• Wondering which camera, gear, computer, or software to buy? Ask in our Gear Guide.

is the formatting in my first script alright?

The first time I made a video was in 2000.
In 2016 I started writing a 'real' script for the first time, although I was writing in Word.
In the meantime I wrote a short in Final Draft, but 1) it is Dutch and 2) I'm also directing it, so if formatting isn't perfect there yet, it is no problem.
However, I'm moving this first script from Word to Final Draft and I'd like to have your opinion on formatting. (Opinions on content are welcome as well: this one is in English).
However, this are just the first few scenes. I wanted to see if I made certain errors, before continuing writing. So, you have no real context to discuss the story yet.

One thing I was wondering:
In Final Draft (CONT'D) gets added automaticly if the same persoon talks again in the same scene. Is that okay, even if things happen in between the lines, so the dialogue is not continuous (without pause)?

Anyway, thanks in advance! :)

BTW, I had to mimic the formatting between the code-tags. To prevent the window from become too wide put all the longer sentences below each other. (And you still have to scroll.... can't that be made more responsive or wider?)


It’s a beautiful, warm sunny day.
PAUL (34) is walking outside with his 6 year old son, PETER.

           Dad, can I take my jacket off? It’s so warm.

          Ok, but don’t tell mom, ok?

PAUL helps PETER to take off his jacket and ties it around PETER’S neck like a cape.

               PAUL (CONT’D)
          Don’t lose your cape, big man.

          I’m a superhero now!

PETER starts running around with one arm stretched making flying WHOOSH sounds.

          Calm down. Take my hand, we’re in the middle of the big city. 
          You have to be carefull where you run.
          What is your superpower?

          I can do... everything?
          Flying... become invisible...

               PAUL (LAUGHS)
          Hahaha, no no, superheroes must have a specialty.


PAUL and PETER are looking around. PETER is fascinated. He picks a comic from the X-MEN.


          Dad, everything looks so nice when it’s sunny.

PAUL smiles. PETER points to a young WOMAN.

               PETER (CONT’D)
          Look dad! Can I have icecream too?

          Sure! Do you know where to get it?

The WOMAN eating icecream walks by with a smile. PAUL looks at her, a bit distracted.

          I found it over there!


PAUL’S alarm is ringing.
He gets up and shaves his 4 day old beard.
Today is circled on the CALENDAR on the wall.
He eats his BREAKFAST on a small table with some FAMILY PICTURES on it.
A copy of ‘THE TIMEMACHINE’ is laying on the table.
PAUL seighs.


PAUL is CYCING through the rain. Leaving the CITY behind him.


PAUL arrives at work and parks his BIKE inside the large HALL.


PAUL is working, wearing a T-SHIRT with green stains, amidst the TOMATO PLANTS.
On his high PLATFORM he is lowering and moving the suspended tops of the growing plants.


A bell RINGS: coffebreak.
From everywhere people emerge from between the plants to go to the CANTINA. 
PAUL is still on his platform.
Suddenly SIMONE (35) appears at the end of his path with 2 mugs in her hands.

          Paul, don’t you want to take a break?

PAUL looks up (actually he has to look down) from his thoughts.


SIMONE raises a large mug.

          Don’t want coffee?

          Oh, no, I’m good.

PAUL continues working.
SIMONE opens her mouth to speak, but hesitates and walks back to the CANTINA.

               INT. GREENHOUSE - NOON
          PAUL walks towards the CANTINA. Everyone is working again.

He meets the BOSS (46) and nodds. 
The BOSS nods back and put his hand on PAUL’s shoulder for a moment.


PAUL puts FLOWERS on a grave.
The inscription reads:
“PETER BROENEWEG 3-5-2006 - 14-8-2012”
PAUL is crying silently.

               PAUL (WHISPERS)
          I’m so sorry.

