, it must have an excellent title, good writing, and a great logline. A logline is one sentence that lays out what the movie is about. A well-written logline will convey the tone of the film, introduce the main character, and touch on the primary conflict. Usually the logline and title work in tandem to draw people in, and it is highly suggested to incorporate irony into them when possible. These things, along with nice, clean writing will hugely impact whether or not a producer picks up the spec script.


Commission

A commissioned screenplay is written by a hired writer. The concept is usually developed long before the screenwriter is brought on, and often has multiple writers work on it before the script is given a green light. The plot development is usually based on highly successful novels, plays, TV shows and even video games, and the rights to which have been legally acquired.


Feature assignment writing

Scripts written on assignment are screenplays created under contract with a
studio A studio is an artist An artist is a person engaged in an activity related to creating art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities involving creative imagination to express technical proficiency, beauty, emotional pow ...
, production company, or producer. These are the most common assignments sought after in screenwriting. A screenwriter can get an assignment either exclusively or from "open" assignments. A screenwriter can also be approached and offered an assignment. Assignment scripts are generally adaptations of an existing idea or property owned by the hiring company, but can also be original works based on a concept created by the writer or producer.


Rewriting and script doctoring

Most produced films are rewritten to some extent during the development process. Frequently, they are not rewritten by the original writer of the script. Many established screenwriters, as well as new writers whose work shows promise but lacks marketability, make their living rewriting scripts. When a script's central premise or characters are good but the script is otherwise unusable, a different writer or team of writers is contracted to do an entirely new draft, often referred to as a "page one rewrite". When only small problems remain, such as bad dialogue or poor humor, a writer is hired to do a "polish" or "punch-up". Depending on the size of the new writer's contributions,
screen credit Two types of credits are traditionally used in films A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art used to simulate experiences that communicate ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty, o ...
may or may not be given. For instance, in the American film industry, credit to rewriters is given only if 50% or more of the script is substantially changed. These standards can make it difficult to establish the identity and number of screenwriters who contributed to a film's creation. When established writers are called in to rewrite portions of a script late in the development process, they are commonly referred to as
script doctor A script doctor is a writer or playwright hired by a film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of appl ...
s. Prominent script doctors include Christopher Keane,
Steve Zaillian Steven Ernest Bernard Zaillian (born January 30, 1953) is an American screenwriter, director, film editor Film editing is both a creative and a technical part of the post-production 275px, A video editing suite Post-production is part of ...
,
William Goldman William Goldman (August 12, 1931 – November 16, 2018) was an American novelist, playwright, and screenwriter. He first came to prominence in the 1950s as a novelist before turning to screenwriting. He won Academy Awards for his screenplays '' ...

William Goldman
,
Robert Towne Robert Towne (born Robert Bertram Schwartz;''Easy Riders, Raging Bulls ''Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood'' is a book by Peter Biskind, published by Simon & Schuster in 1998. ''Easy Riders, ...
,
Mort Nathan Mort Nathan is an American television producer, screenwriter and film director. He was one of the co-producers and head writers of the comedy show ''The Golden Girls''. Nathan won two Emmy awards, two Golden Globes, and a Writer's Guild of America ...
,
Quentin Tarantino Quentin Jerome Tarantino (; born March 27, 1963) is an American filmmaker, film director, screenwriter, producer, film critic, and actor. His films are characterized by nonlinear storylines, dark humor Darkness, the polar opposite of brig ...

Quentin Tarantino
and Peter Russell. Many up-and-coming screenwriters work as ghost writers.


Television writing

A freelance television writer typically uses spec scripts or previous credits and reputation to obtain a contract to write one or more episodes for an existing television show. After an episode is submitted, rewriting or polishing may be required. A staff writer for a TV show generally works in-house, writing and rewriting episodes. Staff writers—often given other titles, such as
story editor Story editor is a job title in motion picture A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applying paint ...
or
producer Producer or producers may refer to: Occupations *Producer (agriculture), a farm operator *Film producer, oversees the making of films *A stakeholder of economic production *Executive producer, contributes to the film's budget and usually does not w ...
—work both as a group and individually on episode scripts to maintain the show's tone, style, characters, and plots. Television show creators write the
television pilot A television pilot (also known as a pilot or a pilot episode and sometimes marketed as a tele-movie) is a standalone episode An episode is a narrative unit within a larger drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mim ...
and
bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...
of new television series. They are responsible for creating and managing all aspects of a show's characters, style, and plots. Frequently, a creator remains responsible for the show's day-to-day creative decisions throughout the series run as
showrunner A showrunner is the leading producer Producer or producers may refer to: Occupations *Producer (agriculture), a farm operator *Film producer, oversees the making of films *A stakeholder of economic production *Executive producer, contributes to t ...
,
head writer A head writer is a person who oversees the team of writers on a television or radio series. The title is common in the soap opera A soap opera or ''soap'' for short is a radio or television serial Serial may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and ...
or story editor.


