Screenplays Defined– The Bad and The Fugly – Part 1
There is a misconception among writers as to what a screenplay’s purpose should be. While it can be said that a script is a blueprint to a film, the target audience of a screenplay will define structure and pace to some degree. There are basically two types of screenplays: the “spec” script and the “shooting” script.
Each can be quite different.
Aspiring writers generally scour the internet for screenplays of their favorite films to gleam from them the structure and style of prose. Unfortunately the internet is also littered with scripts that are “transcripts” or scripts written AFTER a film is finished which follows the film exactly. You can spot these right away if they follow the finished movie scene by scene and dialogue line by dialogue line perfectly.
Often the screenplays found on websites are “shooting scripts” (easily identifiable if the scenes are numbered) available on the internet and these will generally be different than a movie and are closer to the “blue print” of the film. Lastly, there are some spec scripts that exist yet are rare because the majority of these are never optioned, sold or made into films.
Generally, spec scripts are found in any one of a dozen websites that offer script reviews, such as www.zoetrope.com. These, however, are generally written by aspiring writers and often are fraught with structure errors and are… well, unrefined to put it nicely. Still, these scripts can serve to show writers what their peers’ skills are and can also help identify where screenplays can be improved.
It goes without saying that any aspiring writer should study as many scripts as possible, and have at arm’s reach a half dozen or more books on screenplay structure, as these serve to help guide the writer into writing a more solid screenplay. Doing so will help the writer be that much ahead of the pack, and provide a better chance to the spec writer from getting their screenplay read by a producer or executive at a film studio.
More on Part 2.