The Case for Reading Screenplays

I’ve always loved reading, but it wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized that the movies I loved watching began as something written on a page. When I discovered screenplay format, I was intrigued. Something about the look of a slug line followed by scene description and character dialogue, all surrounded and divided by plenty of of white space, gets me excited to read a screenplay. I love watching movies, but one of the things I love doing after I watch a great movie is looking for the screenplay online and reading through it. I couldn’t wait until I could gain access to the script for Star Wars: The Force Awakens after it came out, and reading it was a fun journey back through the movie in my imagination.

A Valuable Reading Experience

Because screenplays are read before they’re ever considered for filming, writing a screenplay is an opportunity to take a reader on a journey through your story just like a novel or a short story is. Screenplays describe what is meant to be seen and heard on the screen, so when someone reads your screenplay, you want them to be pulled into the story so that they’re seeing and hearing what is going on in the story in their imagination.

Creating a valuable reading experience for a potential decision maker in Hollywood means using vivid descriptions, tight dialogue that propels the story forward, and unique storylines. You want the first few pages of your script to make the reader hungry for more.

A Valuable Learning Experience

Nothing has helped me grow as a screenwriter more than reading and really studying great screenplays. I have my well-worn paperback copy of the shooting script for Christopher Nolan’s Inception sitting on my bookshelf that I refer to often for both its story and the way it describes the action. On my Weekend Read iOS app, I have the scripts for The Sixth Sense, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Dark Knight, Arrival, and many others stored for reading. The Sixth Sense, in particular, is a script I read again and again. I love M. Night Shyamalan’s description throughout, and the story is brilliant for the way it creates viewer expectations early on that are shattered in the film’s climax.

The Reason for 120Pages

A screenplay doesn’t even have to be produced to be an enjoyable reading and learning experience. That’s what makes this site so valuable. It gives screenwriters the opportunity to get exposure for their scripts, and it gives readers the chance to be exposed to a variety of talented screenwriters who are writing the stories they believe will make great films one day.

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Tom Farr

Tom Farr is a writer, teacher, and storyteller who believes in crafting lies to tell the truth. When he’s not enjoying the good life with his beautiful wife Lindsey and their three much-adored children, he’s striving to create stories that thrill and inspire and preparing for the day Disney calls him to write a Star Wars movie. He’s also a contributing editor for daCunha, a curiosity-driven publisher of fiction and nonfiction. His work has also appeared on Panel & Frame, Wordhaus, Curiosity Never Killed the Writer, and The Unsplash Book. Check out his writing on Medium and sign up forhis author newsletter.