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How to Write a Sci-Fi Screenplay
By Carl Hose
OverviewScience fiction, or sci-fi, movies have been popular almost since movie making began. The genre's popularity grew in the 1950's with an influx of on-screen martians. "Alien," "Terminator," and the eerie "Cloverfield" are examples of the varied subject matter of science fiction today. Fans of this genre are more discriminating than ever. Any sci-fi movie today needs to include deeper characterization and requires great storytelling that often makes use of elements from other genres as well, including horror. Learn how to write a sci-fi screenplay that will keep today's moviegoers on the edge of their seats.
Step 1Outline your story first. You can do this on index cards or note paper, or you can do it in your screenwriting software. Most screenwriting software has some type of story development tool that will help you outline your story. Your outline doesn't need to be detailed.
Step 2Introduce your protagonist (the good character ) early on and show him or her in everyday life to establish character. Good characters are as essential to science fiction movies as they are to any screenplay.
Step 3Establish the science behind your story. It doesn't need to be an alien invasion. The sci-fi genre encompasses a wide range of possibilities. Your story may have something to do with a biological threat or killer robots. There needs to be a science element to your script and it needs to be established as a driving force behind the story early on.
Step 4Keep the hard science to a minimum. Unlike a novel, screenwriting doesn't allow you to delve into deep explanations. A screenplay's end result is the big screen, where action and dialogue are king. Write a good story with scientific elements that you don't need to explain to your audience.
Step 5Format your screenplay properly. Like most screenwriters, you will no doubt use one of the many screenwriting programs on the market that format for you automatically (see Resources). It's still a good idea to have a basic understanding of the elements of a script. Keep a screenwriting style guide handy for reference (see Resources).