There’s a lot that goes into a screenplay. It’s not just a novel, it’s a blueprint for making the film.
Because of this, it can feel like a script packs a LOT of information but sometimes its readability and pace gets lost. Once you lose the readability, you’ve lost the reader.
So how do you write a more readable script that has some punchy pace? We have some tips which should guide you in the right direction. Welcome to The Film Look.
We’ve spoken about this a few times now, but it’s worth mentioning again.
Read the script out loud with a few friends. Give everyone a role to play, but have someone read the actions lines as well. This will give you a very clear indication if the script is easy to read.
To a newcomer, all this information is brand new, so they won’t have a bias or any previous knowledge when they read it.
While reading it out loud, you may notice dead stops in the script; points which cause a reader to stop, think, and read it again. This can be due to a bunch of things:
The first thing you can do is create more white space on the pages. You should be able to scan a script and understand it in a moment’s notice. This is especially helpful during a shoot.
You can create more white space by thinking of each paragraph as a beat in the film.
If you have “this happens, then this happens, then this happens”, space it out and put each “THEN” on a new line.
If things are happening at the same time, or within a single moment, you can keep it in the same paragraph.
A good rule of thumb is not writing over 5 lines for a single paragraph. If you are taking more than 5 lines to describe something, you are probably describing too much stuff.
Saying that, more words doesn’t always mean more descriptive.
Want to the describe the immense gunfire and chaos from a battlefield in world war 2?
Then describe it like chaos. Instead of:
“US Marines fire machine guns towards the Nazis”.
how about this:
“MACHINE GUN TRIGGERS PULLED
Unleashing a storm of booming explosions, charging into bodies of Nazi soldiers like hot, invisible lightning, ripping through their clothes and tearing them apart.”
The two sentences describe the same thing, but the second gives you a sense of the image and feeling in the scene. It sounds a lot more chaotic and violent due to the use of metaphors, similes, and adjectives.
If you get creative, you can make your action lines paint pictures.
Let us know if you have any tips for making a script easy to read in the comments below. You can hit that orange lens cap if you want to subscribe for more videos just like this one, and remember to achieve it one line at a time.
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