On Writing Screenplays

Yesterday I mentioned some of the top search phrases for the month of October. But I’ve noticed, just through the search phrases WordPress reports to me, that people are looking for ways of writing screenplays using Microsoft Word.

Fortunately, the BBC is a big help here. They offer a free template download, Script Smart, that takes the drudgery out of the proper formatting for a screenplay. It doesn’t mean that you’ll actually be able to write a screenplay, as it’s a brutal and unforgiving form. 😉

Why the sudden interest in writing screenplays? I wonder if the the Writers Guild strike has something to do with it. As I’ve seen on bulletin boards — particularly those devoted to genre fans, the belief that the writers going on strike means there’s a chance for someone outside the Hollywood system to break into writing for television.

That won’t happen. The production companies aren’t going to be hiring scab writers. Don’t get me wrong — I think that if the studios wanted to break the writers union, they can now because it’s easier to decentralize writing now than it would have been twenty years ago — but it would likely cause the studios more problems down the road than it’s worth.

Enough about that. Writers deserve to be paid more, especially when DVDs and the ‘net have created revenue streams that weren’t even dreamt of twenty years ago.

Back to Script Smart. I haven’t actually used these templates the BBC has made available, mainly as I have no real interest in writing a screenplay, but for someone out there who wants to automate the process, the BBC’s script templates might be worth looking at. Intriguingly, Script Smart Gold says it supports comic book scripting.

Maybe, for some reader out there, this will be helpful. 🙂

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

2 thoughts on “On Writing Screenplays

  1. Hi my name is Ed-Hova. Anyway I’ve been writing a screenplay on Microsoft Word for a couple of months now and the only problem I’m having is how to write the dialogue correctly under the characters name. I’ve centerd the dialogue time and time, but it still won’t come out correctly as it should. If you can give me any pointers I’d appreciate. Thank you.

  2. Ed, create a “Dialogue” style in Microsoft Word. Then, anytime you have dialogue, select that formatting style, and it should turn out fine. 🙂

    Here’s some quick instructions.

    1) Format (top) -> Styles and Formatting (dropdown)
    2) In the dialogue box that opens, hit the “New Style” button.
    3) In the dialogue box that opens, type in “Dialogue” in the Name field.
    4) Courier New is your font. 12pt is your size.
    5) At the bottom of the dialogue, hit format. In the dropdown that opens, select Paragraph.
    6) Indentation. Left: 1″. Right: 1″.
    7) Click “Ok” in that window. Then click “Ok” to save the style.

    Now, everytime you want to write dialogue, select the Dialogue style and it will come out formatted properly. 🙂

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