How To Write a Screenplay: The 5 Step Process

Have you ever fantasized about writing a Hollywood movie? Or, with a bit of luck, create the next great TV series?

In a visual age, with the decline of traditional publishing, some look to writing screenplays as a way to create the “literature of the future.”

But what is the process to write a screenplay? How do you even begin? And how is it different or similar to writing a novel? In this post we’re going to look at the five step process professional screenwriters use.

how to write a screenplay

Photo by Punk Toad (creative commons)

Why I’m Thinking About Writing a Screenplay

Earlier this week, a friend who’s a lawyer approached me about a writing opportunity. He was closing a tragic but fascinating case, and he thought it had potential to be a major film. At first, I shrugged it off. Screenplays are like books, everyone thinks they have one in them, but then, he told me the story, and it was awesome—a family’s search for the American dream, drug dealers under the scrutiny of the law, police corruption, an adrenaline powered shooting, everything you could want in a major motion picture.

But still, I held back. The hardest part of making a movie isn’t writing a good story. It’s getting someone to fund the process of bringing the story to life (do you have a hundred million dollars lying around to fund a movie?). Fortunately, said the lawyer, he’s friends with several people at a major Hollywood studio. “We have everything we need… except for a great script,” he told me.

“Hmm…” I thought. “Maybe this isn’t a complete waste of time.”

In my experience, most writing projects like this don’t work out, but when they show up, it’s important to give them your best. After all, at the very least, it’s good practice.

How I Learned To Write a Screenplay

In college, I took a class with John Wilder, a veteran film and TV writer, who began the class by writing, “STRUCTURE! STRUCTURE! STRUCTURE!” on the chalkboard in big bold letters. “What’s the most important part of a screenplay?” he would ask at the beginning of nearly every class. It was obvious what he thought: Structure.

Afterward, I wrote three short screenplays, one of them with a producer of MTV’s Made. After getting my mind around the strange formatting, I learned how hard it is to create unique stories in such a compressed form.

But it’s been several years since I tried my hand at writing a screenplay, so before I began working on this new project, I had to re-familiarize myself with the process.

The 5 Steps to Write a Screenplay

Most screenwriting professionals follow these five steps to write a screenplay. While this doesn’t mean you should follow these steps exactly, hopefully this will be a helpful guide as you write a screenplay of your own.

1. Craft Your Logline

A logline is a one-sentence summary of your story, and they’re primarily used as a marketing tool. When a studio executive asks you to give him your best pitch, your logline is the first thing you’ll mention.

Loglines also function as a helpful guide to focus your writing on the most important aspects of your story. In other words, loglines help your story stay on track.

Loglines generally contain three elements:

  • A protagonist
  • An antagonist
  • A goal

It’s also helpful to put a summarizing adjective in front of your characters to give a sense of their personalities. For example, the logline of Star Trek might be:

A headstrong orphan and his Vulcan nemesis must save the Federation (and themselves) from a revenge-seeking Romulan from the future.

Not too hard, right?

2. Write a Treatment: Your First Sketch

Also primarily a marketing document, treatments give executives an idea of whether the story is worth their money. However, like the logline, it also serves as a helpful tool for the writer, a kind of first sketch of the story.

For most of the history of art, paint was prohibitively expensive, and so before Monet or Picasso would attempt a full scale painting, they would do a “study,” a sketch of their subject (artists do this today, too, of course). If a sketch wasn’t coming together, they might save their paint and not make the painting, or else revise the study until it looked worthwhile.

In the same way, a treatment is like a first sketch of a film. Treatments are generally two to five page summaries that break the story into three acts. Here are the three main elements of a treatment:

  1. Title of the Film
  2. Logline
  3. Synopsis

Treatments may include snippets of dialogue and description, but the main focus is on synopsizing the story.

3. Structure Your Screenplay’s Outline

In this step, you mine into the structure of the story. As Wilder said, the most important element a screenplay is, “STRUCTURE! STRUCTURE! STRUCTURE!”

Your screenplay’s outline is the first step completely focused on creating. You likely will never show this to anyone but your writing partners. Most feature films have forty scenes, and your job in the outline is to map out the setting and major events of each scene. You might include major dialogue as well.

The best book to understand the structure of a film (and the best screenwriting book I’ve ever read) is Save the Cat by the late Blake Snyder. If you want to learn more about how to write a good screenplay, or even a good story, I highly recommend it.

Just remember your screenplay’s outline is primarily for you. Write as much or as little as you need to.

4. Write a Flash Draft

This is the fun part, your first real draft, and the same guidelines apply here as to your fiction writing:

  • Write quickly
  • Don’t think too hard
  • Don’t edit

Wilder told me his goal was to write the entire first draft of a screenplay, about 120 pages, in three days. If you’ve done the hard work of structuring your story in your outline, this should be easy.

By the way, if you’re not sure how to format your screenplay, here’s a helpful guide. Screenwriting software can save you a lot of time with formatting, too. Final Draft is the industry standard, but Scrivener, which is what I use to write books, has helpful screenwriting tools, too.

5. Edit

As with books, I recommend doing at least three drafts. After you finish your first draft, read it through once without editing (you can take notes though). In your second draft, you can focus on major structural changes, including filling gaping holes, deepening characters, removing characters who don’t move the story forward, and even rewriting entire scenes from scratch.

In your third draft, you can focus on polishing, specifically, on making your dialogue pop.

Once your script is complete, it’s time to get feedback and begin sending it to studios. Good luck!

BONUS: If You Sell Your Script, Watch As It Gets Torn Apart

The film industry is collaborative. For most films, multiple screenwriters work on a script, and then, in the production process, the script constantly changes because of feedback from producers, actors, and the director. It’s not easy being a screenwriter in Hollywood. Often, the first writer on a screenplay won’t even get credit because so much of the original screenplay has been revised.

