Screenplay examples: Practical scriptwriting

One of the effective ways to learn how to write a script is to examine screenplay examples. In this post, we will write the opening scene of Time to Love (1965) by Turkish director Metin Erksan in a script format and prepare screenplay examples.

Instead of the original script, we prepared a script example that consists of visual and auditory elements. In this script, you will be able to understand how the visual codes are translated into literary codes. Also, in this script writing example, we will highlight the details that you do not need to specify at the stage of the scriptwriting even if they are in the film.

Screenplay examples will help you write the film scenes in a screenplay format. You can also download a Word file as a screenplay template at the end of this post that will allow you to format automatically according to the sections of your script. This template allows you to easily export the standard format of a screenplay. Now let’s take a look at the script example we have prepared and let’s get started on how to write a screenplay.

Screenplay examples: Chapter I

First, let’s watch the first part of the opening scene of the film, which we divide into two parts, and then begin writing the scene:

There is no dialogue in this first part. Let’s imagine how we can write scene heading and then action lines. First of all, let’s try to describe the place to define the scene heading.

From the beginning to the end of the video, these are what we have seen in order: the exterior entrance of a detached house, the garden of the house, a glazed door, stairs, and a living room. These spaces can be divided into two parts as internal and external. First, let’s think about the description of the outdoor spaces.

Scene Heading: Exterior

We see three different locations in four different cuts until the man enters the house. Now you may think that we should write these three different places under three different scene headings. However, it should not be forgotten that these changes of space are not only related to the script, but also about the director’s preference, namely the mise-en-scene.

The main task of the screenwriter is not to think about the shootings, but to indicate the action in the most economic way. That is, the action lines should not be based on the shots you intend to make, but on how a reader could imagine easily. For example, the director could choose a bird’s eye view of this scene with a one-shot setting. Your script may be open to various shooting preferences. Even if you will direct your film, you should indicate cuts in the shooting script, not in the original script.

Now, according to this information, let’s look at how we can write the part of the scene before the man enters the house. Even though we see three different locations in the shoot, the whole thing happens in the courtyard of a house. In our opinion, the outer part of the scene can be written under a single scene heading such as EXT. COURTYARD – DAY.

Action Line

We’ve done the scene heading, so let’s move on to the action line. In the beginning, you can give brief information about the place. One of the important details here is that the weather is rainy. The other detail is iron railings that surround the courtyard of the house. Because our character is going to jump over the iron railings, which makes them directly related to our character’s action. So let’s start the action scene by simply stating these two situations:

Rainy weather.

Courtyard of a house surrounded by iron railings.

Character Introduction

The next thing we need to do is introduce our character and write their actions in order. In order to introduce the character, it is enough to indicate how the character looks, age and gender. We even find it more useful for you to skip the visual details of the character other than age and gender, and to try to create the image of a character in readers’ mind according to the character’s actions.

To indicate the name of the character is contrary to the scriptwriting logic unless the name of the character is actually on the scene visually and audibly. However, we can make an exception of specifying the name for the main characters. When we first specify the name of the character in the action line, we will write it in upper case, and in the next steps, we will write it in the form of a special name. According to this information, our next sentence could be like this:

A middle-aged man, HALIL (35), enters the courtyard by jumping over the railings.

As you can see, we introduced both the character and the first action. No camera angle, no unnecessary details, it’s actually that simple. Now let’s write other actions in the same way:

Halil walks quickly through the courtyard, reaches a glass door and opens it with a small piece of equipment.

Isn’t that clear? Let’s see what we’ve written so far on the script page:

Screenplay examples

Scene Heading: Interior

We will write the interior of the scene with the same logic. Our character, Halil, is seen in two different places: the stairs and the living room. But the main action will be in the living room, and it is not wise to open a different scene heading for the short stairs part as this may interrupt reading. So starting the scene in the living room and briefly mentioning the stairs in action lines can solve this problem. So we can write our second scene heading as INT. LIVING ROOM – DAY.

Screenplay examples: Details

When Halil enters the room, he takes many actions. But in fact, we don’t have to give all the details here. Because some of them are part of the director’s work. For example, when Halil enters the room, he opens the curtains and focuses on the photograph on the wall after the light is filled to the room. Although curtains are a nice detail in the film, we do not think that the description of it is necessary at this stage. In our opinion, it is sufficient to indicate only the actual action of the character, that is, to look deeply at the photograph. So, we can transfer some details to the moment of shooting. Accordingly, our first sentence can be:

Halil walks up the stairs, enters a large living room and looks deeply at a photograph of a young woman hanging on the wall.

Description of the stairs

Don’t be confused that we specify the stairs like this. Even though in the film it looks different, it is not difficult for the reader to think of the stairs as an extension of the living room. When you are writing a script, you will write through an imaginary place, not through the film made in the example scene.

Required actions

At the next stage, Halil’s actions are again various. This time, however, these actions are not based on depictions, but on explaining a particular situation. Halil takes off her coat, turns on music and lights cigarettes and watches the photo. In our opinion, these actions can be given in detail simply to give impression Halil is preparing an enjoyable moment:

Halil takes off his coat and sets aside, plays the cassette tape in the room, lights a cigarette, sits on the couch and starts to watch the photo on the wall.

