Using Your Software to Automatically Format Lyrics

Whatever type of software you are using, there are likely options that allow you to create a new standard software element for writing lyrics within a screenplay. We use Final Draft as the initial example here.

You can create a Lyrics element to your specifications:

1. Go to Format > Elements

2. Click New

3. Call the new element Lyrics (or whatever you like)

4. Go through each tab setting—Basic, Font, and Paragraph, and customize the new element’s look and behavior (in the case of lyrics, you’ll want to set them to paginate as dialogue)

5. Click OK

The element will be added to the list of existing elements in the drop-down menu on the toolbar (FD8 for Mac shown here).

Different versions of Final Draft will vary, but rest assured knowing that most software will have an easy solution once you decide which type of format you’d like to use.

Non-Musical Formatting Applications

These format options offer you answers to not just writing feature length musical scripts. They can also be utilized to handle specific musical moments within your non-musical features as well.

If you have a character that is singing in the shower, you can use parenthesis to dictate that they are (singing), and then you can put the lyrics that are meant to be sung in ALL CAPS or italics, depending on your preference.

The same can be done when musical lyrics are featured as being heard onscreen from a radio or other device.

It’s Easier Than Most Think

Formatting music into screenplays can be a simple process. You always want to keep the general guidelines and expectations of screenplay format in mind, using subtle enhancement to convey those musical numbers and moments.

Just remember that the true struggle lies not within how you write those types of scripts and scenes, but why you are writing them in the first place and where you will be attempting to market them.

The musical genre is still somewhat of a niche market. Studios and production companies are still hesitant to make those types of films—unless major talent is already involved.

But know that if you truly feel compelled to write the next big musical feature—be it live-action or animated, all sung or integrated—it hopefully seems like a less daunting task after you’ve read this article. MM

This post originally appeared on the blog ScreenCraftScreenCraft is dedicated to helping screenwriters and filmmakers succeed through educational events, screenwriting competitions and the annual ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship program, connecting screenwriters with agents, managers and Hollywood producers. Follow ScreenCraft on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

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