How to write a script

A script is a piece of writing in the form of drama. Drama is different from prose forms of writing, like novels and short stories, as it is meant to be performed either for stage, radio, television or film.

This means it has to sound effective when it is read out loud. It also means it has to be written in a special form. This section will deal mainly with writing a script for the stage. There will be a brief section at the end with pointers for writing a radio script or a screenplay.

A script consists of dialogue (what the characters say to each other), stage directions and instructions to the actors and director.

Here is an example of an extract from a play script. Look at it carefully and note the special layout.

The bully

Scene: A school playground

Characters: JIM, a first-year pupil

EDDIE, a second-year pupil

(JIM is looking through his bag. EDDIE comes up and pushes him.)

JIM: (angrily) What do you think you're doing?

EDDIE: Oh, sorry, did I hurt you? I was just wondering what you had in that bag.

JIM: What's it to do with you?

EDDIE: I forgot my dinner money today. And I'm hungry.

(EDDIE grabs JIM's lunch and runs off.)

JIM: Hey you, come back!

(Enter the JANITOR.)

JANITOR: What's wrong, son?

You should notice the following features in the layout of the script:

  • Title
  • Scene - say where and when the scene is set
  • Characters - say which characters are in the scene at the start. You should give any information we need to know about them but keep this brief. This might be their age, occupation or relationship with another character.

For example:

  • Jean, aged 24
  • Elizabeth, aged 55, mother of Jean
  • Bill, a plumber

Any characters who come into a scene after the start of it should be introduced by 'Enter'. Use 'Exit' if the character leaves.

The name of the character who is speaking should be written at the left-hand side of the page (in the margin). It is a good idea to print it in capitals.

Stage directions should be written in brackets.