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How To Write Text Messages In A Screenplay

Adam Scott

This article will discuss how to write text messages in a screenplay, with minimal faffing around.

I’m going to avoid most of the ones about a girl texting a boy about her problems, or their having a fake account so that she can pretend to be him, or a global conspiracy involving both. That sort of thing.

I will, however, tell you how to talk to your screenwriter in text messages, and I will also tell you how you should write a really good text message in screenplay form.

Why use text messages?

We all write in different ways and for different reasons. I know screenwriters that never write anything beyond the scene they’re in.

I know screenwriters that have been turning in scripts for years without ever writing anything of real substance.

If I were to tell you that you should never write anything except the scene you’re in, that’s exactly what you’d hear. Everyone gets it.

In real life, this is probably how it works, but screenwriters are too busy having their minds changed by agents, managers, and producers to notice.

I’m going to let you in on a secret: the only thing screenwriters really write is the scene they’re in.

They will write about it, they will discuss it, they will edit it, they will improve it, but it is the scene that they write. That’s because it’s the scene that is important to the project.

So, how about I tell you that all screenwriters write what the character needs to get what the character wants?

Think about this a bit, because it’s important.

An actor’s job is to act. It doesn’t matter whether they have facial expressions or anything, all they have to do is think about the emotions that are in their minds and they can convey them to the audience.

Same with you as a writer. You don’t need words to be able to convey your ideas to the reader.

All you have to do is think about what you want to say.

Of course, sometimes you need a little help. In order to make it all make sense, I’m going to put together a list of questions that can help you write text messages.

Who’s in this text?AliExpress shopping on my iPhone

You know who it is. The script is written to prove that, but even without it you have a vague idea.

You probably can’t write a whole screenplay from scratch, and probably wouldn’t even be able to if you were alone.

For the sake of argument, let’s say that you have never written anything before.

Now, ask yourself: who is in this text?

Usually, the text will be relatively long.

In screenwriting terms, that’s called a 2-page or 3-page storyboard.

The trouble is, you don’t have any idea of who’s in the text. If your protagonist is a 12-year-old boy, the text is probably going to be all about him learning to drive.

If your protagonist is a 13-year-old girl, the text might be about the first time she meets her boyfriend’s girlfriend and the sex they have. If your protagonist is a 30-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman, well, that could be about a blind date or two, or maybe just a lot of sex.

It’s all up to you.

But you don’t need to see the text for every character to have the same perspective. As I mentioned earlier, you only need to know who the protagonist is to write a good screenplay.

Once you have that, you only need to know who she’s talking to.

Is she the protagonist? Is she just talking to her boyfriend?

Is she talking to his friend? Is she talking to his father?

You get the idea.

As long as you know who’s in the text, you have everything you need to write a script.

Who’s writing this text?HomeKit control for VIZIO Smart TV shown on an iPhone 11 Pro

This is important, because if you’re writing a text to your friend or boyfriend, it’s the perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to them.

If you don’t, you’ll be speaking to a blank screen.

Who is this writing the text to you? Is it a very distant friend?

An ex-boyfriend? A former lover?

Or someone you’ve never met before?

Whoever it is, he or she has just told you a bunch of lies that you now know are not true. The moment the screenwriter uses that knowledge in the text to reveal their character’s flaw, or get their protagonist to move away from them and find someone who is actually truthful, they’ve nailed it.

Who is to be responsible for the text in the first place?

The protagonist can’t have their phone stolen, and they’re not the one who did it. So who is?

I’ve noticed a lot of writers get confused about this, even when they have a lot of freedom to write whatever they want. They’ll ask, “What about me, what about the author?

Well, the author has the final say.

There are all sorts of complex issues around authorship in literature. It’s more complex than you think.

The way I’ve handled it in my novels is to have several authors. Usually, the writer will be the original author.

But there will also be several authors involved in the creation of a novel: the editor, the publisher, the author’s agent, the marketing department, the publisher’s marketing department, the agent’s agent, the marketing department’s marketing department, the marketing department of the company who made the novel.

It can get really complicated, and it can even become personal – like if the CEO has a great idea for a book and the marketing department says, “No, no, no, you should do a book about cybernetic space Nazis,” then we might have a problem.

It’s best to sort these out before you get started. Once you have a great idea for a book, you’re probably going to share it with all these people anyway.

The best solution, I’ve found, is to have a single author who will also be the main character in the text, and this person can do whatever they want to, because they own the book.

Does the written text allude to a real person?Coronavirus / Covid-19 cases in the world. (20.04.2020)
Source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at JHU

One of the trickiest parts of writing for screen is the difference between fiction and reality. Screenwriting as a whole is all about pretending that you’re writing fiction, and if you want to succeed, you’ll have to try to stay true to that illusion.

You might be tempted to write something fake, just for the sake of doing it. It’s all fun and games when you’re writing to people you know in person, but when you’re writing to a character you’ve created, your version of reality is going to have to be that character’s version of reality.

So, can we see what else goes on in the background of these texts?

It’s always interesting to find out what this text is referring to. Are they referring to a real person? A fictional character?

Or a made up character?

This is how you add text scenes in your screenplay.


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