This is something I’ve been thinking about as I work on my new project. Even if our film is lucky enough to get bought, my chances of having my name on the film as a first-time write and industry outsider are still quite small. Fortunately, I learned this last lesson from John Wilder:

“That’s why structure is so important,” he would tell us. “They can completely rewrite the dialogue, the action, and the setting descriptions, but if you have a solid structure, you’ll still see your name at the end of the film.”

Wouldn’t that be a treat?

Have you ever written a screenplay? What is your process?

PRACTICE

Write a logline, either for your work in progress or for a new story.

When you’re finished, post your logline in the comments section. And if you post, make sure to comment on a few loglines by other writers and let them know whether you’d like to see their film or not.

Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links. We only recommend books and tools we’ve used and found helpful, and by purchasing them, you help support this writing community. Thanks!

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

  • Elise White

    Here’s my attempt:
    When her father suddenly moves the family from their peaceful country home to the chaos of the inner city, Ainsley is faced with the realities of life outside of her small town and falling in love in spite of herself.

    • Margaret Terry

      I like this Elise, feels like it could be a TV series – it would help to have an adjective for the father (distant?
      irresponsible? perfectionist?) and for Ainsley(shy? only child?) to help me get a better picture
      of the two of them and this new adventure…

      • Elise White

        Thanks for the feedback! How about this:

        When her idealistic father suddenly moves the family from their peaceful country home to the chaos of the inner city on a mission doomed to failure, sheltered Ainsley is faced with the realities of life outside of her small town and falling in love in spite of herself.

        • Margaret Terry

          Better, but don’ think you need the “doomed to failure” Tells us too much.

    • Add the descriptions. Sounds like an interesting story.

  • Margaret Terry

    from my WIP called “The Year of Letting Go”
    A recently widowed woman who discovers she is bankrupt reflects on her checkered past as she sells everything in her house in a desperate attempt to keep it.

    • Elise White

      Sounds like an interesting story! I could see that being an interesting movie, as well.

      • Margaret Terry

        thx, Elise!

    • catmorrell

      Margaret, this scarily sounds like my life. I look forward to reading this especially since I so strongly identify with your character.

      • Margaret Terry

        Thx, Cat…it’s bit like mine right now too…

    • Lots of turmoil immediately. Husband passing away. Fear of losing house. Selling things that she probably doesn’t want to sell.

      Very traumatic times for this character.

      • Margaret Terry

        Thx, James. But, where oh where are my “James” edits? 🙂

        • You’re a special case. 🙂

          *recently-widowed

          • Margaret Terry

            Haaa!

      • Leftcoast

        But I want to see even more turmoil still from her checkered past! Prosecution, vengeful ex-business associates of the dead guy, prostitution…give us something! Certainly incorporate losing the house into the story, but perhaps there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow…or bricked into a basement wall.

    • Victoria

      Your logline makes me want to read the book!

      • Margaret Terry

        Thx Victoria-I hope I finish it and you get to do that!

    • Leftcoast

      Sorry for the double-post, but I didn’t realize this response went to James.

      But I want to see even more turmoil still from her checkered past!
      Prosecution, vengeful ex-business associates of the dead guy,
      prostitution…give us something! Certainly incorporate losing the house
      into the story, but perhaps there’s a pot of gold at the end of the
      rainbow…or bricked into a basement wall.

      • Wow! Thx, Leftcoast. I really love your comments – I’ve known I needed more conflict for my main character and you just gave me a feast! (the business associate idea is grand)

  • Brianna Worlds

    My attempt. I’m hideously terrible at concise writing, so let’s see how this goes…

    Jane’s previously standard life is turned upside-down by one crucial Change: that of a changed species from a human to Vampire, riddling her life with literally a world of problems suddenly her own.

    • Concise writing is really not as hard as it seems, just starting cutting stuff.

      1. Previously-standard life doesn’t add much
      Jane’s previously-standard life is turned upside down..

      Jane’s life is turned upside down…

      2. Don’t use the same word twice in the same sentence. Scratch crucial. If one change turns someone’s life upside-down, we already know it is crucial.

      by one crucial change: that of a changed species from a human to a vampire

      by one change: species.

      3. Honestly, open ended is usually a little better. Does it leave the reader with a question? We shouldn’t have to tell the reader the drama, such as “riddling her life with…”.

      Concise:
      A shy girl’s life is turned upside-down by one change: her species.

      Tell me what you think…

      • Naughty me…. That leaves passive voice

        A shy girl’s life turns upside-down during one change: her species.

        Though in this case, I think I like passive better. It has its time and place.

      • Brianna Worlds

        Thanks! The one thing is Jane is far from shy 😛 She’s… Bold, clever, sarcastic, stubborn, stoic but not shy. But this is really helpful, thanks!!

        • I picked a random adjective, I figured you had a better one. No problem, glad to be helpful.

  • First time post at one of these.

    A newspaper reporter is tasked with getting to the bottom of a anonymous document that indites the natural gas industry and their fracking practices.

    • Sounds interesting. Could be more concise and you are using passive voice:


      A newspaper reporter, tasked with uncovering an anonymous document, indites the natural gas industry and their fracking practices.

      And if the anonymous document causes the inditing…

      After uncovering an anonymous document, a newspaper reporter indites the natural gas industry and their fracking practices.

      Little changes can make big differences.

      • James,

        Thanks for the comments and the thoughts. I’ll be the first to admit I got a LONG ways to go to be where I need to publish anything. Thanks again for the comments/thoughts.

