Writing and Screenplay Format

Right on the heels of the Oscars, it’s probably a good time to mention that I have always loved screenplays—and the screenplay format. I first ran across one back when Stephen King scripted Storm of the Century, and I quickly realized that this was the way that all Hollywood movies were written on paper. I was fascinated.

Since then, I’ve read quite a few screenplays/scripts for both movies and television, and have quite enjoyed them all. It’s probably not surprising, then, that I’ve felt an increasing itch to try to write one myself. I’m curious, though: have you ever read a screenplay, in any form? And if not, do you find the format pretty readable? I can include an example here: the screenplay for Big Fish, which is hosted by its author (John August) on his personal site. If you wouldn’t mind reading through a few pages of this, I’m quite curious to know how appealing the format is or isn’t to you. To me it would seem especially appealing to anyone that enjoys movies but doesn’t necessarily like to wade through an entire novel; most screenplays are around 110 pages with plenty of whitespace. I’d be grateful if you would let me know via a comment (or Twitter/Facebook/e-mail) what you think.

If you’re curious, my two very favorite screenplay/script collections are The Dark Knight Trilogy (available on Kindle) and the West Wing Script Book. They’re both terrific looks into how movies and television are made, and also a fun chance to see these stories unfold visually in your own imagination.

Coming back to my site here, the really neat thing is that I have used jQuery to craft a way to turn ordinary text into screenplay format, right here on my site! Here’s a quick example:



Two men, both mid-twenties, stand next to a battered country road. Faintly stretching across the road in front of them are the imprints of chicken feet.

Why did this chicken cross the road?

Well, to accurately identify that, we’d need to calculate the velocity of the wind, in combination with the weather, to determine external factors influencing the chicken’s resistance to moving forward. Then, we’d have to learn about the chicken’s social habits, including the proximity of any female chickens, because—

Okay, we’re done here.


Would love to post some bits of fiction (amusing and not) in this format, so again, I’d love to get your thoughts. If it’s a bit jarring to read (the link to Big Fish being the best indicator), definitely let me know.

Thank you for your help!

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