Tricks to Writing a Short Screenplay


Writing and producing a short screenplay has benefits over a full-length. They're less expensive to make, take less time to shoot, and because of youtube and internet streaming, they can now reach a bigger audience than ever before. But just because they're short doesn't mean they're easier to write. Effectively telling a full story in a short film can be a huge challenge. Check out the following tips to make your next short screenplay a success.

Make Sure the Story Fits the Time Limit

Many short films have lofty ambitions of telling a story spanning generations, crossing continents, and creating new worlds. While some of these elements are great in a short film (see below), writers have to be aware of how “big” the story is and whether or not it can be told in a short amount of time. Some short films whose stories are too expansive end up with a lot of long, messy voiceover to get through the plot. If the plot seems rushed, it might be better as a full length.

Off-Beat Works the Best

Interestingly, strangeness and short films seem to go hand in hand, perhaps because weird and quirky ideas sometimes aren’t enough to sustain a full-length film. That’s why horror, fantasy, thrillers and even romance are better genres for short films than straight dramas. Comedy works fine too, but make sure it packs a punch so it’ll make an impression in a short amount of time.

Remember Your Structure

The most frequent problem in short films is that the script doesn’t follow the three-act structure. Just like in a full-length, the audience won’t feel satisfied unless they are told a full story with a beginning, middle, and end. Shorts tend to have a great beginning because the concept is great, and then they fall apart by the end. A solid story is a necessity.

Embrace the Freedom of the Short Form

The best thing about writing a short is that there’s no time restraint. Short films can be two minutes or half an hour – it’s just up to the writer and director. So there’s no stress to cut anything out or create filler just to hit a time limit. Whatever time it takes to tell the story is how long it’ll be, so stop worrying about page count, and start getting creative with content!