        • Don’t worry about how close you are to publish.
          Here are the three things to worry about
          1. Character
          2. Plot
          3. Setting

          Notice, I didn’t list active/passive voice or any of the other. That stuff is easy and can come later. You’re doing great and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Anyone that has the courage to write and chases that dream of being published is doing better than most.

        • Leftcoast

          I believe a good working-title might be, “Wholly Fracked!”

          “Completely Fracked” would work as well.

          Keep at it, Christian, and remember the quote from Henry Ford: There is no man living who isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can do.

    • Richard

      Timely and could interesting if handled fairly. Despite the topic, be sure to put in a little humor.

  • Okay, now that I’ve edited everyone else’s logline (I know, I’m silly right), I’ll post mine:

    A grieving dwarf struggles with shattered memories of his late father, a foggy past, and visions of an age-old enemy.

    • Nice James. Not many fantasy stories (at least I’m assuming this is fantasy) have dwarves as the protagonist. That should be interesting!

      • No. It is nonfiction! You don’t believe in dwarfs? 😛

        The hard part, for me, is pulling off the story in the story without crippling either story. The relationship between the stories is the key to the whole book.

        Thanks Joe!

        • Leftcoast

          Joe Bunting, do you have Peter Dinklage’s number handy?

  • Adam

    First time posting on this site 😀 Love The Write Practise. Here’s my log line for my WIP:

    A young endurance runner living in the slums of a terraformed mars flies across the solar system to compete in a 400-mile run through jungle, tundra and desert infested with horrid monsters for a prize of $5.5 billion dollars.

    • Excellent details and vivid.

      Living in a dump on terraformed Mars, a crafty athlete competes in an inter-solar run through intense terrains infested with horrid monsters for a prize of 5.5 billion dollars.

      That’s all I got.

      Welcome to the write practice! The more the merrier! I hope to hear more from you and hope this magical place helps you grow as a writer, as it has done for me.

      • Adam

        Thank you for the feedback! Taking in your advice

        After losing half his family in a dreadful accident an ambitious athlete competes in an planetary run through intense terrains infested with horrid monsters for a prize of 5.5 billion dollars and the chance to escape from a life of poverty.

        • Leftcoast

          I like the concept, and believe James Hall nailed it. The only thing I might contribute is that by the time we have slums on Mars, a billion dollars might not be worth quite what it is today. You might want to use something else…’Credits’ perhaps, you use? [/Yoda]

    • Margaret Terry

      Hi Adam – welcome! I’m not a big sci-fi reader, but I do love sci-fi movies and I think your log line has blockbuster all over it. I have 2 sons in their twenties who would LOVE this concept – I hope you keep going with this!

      • Adam

        Thank you Margaret! So glad to hear someone would be interested in it!

  • Victoria

    This really helped me to narrow down what my story is actually about, even though I’m not really planning or hoping for it to be a movie 🙂 Here’s my logline:

    Before she can grasp the brightening future, an unsatisfied banker must acknowledge her hidden past and face the revengeful man who has returned to uncover it.

    • Tastes like adjective. All the nouns have an adjective. It makes it read weird and harder to process.

      Before she can grasp a brighter future, an unsatisfied banker must acknowledge her past and face the vengeful man who has returned to uncover it.

      I think that might help it a bit… Second opinions? Anybody?

      • Victoria

        Thanks for pointing that out. Thinking of different ways to put it… This is less adjective-y although slightly more wordy:

        Before Justine can move away from four years of dissatisfaction and grasp the brightening future, she must acknowledge her past and face the revengeful man who has returned to uncover it.

        • Leftcoast

          I mean really WTHDIK, but to quote James T. Kirk, “Not exactly a love song, Spock.”

          I would take James Hall’s advice…dissatisfaction and brightening have to stay gone, as the flow is a little clumsy, and detracts from what you’re really trying to convey to the reader.

          Keep at it though, please; I want to hear more! GL

    • yousra

      sounds mysteries & adventurous ….wanna see 😉

  • Michael Marsh

    This novel is in its third draft. It is hard to capture the essence of a complex story in one sentence.

    After his Venezuelan girlfriend of 10 years abruptly leaves, Random, a 35 year old research assistant, discovers a dream world parallel to his own, with animal spirits both helpful and dangerous, as he goes in search of his lost love and discovers his lost life.

    • Sounds interesting and unique. I especially like the search for lost passion for living. That sells me on it.

    • Sulaer

      A parallel dream world certainly catches my attention. I’d be interested in learning more about that.

  • TheFlash1984

    Hi, great write up.
    However, do you do Character Bios, or write up Backstory Essays?
    Also, what about research, this is where I struggle, as unsure when to do it. After a first draft, in the index card stage, after the first spark of the idea.
    Then I get lost about what to research, for instance if I wrote a Sci-Fi piece, like Star Trek, do I need to research ‘Light Speed Travel’? Or is it something, as long as I set it up, that the audience will just accept.
    So, using Star Trek as the example again, what would have been the primary elements you think were researched? Sorry for the over the top questions, but research side is got me stuck with me screenplay, I find I question myself, if I am even asking the write questions to research, so then don’t get much written as worried not done the research…a frustrating circle.
    Any Thoughts or Opinions about how to do it, and make sure you are aksing yourself the right questions to research to begin with?

    • Its up to your characters. Write a “research paper” on your characters. What is their story? What do they like? What do they think is interesting?

      Then, once you have a sense for the characters, what do they find important, interesting, or worth learning about? That is part of my approach, though sometimes I just do research and research until I have an idea of what I want or how something needs or can work.

    • Too many questions here to tackle in one comment (or one post!) but no I don’t write character bios. I DO spend a lot of time thinking about my characters at every stage in the writing process though. But that doesn’t mean you should or shouldn’t do the same, just what I do.

