top of page

Literature Writing Rules That Apply To Screenwriting

Writing a script is one of the biggest challenges a writer can pursue. Writing a script is complicated, whether it’s a sci-fi epic, a television pilot, or just a script for a YouTube series. As complex as writing a script might be, there are plenty of literature writing rules that can apply to screenwriting as they would in the world of literature.

These rules are imperative to know as a writer, especially those getting started in the field. It’s vital to note that as marvelous as it is to be knowledgeable of literature rules, not all of them apply to screenwriting. So, what are some rules that apply to both? Let’s take a look and see!

Plot Structure (Beginning, Middle, and End)

The most apparent writing rule that is found in literature and screenwriting is the basic plot structure. Although there are plenty of unconventional ways a plot can come to life in a script or piece of literature, they all have a beginning, middle, and end. How those three main parts are expressed can vary, but the parts are still there.

A script can go through each of these sections much quicker, primarily since people have short attention spans when it comes to any visual medium. Books can be more drowned out and meticulous, overly describing characters and their actions. A script has the point of getting through the details without hours of background information.

Regardless of the differences, both have the act structure to follow. Whether you’re describing a piece of literature or a script, it’s easy to say this is the beginning, middle, and end. Sure, you can pull up several unconventional examples for both, but that tends not to be the norm’.

Using Adjectives and Adverbs Sparingly

It’s simple for your script’s message to get covered in the language. Whatever the case might be, perhaps the best instrument in your reviewing capabilities is consistently inquiring, “Can this sentence be simplified?” It’s all about getting the point for both literature and scripts.

Some might argue that books can be more descriptive and creative in that sense. Although that is true, the notion of simplifying your writing applies to both. No matter what you’re writing, verbs are your power words. Cause them to do your hard work and keep the lightweight descriptors like adjectives and adverse at a minimum.

Correct Grammar

Correct grammar is imperative for both literary works and scripts unless a character is speaking in a particular dialect requiring misspellings. If the writing is riddled with typos, incorrect sentencing, and more, no one is going to waste their time with whatever writing piece you’re presenting.

Thankfully, there are plenty of online tools such as Grammarly that can help you with your grammar. If you find yourself a strong writer in a creative sense but lacking in the grammar department, don’t worry. The online world is here to help you; just make sure you do what you can to help it.

Don’t Judge Your First Draft

Although it technically doesn’t fall under the literature writing rule spectrum, it’s still important to note that you shouldn’t judge your first draft overly. More often than not, writers finish their first draft and immediately look back on it with the intention that it’ll become the next best thing ever to exist.

To their surprise, the draft is riddled with typos and doesn’t contain the same amount of grit as they hoped. The best advice rule is to finish your first draft, take some time off, and get back to it with a new mindset. It won’t be perfect, but that’s okay. It’s your first draft, and writing is all about editing.

A Fundamental Use of Conflict

As far as storytelling is concerned, conflict is what drives the success of any great story. When referencing a literary work or an actual script, conflict should be going on throughout it. Is your main character on a date? The two should get into an argument at some point. Is your character driving to visit their family? Something needs to go wrong on the way.

These are elementary examples but apply to the idea of the use of conflict in scripts. Whenever someone mentions the phrase conflict, writers sometimes conflate it with physical fighting. Conflict can be anything from an internal struggle to not wanting to do something to actual fighting. Get creative with it!

Heavy Focus On Character Development

No matter what story you hope to bring to life with your script, characters make a break a story. Even if the story has a more significant focus on a war or sci-fi world, the characters are still the central point. It all revolves around the general point of character development. Understand that without great characters, your script isn’t going to go anywhere.


bottom of page