Can I use real people in my screenplay?

It is not uncommon to see a screenplay refer to a real person or use a real person as a character, but we recommend you tread lightly, as it could be considered libel. In general, it’s okay to refer to a person in his or her known capacity, ie, “…like when Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook!” […]

What is a two-hander?

A two-hander is a movie where there are two main characters of roughly equal importance to the story, and whose arcs are given roughly equal screen-time. Romantic comedies and buddy cop movies are often two-handers, but almost all genres have their examples. The Sixth Sense is a thriller two-hander, for instance. More from Two-hander […]

How do I express a character’s mispronunciation of a word?

If you intend for a character to mispronounce a word in dialogue, spell out his mispronunciation phonetically (using English phonetics — not IPA). If you feel your intent isn’t clear, quotation marks may help, but make sure the reader still understands if the character means to mispronounce the word, or if it is done unknowingly. […]

In dialogue, how do you handle a character with a speech impediment?

If you have a character with a speech impediment, it most likely will be distracting — and quite possibly condescending — to try to mimic the impediment in all of his dialogue. Instead, include mention of the character’s speech impediment when you introduce him, and then write the dialogue as normal, doing your best to […]

Can you include emotion or other “unshootable” elements in your screenplay?

In general and if used judiciously, yes. If including something like emotion gives your screenplay flavor and helps paint a better picture of your character or scene, include it. But keep in mind that while it may help the reader, the viewer can’t see “happy;” you have to express that through the actions and dialogue […]