      • Mandy Goff

        do you retain moderation of these comments even after two years? lots of people wanting feedback

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  • Goldn

    I realize this is an older thread but any thoughts would be welcome:

    A terrified young historian awakens in the ancient Roman Empire. Stranded, he must use his wits, strength and knowledge of what is to come to navigate the horrors of war, survive the intrigues of politics, remake an empire and save the one man who can lead it into the future.

    • vermis

      Perhaps:

      ‘A young historian, stranded in Ancient Rome, must use his wits and knowledge of what’s to come to survive the horrors of war, navigate the intrigues of politics and save the one man who can lead the empire into the future.’

      • Leftcoast

        I believe Goldn neglected to make clear that the terrified young historian is from the future, somehow awakening in Ancient Rome.

        So:

        A resourceful, young historian from the 21st century, inadvertently caught in a tear in the space-time continuum, awakens in the ancient Roman Empire. Stranded, she must use her wits, strength and knowledge of what is to come to navigate the horrors of war, survive the intrigues of politics, remake an empire and save the one man who can lead it into the future.

    • Savageness

      He finds out all of his knowledge was wrong, because history was not recorded accurately.

  • Mcorcoran15

    A comeback story about a high school football coach and his injured star quarterback who must find hope and redemption in eachother in the face of adversity.

  • Alissa Gosse

    First time posting, first time sharing my idea actually. I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m ready to show my work but I have to start somewhere. hope you guys like it.

    Two years after starting college, Faith tragically looses her best friend. As she battles her pain she reflects on the past two years and the choices she made along the way.

  • vermis

    Hope this thread isn’t completely dead yet:

    ‘A young man faces his first days of homelessness in the wake of the financial meltdown.’

    • Mandy Goff

      i’m interested

  • anonymous

    What do you guys think of this? Blank (dont know name)is a schizophrenic cryptozoologist whom spots a UFO. Nobody believes him when he says he saw it,they believe he was hallucinating. A few days later, the same UFO appears again.And the cryptozoologist is abducted.

    • MB

      Sounds like a psychological thriller.

    • Orson

      It has the trappings of a sci-fi adventure. The logline however, ought to be one sentence in length. Try combining your sentences into one long one and then trim the details out of it. Having spotted a UFO, a cry from a mentally unstable cryptozoologist falls on unbelieving ears, but concern hits the community when he is abducted days later.

  • Margie

    This is my first time attempting to write, so here it goes:
    A young soldier with a rare gift of prophetic ability sees his own death in a dream prior to his first deployment. His mother knowing the power and accuracy of his gift intercedes in prayer in order to change predicted outcome…

    • Shy girl

      This is really interesting! I would love to see this as a movie!

    • DeeDee Harvey

      Like Ke it!

    • Robert Morris

      Sounds very intriguing! Do Finnish this story / Screenplay.

    • teddy22

      Sorry bro, I would not watch that movie. At least for me seems very boring. “Did you see how I mentioned very”!. Not trying to offend

  • Sulaer

    As society adapts to Earth’s recent alien inhabitants, news of an impending invasion forces headstrong but brilliant genetic chimera, Sera Cross (26), to team up with government officials-including her estranged creator and “father”-to infiltrate and destroy enemy forces before Earth is harvested.

  • Iskren

    A detective (along with his partner), who used to investigate the most influental crime organizaton controlled by 9 crime lords starts killing them one by one 10 years after the organizaton split up, but what are his intentions….?

  • Michael Pingel

    Dirtirious Joseph Pimp III (Dirty Pimp) , a retired bounty hunter
    with a 100% recapture rate and now turned ordained minister, comes out of
    retirement to help find the kidnapped daughter of Los Angeles’ most notorious
    crime boss Jorges Del Rio of the Del Rio crime family who has an axe to grind
    with the Columbian Drug Cartel. Pimp soon finds out that she is the victim of
    human traffickers hired by the cartel to get back at Del Rio for the killing of
    3 of the cartel crime soldiers in a drug deal gone awry. The unlikely duo team
    up to infiltrate the seedy underworld of human trafficking as they go on a
    no-holds-barred search and destroy mission to find Del Rio’s daughter. But Del
    Del Rio also soon learns that there is more to Pimp than meets the eye.

    • Bocass

      Love it. Very original. But its a logline so keep it concise.

    • Orson

      Bocass has a point. Try to reduce everything you just wrote, Michael, into a single sentence: A bounty hunter comes out of retirement and with help, infiltrates the seedy underworld of human trafficking to save the kidnapped daughter of the Del Rio crime family.

  • Matthew Matriciano

    Failed film school student and semi indie screenplay writer believes he has written a script that will make him big.
    There is only one question: With his downfall, Is his dream out of reach?

    • rose heart

      Sounds inspiring, I’d maybe try it this way:
      A semi Indie, failed film school student belives he has a script of gold, but can he overcome his previous failure?

    • Indra Remy

      failed fim school not my concern i focus on the dream he is living and his passion about that specific dream is the most important concern.
      sometimes we don’t expect how the films stay in the minds of the people longtime
      so if we consistently work on dream that never go away from you will be definetly occupy the audience long time.so be strong feel your dream with endless passion.
      thats it ! you are the successful film maker. Never copy others.be yourself.show the difference and livelong in the minds and hearts of the viewers !All this is about my passion of making the best film in future.I love to be the dreamer till my dream lasts and pocessed by the audience forever. Thats it !

  • rose heart

    A 14 year old girl must learn to cope with the hardship in her life after the untimely death of her father.

    • Mandy Goff

      i feel for her.

