Script development: Defining the field

Craig Batty, Stayci Taylor, Louise Sawtell, Bridget Conor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
1076 Downloads (Pure)


Through an extensive survey of the field, this article asks, what is script development? How is it defined in industry discourse and in screenwriting scholarship? While definitions of script development can be found across the spectrum of screenwriting and screen production resources, ranging from the instructional guidelines offered by funding bodies to references in the how-to market, the article posits that academic scholarship on the practice is still emerging. As such, this article seeks to establish a platform from which we can both define and conceive of further research into script development - however it might be named, practiced and studied - possibly as a sub-discipline of screenwriting studies and/or central to the study of screenwriting practice. The article brings together extant definitions and documented experiences of script development, to offer a basis from which to discuss both academic and practice-based approaches to the phenomenon. While not suggesting that the practice of script development should be standardized or limited by definition, the article does argue for the importance of investigating the available definitions and identifying the gaps in literature. By seeking out the various angles and overlaps of those researching in this field, the article proposes to begin a conversation and invite further research around what script development is and looks like in various international contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-247
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Screenwriting
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • Literature review
  • Screen industry
  • Screenwriting
  • Screenwriting practice
  • Screenwriting research
  • Script development


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