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The writing techniques used to develop a short story are probably different from those used in developing a novel. My question is, how should I approach writing a movie script? Given the main storyline of a movie usually could be written in maybe one or two lines, how should my approach be to develop the main idea I have on my mind and turn it into a movie script?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Writing a script for a movie bears little relation to writing either short story or a novel. There are so many reasons why, but to bullet point them:

  • You are writing in a compressed time frame
  • Your characters can never think, they can only do
  • The beats of your story need to happen at pretty much specific pages in order to flow as a movie
  • The way people speak is different
  • Nothing can happen that is not on the screen
  • Certain things like flashback, exploring backstory etc. that can work in a novel are frowned upon in a screenplay

...and every one of these rules can be broken if you're Aaron Sorkin. It's just different, and it's no less demanding or difficult to do.

There is a book written by author Alexandra Sokoloff that might help. I've not read it but the articles on her blog are well worth a read.

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To elaborate on "do" vs. "think" in movie scripts, it follows that a script would contain much more detailed descriptions of actions. Those will have an impact on how the actors play their roles. – Phong Mar 2 '12 at 19:31
Actually, elaborate and detailed action is frowned upon in screenplays. You will often hear people say there's too much 'black' on the page, this means too much description. Script readers like to see 'plenty of white' on the page. – Robert Grant Mar 23 '12 at 12:06

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