Screenwriting: Other Script Formats

While most screenwriters will only work on screenplays, there are a few other screenwriting formats. While screenwriters will generally write these the same way as regular screenplays, there are some differences worth noting. Further, screenwriters need to ensure that they are writing in the correct format.

Step 1: Why Screenwriters Must Follow Industry Formatting

While following the formats of screenplay writing can be tedious, screenwriters must always follow industry standards. Most screenwriters only get one chance to make an impression on their readers. And, most these readers are going to be industry professionals that don't have time to read every script that comes across their desk.

These people will get hundreds if not thousands of screenplays per year. They're simply looking to weed out as many of them as possible. So, if a screenwriter doesn't want his hard work in the trash, they need to follow standard screenwriting formats.

Page numbers are required on all these types of scripts. Numbers should be located in the upper right-hand corner. They should be right-justified with the right margin.

Step 2: Direct to TV Movie

One of the other types of screenplays that screenwriters may write are Direct to TV Movies or DTVs. Screenwriters will format these movies exactly the same way, except that they will not use scenes to break up major sections of the screenplay. Instead they will use acts.

Generally, there are seven acts within a DTV script, and there will also be an ACT BREAK or commercial break. Every time a commercial break comes up, users must insert the ACT BREAK so that the director will know how to break up the action. Oftentimes, before commercial breaks, the drama will intensify.

The beginning of an act will look like this:

                                                                ACT ONE

On the other hand, the end of an act will look like this:

                                                                END OF ACT

If the show is complete, the screenwriters should insert THE END to denote the end of the screenplay.

Step 3: Movies of the Week

Just like the DTVs, Movies of the Week or MOWs are broken up in the exact same way. Yet, unlike the DTVs, MOWs have one more step, Teasers. Teasers are the first few minutes of the movie that tries to hook to viewer into watching the whole movie.

Teasers area generally between three and eight minutes depending on time constraints. Usually, however, they are less than five minutes since there isn't must time to get the view interested.

To denote an upcoming teaser, screenwriters need to add the following:


This way, the director knows that the short teaser is next. Screenwriters don't need to add an end of teaser note. They should just simply begin a new page with the first act.

Step 4: TV Episodes

Television episodes are also broken up into acts, but generally there are only four acts. One-hour TV episodes will probably also have more commercial breaks than standard movies, but that will vary by network and preference.

Types of TV episodes can range from sitcoms, which are generally one half hour, to one to two hour full-length episodes. Even reality TV shows need some type of script.