Writing for daily series

The process of writing for
soap opera A soap opera or ''soap'' for short is a radio or television serial Serial may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media The presentation of works in sequential segments * Serial (literature), serialised fiction in print * Serial (publishing), p ...
s and
telenovela A telenovela is a type of a television serial drama In television Television, sometimes shortened to TV or telly, is a telecommunication Media (communication), medium used for transmitting moving images in grayscale, black-and-white o ...
s is different from that used by
prime time The prime time or the peak time is the block of broadcast programming Broadcast programming is the practice of organizing and/or ordering (scheduling) of broadcast media shows, typically radio and television, in a daily, weekly, monthly, qu ...
shows, due in part to the need to produce new episodes five days a week for several months. In one example cited by
Jane Espenson Jane Espenson (born July 14, 1964) is an American television writer and producer. Espenson has worked on both situation comedy, situation comedies and Serial (radio and television), serial dramas. She had a five-year stint as a writer and produ ...

Jane Espenson
, screenwriting is a "sort of three-tiered system":08/13/2008: Soapy Scenes
from "Jane in Progress" a blog for aspiring screenwriters by Jane Espenson
:a few top writers craft the overall
story arc A story arc (also narrative arc) is an extended or continuing storyline in episodic storytelling media such as television Television, sometimes shortened to TV or telly, is a telecommunication Telecommunication is the transmission ...
s. Mid-level writers work with them to turn those arcs into things that look a lot like traditional episode outlines, and an array of writers below that (who do not even have to be local to Los Angeles), take those outlines and quickly generate the dialogue while adhering slavishly to the outlines. Espenson notes that a recent trend has been to eliminate the role of the mid-level writer, relying on the senior writers to do rough outlines and giving the other writers a bit more freedom. Regardless, when the finished scripts are sent to the top writers, the latter do a final round of rewrites. Espenson also notes that a show that airs daily, with characters who have decades of history behind their voices, necessitates a writing staff without the distinctive voice that can sometimes be present in prime-time series.


Writing for game shows

Game shows feature live contestants, but still use a team of writers as part of a specific format.05/15/2010: Writers Guild of America, Reality & Game Show Writers
/ref> This may involve the slate of questions and even specific phrasing or dialogue on the part of the host. Writers may not script the dialogue used by the contestants, but they work with the producers to create the actions, scenarios, and sequence of events that support the game show's concept.


Video game writing

With the continued development and increased complexity of video games, many opportunities are available to employ screenwriters in the field of
video game design Video game design is the process of designing the content and rules of video game#REDIRECT Video game A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, con ...
. Video game writers work closely with the other game designers to create characters, scenarios, and dialogue.


Structural theories

Several main screenwriting theories help writers approach the screenplay by systematizing the structure, goals and techniques of writing a script. The most common kinds of theories are structural. Screenwriter William Goldman is widely quoted as saying "Screenplays are structure".


Three-act structure

According to this approach, the three acts are: the setup (of the setting, characters, and mood), the confrontation (with obstacles), and the resolution (culminating in a climax and a dénouement). In a two-hour film, the first and third acts each last about thirty minutes, with the middle act lasting about an hour, but nowadays many films begin at the confrontation point and segue immediately to the setup or begin at the resolution and return to the setup. In ''
Writing Drama ''Writing Drama'' (French: La dramaturgie) is a treatise by French writer and filmmaker Yves Lavandier Yves Lavandier (born April 2, 1959) is a French film writer and director. Biography Yves Lavandier was born on April 2, 1959. After receiving ...
'', French writer and director
Yves Lavandier Yves Lavandier (born April 2, 1959) is a French film writer and director. Biography Yves Lavandier was born on April 2, 1959. After receiving a degree in civil engineering, he studied film at Columbia University, New York City, New York, between ...