A woman in black, NATASHA (33), appears next to him. She puts FLOWERS on the grave as well.
There is a long silence as they are both in tears, looking at the grave and ignoring each other.
Then NATASHA inhales vibrantly and turns to PAUL to cry on his shoulder.
PAUL just holds her as tears run on his face.

               PAUL (CONT’D)
          I wish...

A BABY cries in the background. NATASHA seperates herself from PAUL.
She walks away. PAUL turns to look where she is going.
NATASHA walks towards a MAN (38) with a stroller, who was waiting in the distance.
The baby stops crying when NATASHA kneels in front of the stroller.
She throws a short sad glance at PAUL before she smiles at the baby again.
Her new HUSBAND nods to PAUL.
Last edited:
I'll take a quick read in a minute but as to your question on the use of (CONT'D), yes it is proper specifically for the reason you wonder if it's ok. It's intended to convey that the dialogue continues parallel or in concert with the action. Like maybe a bad guy has a good guy tied up in a chair and he's monologuing (is that a word?). So you'll have the dialogue of the bad guy and maybe while he's talking he's loading his gun. So you'd have (sorry no formatting):
blah, blah, blah.

Bad Guy loads his gun.

blah, blah, blah.

Bad Guy circles Good Guy with his gun pointed at Good Guy.

blah, blah, blah.

I'm James Bond.

No. Really?
If monologuing isn't a word, it should be: I love it :P

The thing that sort of puzzles me is when someone says something, does things in silence and then speaks again. In that case (CONT'D) feels and reads weird. To me it is a big difference if talking there is silence or not. (Music is also created by the space between the notes ;) ) But I tried to delete it and it comes back automaticly in Final Draft, LOL


IndieTalk's Resident Guru
It's very close.

Dialogue is indented about an inch and a half (45cm) on both left and
right so it runs down the center of the page.

You only use upper case the first time a character is seen.

No need to use upper case for action (CYCLING) or locations (CITY,
PLATFORM) or clothing (T-SHIRT) or props (BIKE, FLOWERS) or sounds
(RINGS). I have no idea why you put BREAKFAST in upper case. Like
on a message board uppercase equates shouting. Read your paragraph
and shout each word you wrote on all caps. But if you're going to use
upper case use it consistently. Paul eats BREAKFAST – why doesn't the
Woman eat ICE CREAM? If Paul is wearing a T-SHIRT he should take off
his JACKET. See how complicated it can get?

In general (but not a “rule) you should only use DAY or NIGHT. In general
do not use present progressive. It is used to indicate a secondary action
continuing up until or while the main action occurs:

Mary is hiking and steps on a leprechaun. Mary is kneading bread when the phone rings.

In a screenplay, you don't use present progressive verbs at all.

Mary hikes, and she steps on a leprechaun. Mary kneads bread. The phone rings.

Not a hard “rule” but it's what readers of screenplays are accustom to.
Thanks Rik!
This is exactly why I ask this early one :)
I'll be sparing the shift-key in the future :)
I was just reading the script of 'Arrival' and it seems that capitals are indeed used to introduce characters, but also non-dialogue sounds and media content (on tv, radio, text).

The dialogue not being in place is caused by the inability to copy that part of the formatting: I had to add many times a spacebar to mimic that part of the formatting.
(Btw, 1.5 inch is 37mm ;) 45cm is approx. 1.5 ft)


IndieTalk's Resident Guru
Many writers use upper case. If you like that style then use it. When I
read a script like that I start wondering about the reasons the writer
uses it for some things (T-SHIRT) but not others (jacket). Why BREAKFAST
but not ice cream. It tends to pull me out of the story and into writing
style. Why does a bell RING in the greenhouse but the alarm is ringing
in Paul's bedroom...
(Btw, 1.5 inch is 37mm ;) 45cm is approx. 1.5 ft)
Inches, feet, what's the difference...
Okay, now you see why I'm a writer and not a mathematician.
It has been a while and I'm still greatfull for all of your insights.
(I'm also greatful you're not a mathematician, Rik ;) We would miss your insights in here.)