How to Write a Movie Script Like Professional Screenwriters

What Is A Screenplay

What exactly defines a screenplay?

A movie script, besides known as a screenplay is a document that ranges anywhere from 70-180 pages. Most movie scripts come in around 110 pages, but there are a number of factors that play into the length. Before we go besides deep into page count, let ’ s talk about the things you in truth need to know so that you can get started on your handwriting ASAP .

How To Format a Screenplay

What is standard screenplay format?

Screenplay format is relatively simple, but it ’ randomness one of those things that can seem a bite daunting until you ’ ve actually learned how to do it. The basics of script format are as follows :

  • 12-point Courier font size
  • 1.5 inch margin on the left of the page
  • 1 inch margin on the right of the page
  •  1 inch on the of the top and bottom of the page
  • Each page should have approximately 55 lines
  • The dialogue block starts 2.5 inches from the left side of the page
  • Character names must have uppercase letters and be positioned starting 3.7 inches from the left side of the page
  • Page numbers are positioned in the top right corner with a 0.5 inch margin from the top of the page. The first page shall not be numbered, and each number is followed by a period.

StudioBinder screenwriting software does all the necessitate format, so you can focus on the creative. Below is a format script example :

Script formatting breakdown in StudioBinder

many scripts begin with a transition, which may include FADE IN : or BLACK SCREEN. Some place this in the crown left field, others in the top correct of the page where many transitions live. early scripts will begin with scene headings, or even subheadings of imagination they want to front warhead .


The scene lead is there to help break up physical spaces and give the lector and product team an mind of the narrative ’ mho geography. You will either choose INT. for interior spaces or EXT. for outside spaces. then a description of the adjust, and then the time of day. here ’ s a screenplay example :

Script format example in StudioBinder Screenplay Writing Software: Scene Heading

There are rare cases where the picture begins inside and goes outside, or frailty versa, and in these situations you may write INT/EXT. or EXT/INT. Some scripts take place all around the world, so often screenwriters will use multiple hyphens to give the scene headings even more detail :

Screenplay format example in StudioBinder Screenwriting App: Scene Heading Details

This helps the screenwriter invalidate having to point out the geographic location in the natural process lines, saving quad to write more about the actual history and keep readers engaged in the story… not the format .


Often, writers will use subheadings to show a change in location without breaking the scene, even if the scene has shifted from INT. to EXT.

Here’s a script example: frequently, writers will use subheadings to show a exchange in location without breaking the fit, even if the scene has shifted from INT. to EXT.Here ’ s a script model :

Script formatting example in StudioBinder Sciptwriting Software: Scene Subheading

It is assumed that readers will understand the change in space while retaining the idea that the time of day is the lapp – evening continuous. The reason many writers do this is to avoid the notion that we ’ ve entered an wholly new scene, though you could constantly include CONTINUOUS in home of DAY or NIGHT by creating an wholly new scenery head. It ’ s a matter of personal style and cycle vs. production considerations .


In the bottom right of the page you will place transitions, but in modern screenwriting these seem to be used less and less. The transitions that seems to have very stood the test of meter are CUT TO : and FADE OUT .Here’s a screenplay example: here ’ s a screenplay model :

Screenplay formatting example in StudioBinder Sciptwriting Software: Scene Transition

You may besides include something like DISSOLVE TO :, but these are used less and less, credibly for the lapp cause you avoid camera shots .


When you introduce a quality in a screenplay, you want to use all-capital letters for the appoint of the character, then a reference to their old age, and finally some data about their traits and personality. here ’ s a screenplay example :

Script format example in StudioBinder Scriptwriting Software: Character Introduction

again, screenwriters have found other ways to do this, but this is the most park and production friendly direction to introduce a character. We have a post on how to introduce characters in a screenplay that goes into the creative considerations of introducing characters, so I highly recommend you check it out after this post to learn more .


action lines are where you describe the ocular and audible actions that take station on blind. You want to write in third base person in portray tense. here ’ s a script example :

Script format example in StudioBinder Screenwriting Solution: Action Lines

much, you can make your handwriting a better read by eliminating pleonastic pronouns and conjunctions. big sounds and important objects can be written out in ALL CAPS to emphasize their effect on the fib .


Your lines of dialogue will be set underneath the character to which they are assigned. Dialogue is reasonably aboveboard from a format point of view, but it is the most difficult character of screenwriting.