Yves Lavandier
shows a slightly different approach. As do most theorists, he maintains that every human action, whether fictitious or real, contains three logical parts: before the action, during the action, and after the action. But since the climax is part of the action, Lavandier maintains that the second act must include the climax, which makes for a much shorter third act than is found in most screenwriting theories. Besides the three-act structure, it is also common to use a four- or five-act structure in a screenplay, and some screenplays may include as many as twenty separate acts.


The Hero's Journey

The
hero's journey In narratology Narratology is the study of narrative and narrative structure and the ways that these affect human perception. It is an anglicisation of French ''narratologie'', coined by Tzvetan Todorov (''Grammaire du Décaméron'', 1969). I ...
, also referred to as the
monomyth In narratology Narratology is the study of narrative and narrative structure and the ways that these affect human perception. It is an anglicisation of French ''narratologie'', coined by Tzvetan Todorov (''Grammaire du Décaméron'', 1969). I ...
, is an idea formulated by noted mythologist
Joseph Campbell Joseph John Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 30, 1987) was an American professor of literature at Sarah Lawrence College who worked in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work covers many aspects of the human experience ...
. The central concept of the monomyth is that a pattern can be seen in stories and myths across history. Campbell defined and explained that pattern in his book ''
The Hero with a Thousand Faces #REDIRECT The Hero with a Thousand Faces ''The Hero with a Thousand Faces'' (first published in 1949) is a work of comparative mythology by Joseph Campbell, in which the author discusses his theory of the mythological structure of the journey of t ...
'' (1949). Campbell's insight was that important myths from around the world, which have survived for thousands of years, all share a fundamental structure. This fundamental structure contains a number of stages, which include: #a call to adventure, which the hero has to accept or decline, #a road of trials, on which the hero succeeds or fails, #achieving the goal (or "boon"), which often results in important self-knowledge, #a return to the ordinary world, which again the hero can succeed or fail, and #application of the boon, in which what the hero has gained can be used to improve the world. Later, screenwriter
Christopher Vogler Christopher Vogler (born 1949) is a Hollywood development executive, screenwriter, author and educator, best known for working with Disney and his screenwriting guide, ''The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers'', from 2007. Early life a ...
refined and expanded the hero's journey for the screenplay form in his book, '' The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers'' (1993).


Syd Field's paradigm

Syd Field Sydney Alvin Field (December 19, 1935November 17, 2013) was an American author and speaker who wrote several books on screenwriting, the first being '' Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting'' (Dell Publishing, 1979). He led workshops and se ...

Syd Field
introduced a new theory he called "the paradigm". He introduced the idea of a ''
plot point In television Television, sometimes shortened to TV or telly, is a telecommunication Telecommunication is the transmission of information by various types of technologies over wire A wire is a single usually cylindrical A cy ...
'' into screenwriting theory and defined a plot point as "any incident, episode, or event that hooks into the action and spins it around in another direction". These are the anchoring pins of the story line, which hold everything in place. There are many plot points in a screenplay, but the main ones that anchor the story line in place and are the foundation of the dramatic structure, he called ''plot points I and II''. Plot point I occurs at the end of Act 1; plot point II at the end of Act 2. Plot point I is also called the ''key incident'' because it is the true beginning of the story and, in part, what the story is about. In a 120-page screenplay, Act 2 is about sixty pages in length, twice the length of Acts 1 and 3. Field noticed that in successful movies, an important dramatic event usually occurs at the middle of the picture, around page sixty. The action builds up to that event, and everything afterward is the result of that event. He called this event the ''centerpiece'' or ''midpoint''. This suggested to him that the middle act is actually two acts in one. So, the three-act structure is notated 1, 2a, 2b, 3, resulting in Aristotle’s three acts being divided into four pieces of approximately thirty pages each. Field defined two plot points near the middle of Acts 2a and 2b, called ''pinch I'' and ''pinch II'', occurring around pages 45 and 75 of the screenplay, respectively, whose functions are to keep the action on track, moving it forward, either toward the midpoint or plot point II. Sometimes there is a relationship between pinch I and pinch II: some kind of story connection. According to Field, the '' inciting incident'' occurs near the middle of Act 1, so-called because it sets the story into motion and is the first visual representation of the key incident. The inciting incident is also called the ''dramatic hook'', because it leads directly to plot point I. Field referred to a ''tag'', an epilogue after the action in Act 3. Here is a chronological list of the major plot points that are congruent with Field's Paradigm:


