Short Film Creation: 9 Essential Storytelling Tips
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. Focus on One Central Theme
  2. Create Relatable Characters
  3. Keep the Plot Simple
  4. Show, Don't Tell
  5. Use Visuals to Enhance the Story
  6. Ensure Pacing and Timing Are on Point
  7. Emphasize on Conflict and Resolution
  8. Prioritize Sound Design
  9. End with an Impactful Conclusion

Creating a short film is like cooking a mouth-watering dish. The right ingredients can make all the difference. One of the key ingredients is the writing. And if you're wondering how to use writing for a short film, you're in the right place. This blog will serve as your guide, offering you 9 storytelling tips to help transform your writing into a visually captivating short film.

Focus on One Central Theme

Imagine trying to weave a tale about aliens, pirates, and robots — all in one short film. Sounds chaotic, right? That's why it's wise to focus on one central theme. It's like deciding on the main ingredient for your dish. You want to pick something that will shine through, something that will leave your audience savoring the taste.

But how to use writing for a short film to focus on one central theme? Here's a simple step-by-step guide:

  1. Choose Your Theme: Start by choosing a theme that inspires you. It could be anything, from friendship to technological advancement. Remember, this is the main ingredient of your film.
  2. Develop Your Story Around the Theme: Once you have your theme, start building your story around it. Every scene, every dialogue should in some way connect to this theme.
  3. Keep Referencing the Theme: Throughout your film, keep reminding your audience of the central theme. It's like adding a splash of the main ingredient every now and then to enhance the flavor.

By focusing on one central theme, you give your short film a clear direction. It's like a compass guiding every scene, every character, and every dialogue. So, next time you wonder how to use writing for a short film, remember to pick your theme first. The rest of the ingredients can follow.

Create Relatable Characters

Just as our lives are filled with people who touch our hearts, our stories must also have characters who strike a chord with the audience. You see, characters are like the spices in your dish. Too bland, and they'll be forgettable; too overpowering, and they can overshadow the main ingredient—your theme. The trick is to create characters that are just right—relatable.

So, how to use writing for a short film to create relatable characters? Here's your recipe:

  1. Make Them Real: Real people have flaws, hopes, fears, and dreams. Your characters should too. Don't shy away from showing their vulnerabilities. This is what makes them human, what makes them relatable.
  2. Let Them Grow: People change, and so should your characters. Show their journey, their evolution. This not only keeps the audience engaged but also helps them connect with the characters on a deeper level.
  3. Give Them a Voice: Every character has a unique voice. It reflects their personality, their background, their emotions. Use dialogues to bring out this voice. Remember, it's not just about what they say, but how they say it.

Creating relatable characters is one of the most crucial steps in the journey of filmmaking. It's what brings your story to life, what makes your audience care. So, when you're wondering how to use writing for a short film, remember to give your characters the attention they deserve. After all, they are the spices that add flavor to your dish.

Keep the Plot Simple

Imagine a roller coaster ride. It has its ups and downs, twists and turns, adrenaline-pumping moments and periods of calm. The journey is thrilling, but the track is simple and straightforward. The same principle applies when you figure out how to use writing for a short film. Keep your plot simple.

We all love a good twist in the tale, but in a short film, you have a limited time to tell your story. Throw in too many twists and turns, and you might lose your audience in the maze. So, how can you keep your plot simple yet intriguing?

  1. Stick to One Central Idea: The heart of your story is your central idea. Keep your focus on it. Don't let subplots distract you or your audience from the main theme.
  2. Minimize Characters: Every character comes with their own set of subplots. Limit the number of characters to avoid complicating the plot.
  3. Limit Time and Space: By confining your story to a specific time and place, you can keep the plot streamlined and easy to follow.

Keeping your plot simple doesn't mean it has to be boring. Remember, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. A simple plot, told effectively, can create a lasting impact. So, when you're exploring how to use writing for a short film, aim for simplicity. As they say, less is more.

Show, Don't Tell

Have you ever heard the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words?" Well, it's never been truer than when you're figuring out how to use writing for a short film. In a short film, you're working with a canvas that's as much visual as it is narrative. So, the key here is to show, not tell.

But what does "show, don't tell" mean? It's not about playing charades or turning your film into a silent movie. It's about conveying emotions, developing characters, and advancing your plot through visual cues and actions, rather than lengthy dialogues or narrations. It's about letting your audience infer and interpret, rather than spoon-feeding them every detail.

