How to write a screen play....


Ok so I have an idea for a movie, I even bought a program called Final Draft 5 (that helps format a script) and a program called Story Craft, (that well.. duh.. helps format a story)

my trouble is I have about 180 pages of handwritten scribbled, jumbled up ideas and notes for scenes ect.. nothing is in any kind of order, or actually written. Its just ideas.

How in the hell do I organize it, to get it into one of these programs.

I mean I see it all plainly as he!! i my head. And I see the scribbles and know what they are for and where they should be.. but how do I get it all where YOU... the reader/viewer would understand it?

Are there some classes I could take that would better my writing abilities. a friend recommended drama, but I have no desire to learn how to ACT... freaking writing it, maybe helping it get made, but acting nu-uh....

what should I do?
it's better to have loved and lost
than to live with the psycho
for the rest of your life

"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."

21st century digital boy
I'm not one hundred percent sure, but I wrote a screenplay for a film course in school once, and all I did was read a bunch of screenplay books and copy the style they were written in. I dunno how professional that was, was a start.
"Look out all you mothers, I'm happy to the core, Happy like a coupon for a 20 dollar whore..." - Olly's Happy Song

I so disagree. Do not read screenplay books they will turn you into a product on the Hollywood conveyor belt!

In terms of formatting a screenplay, here's a nice visual reference:

Standard Screenplay Formatting

You may need to sign up as a member of to see that, but you should anyway...

Aside from that, I can't see your problem.
What actually is the problem?

I also agre with Matt's disagreeing, if you want to be original and produce something to shock and amaze people, than do it under your own esteem and inspiration.

Basically, formatting is the only "rule" you should adhere to. The story structure and development of character and such, that's all up to you.

Unless you are sending it in to be made by someone else, or turning it in to someone... Write it however you want! Format doesnt matter As long as your actors can read their lines, and you remember what you are getting at, who cares?
As for getting help on development, characterization, and all that. theres enough geniuses here. Just write, let us all read it, and The MoFo's will help you out.
"Who comes at 12:00 on a Sunday night to rent Butch Cassady and the Sundance Kid?"
-Hollywood Video rental guy to me

Originally posted by The Silver Bullet

Aside from that, I can't see your problem.
What actually is the problem?
problem is its more scribbled notes, and just general ideas on how I think that scene should look.

its not even writen as a story....

more like, a general timeline type layout of what i think should be in it.

then random notes like
" he should gain access to a police car at some piont since this is his means of...."

I know what I want but I am having a hella time getting even into a story form....

see i cant even express to you why/where I am stuck....

I so suck.

Just write a story then. Insert your little bits, and if all them don't fit, put them away for a rainy day.

Write a story.

Now With Moveable Parts
Originally posted by The Silver Bullet

Write a story.
Yes. Story first. If your characters are interesting enough, they'll talk for you. You won't need to struggle with finding their voice...just keep writing your story, developing the lives involved and the whole thing should just start to "happen".

21st century digital boy
Originally posted by The Silver Bullet
I so disagree. Do not read screenplay books they will turn you into a product on the Hollywood conveyor belt!

Actually I meant just the format, not story structure. I'm sorry I didn't state it correctly. This is why I am not a writer....

21st century digital boy
Ha Ha you sure stuck it to me! I'm so devastated by your vicious wit!


Considering I wasn't trying to be witty. You're the one who said that you're not a writer, not me...

A novel adaptation.
I've been reading this thread, and I cant help but feel that I should post. See, this is partly my area of expertise, as my entire life seems to be a collection of jumbled thoughts, and illegible ideas, and I've grown accustomed to piecing that sort of thing together. I realize that this is hard to beleive, not the easiest information to swallow, as anyone that has read my posts has probably come to the conclusion that I'm incapable of forming cohesive sentences, that my comma button is broken, causing wild and seemingly random comma placement, or that english is my second language. These are all valid thoughts, as my writings on this site have been less than up to par with my expectations of my writings. However, as I stare at this thread, I can see no oppurtunities to get my two cents in concerning something relevant. Thusly, I have written this pointless post, lacking all purpose, it seems that it's here for no reason than to break up a fight between Matt and Dante. But I'd like to beleive that there is a method to this madness, for behold, this post has done so much more than waste your time, it has also BROUGHT MY POST COUNT TO 60!!!!!!!!! I'm so happy, I knew this day would come! Yay for Hero!

Here's what I suggest FF.

Sit down and think about the style of the story you want to tell and bring all your notes with you. Think about some logical way they can fit together.

Write out a timeline for anywhere between ninety and one-hundred-and-twenty minutes, more if you'd like. With Oblivion, we sat down and wrote the numbers one to fifty down the page and then plotted our plot along that timeline. One minute fifty we wrote the notes we had for our ending, at minute thirty-five, we injected the notes for Oblivion's rape scene. We were able to inject ideas along this timeline and then use the numbers/minutes in between each to come up with ways to link them.

The problem you may have might come with having a heap of ideas without the original idea of premise. If you have some idea, even a mere logline idea, of the story you want to tell, then it should be easier. Originally, Oblivion was this sentence: Five people survive nuclear holocaust and go mad and kill each other in disturbing ways. It's turned into a psychological thriller or sorts, much removed from the original piece. But the imagery and ideas we had were easily plotted onto the timeline from there.

The timeline idea is an idea I stole [quite frankly] from the screenwriting methods of Craig Pearce and Baz Luhrmann who wrote Moulin Rouge. They span a large piece of paper along the wall and literally plot their story along this physical timeline. When Austin and myself wrote Oblivion, the fact that we were writing via the Internet prevented that, and our timeline was electronic. It's a great idea, because when you get to the treatment and character sketches [to be honest, however, I oft skip both these parts and did so before Oblivion's first draft] everything is already there in very rough form. I simply write the screenplay according the visual imagery and ideas plotted on the timeline, and if something on there didn't work, I simply didn't write it. Imagine the timeline as a skeleton which you're dressing constantly, and choosing clothing for. The timeline evolves, its not something you have to completely adhere to, but it's a great way to form a story from a collection ideas up.

The first draft is a working document. It's definitely not done, and the true story will come in the subsequent drafts, but the first is simple the task of getting the ideas into a timeline and the timeline into a screenplay.

That's my two cents.

I am now in the process of writing/ forming a screenplay for the latest Project Greenlight Screenplay Contest. I need all the help I could get to get through it..........

Though Silver Bullet's two cents seems to be worth more than that. Very helpful!

Project Greenlight is dangerous, Jrs.

Be wary, be careful, read the fine print, then decide.