The sequence approach

The sequence approach to screenwriting, sometimes known as " eight-sequence structure", is a system developed by
Frank Daniel František "Frank" Daniel (April 14, 1926 – March 29, 1996) was a Czech- American screenwriter, film director and teacher. He is known for developing the sequence paradigm of screenwriting. He served as a dean of FAMU, American Film Institut ...
, while he was the head of the Graduate Screenwriting Program at
USC USC most often refers to: * University of South Carolina The University of South Carolina (USC, U of SC, South Carolina, SC, or simply Carolina) is a Public university, public research university in Columbia, South Carolina. It has seven satel ...

USC
. It is based in part on the fact that, in the early days of cinema, technical matters forced screenwriters to divide their stories into sequences, each the length of a reel (about ten minutes). The sequence approach mimics that early style. The story is broken up into eight 10-15 minute sequences. The sequences serve as "mini-movies", each with their own compressed three-act structure. The first two sequences combine to form the film's first act. The next four create the film's second act. The final two sequences complete the resolution and dénouement of the story. Each sequence's resolution creates the situation which sets up the next sequence.


Character theories


Michael Hauge's categories

Michael Hauge divides primary characters into four categories. A screenplay may have more than one character in any category. * hero: This is the main character, whose outer motivation drives the plot forward, who is the primary object of identification for the reader and audience, and who is on screen most of the time. * nemesis: This is the character who most stands in the way of the hero achieving his or her outer motivation. * reflection: This is the character who supports the hero's outer motivation or at least is in the same basic situation at the beginning of the screenplay. * romance: This is the character who is the sexual or romantic object of at least part of the hero's outer motivation. Secondary characters are all the other people in the screenplay and should serve as many of the functions above as possible. Motivation is whatever the character hopes to accomplish by the end of the movie. Motivation exists on outer and inner levels. * outer motivation is what the character visibly or physically hopes to achieve or accomplish by the end of the film. Outer motivation is revealed through action. * inner motivation is the answer to the question, "Why does the character want to achieve his or her outer motivation?" This is always related to gaining greater feelings of self-worth. Since inner motivation comes from within, it is usually invisible and revealed through dialogue. Exploration of inner motivation is optional. Motivation alone is not sufficient to make the screenplay work. There must be something preventing the hero from getting what he or she wants. That something is conflict. * outer conflict is whatever stands in the way of the character achieving his or her outer motivation. It is the sum of all the obstacles and hurdles that the character must try to overcome in order to reach his or her objective. * inner conflict is whatever stands in the way of the character achieving his or her inner motivation. This conflict always originates from within the character and prevents him or her from achieving self-worth through inner motivation.


Format

Fundamentally, the screenplay is a unique literary form. It is like a musical score, in that it is intended to be interpreted on the basis of other artists' performance, rather than serving as a finished product for the enjoyment of its audience. For this reason, a screenplay is written using technical jargon and tight, spare prose when describing stage directions. Unlike a
novel A novel is a relatively long work of narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of related events or experiences, whether nonfiction Nonfiction (also spelled non-fiction) is any document A document is a written ...

