Glossary of Screenwriting

Screenwriting is indeed a complex art. It involves a lot of technicalities. A person needs to be aware of each of those technicalities to create a perfect script. Not just technicalities, screenwriting has a different glossary too. Being well versed with these terms and glossary is yet again very important. Following are some important words that are often used in screenwriting, along with their meanings.

  1. Action: Anything that happens outside the boundary of dialogues is considered an action. For instance, if the writer wants the artist to close the door, then it would be considered as an action. It would be mentioned in the script as a person bangs the door.
  2. Character: This refers to the brief description of the actor in the play. It states his name and crucial traits. While introducing a character, a writer can mention his name in capitals. For example, XYZ, a middle-aged man, tall and good looking can be termed as a character.
  3. CONT’D: It is an abbreviation for the term continued. It depicts that despite the actions taking place around the character, he’s still speaking. If some action takes place and after that, no one else speaks, then it will be mentioned as cont’d followed by the dialogue.
  4. Continuous: This can be misunderstood as continued by many writers as they sound similar. But as mentioned earlier, screenwriting has a very different glossary. Here these two terms mean very different. Continuous is used when a character moves from one place to another. Moving from inside a house to the lawn outside, going from hall to kitchen are some situations where continuous will be used
  5. Dash (-): Dashes are used to represent that a character is interrupted in his dialogue. Interruption can be because of an action or by a dialogue of another character.
  6. Dialogue: This means the same as used in day-to-day usage. It is a conversation between two or more characters.
  7. Ellipsis: Ellipsis or dots are used in between the dialogues. They refer to a pause in between the dialogue. If the writer wants the character to take a pause and then continue the further dialogue, he’ll use ellipsis.
  8. Flashback: It refers to a point where the story goes into the past. Like in a shot, where the characters are speaking, and the writer wants to connect it with a past reference, then he’ll use flashback. It is a pause from the ongoing play and to put up a shot from the past.
  9. Monologue: unlike a dialogue ( a conversation between two or more characters), a monologue is a long speech made by only one character of the play. It is mainly used while referring to the audience and has minimal or no pause in the same.
  10. Parenthetical: A parenthetical is a character direction that is interwoven into dialogue. It is commonly used to display the character’s emotions or impulsive actions. For example, using words like shocked, artist punches the wall etc. before a dialogue.
  11. O.S: It is the short form of off-screen. It is used when a character moves out of the stage during dialogue but is still talking. For instance, if two friends are talking in a room and one of them moves out. The voice that comes from the off-screen is an example of O.S
  12. V.O: It is a short form of voice over. It is a situation when in between a play, some other voice or beats take over and narrate the scene.
  13. Crawl: It is a point where a text is pasted over an image and made to move. Movement can be in any direction, up-down or left-right. This is used very often in almost every play.
  14. Cut to: It is used when the writer wants to cut from one scene to another. It can be in terms of both, location as well as the scene.
  15. Fade in/ fade out: These re transitions are used to move between one scene and another. These make the shift all the way smoother.
  16. Insert: It is used to represent close up. A writer can use an insert to emphasize a particular shot or a character on the screen during a moment.
  17. Montage: These are the collections of small clips from various shots. These are used to depict some memory. Herein the writer can club various memories of a character from different times and play them at once to set up the play.
  18. Point of view: It is used to shift the camera angle to a particular character’s view. This represents a shift from a general POV to a specific one. Which in turn makes the viewers see the play from the angle of a character.
  19. Pan: Pan Movement is the movement of the camera on the same axis. This is used to give the viewer a wholesome experience. The writer over here wants the viewer to feel like he’s in the place of the character and rotating his head to get the whole view.
  20. Scene: A shot that takes place completely at one location is referred to as a scene. For instance, a shot recorded in a single room will be considered as a scene.
  21. Slugline: The text in all capitals written at the starting of the page is the slug line. This describes the characters involved in the scene, the brief story and the location of the shot.
  22. The stock shot: Footage of events in history, from other films, etc. Anything that’s already filmed and you intend to be edited into the movie.
  23. Trailer: It is a short preview of the movie. This is made to market the movie. It creates hype amongst viewers and in turn increase the popularity of the movie.
  24. Wipe to: This is a transition used to wipe out a scene to move to the next. Let’s say scene A is the view of the sky from a mountain top, and scene B is the view from the top. Wipe to transition will be used to change the scene from A to B.
  25. Zoom in/ out: It is the manipulation of the camera lens. It is used to rapidly zoom in on some character and then zoom out or vice versa.
  26. Extreme long shot: Such shots are taken from an extreme distance from the object. The writer must always mention an extreme shot in capital letters.
  27. Extreme close-up: This is an extremely close shot taken of an individual or an object. This is mostly used to emphasize some particular detail. Just like an extreme long shot, this must also be written in capitals.
  28. Swish pan: A rapid shift of camera lens from one place to another is called a swish pan. The violent focus change causes the picture to go completely blurry. These are used to shock or surprise the viewers.

Nowadays, people are consuming more and more content: like web series, movies and also video games. Undoubtedly, the future would need many more scriptwriters as the demand is continuously rising. So, writers can surely look forward to this area closely.

Before starting to write a script, the writer must know in-depth about it. He must be sure about what he’s writing and what are the technicalities involved. Now we know how wide the scope of terms in screenwriting is. A beginner writer is bound to make some mistakes in the same. Learning anything new is tedious. Talking about screenwriting, it’s even cumbersome. To make the process easier, unluclass has come up with their online course for writing.

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