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16 Screenwriting Tips That Will Improve Your Script Today

Transform Your Understanding of the Key Areas of Screenwriting With These Screenwriting Tips and Tricks

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by Script Reader Pro in Screenwriting Tips
April 13, 2013 6 comments
screenwriting tips

16 Essential Screenwriting Tips to Make Your Script Stand Above the Rest

You may have noticed there are a lot of bad screenwriting tips floating around out there. Advice that says you shouldn’t ever use camera angles in your description, that a scene should always contain a protagonist with a goal, and that a screenplay is made up of just three acts.

It’s time to get down to brass tacks: screenwriting needn’t be this confusing. But with the number of contradictory screenwriting tips online, it often seems so.

We’ve broken down this list of scriptwriting tips and tricks into seven key screenwriting areas: concept, theme, characters, plot/structure, scenes, dialogue and description.

So let’s dive on in.

Concept Screenwriting Tips

♦  1. Use a three-way triangle of conflict between the protagonist, antagonist, and stakes character to create the strongest concept possible.

Read more about how to do this here: Script Ideas: 5 Proven Ways to Unlock Original Movie Ideas.

♦  2. Try to force your protagonist into action at the end of Act 1, rather than let them drift into it.

Read more on how to do this in our step-by-step guide: How to Write a Logline: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide.

Theme Screenwriting Tips

♦  3. Think of theme in terms of an argument: the protagonist represents the “unknown” side, the antagonist the “bad” side and the stakes character the “good” side.

Read more about how to strengthen your theme here: Screenplay Theme: 3 Superb Ways to Express Your Script’s Message.

Character Screenwriting Tips

♦  4. Make your characters feel real by adding a surprising contradiction to them. 

Read how to create 3-dimensional characters here: Why Creating a Character Bio Isn’t a Great Starting Point (And What to Do Instead.)

♦  5. Always make sure your characters feel real.

Read how to do this here: Make Screenplay Character Development 100x Easier With This #1 Hack.

♦  6. Map your protagonist’s character arc to every major plot point in your screenplay. The call to action, Act 1 break, midpoint, Act 2 break and climax should all be big moments that clearly demonstrate where the protagonist’s at on the arc.

Read how to show character arc through plot points here: Character Arc: The Secret Sauce to Demonstrating Your Hero’s Growth.

Plot/Structure Screenwriting Tips

♦  7. Add two extra plot points to Act 1 of your script: an Inciting Incident (possibly) in the first scene, and a big event around page 17: the thing that spins the protagonist’s world out of sync, forcing them to make a decision at the end of Act 1.

♦  8. Follow these 12 specific script beats in Act 1 to really set up the conflict in your screenplay and make it as strong as possible.

Read what these twelve specific screenplay beats are here: 12 Secret Script Beats You Should Include In Act 1 of Your Screenplay.

screenwriting tips

Scene Scriptwriting Tips

♦  9. Stop framing every scene you write in terms of “protagonist vs. antagonist.” In reality, many scenes are more about revealing information that direct conflict.

Read more about this here: 8 Out of 10 Writers Have Been Told How To Write A Scene the Wrong Way.

♦  10. When it comes to writing a scene, there are 8 Core Principles you should follow. Every well-written screenplay scene—especially the big ones at major plot points—contain eight dramatic principles that best move your story forward and keep the audience engaged.

Read more here: 8 Keys to Writing a Scene That Pops off the Page and Grabs the Reader.

♦  11. Improve your scene description style by comparing it to the pros

Read how to do this here: Improve Your Screenplay Scene Description in 10 Minutes With This Method.

Dialogue Screenwriting Tips

♦  12. Learn how to dramatically improve your script dialogue by reformatting screenplay transcriptions. This simple hack will get your fingers into the rhythm of writing professional sounding dialogue in less than a month.

Read how to do it here: Script Dialogue: If Your Characters are Just Talking You’re Doing It Wrong.

♦  13. For all you comedy writers out there, steal jokes from the web to boost your script’s humor level.

Read how to do this here: How To Write Comedy Scripts With Laugh Out Loud Dialogue.

♦  14. Eliminate on-the-nose dialogue by replacing all instances of explanation with action. Whenever you have a character explain something, check to see if the information would be better conveyed through a short, visual scene.

Read more about this and other subtext hacks, here: On-the-Nose Dialogue Examples and How to Stop It Killing Your Script.

Writing Style Scriptwriting Tips

♦  15. Compare good and bad versions of scene description side-by-side to really see what great writing looks like.

Read examples of this here: Improve Your Screenplay Scene Description in 10 Minutes With This Method.

♦  16. Leverage suspense in your writing style by slowing down time, and thinking of each line as a new camera angle.

Read how to do this here: How to Make Your Script Writing Style Leverage 100x More Suspense.

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We hope you enjoyed this screenwriting tips round-up and will take a moment to check out our upcoming online screenwriting course called ScriptHackr that contains many more screenwriting tips and tricks you’ll wish you knew years ago.

screenwriting tips

Enjoyed This Post? Discover More of the Best Screenwriting Tips Online… 

How to Write a Screenplay: The Secret to Elevating It Above the Ordinary

Script Dialogue: If Your Characters Are Just Talking You’re Doing It Wrong

Short Film Ideas: How to Come Up With 100% Unique and Filmable Ideas

[© Photo credits: Unsplash]

6 Comments
  1. Jeremy says:

    Nice tips. Thank you for sharing.

    1. SRP says:

      You’re welcome Jeremy!

  2. Jack says:

    Thanks, I love these. #4 really hit home for me.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks for the comment, Jack 🙂

  3. Jarash says:

    hi, you screenwriting tips is very good. thank you .

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Jarash.

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