Book Into A Movie – Terms Every Screenwriter Needs To Know

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by Danek S. Kaus

Biopic — a biographical film.

Target — the anticipated audience for the movie

Pitch or pitching – a pitch is an attempt to sell the story idea to the producer or investor. It can be lot like a sales pitch.

Green light – means someone with the power to say “Yes” his given the OK to make the movie.

Raising the stakes – in a screenplay, the protagonist must want something and then take action to get it. To raise the stakes means to put even more pressure on the protagonist, which makes achieving the final objective that much more critical.

Backstory – everything that happened before the movie begins. It can include the characters’ education, job history, health, relationships, major events, both happy and traumatic, that shaped your character and set up the situation.

Pace – how fast the screenplay moves. Some have leisurely pace with long scenes, othesr have shorter scenes, which conflict rises quickly and increases in speed.

Synopsis – a short overview of the script, touching on all the major plot points. It does not contain dialogue. Like the screenplay, it is written in the present tense. Usually just a few hundred words.

Treatment – is a longer version of the synopsis. It can be short or long, ranging from four or five pages up to about 20 pages.

Logline — a one or two sentence description used to sell a movie idea. It contains the main selling point of the story.

Inciting incident – gets the story moving. In the beginning of the film, we are first introduced to the protagonist and their life. The inciting incident thrusts a change upon them, forcing them to move their life into a compleetly different direction. It must occur within the first 20 pages, though many happen much sooner.

Dramatic Irony – happens when the audience knows something that the character or characters do not.

Beat – a short pause, either in dialogue or before someone commits an action or reacts to an event or statement.

INT. – stands for interior, or inside.

EXT. – Exterior, meaning outdoors.

Slugline – begins each scene. The slugline indicates whether the scene is outside or inside, where the scene takes place and the time of day.

Montage – a series of scenes used to show the passage of time or a theme.

Danek S. Kaus is a produced screenwriter, with another film in development. Two more of his screenplays have been optioned. Learn how he can help turn your book into a movie at []

About Danek S. Kaus


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