Script format example in StudioBinder Free Screenwriting App: Dialogue Lines

If you want to learn more, check out our post on 22 Screenwriting Tips for Writing Better Dialogue where I go over a bunch together of ways to audit your screenplay for good… and badly dialogue .


These occur when a fictional character says something off-screen ( O.S. ), or if negotiation is voice-over ( V.O. ). You will see extensions when a character ends a block of dialogue, performs an action, and speaks more. here ’ s a script model :

Screenplay format example in StudioBinder Web-Based Scriptwriting Software: Extensions

This takes the shape of continue ( CONT ’ D ). professional handwriting writing software will help you with this, but it will not be able to predict when you want something said off sieve or in voice-over .


You can use a parenthetical expression inside your negotiation to show little actions, or tied a change in climate without having to jump out to an action line. here ’ s a screenplay case :

Script format example in StudioBinder Free Script Writing Software: Parenthetical

Parentheticals are actually commodity for directing actors, and adding sarcasm and nuance to performances on the page, but you may want to be cautious about adding them excessively much. Actors are professionals, and if Al Pacino finds parentheticals in a script, he may get his feelings suffering .


The best master screenwriters know how to suggest shots without actually writing in shots, but if you actually insist on describing a particular shot in your screenplay you can format it like a subheading. here ’ s a script example

Script format example in StudioBinder Online Screenwriting Software: Camera Shot

This lets us know that the shot is supposed to be set so that we see things from Filbert ’ s position. Writing out shots is much frowned upon, but if you ’ re directing the movie, possibly do it meagerly .

How To Write A Movie Script

Use proper script font & margins

The screenplay font used to write movie scripts is Courier 12pt. Courier is used as the standard screenplay baptismal font because it creates a page to screen ratio of 1:1. Where one page of a handwriting translates to one minute of screen clock, so this is one sphere that in truth shouldn ’ t be modified. page margins for a professional movie script are 1 ” for the circus tent, penetrate, and right side margins. The forget gross profit is 1.5 ” for punch fix space. StudioBinder provides a completely absolve and unlimited screenwriting software, so you don ’ t have to be worried about script fonts and margins.

StudioBinder’s FREE Screenwriting Software

Because StudioBinder is cloud-based, you will be able to access your securely saved screenplay from any computer in the global. Our software helps you properly format, produce versions, and mechanically syncs to a count integrated production planning features. engineering is there to make our lives easier, though I applaud you for having an interest in learning about professional screenplay font. If there always comes a prison term where screenwriting software is completely eliminated due to some kind of cataclysmal event, I think we ’ ll all have bigger concerns than understanding how to write a movie screenplay. Now… let ’ s talk screenplay page count .

what is screenplay format

Consider your page count

How long should your movie handwriting be ? It ’ s a unmanageable doubt because comedy scripts broadly come in somewhere around 90 pages ( 1 hour + 30 mins ) while action and drama scripts come in around 110 ( 1 hour + 50 mins ). It ’ mho harmful to worry about this besides much because what you truly need is a script that is lean, mean, and compel at every turn. If you think your handwriting is a snatch dilute, you may need to add a bite more, but every page you add means more money needed to produce the film. If you write a great 80 page handwriting, you may good have a screenplay that will both stimulate production teams, but besides viewers with small bladders .

What Is A Script

Plan out script beats & story structure

floor structure is a a lot more difficult subject to nail down when compared to formatting, sol buckle up. many screenwriter, directors, and viewers find that classic fib structure leads to formulaic moviemaking. It wholly does… and that ’ s why many movies are xeroxes of xeroxes. thus why is this still the best way to have your screenplay produced vitamin a well as a actually helpful tool for writing your screenplays ? production companies, studios, producers, and executives have poured years, and possibly even decades into learning the business of feature films, and the huge majority have used classical fib structure. Do screenwriters and directors all follow it perfectly ? — No. Do screenwriters and directors all understand structure ? — Yes. You have the Save The Cat Beat Sheet, Three Act Structure, The Hero ‘s Journey, The Story Circle — all of these are ways to make that great idea you have become a coherent history that emulates the human experience. We all have highs, and we all have lows. The on-key benefit of floor structure is that it gives you a design to build so that when you sit down to write you don ’ thymine precisely gaze at the blank page. It ’ randomness precisely a navigation map for your big roadtrip… one that producers and studios will want you to have indeed they can bank on your screenplay. One of the non-negotiable support documents you want to create is a screenplay outline. This is where you can create your own roadmap, with all of the considerations you personally care about for your script. Script outlines much present the view page count, overall story beats, and the kinship each fit has with the other scenes in your handwriting. If you ’ re trying to overcome writer ’ south block, a script sketch will keep you focused and help you write your narrative .

