9 Best Practices For Script Writing Your Short Film

Script Writing

Are you planning to step into the short film-making industry? You have an idea of what your short film should be about but are facing problems regarding script writing? 

Do you have very little knowledge about scriptwriting? Worry not, as we have formulated nine simple yet effective ways to help you in your journey of short film. So, let us begin.

What is Script Writing?

Well, before proceeding, we should have a clear idea of what scriptwriting is. 

Scriptwriting or screenwriting is writing scripts for mass media such as feature films, televisions, etc., through the screenplay medium.

However, it is not simple as it looks. Many writers think they need to put all their ideas and thoughts into a page. There are some specific set of rules and formats to follow.

It involves a certain number of steps and formats to be followed, which we will be discussing here.


What Are The Best Practices To Write a Script For Your Short Film?


Know About Script Elements

Now, your scripts will consist of different scenes (also referred to as slug line). It gives an idea of how the scene will grow, which is referred to as the “SCENE HEADING”. It is always advisable for screenwriters to write the headings in caps. 

Not only that, many other things too should be kept in mind. As the usage of “INT” or “EXT” to indicate if the scene is indoors or outdoors respectively. Along with mentioning whether it took place during the day or at night shown by DAY and NIGHT respectively which falls in the category of “ACTION.”

The names of the characters followed by a parenthetical should be kept in mind. A subordinate is something that is enclosed in parenthesis- E.g., “I bought a packet of cheese (and it was perfect),” where the sentence in the bracket is a parenthetical phrase.

Then focus on the dialogue as it is the medium where the reader gets connected with the characters. Then finally, if a scene has a particular element to it at the very end, like “fading in” or “fading out,”.

It should be mentioned in the “TRANSITION LINE” portion (that too in caps), which is present at the bottom right part of the script.


Use Screenwriting Software

It is advisable to use reliable screenwriting software as it helps the screenwriter by providing specialized shortcuts for quickly writing the character’s name, allowing the writer to collaborate with other writers, adding further information to the script, etc. In other words, it reduces the burden of the writer while doing his/her work.

Several screenwriting softwares available in the market, like Final Draft, Celtx, Fade In, Highland 2 and many more. There are many benefits of using scriptwriting software. Even some top softwares provided free versions to test out their features. 

Final Draft is industry-leading screenwriting software that paginates and formats your scripts according to industry standards. However, it is a little bit costly for a newbie at $250. But it completely worth your investment.

Fade In is a direct competitor of Final Draft and has almost all Final Draft features with a lower cost of $80. 


Organize All Things

Without having a proper plan to execute your work, the entire process can be exhausting and troublesome. Hence, one should organize all materials and tools that they may use to allow the readers to understand and visualize the scene as depicted in the script more efficiently. 

Among the various tools, one of the most reliable is the use of LOGLINE. A logline is a one-sentence summary or description of a movie or a screenplay that consists of the essential elements of your script. It may consists of the main character, setup, plot, protagonist/antagonist, etc. The main motive of it is to entice the reader.

The other tool is the TREATMENT. A treatment is a document that gives a greater insight into the storyline of your script, which is done before the script is made. These are primarily written in the present tense, thereby narrating all the essential details, logline, character description, and summary. 

There is no definite length of it, but it usually consists of about three to thirty pages. Still, it is preferred to keep it short (around ten pages) so that it doesn’t provide too much information to the reader, who may kill his/her curiosity.


Choose The Right Script Length

One can always rely on the golden rule to consider a minute of a play or a movie as one page. In simple terms, one page is equivalent to one minute. For example, if your short film is of a length of 20 minutes, your script should approximately consist of 20 pages.

But this sounds too mechanical. Also, as a certain quota is already mentioned according to the rule, one may feel a bit laid back. And therefore may not complete the work in time, which brings us to our next crucial point.


Follow Your Discipline

As the saying goes- “Roam was not built in a day,” in the same way, you should follow a routine to sharpen your skills. You can achieve such objectives through proper discipline, as any skill requires dedication and continuous effort to master it. The art of scriptwriting needs such an attempt, which is a gradual and undesirable process. 

You don’t need to start writing from the very beginning. What is essential is to devote a certain amount of time each day to your work, give time to it. Follow the already mentioned points and make sure that you don’t cheat as if so, then it is you who will bear the cost no one else. 

Hence having the proper discipline and dedication to follow it is essential, not only in scriptwriting but also for the betterment of your life.


Give Some Pace To Your Story

A typical short movie is of a length of 15-20 minutes. So, there are many things that you should keep in mind like the characters, plots, storyline, introduction of a particular twist. 

So, with so many elements in hand, one always faces problems of removing, adding, or keeping as it is in terms of such features. And in this vast fuss of what to and what not to, one should always make sure to maintain the continuity of the story.

Say a particular scene is there, which needs further explanation of what led to the introduction of such a scene in the movie. Lengthening the entire set and killing the viewer’s curiosity. 

Similarly, if one decides to remove a particular portion, the viewer may not understand the transition, which may be a drawback for the entire movie. Hence maintaining a good pace is essential both from the writer’s and the viewer’s perspective.


Make It Reasonable

While writing the script, you should keep in mind that the scenes are reasonable in a sense that when it gets transformed in a movie. The scenes as depicted in the script which when changed in real life for the viewers may hamper the budget which has been invested for the making of the movie. Hence, try to include only those scenes that are feasible and under your budget.

Always trying to remove the scenes consists of the weather conditions, magical elements, and stunts that may drastically increase your budget. 

As a short filmmaker, your budget is always a matter of how you execute your work. You cannot write simply anything in your short film script that is not feasible.


Don’t Tell, Show Them.

Dialogue is a crucial element in making a movie, but non-verbal communication moves the viewers and connects to them on a whole different magnitude. For example, say the main character has been diagnosed with a rare disease. Try to make the character show its pain in the form of facial expression rather than just speaking it out.

You cannot write everything to express the message. Instead, it would be best if you used visuals to convey your expression. Because as a short filmmaker, you need to reduce your dialogue and writing length and use more graphics intelligently.


Make Strategies to Overcome Writer’s Block

It is one of the most common obstacles a writer faces when writing a particular movie or play script. You are left with nowhere to go and therefore have no clue how to make the story move forward. 

At times like these, one should pause and think carefully about adding more details to the characters. You may also consider changing an entire plot and then seeing how the story proceeds. Remember, the “trial and error” method too can yield some beautiful results.

 If you cannot clear the situation or dialogue of your script, it means you do not imagine the correct scenes. Once you have the correct image in your mind, you can better develop your story.


It is obvious to face difficulties too if it is entirely new to you. However, following the mentioned points will certainly help you achieve your goal of effective script writing. It will help you to understand your drawbacks, and finally, realize that the effort was worth it.


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