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Powerpoint presentation for an introduction to screenwriting given at the Community Writing Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on July 12, 2011


  • 1. How important is the screenplay?

2. If you have a great script, you can almost shoot the damn thing on gaffer tape, it doesn't matter.- Gale Tattersall, Director of Photography,House M.D. 3. Your screenplay should:

  • Tell a great story
  • Be a page turner
  • Excite others about your project

4. Screenplay Dos

  • Keep it interesting (rule #1)
  • Describe things that can be seen
  • Use active voice
  • Proper screenplay format

5. Screenplay No-Nos

  • Camera angles
  • We see
  • Passive voice
  • Large blocks of description
  • Trivial action

6. I think part of being a good screenwriter is being concise as possible. -Eric Roth,Forrest Gumpscreenwriter 7. Screenplay Format

  • 12-point Courier font
  • Slug line (INT/EXT., location, time of day)
  • Action (what is happening)
  • Dialogue (what is being said)
  • Parenthetical (special dialogue note)
  • Mini slug (location keeps action flowing)

8. 9. Describe in 3

  • Describe a new location or character in no more than three sentences.
  • Be creative and clever
  • Get all pertinent information across quickly (what do you want the reader to know?)
  • Dialogue also describes character

10. 11. Lets practice! In three sentences or less, fully describe your instructor. 12. 13. Lets practice! In three sentences or less, describe the room you are sitting in. 14. Three Act Structure 15. The Matrix(1999) 16. 17. 18. The Hook

  • Grab reader at beginning of story
  • Doesnt have to be action
  • 5-10 pages to succeed
  • Less time on shorter scripts (1 page?)
  • Probably 5-10 seconds on YouTube

19. 20. 21. The Taser

  • Put barbs into reader at beginning
  • Make sure barbs stay put
  • Zap them for entire screenplay

22. Homework!

  • Write 5-page hook (start of any script)
  • Print out copies for all characters (including screen direction)
  • Bring to class, assign parts
  • Read out loud
  • Share opinions
  • If using profanity, check with reader first

23. Free Screenwriting Software Celtx 24. Screenplay Archives

  • Simply Scripts (
  • Internet Movie Script Database (
  • Horror Screenplay Archive (
  • Public/University library

25. Books on Screenwriting

  • Syd FieldsScreenplay
  • Blake SnydersSave the Cat!
  • Robert MckeesStory
  • David TrottiersThe Screenwriters Bible(here at the CWC)