An introduction to screenwriting (Part-1)

Screenwriting is the art and craft of writing scripts for the films. The greatest films, most memorable characters, breathtaking action sequences and the astonishing dialogues are all started at the desk of the writers. Screenwriting includes the research, development and writing of the scripts. The final scripts are delivered to the studios or production houses with screenplay and dialogues in a prescribed format.

080 introduction to screenwriting part 1

Introduction to Screenwriting:

This is the first part of a series on screenwriting that deals with following aspects of screenwriting:
  • ·        Basics of screenwriting
  • ·        Developing a basic storyline
  • ·        Story structure
  • ·        Characters
  • ·        Scenes
  • ·        Dialogues
  • ·        Formatting
  • ·        Rewriting/Editing

The first part is an introduction to the series which describes the basics of screenwriting and choosing the genre and theme.
Let it be either a screenplay or a novel, there are basically Two approaches to writing: the first is to outline the entire story and start developing scenes, the second is to start with the beginning and develop the story sequentially. The second method is undoubtedly most tedious and not suitable for everyone. The major problem is that the theme could change midway or the story could end abruptly. This series follows the first method, that is to outline a story and develop individual sections.


The story could happen anywhere, at any timeline, and deal with any characters. This randomness makes the screenwriting a broad spectrum. The writers should start with a genre, otherwise a James Bond style script could become a Sci-Fi or worse a horror film. There are Two aspects of selecting a genre: knowledge and interest. The writer should have knowledge of some real-world topics. This usually comes from formal education or extensive reading. The students of science can write Sci-Fi stories better than those lacking the knowledge of it. The Sci-Fi could be about anything from futuristic worlds, fossils, time machine, mutation etc. The journalists or people with an interest in crimes or investigation can write thriller and crime genre scripts better than others. Apart from knowledge, interest plays a key role in choosing a niche. The writers who are interested in a particular subject could master it over the years. The regular genres include drama, comedy, romance, horror, Sci-Fi, thriller, action etc. Most of the popular writers are good at one genre because of their knowledge and interest.

Theme and Research:

After choosing the genre, you can choose the theme to develop a specific script. The genres although seem like a subsection of story world, are broad and includes several subgenres. However, it’s not easy to choose a theme out of a genre. The research helps in picking the right theme. For example, to write a script in action genre, the Newspaper articles about how police captured a dreaded criminal could narrow down the options to a secret mission about capturing a criminal, or to write a script in Sci-Fi, a recent research paper about mutation of life forms in oceans due to pollution could suggest a monster thriller or imbalance of ecosystem and repercussions. The options are innumerable which is not always a good thing.

In case of high budget films, the target audience play a crucial role in deciding the theme. The research is done generally from Newspaper articles, research papers, material available online, novels, television shows, interviews, records or even other movies. The list is endless as there is plenty of information available.

After choosing the genre and theme, the basic storyline should be developed. This is discussed in detail in the second part of the series. Click here for the second part.

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