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Screenplay Examples From Each Genre

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by Script Reader Pro in Best Movie Scripts to Read
May 12, 2015 24 comments
screenplay examples

Screenplay Examples From Each Major Genre: Drama, Comedy, Action/Adventure, Thriller and Horror

Each screenplay example listed below comes in a PDF for easy download, and has been carefully chosen by us to represent one of the best examples of a script in that genre.

Study them, absorb their storytelling techniques, soak in how the writer gets you to visualize what’s on the page and apply what you learn to your own screenplays. 🙂

Drama Screenplay Examples

screenplay examples

AMERICAN BEAUTY
written by Alan Ball

Pitch perfect drama that mixes moments of hilarious black comedy and won the  best screenplay Oscar in 2000. A modern masterpiece of screenwriting from which there is so much to learn, from the writing style to creating an ensemble of conflicted characters.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

GOOD WILL HUNTING
written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck

What began life as Damon’s final assignment for a playwriting class at Harvard, Good Will Hunting is a remarkable debut for him and co-writer, Ben Affleck. “Give your protagonist a skill we can admire” is a common piece of advice for screenwriters, and this script is a great example of this being put into action.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

JERRY MAGUIRE
written by Cameron Crowe

This script earned Crowe an Oscar nomination and it’s easy to see why. Reading this script is a great exercise in learning how to add shade to character, as Crowe effortlessly makes us simultaneously like and dislike the protagonist, Jerry Maguire.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

Comedy Screenplay Examples

screenplay examples

ELECTION
written by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor

Behind Sideways this is probably Payne and Taylor’s greatest screenplay. Writing comedy is all about making your protagonist make the wrong choices due to their flaw, which is something lead character, Jim, does over and over while battling his antagonist, Tracy Flick.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read
BRIDESMAIDS
written by Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig

Making sure your Comedy protagonist is in a hole before the story even starts is always a good strategy, and studying Annie’s character here is a great exercise in how to achieve this. She’s in her mid-30s, awkward, sleeping with a douche bag who doesn’t respect her, has failed to fulfill her dreams, etc. and this story is exactly what she needs to get out of her slump.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

THE HANGOVER
written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore

If you’re looking to write a high-concept comedy spec, you had better read this screenplay. See how Lucas and Moore place their characters in a fish-out-of-water situation and then don’t just let them hang around shooting the breeze, but place ever greater hurdles and conflict in their way.

screenplay examples
Best Screenplays To Read

screenplay examples

Action/Adventure Screenplay Examples

screenplay examples

LONE SURVIVOR
written by Peter Berg

Like many professionally produced scripts this one has a few formatting quirks, such as placing (V.O.) under a character name instead of alongside it, but the detail and craft on the page is exemplary. Another fine script to read in order to polish up your action sequences.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

ALIENS
written by James Cameron

John August’s favorite movie and the sequel that took Alien into Action/Adventure territory, away from its Horror beginnings. Walter Hill only contributed to the story on this one, not the screenplay, so it’s missing is vertical style, and is essential reading if you want to master self-contained action sequences.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM
written by Tony Gilroy, Scott Z. Burns, and George Nolfi

Read this script and absorb the short, sharp sentences that put you right there in the action, blow for blow as Bourne takes on his adversaries in the streets of London, Tangier and New York.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

Thriller Screenplay Examples

screenplay examples

RESERVOIR DOGS
written by Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino also followed many of the rules of an aspiring filmmaker looking to break in to the industry — write a tightly woven script with minimal locations and steal the best ideas from your heroes. The result was this classic Thriller script that no self-respecting aspiring screenwriter can afford not to read.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read
COLLATERAL
written by Stuart Beattie, Frank Darabont, and Michael Mann

The idea for this story came from a seventeen-year-old Beattie while riding in a cab in his native Sydney. Having turned it into a treatment and then a screenplay, it luckily found its way into the hands of Darabont and then Mann who then both did rewrites. A classic cat and mouse Thriller screenplay that’s well worth breaking down and studying.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

