I’ve been reading a lot of screenplays for films I enjoy, and I thought it would be fun to give you an exercise related to that this week.

#1 – Pick a Movie

Pick a movie you enjoy.  It doesn’t have to be your favorite, but one you like enough to watch for this exercise.

#2 – Track Down the Screenplay

Find a draft of the script.  For this exercise, you don’t want the Shooting Script since that’s what you see on the screen.  Luckily, you can find these online now.  You can use the link below to search thousands of screenplays:


Find an early draft of the script for your chosen film and bookmark it.

#3 – Read the Script

Try to read it from FADE IN to FADE OUT in one sitting. If you’re familiar with the movie version, how close is this script draft to the final film? Are there any major changes to the story or characters? Was there anything about the script you felt was better than it was in the film?

Feel free to take notes as you read, commenting on the differences and similarities.

#4 – Watch the Movie with the Screenplay

Watch the movie and follow along in the script, noting any differences between the two.  Why do you think certain choices were made?  Which version do you prefer, the film or the screenplay? 

Why Am I Doing This?

Part of creative writing is understanding the process.  Like all other writing, a screenplay goes through a series of rewrites and changes as it evolves into the final product we see on the screen.  As a writer, it’s good to see that what we see on TV or at the movies isn’t always as polished and perfect as our minds can make us think it is.

Since we don’t have access to drafts of novels, this is a great way for writers to see how stories can change over subsequent drafts and show that even a seasoned writer has to take the time to fine-tune their work.

Happy Reading and Viewing, and I’ll see you next time!

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