  • Richard

    The Morning Herald Duckpin Bowling Tournament is the piggest prize in the esoteric sport of duckpin bowling. In 1962, the legendary Queenie Hergen is the world’s best duckpin bowler,male or female.Her small establishment, Gwynn Oak Bowling Academy, dominates the competition. But Queenie, at 47 is feeling the effects of age on an athlete. And the top male Gwynn Oak male bowler, Johhny Cipio, is injured. Queenie turns to inexperienced Eric Warren, a 17 year old protege she has been grooming. Eric must deal with the pressures of repesenting Gwynn Oak, and the advances from the seductive 19 year old Patsy McCauley, who has burst on the scene to challenge Queenie for supremacy in the sport. The story deals with how the participants perform under the influences and who Eric supports at a critical stage of the women’s competition. For Eric,it is a “coming of age”. For Queenie, it is the realization that age is beginning to overcome.

  • Richard Hoffman

    Aging athlete, Queenie Hergen,48,must face the problems of age as she readies for his biggest championship,while her protege, 17 year old Eric must deal with nerves, inexperience, and the advances of a seductive 19 year old,Patsy, who wants to use him to her advantage.

    • Richard

      Should be as She readies for HER biggest competition. My editing is ridiculous.

  • Orson

    A brief encounter with a mysterious woman embroils a retired special ops agent in a crucial mission marking him as a target of a time-travelling genetically-modified human and his three assassins.

  • Richard

    This is awesome

  • Mark Rodriguez

    How’s this?
    A team of ghost hunters with a healthy skeptical minds investigating the going on inside the old run down house that belongs to the residents with dark secrets from the past.
    Too old of a plot or there should be something more?

    • Ismaail

      As soon as you mention ‘ghost hunters,’ you’re inevitable going to be compared to Ghostbusters. And that is a tough, tough battle 🙂

      I recommend having a really fresh take. Something that fans of Ghostbusters will appreciate, but not make comparisons too.

    • Alan J Cronan

      ‘A team of Paranormal investigators.’ Maybe?

  • Writer_2013

    This is my first attempt at writing a screenplay that I am hoping to direct one day. Here is the logline:
    An adventurous college student goes on a camping trip with friends and are attacked by a legendary beast – a werewolf. Their relationships are put to the test as they try to survive the night, though not all of them will see the light of day unscathed…

    Any and all feedback is much appreciated! Thanks for reading!

    • Ismaail

      Not a bad effort. Remember that a logline should feel obvious after you watch a film or read the script. The main issue is the two sentences. Relationships put to the test is something that would be more within the subtext of the film, so best to leave it out (but you can hint at it).

      Another minor issue is the use or ‘and are.’ It somewhat throws the reader off.

      If I were to have a go, I would say something like:

      A remote camping trip among college friends goes awry when they find themselves prey to a legendary werewolf.

      Note: Keep in mind use of the word ‘legendary.’ Werewolves aren’t really ‘legend’ in our culture. If your story takes place in a world where werewolves are considered ‘legend,’ then you can be excused. But I’m assuming the world of your story does not know about the creature, thus it feels fresh to your characters. Every word counts.

      All the best 🙂

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  • Tim C.

    First time attempting anything like a screenplay, so bare with me please:
    An eclectic group of social outcasts being led by a very troubled transgender beauty find they are up against powerful forces in the ever-expanding gentrification of their neighborhood. Located in the troubled Tenderloin area of San Francisco, a very serious transgender nightclub named Queens becomes their citadel of resistance.

    • Ismaail

      Needs more focus. Loglines should usually be one sentence, maybe two. And no longer than 25-30 words. I also personally recommend avoiding ‘gentrification.’ It’s a word I’ve never heard of and had to look up. You never want that to happen with a reader.

      From a first glance, there seems to be an issue of conflict. A group of social outcasts having to live in a transgender nightclub doesn’t seem too bad. Are they going to try and fight back for their homes? Also who are the powerful forces? Are they just regular wealthy people who take advantage of the poor?

      If I were to make some assumptions about your story, I would say that the conflict lies with a group of poor, social outcasts fighting for their home. Also how does being a beauty play into the story? So I would say something like:

      A transgender (teen) and fellow social outcasts must fight a war among the elite who threaten to take advantage of the poor neighbourhood.

      Note: I don’t think my logline is very good. I’ll need a few more specifics on the story.

  • Dane .C

    Here i go …

    Joe Martins predictable life is thrown into chaos when his life is torn apart by unseen
    forces, time is running out and he must find a way to defeat them or lose his
    soul forever.

    I was hoping to generate some intrigue and mystery with this log line while keeping it short and digestable. I liked Margie’s post about the soldiers prophetic dream. If it was possible to somehow visualize/eternalize the power of her prayer in action as it is created and then follow the chain of events that follow from it that would be cool for me personally. I also liked Iskren’s post as it made me curious and intrigued as to why ten years later the cop begins his murderous work.

    • Ismaail

      This logline is very, very vague. For intrigue and mystery to work, you need to give us SOMETHING. Remember that people reading your logline will read 100s of them, and only time to read one. Give us a reason why they should read yours.

      Here’s a few tips from experience:
      -Try to avoid character names, unless it’s a famous person. Instead of saying Joe Martin, maybe describe him or tell us his job. (A woodcutter with insomnia…)
      -Be specific. Unseen forces is not a good word to put into a logline. Tell us what it is. Are these ghosts? Particles? His own consciousness?
      -Try to hint genre. I’m guessing the genre is fantasy. But it could very easily be sci-fi. If you go less technical with ‘lose his soul,’ it could literally be drama, thriller, musical, action, comedy etc.

