How to Write a Screenplay in Google Docs

177474 How to Write a Screenplay in Google Docs

Writing a screenplay is an art form that requires a blend of creativity and structure. While there are many software options available for screenwriting, Google Docs offers a free and accessible platform that can be used effectively with the right knowledge and tools. This article will guide you through the process of writing a screenplay in Google Docs, from setting up your document to formatting and collaboration.

Setting Up Your Document

Before you start writing, you need to set up your document correctly. A screenplay page looks drastically different from a page of prose or an essay. Here’s how to set up your Google Docs for screenplay writing:

  1. Open Google Docs and create a new document.
  2. Set your font to Courier or Courier New, the industry standard for screenplays[9].
  3. Set your font size to 12[9].
  4. Use the “Show Ruler” tab to preset spacings[9].
  5. Set up page numbering[9].

Understanding Screenplay Format

Screenplay format is pivotal in whether or not a screenplay is taken seriously in the industry. An improperly formatted screenplay will not be taken seriously by industry professionals[1]. Here are some key elements of standard screenplay format:

  • 12-point Courier Font[6].
  • 1.5 inch left margin[6].
  • 1-inch right margin (between 0.5 inches and 1.25 inches), ragged[6].
  • 1 inch top and bottom margins[6].
  • Around 55 lines per page regardless of paper size. This excludes the page number and spaces after it[6].

Writing Your Screenplay

Now that your document is set up and you understand the basics of screenplay format, you can start writing. Remember, every screenplay starts with “FADE IN:” and then an extremely sparse description of the scene[2].

Formatting Your Screenplay with Fountainize

Once you’ve written out your entire script, you can then format it using Fountainize, a Google Docs add-on specifically designed for screenplays[5][9]. Fountainize lets you write simple text and convert it into a beautifully formatted script[5]. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Install the Fountainize app onto your Google Docs Profile[9].
  2. Write your text following a simple set of rules. For example, write characters in all caps, start the line with ‘int.’ or ‘ext.’ for scenes, and the line after a character or parenthetical is always considered dialogue[5].
  3. Once you’ve written your script, click the FORMAT button at the top of the sidebar to format your script[9].

Collaborating on Your Screenplay

Google Docs supports powerful collaborative functions, which are often necessary when writing screenplays with a team[3]. Collaborative features like Comments and Revisions are part of Google Doc’s native operation[3]. You can share your document with others or invite someone else to collaborate on the document using the @ key on your keyboard[9].

Revising Your Screenplay

Finishing your screenplay is only the first step—the real work is in the revisions[8]. Listen to your script, trim the beginnings and endings of scenes, fix typos, re-write dialogue, and consider changing the ending if necessary[8].

Limitations and Alternatives

While Google Docs is a viable option for screenwriting, it does have its limitations. Achieving structure is a challenge with Google Docs, and it may not be as efficient as dedicated screenwriting software[3]. If you’re looking for more advanced features, consider using screenwriting software like Final Draft, Celtx, or WriterDuet[6][12].

In conclusion, Google Docs can be a useful tool for writing a screenplay, especially for beginners or those on a budget. With the right setup, understanding of screenplay format, and use of add-ons like Fountainize, you can effectively write, format, and collaborate on a screenplay in Google Docs. Happy writing!