novel
or
short story A short story is a piece of prose Prose is a form of written or spoken language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...
, a screenplay focuses on describing the literal, visual aspects of the story, rather than on the internal thoughts of its characters. In screenwriting, the aim is to evoke those thoughts and emotions through subtext, action, and
symbolism Symbolism or symbolist may refer to: Arts * Symbolism (arts), a 19th-century movement rejecting Realism ** Symbolist movement in Romania, symbolist literature and visual arts in Romania during the late 19th and early 20th centuries ** Russian symb ...
. Most modern screenplays, at least in Hollywood and related screen cultures, are written in a style known as the master-scene format or master-scene script. The format is characterized by six elements, presented in the order in which they are most likely to be used in a script: # Scene Heading, or Slug # Action Lines, or Big Print # Character Name # Parentheticals # Dialogue # Transitions Scripts written in master-scene format are divided into scenes: "a unit of story that takes place at a specific location and time". Scene headings (or slugs) indicate the location the following scene is to take place in, whether it is interior or exterior, and the time-of-day it appears to be. Conventionally, they are capitalized, and may be underlined or bolded. In production drafts, scene headings are numbered. Next are action lines, which describe stage direction and are generally written in the present tense with a focus only on what can be seen or heard by the audience. Character names are in all caps, centered in the middle of the page, and indicate that a character is speaking the following dialogue. Characters who are speaking off-screen or in voice-over are indicated by the suffix (O.S.) and (V.O) respectively. Parentheticals provide stage direction for the dialogue that follows. Most often this is to indicate how dialogue should be performed (for example, angry) but can also include small stage directions (for example, picking up vase). Overuse of parentheticals is discouraged. Dialogue blocks are offset from the page's margin by 3.7" and are left-justified. Dialogue spoken by two characters at the same time is written side by side and is conventionally known as dual-dialogue. The final element is the scene transition and is used to indicate how the current scene should transition into the next. It is generally assumed that the transition will be a cut, and using "CUT TO:" will be redundant. Thus the element should be used sparingly to indicate a different kind of transition such as "DISSOLVE TO:". Screenwriting applications such as
Final Draft (software) Final Draft is a screenwriting software Screenwriting software are word processors specialized to the task of writing screenplay A screenplay, or script, is a written work by screenwriters for a film, television show, television program, or v ...
,
Celtx Celtx () is media pre-production Pre-production is the process of planning some of the elements involved in a film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art ...
,
Fade In (software) Fade In Professional Screenwriting Software (also known simply as Fade In) is screenwriting software for writing screenplays in the professional, industry standard format used in Hollywood and elsewhere. It can also be used for teleplays, stage p ...
, Slugline, Scrivener (software), and Highland, allow writers to easily format their script to adhere to the requirements of the master screen format.


Dialogue and description


Imagery

Imagery can be used in many metaphoric ways. In '' The Talented Mr. Ripley'', the title character talked of wanting to close the door on himself sometime, and then, in the end, he did.
Pathetic fallacy The phrase pathetic fallacy is a literary term for the attribution of human emotion and conduct to things found in nature that are not human. It is a kind of personification Personification occurs when a thing or abstraction is represented as a ...
is also frequently used; rain to express a character feeling depressed, sunny days promote a feeling of happiness and calm. Imagery can be used to sway the emotions of the audience and to clue them in to what is happening. Imagery is well defined in ''
City of GodThe term City of God may refer to the unity between the Holy Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. The term may also refer to: Places *Cidade de Deus (Osasco), the Banco Bradesco headquarters in Osasco, São Paulo, Brazil *C ...
''. The opening image sequence sets the tone for the entire film. The film opens with the shimmer of a knife's blade on a sharpening stone. A drink is being prepared, The knife's blade shows again, juxtaposed is a shot of a chicken letting loose of its harness on its feet. All symbolising 'The One that got away'. The film is about life in the favelas in Rio - sprinkled with violence and games and ambition.


Dialogue

Since the advent of
sound film A sound film is a motion picture with synchronization, synchronized sound, or sound technologically coupled to image, as opposed to a silent film. The first known public exhibition of projected sound films took place in Paris in 1900, but decad ...
, or "talkies", dialogue has taken a central place in much of mainstream cinema. In the cinematic arts, the audience understands the story only through what they see and hear: action, music, sound effects, and dialogue. For many screenwriters, the only way their audiences can hear the writer's words is through the characters' dialogue. This has led writers such as
Diablo Cody Brook Maurio (''née'' Busey; born June 14, 1978), known professionally by the pen name Diablo Cody, is an American writer and producer. She gained recognition for her candid blog and subsequent memoir, ''Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unli ...
,
Joss Whedon Joseph Hill Whedon (; born June 23, 1964) is an American filmmaker, composer, and comic book writer. He is the founder of Mutant Enemy Productions Mutant Enemy Productions is a production company that was created in 1996 by Joss Whedon Jose ...

Joss Whedon
, and
Quentin Tarantino Quentin Jerome Tarantino (; born March 27, 1963) is an American filmmaker, film director, screenwriter, producer, film critic, and actor. His films are characterized by nonlinear storylines, dark humor Darkness, the polar opposite of brig ...

Quentin Tarantino
to become well known for their dialogue—not just their stories.
Bollywood Hindi cinema, often known as Bollywood and formerly as ''Bombay cinema'', is the Indian Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai (formerly Bombay). The term is a portmanteau of "Bombay" and "Cinema of the United States, Hollywood". The ...