FLIGHTPLAN
written by Peter Dowling, Larry Cohen, Terry Hayes, and Billy Ray

Writing a limited location, self-contained Thriller script is often advised as a way to break into the industry and that’s exactly what Dowling did with this spin on the classic “loved one suddenly goes missing” tale, found in movies such as The Lady Vanishes, Frantic, and The Vanishing.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

Horror Screenplay Examples

screenplay examples

THE RING
written by Ehren Kruger and Scott Frank

Despite the inevitable protestations from a group of hard core fans of the original Japanese movie, Ringu, this script from the Hollywood remake creates something really special. Again, just like in The Conjuring screenplay, Kruger and Frank are masters at creating tension on the page and it’s well worth checking out.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

THE CONJURING
written by The Hayes Brothers

The reason this Horror script is so great is because of the way the Hayes brothers really create a sense of dread on the page. If you want to learn how to write Horror movies, read this and see how they use formatting, their writing style, and visuals to really manipulate your reading experience.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

SCREAM
by Kevin Williamson

Quite how Williamson managed to write this in three days while holed up in a hotel in Palm Springs, still escapes us, but he did and it’s by now become a classic Horror Comedy script. The opening scene alone is worth its weight in gold, and if you’re looking to inject some humor in your Horror movie, this is the script to read.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

Why You Should Read Screenplays

You may also have heard that reading screenplays is one of the best ways to learn how to write, and it’s true.

Don’t just check out these screenplay examples and then leave it. Keep reading as many scripts as you can.

Go to our list of the 50 best screenplays to read and aim to read at least one new script a week.

After just a couple of months you’ll already have a much greater command of the craft of screenwriting than before you started.

screenplay examples

24 Comments
  1. Kristine says:

    Thanks for sharing these screenplay samples! I will read all of the scripts you suggested in my genre. Cheers!

  2. Trevor Roman says:

    Hi

    Do you format screenplays and how much is it?

    1. SRP says:

      Hi Trevor – yes we do. You can find out about the service here: https://www.scriptreaderpro.com/proofreading-and-formatting-service/

  3. Fran Swinson says:

    It is actually almost impossible to write a good script without readings screenplays. Good job SRP.

  4. Nick says:

    I would like to write for this site about screenwriting. Please contact me I’m hoping to contribute.

  5. Jinlianka says:

    Hello where I can sell my script? I have synopsis too and they ready to sell.

  6. Omar says:

    You could definitely see your enthusiasm in the work you write. I hope for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to share their insider tips.

  7. Sarah says:

    The Conjuring screenplay is not the screenplay for the conjuring. Just thought I would let you know in case you didn’t.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Not sure what you mean – it’s the right script.

  8. Darlene says:

    Thanks ScriptWriterPro, what a great post.

  9. Harvey says:

    Great – thanks for the links fellas.

  10. Erin Gama says:

    Nice work. Thanks for the screenplays I will download them all and get to work 🙂

  11. Screenwriter Sam says:

    Great post -thanks for the scripts!

  12. Val says:

    So glad I found this site. You guys really know your stuff when it comes to screenwriting.

  13. Andrea says:

    Big thumbs up. Great advice.

  14. Cat says:

    Excellent post, thanks guys.

  15. Amber says:

    I checked on the web for more information about the topic and you guys nailed it. Great examples!

  16. Glen Daniels says:

    Thanks for sharing. Bookmarked your page for future screenwriting tips and resources like these.

  17. Cynthia says:

    Cindy

    I’m grateful for this site. I want to know if you buy scripts.

  18. Tanebite says:

    This is so great…l liked it big time.. Thank you so much you guys.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks a lot!

  19. Fary Kiss says:

    I never think that there’s any other area of study most interesting to me like screenwriting and directing. It’s a passion I keep in mind, but I actually did not kick start writing screenplay myself, which is the biggest challenge I have now. I’m from Nigeria. I want to learn to become one of the sort after in screenwriting and directing . Please I need every help from you. Cheers!

  20. Gonza shamim says:

    So grateful for your platform guys , i think you have made my dream come true for sure ….. Thanks for your help indeed

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      You’re welcome – cheers!

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