Definition of Script
A script is the text of a play, broadcast or movie.
The Script Elements
Definition of Action
- Act Number - indicates what act you're in.
- Scene Number - indicates what scene you're in.
- Cast List - used in scripts to indicate which
characters are speaking and appearing in the
- Action - what we see on the screen or stage.
- Scene Heading - tells where the scene takes place.
- Character Name - indicates who's speaking.
- Dialogue - what the character is saying.
- Dual-Column Dialogue - used when two
characters speak simultaneously.
- Parenthetical - tells how the actor reads the
- Extension - indicates whether a character is
doing voice-over or is off-screen.
- Shot - tells you where to focus your attention
- Transition - tells how to move to the next scene
Action means the state or process of acting or
doing. Action is also called "business" or "description."
It's what we see on the screen or stage. It describes, in
the most visual way it can, what happens.
Let's examine a script element action to see
how it works.
Here's a sample:
It was a damp, cold night. Kevin was outside the
greenhouse in the cottage garden. He heard a sound.
He scratched his head as he got closer to the
greenhouse. He continued forward with a curious
expression on his face.
Now read this:
It was a damp, cold late autumn night. Kevin walked
quietly and cautiously through the cottage garden.
As the crisp, cool pre-winter wind crept through his
light jacket, his chill grew, and the brittle fall leaves
cracked underfoot. As he approached the greenhouse,
he heard a strange, indiscernible noise inside. He
crept around the corner and thought, "Wonder
what that could be?"
What is the difference? The first sample shows
action, the second one tells about it. We can't see a
character thinking. But we know that characters who
are thinking will behave in a certain way. A scriptwriter
must describe the behavior, not the internal process
of what the character is thinking.
Using action, you have more room to make your
writing creative than you do with the other elements.
Now have students try writing a sample action
element and critique each others' writing.
The Technical Elements
These support the story elements.
- A character's physical appearance (costumes
- The setting - could this story take place
- What is the theme? How do you know?
- Are any special devices used to further the plot,
- The pace. What is used to achieve the pace?
As a conclusion to this workshop, lead a
discussion that helps students explore elements of a
story they may not have noticed immediately such
as how the story develops, what’s missing, the use of
language, how words and pictures work together,
and what the story means to them.
Watch part of a movie, television drama, situation
comedy, television commercial, or even a music video.
After viewing it, have students discuss the following:
- Identify and discuss each story element.
- If this same story were presented in a print
medium, e.g., essay, book or magazine how
would you get the same story across?
- Read the credits to find out who put the movie
or TV story together. Remember that everything
in the show is there because of someone’s
decision. Each of those elements has a particular
effect on the viewer or contributes to how we
perceive the story.
- Discuss what you think each person is
responsible for. For example, what might the