Congratulations! Everyone “has a great idea” for a TV show or movie, but you’re actually doing something about it. Joining Arc Studio is the first step toward turning your idea into a script. This guide will walk you through the next few steps and help get you up and running toward the most blessed words in screenwriting: “THE END.”
If you haven’t already, learn the absolute basics about the screenplay formatting. This will teach you what Scene Headings, Actions, Characters, and Dialogue are, and how you write them stylistically. (We call each of these Elements.)
Then you can start with your first Scene Heading. Will the scene take place inside or outside? If inside, type
ext. Arc Studio will automatically convert it into a Scene Heading for you, which means it’s also auto-capitalized. Easy!
ext.tells Arc Studio you’re writing a Scene Heading. The line will be auto-formatted as such.
Continue with the location where the scene is happening (e.g.
Dolby Theater) followed by a dash
-. Now Arc Studio will give you a choice of common times of day. If you want “Day”, just hit
Enter. For another time of day, hit your keyboard’s down arrow
↓ or type the first letter, like
N for “Night” and hit
You’ve started your scene! Let’s keep the ball rolling. Arc Studio has put you on a brand new Action line. You can just continue typing, e.g.
We're at the 2028 Academy Awards. ANA DE ARMAS (39) and ROBERT PATTINSON (41) enter and walk toward a microphone. Robert is holding an envelope.
Return again and you will get a new Action line. However, we want Ana to start presenting the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. (Spoiler alert: You’re going to win. Are we pandering to our new user? Hell yeah, we are.)
⇥) to turn the Action into a Character element. Type
ana. (We handle the capitalization for you.)
Tabturns empty action elements into character elements.
Return , and you now have an empty dialogue line beneath Ana’s name. You can now type what you want her to say. Once you’re done with her lines, hit
Return and you go to a new empty character line. Now it’s Robert’s turn to talk. Type
robert and his name will be automatically capitalized, then hit
Return and write his dialogue.
Return after you finish writing his lines, and you’re back to an empty character line. You could have Ana speak again, or you could write an action line by hitting
Tabturns empty character elements into action elements.
You’ll notice that you only need to type the character’s name once. Arc Studio remembers the names and suggests them for you when you’re in a character element. Just click the name you want or select it with the arrow keys and hit
What if you want to specify how a character says a line? For instance, to indicate that they’re joking. You can do that with a Parenthetical. (Warning: Use these sparingly.) There are two easy ways to make a Parenthetical. You can either hit
Tab after writing the character name, or you can type
( in a dialogue line. Either way will take you to an empty parenthetical. Just type it, and then hit
Return to automatically go to that character’s dialogue line.
(We regret nothing.)
When you’re ready to write your next scene, just type
ext. in an action line and you have your next scene heading!
That’s it! As you saw, Arc Studio usually chooses the right element for you. You just have to hit
Tab on occasion to change between Character elements and Action elements. (Once you get the hang of things, you can also customize which kind of element follows another kind of element in the settings.)
A few other things…
- Want to adjust an element manually? Just hold down
Ctrl(Windows), or click the element icon in the left margin next to the paragraph. You will see the element menu to get full control.
- Want to make something bold or italic? Underlined? Just select the section you want to format and select the option want from the palette bar at the bottom of the page.
- Want all your scene headings to automatically be bold? Change it in the settings menu.
Arc Studio is designed for maximum flow: no need to browse through old-school formatting menus – everything is right where you need it, when you need it.
A final (important) piece of advice!
Now this might seem counterintuitive, but here is our final piece of advice for writing your first page: Don’t start writing your first page.
We can explain! We know you want to dive into it, but in the long run it’s going to save you a ton of headaches if first you figure out at least the general shape of your story before writing the script. That’s why we developed the Plot Board to make breaking your story and building your outline as simple and as intuitive as possible. To learn more how it works, check out our Plot Board Guide. (If you already figured out the shape of your story, great! You’re ahead of the game.)