Arts & Entertainment

The Elements of a Script: Description, Action & Dialogue

The Duffer Brothers

Lesson time 26:57 min

Using the screenplay for the film "Panic Room" as a case study, plus examples from their own work, Matt and Ross unpack the key elements of a script: description, action, and dialogue. They also address scene transitions and character voices.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Each Character Should Have A Distinct Voice • Considering Sound & Music In Your Script • Creating Successful Transitions • Assignment Read Scripts


[MUSIC PLAYING] - As you're moving into script stage, and you're going to start turning this outline into a script, it's important to keep in mind there are three key elements to every script-- description, action, and dialogue. Those are the three things you're going to need to practice and get good at. And you're going to have to kind of figure out what your style is in terms of how you do each of those things. And so Ross and I, when we were learning how to write, the best thing to do is actually not even to take a screenwriting class. The best thing to do is just to read other scripts. Read scripts from movies that you like. Read-- you know, even reading bad scripts helps. And the good news now is that with the internet, most scripts are available online. If you just Google for them, you'll be able to find a PDF for almost anything. - You can read scripts to old classic films. We would also suggest, though, reading some more recent examples because screenplay formatting, which I know we're not really getting into right now much, but it has changed a lot over the years. It's going to be a little more up to date in terms of how we write and format scripts these days. - The best thing to do is to find a screenwriter out there whose style you enjoy, who writes in a way that feels a lot like you. - When we were learning how to write, we read a bunch of scripts. And we found a couple that really spoke to us in terms of their style that we really responded to. And one is a script called "Panic Room," which is written by David Koepp, which was made into a movie directed by David Fincher and starring Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart. - So he's a great screenwriter. "Panic Room" was a huge spec sale. I think that's probably initially why we wanted to look at that script. We also love that movie. And it's a really good script to learn because of the simplicity of the storyline. Its two characters trapped in one location. But let's look at how he writes descriptions-- "interior, top-floor bedroom, day. Evan, Lydia, and Meg poke their heads in a series of rooms one after the other. The two are flying by quickly. First, an upstairs bedroom-- nice, roomy, looks out on the courtyard." And then Evan says, top floor, two bedrooms, one bathroom. And then in another scene heading, "interior, den, day. Another floor, another empty room. The trio passes through." Why I wanted to illustrate this as David Koepp writes a lot of his descriptions like this, which is they are very bare. I mean, he doesn't waste time describing what any of these rooms looks like. He's already described it as a New York brownstone. He doesn't really describe it any more than that. I mean, the rooms are empty. But he doesn't go into detail describing the color of the walls, cracked paint, any of that. "Another floor, another empty room--" boom, in, out. This script flies. And that's one reason we liked it so much because, you know, whe...

About the Instructor

Before they turned our world upside down with "Stranger Things," Matt and Ross Duffer honed their scare tactics on Wayward Pines and their debut thriller, Hidden. Now, the acclaimed showrunners reveal the dark science of creating a monster hit. Craft gripping story arcs, conjure unforgettable characters—like Eleven or Jim Hopper—and turn your raw idea into a pitch for the next big thing to cross over from the other side.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

The Duffer Brothers

Matt and Ross Duffer—the "Stranger Things" masterminds—teach you how they plotted the series from beginning to end, and how you can bring your own idea to life.

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