Bollywood
and other Indian film industries use separate dialogue writers in addition to the
screenplay writer A screenplay writer (also called screenwriter for short), scriptwriter or scenarist, is a writer who practices the craft of screenwriting, writing screenplays on which mass media, such as films, television programs and video games, are based. ...
s.


Plot

Plot, according to Aristotle's ''
Poetics Poetics is the theory of literary forms and literary discourse Discourse is a generalization of the notion of a conversation Conversation is interactive communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is th ...
'', refers to the sequence events connected by cause and effect in a story. A story is a series of events conveyed in chronological order. A plot is the same series of events deliberately arranged to maximize the story's dramatic, thematic, and emotional significance. E.M.Forster famously gives the example "The king died and then the queen died" is a story." But "The king died and then the queen died of grief" is a plot. For
Trey Parker Randolph Severn "Trey" Parker III (born October 19, 1969) is an American actor, animator, writer, producer, director, and composer. He is known for co-creating ''South Park ''South Park'' is an American animated sitcom An animated s ...
and
Matt Stone Matthew Richard Stone (born May 26, 1971) is an American actor, animator, writer, producer, and composer. He is known for co-creating ''South Park ''South Park'' is an American animated sitcom An animated sitcom is a subgenre of the ...
this is best summarized as a series of events connected by "therefore" and "but".


Education

A number of American universities offer specialized
Master of Fine Arts A Master of Fine Arts (MFA or M.F.A.) is a terminal degree A terminal degree is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary ...
and undergraduate programs in screenwriting, including
USC USC most often refers to: * University of South Carolina The University of South Carolina (USC, U of SC, South Carolina, SC, or simply Carolina) is a Public university, public research university in Columbia, South Carolina. It has seven satel ...
,
DePaul University DePaul University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two d ...
,
American Film Institute The American Film Institute (AFI) is an American film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applyin ...
,
Loyola Marymount University Loyola Marymount University (LMU) is a Private university, private Society of Jesus, Jesuit and Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, Marymount research university in Los Angeles, California. It is located on the west side of the city, near ...
,
Chapman University Chapman University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two d ...
,
NYU New York University (NYU) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of ne ...
,
UCLA The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or organ ...
,
Boston University Boston University (BU) is a Private university, private research university in Boston, Massachusetts. The university is nonsectarian but has a historical affiliation with the United Methodist Church. It was founded in 1839 by Methodists with ...
and the University of the Arts. In Europe, the United Kingdom has an extensive range of MA and BA Screenwriting Courses including
London College of Communication The London College of Communication is a constituent college of the University of the Arts London. It specialises in media-related subjects including advertising, animation, film, graphic design, photography and sound arts. It has approximately 50 ...
,
Bournemouth University Bournemouth University is a public university in Bournemouth, England, with its main campus situated in neighbouring Poole. The university was founded in 1992; however, the origins of its predecessor date back to the early 1900s. The universi ...
,
Edinburgh University The University of Edinburgh ( sco, University o Edinburgh, gd, Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann; abbreviated as ''Edin.'' in post-nominals Post-nominal letters, also called post-nominal initials, post-nominal titles, designatory letters or simply ...
, and Goldsmiths College (University of London). Some schools offer non-degree screenwriting programs, such as the
TheFilmSchool TheFilmSchool is a Nonprofit organization, non-profit Film school, film program located in Seattle, Washington, that focuses on intensive training in screenwriting and Film director, directing. TheFilmSchool's mission statement 'to elevate the art ...
, The International Film and Television School Fast Track, and the UCLA Professional
Extension Programs in Screenwriting
New York Film Academy New York Film Academy – School of Film and Acting (NYFA) is a For-profit education, for-profit film school and Drama school, acting school based in New York City, Los Angeles metropolitan area, Los Angeles, and Miami. The New York Film Academy ...
offers both degree and non-degree educational systems with campuses all around the world. Many screenwriters choose to pursue screenwriting independently with free online educational resources such as ScreenCraft, Keanewords, NoFilmSchool, the Draft Zero podcast, the Paper Team podcast, Write Along podcast, Film Daily,
The Black List ''The Black List'' is a series of films created from 2008 through 2010 as part of The Black List Project, a film, book and museum tour of photographs conceived by photographer/filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, with Elvis Mitchell, public radio ...
,
John August John August (born August 4, 1970) is an American screenwriter A screenplay writer (also called screenwriter for short), scriptwriter or scenarist, is a writer who practices the craft of screenwriting, writing screenplays on which mass medi ...
and
Craig Mazin Craig Mazin (born April 8, 1971) is an American screenwriter and film director. He is best known for creating the five-part HBO Home Box Office (HBO) is an American pay television Pay television also known as subscription television, premi ...
's Scriptnotes podcast, and Julie Gray's Just Effing Entertain Me.