How To Write A Screenplay

How long does it take to write a screenplay?

many are curious how long it should take a screenwriter to write a movie script, and while it will always depend on a personal schedule you will be best served by setting up a rigid, professional write schedule. When professional screenwriters are given prison term to write a screenplay, they ’ re provided a time rate between 1-3 months ( 30-90 days ). In the past, I ’ ve set my personal writing yard at 6-7 pages in an 8 hour day of writing, which roughly translates to about 15 days of spell. If you ’ re truly focused on your script, planning out the structure, theme, characters, setting, and plat may take you a couple of weeks. The short circuit answer is that it should take around a month. Some screenplays I wrote took 6 months… others took 2 weeks. The prison term shrinks with each screenplay because you become more and more familiar with the overall process like any other craft or job. Your inspiration and creative energy will only grow when you work on your projects and scripts, and it will alone shrink when you don ’ metric ton .

Movie Script Writing

Make a screenplay title page

The following footstep is to create your claim page for your screenplay. This is a slightly interest, albeit brief subject of discussion. part of this comes from the fact that screenwriter used to add personal information on the page. This is still wholly fine, but there are much better ways to make certain potentially matter to parties have a way to contact you about your narrative that doesn ’ thymine command you to include your home address. You shouldn ’ t be scared to put yourself and your work out there, but you should use technology to give yourself a politic summons like adding an electronic mail address designated to your writing indeed that personal emails don ’ thyroxine get mixed up with important screenwriting emails .

Sample Script

Other important screenwriting notes

There are some nuanced screenwriting practices that may seem correct, but can actually confuse or hinder the physical production. One model is your time of day in your fit bearing. Professional screenplay software will give you about a half twelve options including dawn and SUNSET. This is an ironic here and now where screenwriters actually hurt productions with proper format. These should generally be avoided unless the time of day is absolutely integral to the fib because your script will import into output plan software and produce stripboards that instruct the production to schedule the actual inject times during a very small windowpane of meter. Most good morning and sunset scenes are filmed whenever and however a film director and product team can figure out because planning your integral day of filming around 1-2 hours of available light is a great way to lose a lot of fourth dimension, money, morale, and built up trust. tied if you have a character who wakes up belated for work, you truly won ’ t need to use morning because that scene will most likely be filmed during the day, or may even be filmed on a soundstage with artificial light up. What about the rules with military action lines ? Screenwriters like Quentin Tarantino will sometimes include character motivations or aspects of the film that will not be shown on screen. generally, this practice is frowned upon in screenwriting. But he ’ mho Tarantino… right ? The reason you don ’ thyroxine want to go excessively crazy with this is because it becomes a slippery gradient where novitiate writers default to adding information the spectator can ’ thyroxine see or hear to the screenplay to give pad and context. The truth is that writers should focus on building things we all get to see on screen, and not focus on motivation that international relations and security network ’ t apparent on blind. That ’ mho besides by and large what character breakdowns are for, which you can include with your screenplay to producers, directors, and the actors. Tell me if this sounds conversant … You broadly understand script format, but after reading a number of popular movie scripts you ’ ve actually become more confuse. When you read movie scripts and screenplays you promptly learn that many screenwriters play fast and loose even with script writing format, however, they all get pretty close and predominantly use their somewhat liberal rendition of script writing format to help readers visualize the scenes in a way that keeps a well pace, flow, and rhythm method of birth control. “ Why am I trying to learn and follow rules that may hinder my ability to tell a compelling report through the written bible when the most successful writers and directors don ’ thymine seem to give two hoots ? ” truly, two hoots ? What is this… the 1950 ’ second ?

point is, you ’ re right. Often the professional handwriting we get to read are either early draft or straight up specification scripts, which means they ’ ve written the scripts without an attached plan for production. now, if you want to learn how to write a script that will be used for actual production, besides known as a blast script, you might a well write your screenplays in a way that is wholly production friendly .

Up Next

How to Become a Screenwriter

now you understand how to write a movie script, make certain to take a look at How to Become a Paid Screenwriter. Our post is full of helpful lessons you can apply to your own professional screenwriting career .

Up Next: How to Become A Screenwriter →

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