Guides & Resources
Glossary for Screenwriting Terms
This is the central character in the script who lacks the conventional heroic attributes.
Archetypal Characters
Similar to allegorical characters, with their motifs usually rooted in folklore, archetypal characters represent an ideal or symbolic image such as love, malice, forgiveness, wisdom, etc.
Atmosphere is the impression created by the mood of a setting.
Audience Awareness
Awareness of your audience is an essential element in screenwriting. So much of how a writer writes the script is determined by how he or she wants the audience to be involved. Should the audience know before the character, after, at the same time? How much advertising should be given? How do scenes of preparation and aftermath involve the audience? What about mystery and suspense? When should the something be delayed or revealed?
b.g. is used to describe anything occurring in the background or rear plane of the foreground action. Always use this term in lower case initials. For example: Jim kisses Sarah as the hot air baloon takes off in the b.g.

The camera reverts to its original shot position from another


Any action or object(s) which is secondary to the main action and which appears far away to the main action, and which serves as a backdrop for that action. Usually abbreviated in lowercase letters with periods after each letter.

Backstory is the historical background information that the writer creates for a character. Important backstory should never be telegraphed or force fed; it should come out organically through conflict, humor, and/or believable exposition.

In a screenplay, this term is used to indicate a pause in a character's speech or action. Also refers to actions or incidents within scenes.

Writers will sometimes use the parenthetical (beat) to interrupt a line of dialogue. Always written in lower case, a (beat) suggests that the actor should pause a moment before continuing the scene.