      So you might end up with something like:

      A veteran woodcutter must battle a voice in his head which commands him to murder his wife.

      All the best 🙂

      • Dane .C

        Thanks for your feedback Ismaail it’s appreciated and helpful.

  • David Lugo

    A couple of stoners in middle america,face the world as everything goes wrong; America is threatened by other government forces;deadly viruses;and predicted meteor strike all around the world. These goofy stoner try to survive the changing environment! they have three days of tragic events, in which they attempt to survive!

    • David Lugo

      David Lugo, I think your idea is awesome, the Medea could use some comedy now and days!
      From your best friend, You.

  • Tom

    Not old hash but here goes – Two adventurists go to a remote place to put their survival skills to a real life test and encounter a mysterious town which leads up to three life and death situations that will forever change their lives.

    • Tom

      what do you think?

      • Tom

        what do you think?

        • Me

          She literally just told you what she thinks…

    • Mandy Goff

      sounds interesting. three life and death situations seems over the top though, why three? perhaps also you could describe what is mysterious about the town by replacing the word “mysterious” with something more specific.

  • Dawn

    My story is a romance called Love Always about a street smart hustler and an intelligent college student who fall in love but can’t be together due to bad timing and individual circumstances.

    • Mandy Goff

      Bad timing and individual circumstances are a little vague – can you elaborate without adding too many words?

    • yousra

      loved the intro. …wanna see 😉

    • Sigurd

      Plot twist: The hustler is a woman and the student a man.

  • Rohini Balasubramanian

    This is the first time I am attempting to write,here it goes!
    A Girl,who born in a rich family, wanna study to reach high levels.but she couldn’t continue her studies or it may be that she couldn’t study what she liked because of her family,they thought that “A Girl should learn to do the household duties only”these were their main Argument in their village.so after stopping her from studying,she was married to a rich man at the age of 22,she lived there happily doing her household duties.Oneday she become pregnant,but at the same time,she heard a news that her husband and her husband’s family died in a Car Accident.After the funeral, she was not able to do anything, she started shivering as she was not exercised to survive in this World all alone(because she was not educated properly)..,so she decided to commit suicide,but then because of the child she gonna give birth,she aborted the suicide idea.The theme is “because of the education not properly given to girls,Girls are not able to survive in this world and also their Future will become Dark”

    • Colin Steele

      People are going to be turned away because of the length of this ‘supposed to be’ one sentence logline. It is far too long.

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  • Diane

    A lost soul of a woman who goes through hard core lessons in life only to hope to die with her dignity still in tact!

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  • Mandy Goff

    I mainly write poetry and essays, but want to try a screenplay. This would be an arthouse kind of film, so I am somewhat struggling with a log line, as there are so many layers to the story. But here goes…

    A middle-aged teacher who wants to write reflects on her
    childhood hero –her drug-addled, alcohol-fuelled, portraitist, musician, bricklayer
    father, whose artistic genius was never realised due to the constraints and
    bigotry of Australian rural life, steeped in a colonial history of destruction
    of landscape, that ultimately seeks its own revenge.

  • Mandy Goff

    sounds really interesting laura. you probably need to cull your words here though and stick to one sentence. the self-help guru is essential as are the three women & unlikely allies. probably keep odd rules and crazy trials as they suggest the humour you explicitly state.

  • Mandy Goff

    sounds intruiging. It seems like two separate stores though. what connects the first sentence to the second? “An afghani youth linked to terrorist factions witnesses the death of his village elder and changes his perception, putting him at odds with the terrorists. ??

  • Judith Gail

    I know it’s rather long. But it’s my first try…

    Robert Jensen is young, handsome, successful, wonderful husband, and a new father who is truly living the American dream. This story is told through the lens of his journey, exploring experiences that takes him and his family into a disheveled awakening that leaves them asking has my life been a Limited Reality

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  • Emma

    Hi All, I have 2 book ideas and although I have started writing I wonder if they would be better as screenplays (I generally picture the scene in a movie as I write anyway?!). ill go with the one I have a clear handle on as my head still cant figure out the other one!

    A fun break turns into a nightmare when a group of partying parents are forced to
    camp out in a deserted location, the children are left to their own devices and become infected with a virus. They then hunt the parents down one by one….

    • Mandy Goff

      Sounds very stephen king, and like him, i think makes sense as both novel and film. I would probably continue writing as prose if that is working for you, or change to screenplay if the prose is not supporting your vision 🙂

  • Blake

    A young girl and her brother are made orphans after a tragic
    accident. As an adult, the darkness in the girl surfaces after an incident
    forces her to relive the accident that took her parents’ lives. Her newly
    addiction has law enforcement trying to catch the assumed to be serial killer,
    including an up and coming police officer with sharp instincts who unknowingly
    is hunting his own wife.

    -Feels too long, but not sure how to condense…possibly leave out the part about the brother although he plays a major role…

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  • Clayton Pashka

    How is this for a logline?

    A Canadian aircrew survive a horrific crash in occupied Norway only to realize they now have to evade being captured by the 4000 Germans hunting them.

    This is actually based on a true story as my Great Uncle was one of the airmen. I’d love some feedback.

  • Luke Mortsdnil

    My Logline….A successful yet self-absorbed man (military veteran) faces extreme personal crisis coupled with years of internalized PTSD, learns the true value of humanity and compassion during his time spent in a mental health hospital.

  • Welby

    My first time doing this i hope you guys like it or at least find it coherent.

    In a futuristic dictorial regime, seven people world’s apart from each other, a preacher, a mercenary, a mutant, a farmer, a noble, a excaped prisoner and a revolutionary will unexpectantly converge with each other creating major changes in the regime.

