Here, you’d find some of the numerous screenwriting terminologies and their actual meaning used in the screenwriting world, and they are arranged alphabetically.
ADAPT: To write a screenplay from a pre-existing story.
ANTAGONIST: The character used by the screenwriter to inflict pain on the main character.
BACK TO: This is a transition that is used when going back to a scene that was left for another scene.
BACK TO PRESENT DAY: This is an indication that a character has finished remembering past events and he/she is back to reality.
BEAT: Indicates a short pause.
CHARACTER: This is an imaginary person in a story.
COMMISSIONED SCRIPT: This is a screenplay written by a screenwriter who has been paid to write.
CONTINUOUS: The movement of a character’s action from one scene to another without interruption in time.
CUT TO: A quick switch in scenes.
DIALOGUE: This is the conversation that goes on between the characters.
DOUBLE BEAT: Indicates a longer pause.
EXT.: This means exterior; it simply means the scene should be shot outside.
FICTION: This is a story that isn’t based on facts. It is a fabricated and untrue story.
FADE IN: This is used at the beginning of a screenplay. It means the shot should be brought in slowly from complete darkness to a normal scene.
FADE OUT: This is used at the end of a screenplay. It means the shot should be taken out slowly from a complete scene to darkness.
FLASHBACK: This is used whenever a character wants to remember a past event.
FORESHADOW: The hint a screenwriter gives for a future event.
INSERT: This is used when the screenwriter wishes to direct the shot to something very important in the scene mostly inanimate objects like: a wall clock, a ring that fell on the floor, a piece of paper, etc.
INT.: This means interior; it simply means the scene should be shot inside.
I/E (INT./EXT.): This means in that particular scene, the camera will be taking shots from the inside (interior) and outside (exterior).
INCITING INCIDENT: This is a stirred-up event that destabilizes the protagonist.
INTERCUT WITH: This is a transition that takes us back and forth between two or more scenes.
LATER: This is the passage of a long time period.
LOCATION: The entire environment that is considered for shots to take place.
LOGLINE: A brief summary of a screenplay in one sentence which stimulates the interest of the reader.
MAIN CHARACTER: The character that is affected by the decision of the protagonist.
MOMENTS LATER: This is the passage of a short time period.
MONTAGE: The sequence of brief actions.
NON-FICTION: This is a story that is based on facts (A true-life story).
O.S. / O.C.: This means off-screen (O.S.) and off-camera (O.C,). This is used when an off-shot character speaks to an in-shot character.
OUTLINE: A scene-by-scene breakdown of a story.
PLOT: The sequence of events used to tell a story.
Read: How To Foreshadow.
PROTAGONIST: A character used by the screenwriter to push a story forward through the decisions he/she makes.
QUERY: This is a written pitch.
SCENE: A scene is a particular place in a location where an event is to be shot.
SCREENWRITER: A person who writes a screenplay.
SCREENPLAY: A written breakdown of a story into scenes for a motion picture with instructions from the screenwriter.
SHOOTING SCRIPT: This is the director’s and the cinematographer’s copy. The shooting script is a more complex script because all the shot has been planned on it so that shooting can be easier and faster.
SLUG LINE: A group of block letters that begins a scene.
SPEC/SPECULATIVE SCRIPT: A spec script also known as a speculative script is a screenplay written without being paid to write, but it’s written with the intention of selling after writing.
STORY: The sequence of real or fictional events.
SUBTEXT: An underlying meaning of dialogue.
SUPER: This is the short form for superimpose. Whenever it’s seen in a screenplay, it means whatever is written there should be displayed on top of the shot. For example: Two Years Later, One Month Later, etc.
SYNOPSIS: A brief summary of the major points of a screenplay.
V.O.: This means voice over; it’s used when a character seen on screen says what’s in his/her mind without his/her mouth moving, it can be used when a character is remembering what another character said, and it can also be used when a character’s voice is heard over the phone, radio or walkie-talkie.
Read: How To Write A Logline.