History

The first true screenplay is thought to be from
George MeliesGeorge may refer to: People * George (given name) George (in English or in Romanian) is a masculine given name derived from the Greek language, Greek Georgios, Geōrgios (; ). The name gained popularity due to its association with the Christian ...

George Melies
' 1902 film ''
A Trip to the Moon A, or a, is the first letter Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as rep ...
''. The movie is silent, but the screenplay still contains specific descriptions and action lines that resemble a modern-day script. As time went on and films became longer and more complex, the need for a screenplay became more prominent in the industry. The introduction of movie theaters also impacted the development of screenplays, as audiences became more widespread and sophisticated, so the stories had to be as well. Once the first non-silent movie was released in 1927, screenwriting became a hugely important position within Hollywood. The "studio system" of the 1930s only heightened this importance, as studio heads wanted productivity. Thus, having the "blueprint" (continuity screenplay) of the film beforehand became extremely optimal. Around 1970, the "spec script" was first created, and changed the industry for writers forever. Now, screenwriting for television (teleplays) is considered as difficult and competitive as writing is for feature films.


Portrayed in film

Screenwriting has been the focus of a number of films: * '' Crashing Hollywood'' (1931)—A screenwriter collaborates on a gangster movie with a real-life gangster. When the film is released, the mob doesn't like how accurate the movie is. * ''
Sunset Boulevard Sunset Boulevard is a boulevard A boulevard ( French, originally meaning bastion, abbreviated as bd in Metropolitan French, boul in Canadian French, and Blvd in English), is a type of large road, circumnavigating the central city fo ...
'' (1950)—Actor
William Holden William Holden (born William Franklin Beedle Jr.; April 17, 1918 – November 12 , 1981) was an American actor, one of the biggest box-office draws of the 1950s. Holden won the Academy Award for Best Actor The Academy Award for Best Actor i ...

William Holden
portrays a hack screenwriter forced to collaborate on a screenplay with a desperate, fading
silent film A silent film is a film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or oth ...

silent film
star, played by
Gloria Swanson Gloria Josephine May Swanson (March 27, 1899April 4, 1983) was an American actress, producer, and businesswoman. She first achieved fame acting in dozens of silent films in the 1920s and was nominated three times for the Academy Award for Best ...
. *''
In a Lonely Place ''In a Lonely Place'' is a 1950 American film noir directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame, produced for Bogart's Santana Productions. The script was written by Andrew P. Solt from Edmund H. North's adaptation of ...
'' (1950)—
Humphrey Bogart Humphrey DeForest Bogart (; December 25, 1899 – January 14, 1957), nicknamed Bogie, was an American film and stage actor. His performances in Classical Hollywood cinema Classical Hollywood cinema is a term used in film criticism Film c ...
is a washed up screenwriter who gets framed for murder. * '' Paris, When it Sizzles'' (1964)—
William Holden William Holden (born William Franklin Beedle Jr.; April 17, 1918 – November 12 , 1981) was an American actor, one of the biggest box-office draws of the 1950s. Holden won the Academy Award for Best Actor The Academy Award for Best Actor i ...

William Holden
plays a drunk screenwriter who has wasted months partying and has just two days to finish his script. He hires
Audrey Hepburn Audrey Hepburn (born Audrey Kathleen Ruston; 4 May 1929 – 20 January 1993) was a British actress and humanitarian. Recognised as both a film and fashion icon, she was ranked by the American Film Institute The American Film Institute (AFI) ...

