Finished Your Screenplay Next Steps

You've completed your first screenplay, what do you do next?

The first thing you should do is congratulate yourself. Writing a screenplay is no easy task. Next, get use to re-writing. It is part of the process and necessary. Be subjection about your work.

Below is a checklist you can use:


  • Typos can catch you by surprise. If you need to copy the script into Microsoft Word and do a spell check or use an add-on tool to assist you with finding typos.

  • Check for missing hyphens, question marks, overuse of exclamation marks, etc.


  • Remember each page of a screenplay represents about one minute of screen time. Screenplays that are mostly action will typically be longer while screenplays that are dialogue intensive will typically be shorter.

  • Remember screenplays are not novels and they are not silent movies either.

  • Keep descriptions and actions to 3 to 4 lines max.

  • Don’t write little movements.

  • Only include things you can visually see or hear.

  • Only include things that develop the character, move the story along, or relate to the plot.

  • Check your page count

      • Two-Hour Feature Screenplays should be between 100 to 110 pages.

      • TV Screenplays

        • One-Hour should be between 55 to 60 pages.

        • Half-Hour Single-Camera should be between 22 to 25 pages.

        • Half-Hour Multi-Camera should be between 52 to 58 pages.

  • Embrace the white space on the page. Avoid writing a whole page with nothing but the description and/or action with no dialogue. Readers cringe when they see this. Make your screenplay a fast easy read.

Story / Plot

  • Check for story or plot holes.

  • If something happens off-screen that it is explained.

  • Ensure that there is a stratifying ending. Do not leave the reader/audience hanging unless it is a series.

  • Give the reader/audience something to care about. Ensure you have found the heart in your story.

  • Make sure there is something that happens within the first three to five pages of your script. Hook them from the start.

  • Do not let the reader/audience outguess your writing. Do the unexpected.

  • Ensure your script is a fast read.

Budget Friendly Tips

  • Keep the number of locations down to a minimum. Reuse locations to help.

  • Keep explosions, special effects and CGI down to a minimum or don't use them at all.

  • Avoid crowd scenes, if possible.

  • Include opportunities for product placements

  • Keep the number of characters down to a minimum. Only have characters speaking that need to be.


Character Introductions

  • The first time a character is introduced the name should be in all CAPS.

  • Provide a brief interesting description that tells us something about them that pertains to the story or plot.

  • Avoid using average, pretty, handsome… and clichés… be creative.

  • Have the character do something interesting.


    • Does each character speak in their voice?

    • Make sure you are using O.S. and V.O. correctly.

    • Avoid overusing parentheticals. Parentheticals should be on their line and no longer than two lines.

    • Avoid overusing ellipses.

    • Remember most people do not speak formally unless that is a character trait.

    • Characters from a foreign country, different generations, ethnic backgrounds, etc. will speak differently.

    • Don’t overuse saying a character’s name. It sounds funny and people do not speak that way.

    • Do be too on the nose or too direct… use subtext.

Scene Headings

    • Make sure you are using FLASHBACK and PRESENT DAY correctly.

    • Use INTERCUT to flip back and forth between two scenes like a telephone conversation.

    • Be sure you are using scene headings correctly. INT or EXT (sometimes INT/EXT) – Primary Location – Secondary Location – DAY or NIGHT.

    • Avoid using DUSK, DAWN, NOON, etc. unless it is specifically needed.

General Formatting

  • Make sure you are using LATER or MOMENTS LATER correctly. Should be on a separate line.

  • Use MONTAGE or SERIES OF SHOTS to show a sequence of brief actions or images. Should be on a separate line.

  • Use INSERT to draw attention to a letter, sign, document, etc. Should be on a separate line.

  • Sounds should be in all CAPS.

  • Spec scripts should NOT include any camera directions such as CUT TO, FADE OUT, etc. Use action to direct the camera.

Budget Reduction Suggestions

  • Reuse a location as much as you can. This will keep the number of locations down to a minimum.

  • Only use explosions, special effects, and CGI if truly needed.

  • Avoid crowd scenes if possible, especially with this COVID-19 thing going on.

  • Include opportunity for product placements.

Let it sit for a few months then look at it with a fresh set of eyes.

  • Re-read your script and use the above list check for things.

  • Be objective.

Create a Great Title

  • Remember this is the first thing that someone will read about your screenplay. Make it count!

  • The title should be easy to remember and for others to tell someone else about.

  • It should encompass and complement the story.

  • It should be as short as possible.

Create a Logline

  • A logline is a summary of the central conflict of the story which has an emotional “hook” to capture a reader/audience’s attention to the story. It is usually one sentence but no more than two sentences.

  • The logline is your first impression of your screenplay. Make it count!

  • Use an active voice.

  • Include the goal that the protagonist must do.

  • Include what is at stake if the protagonist does not do a thing.

  • Use strong adjectives.

  • Do not use a character’s name.

  • There are several formulas for writing a logline

When [Inciting incident] happens, [Protagonist] decides to do [Action] against [Antagonist]

Classify the Story by Genre and Sub-Genre

Get Coverage

  • There are several places you can go to get coverage some are better than others.

  • Remember coverage is an option and you may not agree with every suggestion someone provides you with.

  • Looks for things that were not clear or set up correctly in your script that might be where the note is coming from.

Comparable or Similar To

  • Identify two or three other films that your story is similar to comparable to.

  • The purpose is to provide a sense of style and tone for the reader.


  • This a summarization of the screenplay that is used to entice someone to want to ready your screenplay.

  • It should not include everything that happens in the script. Only include the most important or interesting parts of the story.

  • Write in the present tense and use a third-person point of view.

  • Stick to the main plot points and main characters.

  • Capture the emotional dynamics of the story.

  • Some people include the ending while others do not.

  • WikiHow - How to Write a Screenplay Synopsis (with Pictures)

Written Pitch

  • You will need to create a one-page and two-page written pitch.

    • Both are almost the same thing the one-page just has less of it.

  • It should include the following:

    • Title

    • Your contact information

    • Genre and Sub-Genre

    • Format – Feature / TV Pilot and Type

    • Comparable / Similar Films

    • Synopsis – the One-Page has a shortened version of this.

    • Main Characters Brief Description – the One-Page may not include this.