  • Alan J Cronan

    When Jack Thornes sister is brutally murdered, it will take him to hell and back to find the truth behind this senseless murder. And jack has plenty of demons to help him on his way.

    • Under_Construction

      I like it. I’d just condense it to make it a true 1 sentence logline.

      When Jack Thornes sister is brutally murdered, he’ll go to hell and back to find the truth, luckily he has plenty of demons to help him on his way.

      Hope this helps!

  • a.s. lee

    the story of a son who goes thru life dealing with a manipulating alcoholic mother, the love hate relationship they have and clarity tat the son has when he has a child

  • Rakim Dupree

    Mary and Jane, who are two young sisters living in California separated from their mother become potheads, both woman who are influenced day to day by their friends want to make plans to stop smoking, but Mary the older sister who really gets addicted to it will go to rehab if she can’t quit..

  • Shy girl

    I don’t have a title for this yet but here’s the synopsis:A girl(17) is sent to a asylum for murdering her boyfriend and his family horrifically,and burning their house down.

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  • Jon Ortolaza

    “A time traveler recruits a youthful teenager to assist him on the hunt for a doctor to prevent him from creating a desolate future.”

    Based Upon Characters Created by HEZ Studios.

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  • Ali

    Hi my first time being here. I really would like some feedback on my logline:

    Tatiana Razin, the world’s famous manipulator, realizes that in one night everybody starts looking at her differently. Realizing that everyone mistakes her for this other woman Sabine Watte.

  • Kevin

    This has been my idea for a while now:
    An overweight African American college student who is misunderstood by his elderly parents and bullied constantly by his roommate (and just about every other classmates he’s ever had) commits a school shooting and attempts suicide, but lives to face the families of the victims.

    • Miranda

      This has a lot of potential. I would watch it if it were made into a movie. I can also just imagine the heartbreaking scenes when he has to face the families of the victims.

      Please tell me you are still working on this idea.

    • Anais Tiri

      This is a really great idea for a film and I would definitely see it. it is a heartbreaking, touching idea that is just asking to be made into a movie!

  • Prejo Sunny

    A CEO of a broken company builds a relationship with an intelligent and far-seeing accountant who arrives to resurrect the company from damage.
    Title: Recruit

  • DeeDee Harvey

    Two lonely 30 somethings, separated by oceans and culture, meet on words with Friends SmartMatch, chatting and Skyping for 6 months they become more than friends but never thinking they would meet in the flesh, then fate intervenes.

    • DeeDee Harvey

      This s is based on a true story!

  • DarkBattleChain

    A hard-working man attempts to stop his nephew from chasing an impossible dream, which is driving the boy towards madness more and more every day.

  • Colin Steele

    SAW: Legacy
    With the disappearance of Mark Hoffman, a new apprentice is unveiled and unleashes a new wave of terror as he strives to finish the work of Jigsaw and fulfill his legacy.

  • Katri Pagliaro

    Valentina will never forgive herself for what she has done, but will the mysterious Juliano give her reason enough to want to stay alive?

  • Sharon Britos

    I have never wrote a book but always wanted too about my famly! I’m from a family of 11 kids were incest and neglect/abuse was all we knew! We were migrant workers and traveled all over the United States asking for funds from ministers to go on to the next place!

  • Miranda

    I am way late to this discussion, but here goes…

    A jaded orderly is faced with a less than ordinary night when his least favorite patient, Room 187, dies, but refuses to stay dead.

  • Josh

    A boy living in Detroit with his drug addicted parents.Having to fend for himself soon matters become worse when he is jumped and nearly killed. So his Aunt moves him out to Florida for a better life.

    • Dion Janoyev

      fresh prince of bel-air

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  • Terry

    My fist try:
    A lifestyle bachelor learns that a night of clan descent, sexual satisfaction with an office colleague has lead to a pregnancy he has no interest in but is now faced with a forty something office administrator who has been pining for a child since her last failed relationship and is all too aware of her ticking biological clock.

    • Chris

      Are you planning to make this a rom com? It has potential.

      • Terry

        A comedy for sure. Romantic one, not certain. It’s based on the real life experience of a goofy friend of mine who has the craziest stuff happen to him.
        He learns about the pregnancy over lunch at a jack astors that she invited him to after a very short time together. He was in it for the sex only.

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  • Nicole

    After 20 years of seperation, time has yet to heal the pain of a lost love. One womans journey to find real happiness while living with a ghost that lives in her heart. The universe constantly pulls her back to him, will she ever be able to move on?

  • Charlotte

    I don’t know if this is a good story, but I’m developing a Disney princess story and this is the logline:

    When a spirited girl and her loyal best friend discover a magical kingdom, they must help the Blue Fairy Queen overthrow the Demon King and save its citizens from the Demon King’s harsh rule.

    • James Harkness

      Your logline is too generic. Essentially all you’ve said is I wrote a fairy story where good beats evil. Your logline should be more imaginative.

  • Jason M Hesson

    This is my first time in bat, so here goes.

    “Ambush on the Island of the Dead”

    30 or so Para’s or Royal Marine Commando’s (not decided yet) get helicoptered in to town on a windswept Scottish island after a Zombie outbreak trying to evacuate as many civilians as possible before the Govt tells the military to “nuke” the entire island.

    Reacting to a phone call for help by a woman (I’ve nicknamed her the “Bait bitch”), who unknown by the troops had been chained up and coerced to talk down a phone (operated by a zombie) by reading a message off a piece of paper written down by another zombie, the troops get ambushed and have to fight their way out to their rescue point and have only 24 hours to get out before the bombing starts.

    This is the catch, turning the “zombie” cliche on it’s head, although not being able to talk, they can drive cars, fire captured weapons, write, use phones etc due to instinct.

