January 16, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Arts & Humanities, Performing Arts, Drama
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Super Scripts

Mary Evans @MaryAliceEvans [email protected]

What is a script?

The text of a play, broadcast or movie.

So…  Scripts have another purpose  They are a set of directions for a production  The reader isn’t (hopefully) the final destination BUT

 To get to their final destination…


Who is a novel for?  The reader

Who is a script for?  Actors  Script editors  Directors  Producers

 Broadcasters  Agents  Costume/Make-up

 Set Designers And ultimately…


So always remember

Scripts are the basis for a production in a different medium.

Our job as writers…  Give clear instructions for a production  Be aware of the specifics of our medium (ie TV = visual, radio = aural)

 Give actors clear indication of characters  Create the world in which the action takes place  Write a compelling plot with fizzing dialogue

Not our job as writers…  Camera angles (this is the director’s job, so let him/her do it)

 Every movement, unless important to the story (also the director’s job)

 How to say every line (give the actors a chance)  Soundtrack – unless important to the story

 Title sequence (post-production)

TV Scripts  TV is a visual medium  We need to show, not tell  What does everything look like? (characters/setting)

 Does it have to be said? Can it be shown?  What are people not saying?

Radio Scripts  Radio is an aural medium  We still need to show, not tell  We can’t rely on physical descriptions, so what else is going to put the listener in the world?

 What sounds are significant?  Far more reliant on the subtleties of speech

How to construct a TV script All scripts are comprised of a series of scenes, which are made up the same way: Scene Heading Action CHARACTER NAME Dialogue

How to construct a radio script Scene no + title F/X (Sound effect)

Character 1 name:


Character 2 name:


Scene headings  Scene headings locate the action for audience and production.

 We need to know where we are and when: Internal/External [INT/EXT] (ie indoors or outdoors?) Where exactly are we (ie shop/house/field?) What time of day is it? (ie, day or night?)



Change of place or time

= change of scene

Action  Sets the scene and who is in it  Provides excellent opportunities to Show Don’t Tell  Allows description – but only write what the audience can see/hear.

 A character’s thoughts would need to be expressed another way.

Good Action INT. MARY’S KITCHEN. DAY MARY (24) a svelte brunette with a figure like a baby gazelle, lovingly puts the finishing touches to an Angry Birds birthday cake. The phone rings. She goes to ignore it, but sees the name and sighs. Her fingers covered in icing piggies, she gingerly picks up her mobile and crooks the phone under her ear.

Bad Action INT. MARY’S KITCHEN. DAY MARY (47) is thinking about all the things she wishes she still had – youth, stomach muscles, a pelvic floor. She remembers that magical holiday in Kavos last year where she met Dwaine and they embarked upon a passionate affair aboard a banana boat.

Flashback Action INT. MARY’S KITCHEN. DAY MARY (30s) looks lovingly at the Angry Birds cake she has just completed. She stares out of the window and her mind wanders.

EXT. KAVOS. DAY (FLASHBACK) MARY is charging over the waves on a banana boat, her arms wrapped around DWAINE (25), a burly love-god from Walthamstow. She pulls a Jagermeister from her tankini and the lovers share a lingering swig.

Flashbacks  Think absinthe – use with caution  Don’t use simply to tell backstory lazily  Only use where there’s no other way to impart information: ie secrets from other characters (Lost), expedient exposition (Desperate Housewives), flights of fancy (Miranda), comic effect (My Name is Earl).

 As a rule, production companies don’t like flashback (despite its prevalence) – so really justify its existence

Character/Dialogue  Character names sit on top of dialogue, which is centre justified: MARY No, Mr Clooney, I’ve told you before. I’m a happily married woman.

Characters as narrators  If your character isn’t present in the scene and is narrating, you need to use (V.O.) = Voiceover EXT. KAVOS. DAY MARY frolics in the waves with DWAINE MARY (V.O.) How could I have possibly known then how that summer would change my life? Or just how resistant to antibiotics Chlamydia has become?

Narrators  Like flashback – use with caution  Needs to be a very good reason for story being told this way (ie In Desperate Housewives Mary Alice is dead, so can bring us innermost thoughts and feelings of characters; Dexter and Nurse Jackie have secrets they can’t share with their world; My Mad Fat Diary is the private diary of a reluctant communicator)

 Is your narrator homodiegetic = part of the story (Inbetweeners) or heterodiegetic = absent from the story (Desperate Housewives)?

 Make the narrator more than a story cipher – give them a distinct character and voice

Scriptwriting Software There are various dedicated scriptwriting software applications available including Final Draft, Movie Magic Screenwriter, and CeltX. The following open source scriptwriting software applications are currently available for free on the web Celtx - a free media pre-production software designed for creating and organising screenplays, films, stageplays and audio plays and more. Page 2 Stage - screenwriting software designed for people writing screenplays, scripts, and plays. Five Sprockets - provides a range of free screenwriting software resources. Taken from BBC writersroom:

NB It is not a requirement of this assignment that you use scriptwriting software.

A properly formatted Word doc will more than suffice.

The Assignment Write the opening scenes of an original TV or radio script (max. 1500 words). Remember to specify the targeted broadcast outlet and the intended audience. Also, write a critical evaluation of any broadcast scripted programme in the same medium and genre (max. 1000 words) with reference to the successes or failures of the script, and how those aspects influenced your own creative piece.

Due by 12noon MONDAY 13TH MAY

The First 10 Pages Most important part of a script. Need to establish:

 Character – whose story is this?  World – where the heck are we?

 Genre/Tone/Style – what will this be like?  Plot – particularly…  INCITING INCIDENT – the moment this world changed

Good Scripts  Show don’t tell  Have oodles of conflict (internal and external)  Give us complex, flawed characters

 Create characters who want something…  …but are going to have a lot of trouble getting it  Use dialogue wisely with much subtext (Dialogue = what a character says; Subtext = what a character means)

 Have their own identity – could only have been written by you

Bad Scripts  Forget their medium (describing the furniture in radio or a character’s first memory in TV)

 Are implausible

 Are derivative  Have clunky exposition/on-the-nose dialogue  Start in the wrong place  Leave us feeling ‘so what’?

Channeling your script  Every channel has a very different remit and audience so research your options carefully

 The channel you choose will dictate the tone (and possibly subject) of your script

 Remember the watershed – different subjects must be handled differently (and possibly not at all) pre-9pm delines-harm-watershed/#television-scheduling-and-thewatershed

 Radio and online have no watershed, but guidelines still apply

A Very Useful Thing BBC writersroom

A Useful Read Writing Dialogue for Scripts: Rib Davis (808.2/DAV)

Another Useful Read Making a Good Script Great: Linda Seger (808.23/SEG)

Script Links: 

Life on Mars:

Desperate Housewives:

Ripper Street:

The Dumping Ground:

The Wire:


NB if these links show as gobblydegook, highlight the address in your browser and hit return or copy links into your browser

Clip Links  Life on Mars:

 Desperate Housewives:  Ripper St:

 The Dumping Ground: m_(Episodes_1_and_2)/

 The Wire:

 Dexter:

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