How To Read A Screenplay: Parts 1-7

June 27th, 2012 by

For the last week or so in this series, I have advanced an approach to reading and analyzing screenplays. This is not intended to train you to be a script reader, but rather is intended to provide a set of tools for writers to dig deep into a screenplay and learn whatever they can about structure, characters, themes, style and so forth.

As I have said all along, every writer is different and has different needs, either personally or per project. If you resonate with any ideas here, feel free to use. If not, feel free to lose.

So to wrap things up about the series, my questions to you are these:

Did any of this series resonate with you?

Did you learn anything new?

Are you more likely to read scripts now?

I’m interested to hear your feedback. Reading scripts is a key part of immersing oneself in the world of cinema, something we all should be doing.

It’s more than just writing a screenplay. It’s about learning to think like a screenwriter.

For Part 1: The First Pass, go here.

For Part 2: The Scene-By-Scene Breakdown, go here.

For Part 3: Plotline Points and Sequences, go here.

For Part 4: Subplots, Relationships and Character Functions, go here.

For Part 5: Metamorphosis, go here.

For Part 6: Themes, go here.

For Part 7: Style and Language, go here.

13 thoughts on “How To Read A Screenplay: Parts 1-7

  1. Debbie Moon says:

    These are all really useful pointers. Now all I need is the discipline to actually do them, instead of hurrying through scripts before going off to do other stuff.

  2. Vic Tional says:

    Really enjoyed the series, Scott. It was interesting reading your thoughts about the different elements to consider, analyse and break down when reading screenplays, but the real takeaway was that everything you mentioned applies to writing just as much. This is stating the obvious really, but considering themes, subplots, style, language, sequences and everything else is basic due diligence if you hope to craft a compelling, complete story. All good grist, much appreciated.

  3. Judy Potocki says:

    Thanks, Scott!

    This series will help me focus on the “10 scripts I must read” in each genre I am targeting. Each morsel will be used.

    Again, many thanks.

  4. Daniel Anaya says:

    thanks so much for this series. before this, my method consisted of only step 1 of your process haha.. only because i just didn’t know how to go about milking it for what its worth. my goal is to understand scripts from on a deep instinctual level and this is going to take a very far in achieving that. “you da man now dog!”

  5. Alex Walter says:

    Don’t forget to put these posts in the “List” section of GITS in the right-hand margin for easy reference.

  6. Shaula Evans says:

    Great series, Scott. I especially appreciate the wrap-up with all of the links, which makes it easy and convenient to recommend the series to others. Thanks for that, too.

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  8. Shaula Evans says:

    Scott, I’ve been thinking about script analysis and how it might intersect with the upcoming forum.

    It would be great to have a place to discuss script analysis like this, and to share our own analyses of scripts–with a sticky at the top that goes to this series of how-to posts and your sample analysis of UP. A library of script analyses with lots of different people contributing could be a great resource for everyone.

    I hope that at least a few people are following through and reading and analyzing scripts like this–it would be great to be able to pool our efforts.

    I don’t know what kind of structure you have in mind for the forum, but I wanted to pass along this idea for your consideration.

    1. Scott says:

      Shaula, it’s a good idea. I used to do more movie analysis, something I really love to do, but I’ve been so insanely busy of late. You should Google the site for “Movie Analysis.” Some of the movies I’ve broken down: The Social Network, The King’s Speech, True Grit, Winter’s Bone, Inception, The Dark Knight, Star Trek, The Apartment, and on and on and on.

      I need to give myself time to do more of this because it really is a delight to crack open a movie or a script, and dig into it and discover some of its mysteries.

  9. [...] for how, Scott Myers‘ seven-part series is an excellent starting [...]

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  11. […] websites.  There is always new content to discover including incredibly useful series like How To Read A Screenplay.  In this 7 part series they go in depth on the first pass, scene breakdowns, plot points, […]

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