Guides & Resources
Glossary for Screenwriting Terms
Tension is a mental, emotional strain for the viewer, a pleasurable anxiety or apprehension resulting from watching an uncertain, undecided, or mysterious situation. It consists of hope for a desired outcome and simultaneously, fear that the opposite will happen.
Theme is the meaning of the experience that we have just watched.
Third Act Twist
The third act twist is a surprising, yet explainable and motivated change in the direction of the action of the overall story line and new third act tension. This moment occurs at the end of the seventh sequence in the middle of the third act.
A twist (or reversal) is a surprising, yet explainable and motivated change in the direction of the action - either within a scene, a sequence, or in the overall story line.

Camera shot of two people, usually from the waist up.

Unity is the state of being united or joined as a whole, and when it comes to structure all the parts - acts, sequences, plot points - must work together to make an understandable whole.

Voice-over (V.O.) is seen next to a CHARACTER’S name in all CAPS and inside a parenthetical before a specific piece of dialogue. It is a technique where an off-camera voice is used to deliver commentary. The voice-over may be spoken by a character that appears in the film elsewhere or by an omniscient narrator. A less common use of voice-over occurs when the (V.O.) is delivered by a character who is in the scene and engaged in non-dialogue action.

Vertical Reading
Scripts that invite vertical reading have a lot of white space, which helps the reader to skim quickly, shot by shot, and see the film as the writer envisioned it.
Show, don’t tell. Screenwriting is a visual medium; therefore, the writer must avoid explaining to the audience. The screenwriter must reveal information bit by bit, allowing the audience to become active participants as they experience the story. The screenwriter is the first director of the film, and it is his or her job to direct the reader’s mind to imagine that film, shot by shot, scene by scene, image by image.
A Character Extension in which a character’s voice is heard over a scene, as in narration, a tape-recorded voice, or a voice heard over the phone. Always abbreviated in capital letters with periods after each letter and enclosed in parentheses next to the Character Name, capitalized and spelled out in the script.