Friday, Sep 18, 2009


What is a script? A script is a written document that tells a story through the use of visual, aural, and spoken elements all of which are portrayed by a cast of actors. 

Unlike most types of writing that involve only the writer, the editor, and the reader, scriptwriting includes a whole group of people, including a director, an editor, a cast, and a production crew. All of these people will be involved in interpreting your story according to the rules of filmmaking or stage production. This “crew” may ask for your input as the writer, or they may not. In fact, other writers may be brought in to dissect your work and even – banish the thought! – to rewrite it. 

In scriptwriting, the concept of show and tell is far more critical than in novel writing because film is a visual medium. Your audience does not read your story; your audience “sees” it. So writing scripts requires you as the writer to learn to write visually. 

Many novelists – myself included – write visually. When I write my stories, it is as though I am viewing them on the screen of my mind. I see my characters acting, and then I record what I see. 

If you’ve never tried your hand at scriptwriting, I encourage you to do so. You may discover a new writing love.

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14 thoughts on “Scriptwriting

  1. I am like you; I think in visual terms, and I also believe that even in a novel, it is far more effective to show and not tell. Mary Ann, this is a great topci.

    September 18, 2009 at 6:38 AM

  2. Good post and thoughts. I guess we all assume our stories give pictures, but maybe not. :O)

    September 18, 2009 at 10:53 AM Good post and thoughts. I guess we all assume our stories give pictures, but maybe not. :O)

    September 18, 2009 at 10:53 AM

  3. When I commit something fictional on paper or PC, I can actually use all my senses, and as corny as this may sound, I hear music in my mind.

    September 18, 2009 at 2:16 PM

    • Not corny at all, Skye! I hear music, smell smells, and feel textures. A good writer should tap into all five senses. Brava, my friend! 🙂

      September 18, 2009 at 2:22 PM

  4. Hi MaryAnn –

    Thanks for an interesting post. I haven’t seen much on scriptwriting.

    I both read and write visually. Sometimes when reading a book, I’m so into it that I have to go through a re-entry process when I stop.

    Susan 🙂

    September 18, 2009 at 8:56 PM

  5. I always loved writing scripts! It required much more structure than I used in novel writing. The only thing I didn’t like about it was trying to sell the results! When I was writing them, you had to have sold something to get an agent, and you had to have an agent to sell something. 😉 Hope things have improved since then….

    I still recommend scriptwriting to anyone who wants to bring more structure and visualization to their novels & short stories. One slight caveat: if you then try to add in the description etc. necessary for a novel, you may find yourself 30 or 40K words short of novel length fiction.

    Now you’ve got me wanting to write another film, MaryAnn!

    September 18, 2009 at 9:21 PM

    • You’re right, Skye! Scriptwriting obviously touched a chord. Perhaps God is telling us to play it. We certainly need Godly movies in the marketplace. Look at the impact “Fireproof” has had!

      September 19, 2009 at 11:42 AM

      • Yes, I completely agree, Mary Ann, and sad to say, this medium seems to reach more groups than reading ( and who could ever imagine that happening someday)?


        September 19, 2009 at 11:56 AM

  6. Hope, great advice. I do know lately, at the university, the profs who teach creative writing are teaching to cut down on description; readers of today are less apt to enjoy the writers we all enjoyed. In fact, the new writers are taught crisp, concise and to the point language—show and don’t tell. I am not certain how much I buy into the ‘new theory,’ but I do know I like reading James Patterson’s fast, no nonsense novels. Charged, fast paced, and to the point.


    September 19, 2009 at 11:42 AM