Writing for the Screen: How to Write a Movie Screenplay/Teleplay

The good people at Maryville University sent us this article with a request that we pass it on to our visitors.

Maryville is an online university, which immediately piques our interest but also pings our “Should I Be Suspicious Button.” Reading the following, however, alleviated our concerns. This is an excellent intro to TV and screenwriting.

Ambitious novices, take note!


Via Maryville.Edu/Blog

What ambitious professional writer has not fantasized about seeing his or her name in huge, shining letters on-screen during a film’s credit sequence: Written by [insert your name here]?

Before that can happen, though, a writer must learn how to write a movie screenplay.

Screenwriting has long been considered a “glamour” position among wordsmiths. Since the early 20th century, when silent movies began to emerge as popular entertainment, writers have played an integral role in the creation of cogent, compelling stories.

If movies are dreams brought to life on cellulose and screen, someone must channel those fantasies in a practical way. After all, the actors need to know their lines.

The set designer needs to know what the setting should look like. The production crew needs to know where to point the camera. The editors need to know how to order the scenes to tell the story.

It is the responsibility of the screenwriter to know how to translate the vision of the story into the technical language of moviemaking.

This article serves as an introduction to that process. It explores the various elements of screenwriting, such as the importance of economy of dialogue, and the relationship between character development and context.

It also introduces the characteristics that distinguish screenwriting from other forms of writing, including the strict guidelines for structure and formatting.

Finally, the article examines how writing a screenplay can teach key lessons about the craft and business of writing, complete with tips on how to build a career as a screenwriter.

What Is a Screenplay?

According to Merriam-Webster, a screenplay is “the script and often shooting directions of a story prepared for motion-picture production.” The distinction often is made between a script, which is written for stage production, and a screenplay, which is written specifically for film production.

Screenplays can be used to tell original stories or to adapt existing stories for a feature film or TV show.

Today’s screenplays include story elements such as settings, character descriptions, descriptions of actions, dialogue, and specific instructions for production such as lighting, camera angles, scene transitions, and more.

When done right, a screenplay is simultaneously a set of instructions and a distinct work of art….

Read it all at online.maryville.edu

Check out TVWriter™’s favorite TV writing book (written by Larry Brody, of course)