Someone recently called me a scriptwriter, and I didn’t appreciate that at all. Yes, I write scripts, but I’m always specific about the kind I write; they are called SCREENPLAYS.
If you’re ever going to graduate from local film making, the first step to achieving that is naming yourself appropriately. There are tons of reasons this is important, and it’s got a lot to do with disambiguation.
The unclear reasoning of “what kind?” could possibly faze an individual when the word scriptwriter (or scriptwriting, or script) is used to describe what a person is (or practices, or creates). This is because (s)he could think you’re one of these:
Calling yourself a screenwriter is the most appropriate way to introduce yourself if you’re one. This is a craft like no other as it entails indulging in deep research and techniques that are generally intertwined. It is only in a screenwriter’s script (screenplay) that you find tons of scenes and advanced cross referencing. It is only in this art that one page equals one minute on screen. You’re a screenwriter, not just a scriptwriter.
This can be very confusing, because both crafts do make use of a lot of similar terminologies. However, there are many major differences:
- A screenplay has many scenes (could be up to 80 scenes); a stage-play may just stop at 5.
- A screenplay uses Courier typeface; a stage play doesn’t
- A screenplay is required to show and not tell; a stage play is the other way around.
- A screenplay is for motion pictures; a stage play is for static stage.
- A screenplay can explore a number of genres; a stage play is drama.
When a screenwriter calls himself a scriptwriter, people automatically think that he is a copywriter as well. Although, this is not always the case, I never saw a successful screenwriter who was interested in copywriting as well. Copywriting is a different art. A copywriter writes scripts for adverts and radio jingles. They depend more on unique ideas than advanced execution skills. A screenwriter, on the other hand, depends more on the craft (execution) than ideas (which will always come anyway).
A screenwriting scriptwriter calling himself a scriptwriter could be mistaken for a programmer. You don’t go to an IT office and introduce yourself as a scriptwriter; they’d automatically take you for an eccentric programmer who doesn’t know his name. Those templates they create using html, css and php or whatever formats they use are all called scripts. Be careful, so you’re not asked to create a template that you know nothing about!
A news scriptwriter
If you have no business with writing the script for a teleprompter that scrolls the news for the newscaster to read, then please, by all means, call yourself a more appropriate name. So that someone doesn’t call you the dreaded name, amateur, the day they happen to think you could help out in that sector.
A video game scriptwriter
This is not for you, Screeny. Yes, it requires story and dialogue, but first of all, master scriptwriting for movies before venturing elsewhere.
An audio-drama scriptwriter
If you’re not writing a script that uses the third person narrative (like a narrator); telling your story with descriptions of the surrounding; or setting the scene with dialogues all through, then don’t confuse people that might think you’re an audio-drama scriptwriter, rather than a screenwriter.
Yes, this is the name people that are in the game would call you when they aren’t sure what it is you’re into. This would happen when you are not focused and are just writing random scripts that do not qualify to be called screenplays. Yes, I’ve seen some script I didn’t know what name to call. It didn’t look like a screenplay, or a stage play, or a computer program, or an advert, or nothing. The FORMAT was nothing to write home about!
Having expatiated on why calling yourself a scriptwriter is so wrong, I’ll leave you with this:
Do the right thing; call yourself a screenwriter; know thy name!