How to Read a Script Quickly and Efficiently

A script is the structural bones of a film, television program or stage production. A script or screenplay has dialogue, scene descriptions and directions. It does not have the same descriptive components like a novel. Similar to an outline, a script needs to be read as something that will be performed. If you are working on a production or deciding whether you want to work on it yourself read a script quickly and efficiently by first understanding its format.

Step 1

Understand the basic format of a script. A script has acts, which break it up into a beginning, middle and end. The acts are broken into scenes, where the action takes place, and the scenes contain short descriptions and dialogue from the characters. Writers may also add directions for the actors. Once you understand the format, you can read it more quickly.

Step 2

Read the first ten pages and the last ten pages of the script first. By reading the beginning you understand the set up of the film. Then read the last few pages so you understand what the outcome is. It will help you read the middle section more efficiently. You will look for the plot structure that leads you towards the finale.

Step 3

Pinpoint turning points in the screenplay and mark them in the script with a pen. Turning points are when something happens in the plot to change its direction. For example, in the movie "Erin Brokovich," the first turning point is when she forces Ed Masry, the lawyer to give her a job. This creates an opportunity for her and it changes the direction of the story. Hollywood scripts usually have five turning points. Marking them, helps you break down the script for easier reading.

Step 4

Read through the scene descriptions and dialogue carefully. Visualize as you read the script. Using care to read it the first time through means you will not have to reread any sections you skimmed over. You will lose out on important details when you skim to quickly.

Step 5

Write notes in the margins of the script rather than separately. This will help find your notes more quickly rather than using a notebook or scrap paper would. Choose a pen color that stands out against the black print of the script, such as red.


Choose a location to read where you can give the script your undivided attention.


Open up the script's binding so you can read each page separately, rather than trying to crease the script open.


Read lots of scripts. The more familiar you are with script reading, the more efficient a script reader you will be. You will understand what to look for in a good script and how to see it visually in your head.

If you read too quickly, you may not read it properly.

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