  • Brian Gibbons

    I believe everyone has a creative side, it just needs some help to come out. PinScene.com is providing a platform to help jumpstart your ideas. You can join one of the groups or create your own. The idea is to allow other users to become a character of their own creation that will fit into your group. As a creator of the group you control the conduct and content.
    I started a comedy with 2 main characters Carl and Abby. This couple met at a young age, continued on to marry and enjoyed successful careers. All this accomplished living life with severe OCD. Medications have helped them be successful and now they want to embark on a Seven wonders of the world trip. Problem is they lost their OCD control medication right from the getgo and choose to proceed anyway thinking they could get meds along the way. Different countries have different treatments for OCD and this can create some interesting events and side effects.
    Anyone can join this venture as a character they choose can fit. As a character you are going to have to keep it interesting in order to stay in the screenplay as long as you can.
    You never know maybe you will end up with something of great potential through the help of other users. PinScene if for creating screenplays, Television series, stories, music or even commercial advertisements.

  • Brian Gibbons

    One of the most important things in any Screenplay is the first 10-15 minutes. You cannot start off with 30 minutes of watching paint dry. There needs to be a beginning that will have the viewer knowing there is captivating post events. One has to lead to another. Having a good idea is one thing but it needs to have the content the guts the vital organs.
    Comedies are one of the hardest to write because its difficult to stay funny. Its really not all that hard to write killing scenes in an action movie. Try keeping an audience with a romance movie, its extremely difficult but if you add humor and have a Romantic comedy your better off.

  • Romain Ruth

    “A conflicted young black girl from an inner city leaves home for the first time to live on campus at a predominantly white college. Now she must get through college while coping with no longer being a part of the racial majority at school.”

    Romaintruth.blogspot.com

  • Sonya DA Barber

    Ok… This is my 1st time ever doing something like this. I wrote this in 2 mins.. I know it’s rough.
    A mystery man living under a abandon barn, killing those that comes across his territory. A group of new college students traveling through a open road nobody goes down. There has been stories told of a mass murder living under the ground . They will soon find out who Pete Cane is and what his violent killing sprees are about!!”

  • Dave

    I’ve had the idea for this in my head for a long time and while I love all the other work I’m writing, none of them are my babies like this one is:

    After coming to terms with his brother’s death, a lone wolf scavenger travels the cosmos with his ex-lover, finds and protects a young alien from pirates that want it’s life, bringing to light secrets that change the perception of his world along the way.

  • Connor Wolf

    Here we go!
    A vampire leader battles against God’s plan to destroy evil with the help of God’s former lover, The Devil.

    • James Harkness

      I’d read more. I would find either a more descriptive name or completely non specific name than “God” though. It alienates too much of your possible audience and I say this as an Atheist.

  • Chris

    A genetically engineered super spy tries to find her friends and return to work after a series of worldwide assassinations and disturbances.

  • Alex Bellanger

    this article really helped, as before i had no idea whatsoever how to write a screenplay, only that i wanted to. my log-line is mouthfull, and i am going to work on it, but in it’s infantile state, here it is.

    in a modern world full of exhibitious superheroes, when mos of the super-humans start to disappear, the remainder must join up and solve the mystery, or be taken like the rest.

    i could and will do better, but like i said it’s still in it’s infantile state. any comments would be appreciated

  • Eric

    On a corrupt and dying Planet, A brother and a sister embark on a great adventure. Against all odds in hopes to survive and escape to a better life(Planet).

    Planning on writing this and finishing in the next 8 months!

    • James Harkness

      Sounds interesting. How’s the writing going?

  • Stephen

    A stubborn 21 year old gas guy tries to get into the south african hip hop industry and discovers rejection at its best

    • James Harkness

      I’d read more.

  • Jessica Lea

    This is my first time attempting to write, so her it goes:

    Seraphina Valentin’s tragically loses faith in her life dramatically, searching for her unconditionally soul essence, while environmently being trapped in a older generation atmosphere that society dose not approve of, seraphina was constantly place in emotional,physical & mental situations, will she find the one?
    Please let me know what you think, thank you so much for reading very much appreciate jessica.

  • Sam C

    An engineer with a tortured past chronicles his past experiences and hallucinations during a therapy session. He vividly fantasizes about murdering each person he encounters to the most gruesome detail. Sometimes the line between fantasy and reality is thinner than he realizes.

    • James Harkness

      That sounds interesting. The fact that he is an engineer is what makes the rest of the story seem as though it may be innovative.

  • Arthur Hunt

    Chicago 1930’s… Gilom Rodgers ( Ron Howard) is a mob boss , Realizing the end
    of his own life…

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  • Makya Murray

    This is my first logline and I was thinking of entering this a writing competition for screenplays, I would love feed back.

    A seemingly confident high schooler returns from a psychiatric facility, is ambushed with questions stalling her from coming to terms with her illness and the world she lives in.

    • James Harkness

      I’m having trouble understanding how the first descriptive piece of information works with the latter revelation?

  • James Harkness

    Set during the 1960’s a group of superhuman WW2 heroes who have succumbed to the great losses they experienced during the war, must conquer their personal demons to defeat an unknown growing threat to the world.

  • James Harkness

    4 senile primates of varying species and personalities, are given amazing regenerative powers in the search for a cure for Alzheimer’s, must learn Kung Fu in order to defeat a growing secret army of disgruntle abandoned seniors led by a nefarious invincible Shaolin Monk.

  • James Harkness

    A political artist and costumed activist, launches a one man war against a brash poltical candidate rising to power in his city by creating politically charged scathing art against him and in one night must escape the elaborate plan and charcaters set to stop him.