Audrey Hepburn
to help. * ''Barton Fink'' (1991)—John Turturro plays a naïve New York playwright who comes to Hollywood with high hopes and great ambition. While there, he meets one of his writing idols, a celebrated novelist from the past who has become a drunken hack screenwriter (a character based on William Faulkner). * ''Mistress (1992 film), Mistress'' (1992)—In this comedy written by Barry Primus and J. F. Lawton, Robert Wuhl is a screenwriter/director who's got integrity, vision, and a serious script — but no career. Martin Landau is a sleazy producer who introduces Wuhl to Robert De Niro, Danny Aiello and Eli Wallach - three guys willing to invest in the movie, but with one catch: each one wants his mistress to be the star. * ''The Player (1992 film), The Player'' (1992)—In this satire of the Hollywood system, Tim Robbins plays a movie producer who thinks he's being blackmailed by a screenwriter whose script was rejected. * ''Adaptation (film), Adaptation'' (2002)—Nicolas Cage portrays real-life screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (as well as his fictional brother, Donald) as Kaufman struggles to adapt an esoteric book (Susan Orlean’s real-life nonfiction work ''The Orchid Thief'' ) into an action-filled Hollywood screenplay. * ''Dreams on Spec'' (2007)—The only documentary to follow aspiring screenwriters as they struggle to turn their scripts into movies, the film also features wisdom from established scribes like James L. Brooks, Nora Ephron, Carrie Fisher, and Gary Ross. * ''Seven Psychopaths'' (2012)—In this satire, written and directed by Martin McDonagh, Colin Farrell plays a screenwriter who is struggling to finish his screenplay ''Seven Psychopaths'', but finds unlikely inspiration after his best friend steals a Shih Tzu owned by a vicious gangster. * ''Trumbo (2015 film), Trumbo'' (2015)—Highly successful Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, played in this biopic by Bryan Cranston, is targeted by the House Un-American Activities Committee for his socialist views, sent to federal prison for refusing to cooperate, and House Un-American Activities Committee#Hollywood blacklist, blacklisted from working in Hollywood, yet continues to write and subsequently wins two Academy Awards while using pseudonyms.


Copyright protection


United States

In the United States, completed works may be copyrighted, but ideas and plots may not be. Any document written after 1978 in the U.S. is automatically copyrighted even without legal Register of Copyrights, registration or notice. However, the Library of Congress will formally register a screenplay. U.S. Courts will not accept a lawsuit alleging that a defendant is infringing on the plaintiff's copyright in a work until the plaintiff registers the plaintiff's claim to those copyrights with the Copyright Office. This means that a plaintiff's attempts to remedy an infringement will be delayed during the registration process. Additionally, in many infringement cases, the plaintiff will not be able recoup attorney fees or collect statutory damages for copyright infringement, unless the plaintiff registered before the infringement began. For the purpose of establishing evidence that a screenwriter is the author of a particular screenplay (but not related to the legal copyrighting status of a work), the Writers Guild of America registers screenplays. However, since this service is one of record keeping and is not regulated by law, a variety of commercial and non-profit organizations exist for registering screenplays. Protection for teleplays, formats, as well as screenplays may be registered for instant proof-of-authorship by third-party assurance vendors. There is a line of precedent in several states (including California and New York) that allows for "idea submission" claims, based on the notion that submission of a screenplay—or even a mere pitch for one—to a studio under very particular sets of factual circumstances could potentially give rise to an implied contract to pay for the ideas embedded in that screenplay, even if an alleged derivative work does not actually infringe the screenplay author's copyright. The unfortunate side effect of such precedents (which were supposed to protect screenwriters) is that it is now that much harder to break into screenwriting. Naturally, motion picture and television production firms responded by categorically declining to read ''all'' unsolicited screenplays from unknown writers; accepting screenplays only through official channels like talent agents, managers, and attorneys; and forcing screenwriters to sign broad legal releases before their screenplays will be actually accepted, read, or considered. In turn, agents, managers, and attorneys have become extremely powerful gatekeepers on behalf of the major film studios and media networks. One symptom of how hard it is to break into screenwriting as a result of such case law is that in 2008, Universal Pictures, Universal resisted construction of a bike path along the Los Angeles River next to Universal Studios Lot, its studio lot because it would worsen their existing problem with desperate amateur screenwriters throwing copies of their work over the studio wall.


See also

* Actantial model * Closet screenplay * List of film-related topics * List of screenwriting awards for film * Outline of film * Prelap * Storyboard


References


Specific references


General references

* * * * * - Paperback * * - Paperback * - Paperback *


External links

* *
Screenwriters Lectures:
Screenwriters on Screenwriting Series a
BAFTA

The Writers Guild of America

American Screenwriters Association
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