Let’s look at how the scene looks on the script page:

Screenplay examples

Screenplay examples: Chapter II

We finished the first part of the opening scene. In the second part, we will write a script example in which we will engage with dialogues and more characters. If you’re ready, let’s watch the second part of the scene:

Scene Heading

The second part of the scene begins in the courtyard of the house, the place we mentioned earlier. Thus we can write the scene heading in the same as the previous scene: EXT. COURTYARD – DAY. Also, we can skip describing the place in the action lines as we have done it before.

Character Description

We see three young women in the scene and one of them is our main character. But as we did in the previous scene, we don’t need to define the character’s name with the capital letters in the action lines. Because at the beginning of the dialogue, one of the women calls our character with her name: Meral. Thus, our character is defined automatically. After that, we can use this name, Meral, to indicate the character’s actions and dialogues.

What about the other women? We do not think it is necessary to name other women unless their names are heard in the dialogue because they are not the main characters. They can simply be called as WOMEN I and WOMEN II. Now let’s describe these three women and their actions:

Three young women get out of a carriage parked in front of the courtyard. They hold umbrellas and walk towards the house.

Places

Women talk until their next action. You do not need to mention that women are talking here. Just starting to write the dialogues in order will be enough. After the dialogue, women enter the house. In fact, the interior and exterior features of the space change. However, the incident takes place right at the entrance of the door, in the hall of the house. Is it possible to continue to write this event under the same scene heading and maintain fluency without dividing the scenes? We think it’s possible. As we have done before, it is not difficult for the reader to combine these two places in their minds. So we continue to write without adding a scene heading:

The women reach the entrance of the house.

When Meral opens the door, they hear the sound of music echoing inside the house.

Here, we both maintained the flow by simply changing the place in a single sentence, and provided integrity by specifying the sound of music on the scene through the action of the characters. Even though we have extracted the details, the essence of the scene remains as it is, and the situation is clearly visible. Let’s have a look at the whole scene:

Screenplay examples

Enter late, leave early method

Did you notice that Meral walks up the stairs at the end of the scene? But we didn’t specify this action, because according to dialogue, it is clear that Meral will take action and we will see this character in a different place in the next scene. By finishing the end of the scene early you can both shorten the scenes and increase the curiosity as you move the action to the next scene. This is called ‘enter late, leave early’ method. You can find more information about it in this article: How to write screenplay action lines?

Items

Another detail that we didn’t mention is that women carry the suitcases. In fact, if women don’t mention the weekend trip in dialogue, suitcases could be important details to show the situation. But we did not want to repeat this information that we already learned in the dialogue. The reader will not notice the lack of this: Even we don’t the suitcase details, the reader will be able to visualize it as these three women are on a weekend trip.

Screenplay examples: Mise-en-scene

We’re in the last part of the scene. In this part, there are many details of the mise-en-scene and we will take out these details and focus on the essence of the action. For example, ‘Halil sitting on the balcony with his back facing, and Meral watching Halil through the balcony glass’ are the visual details that might force the reader. The essence of the scene is that Meral comes to the room and Halil doesn’t notice her while watching the photograph, and the woman in the photo on the wall is actually Meral’s portrait.

Accordingly, we can skip the information about how Meral entered the room and leave this part for the shootings, and since Meral was seen in the previous scene, we can tell that the photograph of the woman hanging on the wall is Meral’s portrait:

Halil sits on the couch and watches the photograph of the young woman which is Meral’s portrait.

Meral appears in the room, watches Halil who doesn’t notice her, approaches him from behind and touches his shoulder.

Halil is startled.

As you can see, we can explain the situation without close-ups of Meral’s face and photograph, the balcony, and rain details. The most common mistake in the scriptwriting is to describe this kind of detailed mise-en-scene. These details in the scenes can help you to make plans for shootings. However, if other people will read your script, you should get rid of the details. Here’s how the action lines look on the script page:

Now let’s look at the dialogues of the scenes:

script example

Acting Details

The point that we want to draw your attention to in the dialogues is the actions we have passed to write. For example, when Halil takes his coat and heads for the door, Meral shouts from behind him. There is no need to mention that Meral calls Halil and Halil pauses and listens. Because the dialogue itself makes the situation clear. Another issue is that we did not state that Halil leaves at the end of the scene. As we did in the previous scene, we finished the scene early: We didn’t fall into a repetition by specifying a situation that this already in dialogues, and we left the end of the scene uncertain and maintain the element of curiosity.

Screenplay examples: Script template

You can download the Word file that consists of the script example that we prepared in a screenplay example format: Script template

This script template allows you to automatically format your script by making selections from the styles tab, such as action, scene heading, and so on. Also, each time you skip a line, the sections automatically switches. For example, when you type the scene heading and pass to the next line with the Enter key, the text automatically continues to be typed in action format.

Note: Numbering is not done on the first page of the screenplay. The script writing example we prepared is correct in this respect.

Screenplay examples: Screenplay software

Last but not least, there are software solutions such as Celtx and Final Draft that make edits for you. However, we recommend using Office Word, which is more common and allows the user more freedom.

We finished the scriptwriting section with this post.

In the next series of articles, we will try to explain how to prepare a project dossier to present your script and how to write supplementary documents such as synopsis, treatment, screenwriter/director statement.

Next post: Synopsis examples: How to write a synopsis?

Previous post: How to write dialogue in scriptwriting?

Screenplay examples FAQ

How to learn scriptwriting with a script example?

A script example helps you write film scenes in a screenplay format. You can watch the scenes and examine a script example. In this way, you will be able to understand how the visual codes are translated into literary codes and vice versa.

How can I get a screenplay example template?

You can download the Word file that consists of the script example that we prepared in a screenplay example format.

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