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By Michael Schilf · June 18, 2010
There are many parts to building a screenplay. It’s a mistake to think you just sit down and write one. A screenplay, like an automobile, has many components, and they must be arranged and fastened in the right places. There are thousands of parts to a car, as is the case with the construction of a screenplay. However, all of those thousands come from these ten major building blocks. Take care of these ten screenplay essentials, and you will – without a doubt – end up with a better script.
1. Story and Character
A screenplay starts from a High Concept idea, from the development of an unforgettable character, or in the best case from both.
2. Outline Before Writing
3. Three-Act Structure
4. Original Voice
5. Screenplay Form
6. “What happens next?”
7. Short Scenes
A screenplay must move fast, so three pages should be the absolute maximum before you cut to a new location. Half a page is typical.
8. Brief Dialogue
9. Under 120 pages
One script page equals one film minute, so a drama is about two hours (120 pages); a comedy is closer to 90 minutes (90 pages).
10. Know the Logline
In one sentence, you must be able to pitch “what the story is about,” and make a comparison to other successful Hollywood films.