How To Write A Film Script Outline

When considering how to write a film script’s outline it’s best to know that, above all, proper delivery of the story is of the utmost importance.

Be aware of the following

  • Potential buyers of screenplays are often nit-pickers.
  • You must adhere to the basics. 
  • How you tell the story is important. 
  • Don’t deliver too many pages.
  • Don’t include too many details.


  1. It’s their way or the highway. Given the fact that movie studio executives, producers and all others involved in the purchasing of screenplays (or even just ideas for screenplays) are inundated with more materials than they usually have the time to read, it’s important to know that it’s a buyer’s market. This being said, it’s important to realize that these individuals have rigid guidelines concerning how to write a film script’s outline and usually have very little patience with work that strays outside this criteria.  
  2. Don’t let nobody say you doesn’t talk good. Obviously, when writing a film script’s outline it’s important to employ proper spelling, syntax, etc., so if in doubt you should consult Strunk and White’s book “The Elements of Style” (the Rolls-Royce of proper English usage)  if you are in doubt where proper delivery is concerned. Further, your presentation should employ the Courier New, 12-pt. font (in that, as previously mentioned, you’ll be dealing with individuals who are sticklers for particulars).     
  3. Don’t let anything get “two” tense. In both screenplays and screenplay outlines, active present tense is the typically acceptable form. For example, don’t write, “Joey is standing in a garage.” Instead write, “Joey stands in a garage.” or “Joey, standing in a garage…etc.”   
  4. Brevity is the soul of wit. Typically a screenplay outline should run 2-3 pages. Anything longer borders on being (in industry jargon) a treatment,and this should not be delivered to potential buyers of your story if in actuality a screenplay outline is what you intended
  5. Once upon a time…Be sure to include only the most pertinent of story details in your screenplay outline. For example, don’t write, “Norman Bates, the tall, lanky manager of a spooky-looking motel…etc.”; instead go with something more like, “Norman Bates, manager of a motel off the beaten path…etc.

Otherwise, refer to David Trottier’s brilliant volume “The Screenwriter’s Bible”(in that this is considered the industry standard where formatting and delivery of screenplays and related issues are concerned).

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