First Draft: Wield These Tips To Conceive, Write, and Format Your Feature-Length Musical

How to Catch Attention With Your Musical Numbers

The sole antidote to a lengthy musical screenplay is to write strong lyrics that read as poetry. That is when knowing what your story is really about matters most, because you will be able to communicate your musical’s themes in a way movies running solely on dialogue can not.

When you view the script for the live-action Beauty and the Beast, the format is close to the same, but instead of having the lyrics in ALL CAPS, the screenwriters decided to use italics to denote singing:

The difference between the two is subtle. From a script-read perspective, the ALL CAPS option stands out more, but can get overbearing to read if a long song is present.

The shooting script for Disney’s animated feature Frozen offered an addition option as well:

The writers used both ALL CAPS and blue text to convey the song lyric moments.

Between those three examples, there is no clear right or wrong way to present the lyrics. The clear objective is to allow for the best read possible, where the reader can differentiate between spoken dialogue and song lyrics in easy fashion.

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1 Comment

  1. C W Jones

    November 29, 2018 at 6:06 am

    “La La Land is about sacrificing everything to follow your dreams.

    Frozen is about being yourself and not being ashamed of it.

    Les Misérables is about love and redemption.”

    What a bonehead observation as these examples can be applied to a plethora of different films. This observation steps into the aughts.

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