Basics of Scriptwriting: Do’s and Don’ts’

I’m currently trying to sort my activities in order before I go to the country side in less than a week to complete my first placements for the course I’m studying. It will take me away from home for 5 weeks. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that but I’m certainly trying to finish up some of the activities prior to leaving. One such activity I must finish is a short 10min video tutorial on the ‘Basics of Scriptwriting’. I was invited as a guest speaker to a workshop that’s taking place in the next week here in Sydney, and I was asked to do a session on scriptwriting and it’s basics for the attendees. It was an exciting day for me, but it so turns out I can’t be present at two places at once, and since they haven’t yet invented teleportation, I’m settling down with doing a video tutorial and a short booklet covering basics so that people who attend can take something away from watching my tutorial and reading the accompanying notes.

I have yet to make the video, which I will be doing tomorrow night, but tonight, I finished up my notes covering the very basics of scriptwriting. I’m not really sure if I’ve covered all the basics that beginning scriptwriters will want to know about etc. so don’t know if my content is enough or too much.

Mind helping me out? If you’re into scriptwriting, or would like to know about it more, I wouldn’t mind a guinea pig to trial the information pdf. You’ll find just the beginning of the information I’ve mocked up. What you think? If you’d like a copy of the entire pdf which is 9 pages all up, then please comment below with email address and I’ll be more than happy to send it along for your perusal. To bad WordPress doesn’t do an attachment thing.






Eva Acharya

The Do’s and the Don’ts’ of Scriptwriting for Beginners.






Eva Acharya has been writing for more than a decade and brings her creative writing and scriptwriting experiences to the forefront. She has previously co-written two Australian Feature Films, and currently has two short films in final phases of post-production. Eva is also writing is spec feature script that has been professionally assessed with positive reviews. Currently, she is collaborating with a Nepali producer and production house to pen a Nepali-Aussie Feature film currently titled, ‘Life Dust’. With two other short films in the planning for later this year, Eva is doing what she can to continually practice her scriptwriting skills. Other than scriptwriting, she is also a published novelist with works published as eBooks and in print. In Strange Company is her debut novel available through Amazon Kindle and Smashwords, for as little as $2.05 AUD, or hardcopy at $15.95 through the author herself.  Planning is also underway for her second book release towards end of 2014, Rule of Thirds.

If you wish to contact Eva, please do so through the email address below.

Thank you, and enjoy your journey into scriptwriting.


Warm regards,



Eva Acharya – (Freelance scriptwriter/director & novelist)



Email: (Put ‘Nepali Film Workshop’ on subject heading so email isn’t deleted accidentally)


Twitter: @evacharya





Scriptwriting is a writing practice for all visual mediums: movies, tv shows, documentary, ads, music videos. Basically any form of visual storytelling that uses the film medium. Because film is a visual mode, the writing defers to how you would write a book or short prose. You have to understand the format and the techniques of a script before you can attempt to write one. There are many rules and these need to be adhered to.

Despite the fact that most would automatically think of the director or actors involved in the film, writer is the one must have when making a film. The script they write is virtually a manual on the making of the story. Therefore, don’t make the mistake of thinking scripts aren’t important.


Scripts are the most important item in filmmaking!

Scripts aren’t just pieces of paper that tells a story. It is an important piece in filmmaking without which you don’t really shouldn’t begin even thinking about filming. Scripts are instruction manual. For each scene, the script tells you what time of the day you will be shooting, the location, the look of the location or set decorations/art direction, the characters, what they wear, how they act, etc.

Scripts tell the production team, headed by director and producer, in the details of every element that will be visible or audible on the screen when an audience watch it in the cinema. Elements include as costumes, lighting, location, set/art direction, mood, music, pace of editing, camera angles, any SFX or VFX that is needed etc.

This environment you see and hear on the screen is called mise-en-scene, and it is absolutely essential to the look and feel of the film.

Before anything else, always remember, scripts need to ‘show’ in the way they are written what is happening on the screen. Don’t ever TELL the audience what is happening, that is what books are for.


Show, DON’T tell.

This is the most important rule in screenwriting to remember: show, don’t tell. Film is visual, so everything in the script need to describe in as few words what is happening on the screen.

Show what’s happening visually, this includes emotions and actions of characters with and to one another.

Don’t tell what’s happening through dialogue, or use language that tells you what is happening. Don’t tell how characters feel, or want, or what they do. Show us what they feel, what they want, and what they do.

For example:


SEAN winched every time Brenda stuck the needle in and tugged the string as she stitched up his wound.


SEAN looked at Brenda stitching his wound.


It hurts, Brenda.


From the above example, you see how the first ‘shows’ us what is happening on the screen without the character describing the event. When Sean ‘winches’ on screen, we automatically know that he is in pain. We don’t need him to ‘tell’ us.



Industry scripts follow a strict format. In order to make your script writing simple and to take away the hassle of having to format your script yourself, you might like to invest in scriptwriting software. Some of the ones out there are Final Draft, Movie Magic Screenwriter, Movie Outline, Montage. Most of these you have to buy, or there is a basic one you can download for free, Celtx, which should be adequate for you to practice the layout of script form.

Before we get into how to write a script, let’s look at the layout so you understand the way scripts defer to a book.



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