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Screenwriting Glossary of Terms

Words Matter

Every stage of filmmaking employs its own rich set of jargon. These 500+ terms cover the bare bones of the language screenwriters will run into along their writing journey. This list doesn’t include every camera angle, just the few you might need in your scripts. Nor does it drill down into every nuanced subgenre. It does attempt to mention the terms you might run into in a screenwriting forum or while self-studying via various blogs. Once you become familiar with these expressions, you’ll find both your reading and conversations about screenwriting run smoother, and you’ll be more confident hopping onto online groups with better-informed questions.

Did we miss anything obvious? Get one wrong? Let us know: info@badassbeatboards.com

(beat)

A pause in dialogue or action (and, usually, an unnecessary parenthetical). Use sparingly, if at all

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(CONT’D)

Short for CONTINUED. Used in a screenplay beside a character’s dialogue label when an action block b

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(O.C.)

This abbreviation for off-camera is used in television screenwriting. Feature writers typically use

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(O.S.)

Off-screen. Not the same as V.O., which means Voiceover. O.S. is an extension, to the right of a cha

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(subtitled)

Used in parentheticals below the character’s name when the dialogue is in another language. No need

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(V.O.)

Voice Over. An extension inserted to the right of a character’s name to indicate the speaker is unse

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A-List

Usually refers to top-tier, highly bankable acting and directing talent. See Talent.

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Act

Feature films typically follow a three-Act structure (Beginning,

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That's all folks...