How to write and structuring a short film story.


writing short film story

Before we even jump into any topic related to writing short-film scripts, let’s make it clear that this post is about structuring your idea or concept into a story and  not writing its screenplay which you will learn in the coming chapter.


It is not a good idea to try to fit a full length feature film idea into a short film because a full length feature film has a 3 act structure and a short film does not have enough run time to explain it that way. So, the key to writing a short movie story is to keep it simple and only write what needs to be known in a clear and detailed manner. At first, we need to understand what a story is. The story of a short film can be defined as a structure that throws light upon characters (can be either fictional or non-fictional) in the story and events related to them for entertainment. Or it can be simply described as the transformation of a character from what he was in the beginning to what he becomes at the end. A simple example would be, "A story of a man chasing his dream". The following tips can act as a short guide of writing short film stories; you can use them to properly structure your story to write a great short film.


If you’re a beginner short filmmaker and do not know how to write an award winning short film story, don't worry we've got your back. Here, we will explain all the points or formulas that professional short filmmakers use while writing their short film story. But before we start writing the story; let's make some things clear, so that we are on the same page.

>> Ask yourself a question; are you really serious about this?

>> Many beginner filmmakers make the mistake of making their short film which depends entirely on the VFX editing. This is the same mistake that we (as beginners) made when we first entered into scene of filmmaking; and we ended up losing a lot of money. So if you are into special effect, then use them instead as a bonus to your short film and not as the base. The base should always be its story.


Structuring Story Of a Short Film.

Unlike feature film's 3-act structure, short film's plot structure is pretty simple. It has three stages: a beginning, middle and an end. So, if you have an idea or concept for a short film, you will have to write its story in these three stages. Let's understand each of their importance.

> Beginning - This is the most important part of your short film because this is where you either lose your audience or connect with them. It is the part where your viewers should understand what your story is about. So make it an interesting one

> Middle - Let's say you are making a 5 minute short film. Do not just make its beginning interesting and leave the other part boring. Keep in mind that people buy tickets for feature films and watch them completely even if they are not that good, this is not the case is with short films. So try to keep your audience engaged during its middle part too.

> End – “If end is good, all is good.” Remember, even though you have successfully implemented the first two parts, your audience will still be judging you based upon the ending of your film. If it is good, so is the film. And if it is bad, so is the film. Try to make it an interesting one.

Now, you have understood the importance of these three parts. Let’s learn a few more terms.

In order to write a new good short film story, you will need three things on a very simplistic level: Protagonist, Antagonist (or Conflict) and a Goal.

short stories for short films
The Protagonist is the main character around whom the whole plot is revolving.

writing short films
An Antagonist (or Conflict) is a person or situation that makes the audience to doubt whether that protagonist will be successful in the end or not.

how to write a film story
Goal is what protagonist is trying to do or achieve.



Another term you'll need to understand is "Plot". Plot is a literary term used to describe the events that make up a story. These events or storylines are related to each other in a pattern or a sequence. For instance, a probable story plot can revolve around a young boy who is trying to follow his dreams. Since, you’re now familiar with all these important terms; you can start writing your own short film story.


Timing For Short Films.

Now, coming back to our topic, you should try to setup your short film in the first 60 seconds based on film story, if not, there is a good chance that you'll lose your audience's attention. For instance, if you are writing a ten-minute short film, you can't take the first 5 minutes just to introduce your characters. Some points to keep in mind are: to avoid opening credits, unless, you have famous people in your film; keep the title sequences short and make the character do something interesting at the very start of the film like an argument or put him in a tense situation powered by film story.



Then, the next thing you'll need to do is to create the conflict as soon as possible. Try to develop the conflict in one main scene. Let’s say, your short film is less than five-minutes long, then one conflict should be enough if not then you can add more (but try to stay from overdoing it). After that, make sure that your conflict grows effectively with every action that your protagonist takes in order to overcome it. You can also add a mid-plot twist to the story, if you have an interesting one.


At last, we have the climax which has to be the best part of your short film because this is the time when all the conflicts comes to an end and the entire story has been building up to it. The audience has been waiting for it and most likely, they are going to judge you and remember you based upon it. So, make sure it is an interesting one.


What Is Micro - Films ?

Since, there are different genres of feature films and short films; there exists a different type of short film called Micro film. A micro film is a film with runtime around one minute or less in like commercials. The trick to write this one is, to establish a character, establish a problem; character acts on problem and result could either be success or failure. Micro short films can also be promoted and published on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. This makes micro movies easy to access, widely available and higher probability to go viral.

Well, that's it on how to write and structuring a short film story. If you like this article, then please share it. And, if you have any suggestions, then comment them down below, so, that we can add them in our content and help others.

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