  1. Use Visuals: If your character is angry, show it through their expressions, body language, or actions. You don't need a dialogue saying, "I am angry."
  2. Use Actions: Actions speak louder than words. Show your character's traits through what they do, not what they say or think.
  3. Use Symbolism: A picture, a color, or an object can hold symbolic value and add layers of meaning to your story.

Remember, film is a visual medium. So, when you're learning how to use writing for a short film, make sure you're not just telling a story, but showing it. After all, seeing is believing, right?

Use Visuals to Enhance the Story

When you consider how to use writing for a short film, remember that your words are just a blueprint. The real magic happens when your words come to life through visuals. A well-crafted visual can say more than a page of dialogue, and that's what makes film such a unique storytelling medium. So, let’s explore ways to enhance your story with visuals.

  1. Set Design: A character's surroundings can tell us a lot about who they are. A messy room may hint at a disorganized person, while a minimalist, clean space might suggest someone disciplined and meticulous.
  2. Color Palette: Colors can evoke emotions and set the mood. Bright colors might suggest a happy, upbeat scene, while darker shades could indicate something more serious or somber.
  3. Lighting: Lighting can dramatically impact how a scene is perceived. Soft, warm lighting might set a romantic mood, while hard, stark lighting could create tension or fear.
  4. Camera Angles: How you position your camera can drastically change how your audience perceives a scene. A low-angle shot might make a character appear dominant or intimidating, while a high-angle shot could make them seem vulnerable or insignificant.

So, the next time you ask yourself how to use writing for a short film, remember, your script is just the beginning. Your visuals are what bring your story to life, making it memorable and impactful. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, isn't it?

Ensure Pacing and Timing Are on Point

Picturing how to use writing for a short film can be tricky, especially when it comes to pacing and timing. Think of your short film as a rollercoaster ride. You want to take your audience up and down, through twists and turns, and keep them on the edge of their seats.

  1. Start Fast: With short films, there's no time to dilly-dally. You want to grip your audience from the get-go. So, dive straight into the story. You can always reveal background information later on.
  2. Be Consistent: Ensure that your pacing matches the tone of your story. If it's a thriller, keep the tension high and the pace quick. If it's a drama, slow down and let the emotion seep in.
  3. Time Your Climax: Timing is everything. Make sure you reach your climax at the right moment to maximize impact. Too early and your audience might lose interest; too late and they might feel dragged along.
  4. Wrap Up Well: Don't rush the end. Give your audience time to digest what happened, tie up loose ends, and leave them satisfied.

Remember, crafting a short film is like conducting a symphony — it's all about controlling the tempo. Master this, and you're well on your way to telling a compelling story. So, how is your conductor's baton feeling now?

Emphasize on Conflict and Resolution

How to use writing for a short film effectively? One word: conflict. It's the engine that drives your story forward and keeps the audience hooked. Without conflict, your film is like a car without fuel - it's not going anywhere.

Start by introducing a problem that your main character must overcome. This could be an external force like a villain, or an internal struggle like fear or self-doubt. This conflict should be clear, relatable, and engaging.

  1. Create a Clear Conflict: Your conflict should be simple and easy to understand. It can be as simple as a cat stuck up a tree, or as complex as a love triangle. The key is to make it clear and compelling.
  2. Build Tension: As your story progresses, the conflict should intensify. This builds tension and keeps your audience engaged. Think of it like stretching a rubber band - the more you stretch it, the more tension it has.
  3. Resolve the Conflict: Every conflict needs a resolution. This is where your character overcomes their problem. It's the climax of your story and should be dramatic and satisfying.

By emphasizing conflict and resolution, you'll create a short film that's engaging, compelling, and memorable. So, what's the conflict in your story? And more importantly, how will it be resolved?

Prioritize Sound Design

Picture this: You're in a dark room, popcorn in hand, eyes glued to the screen. The characters are engaging, the visuals are stunning, but something's missing. It's silent. Suddenly, the importance of sound in storytelling becomes clear. It's the unsung hero of short film creation, and knowing how to use writing for a short film also includes writing effective sound design.

Use Sound to Enhance the Story: Sound design isn't just about adding background noise. It's a tool to enhance your story. A creaking door can build suspense, while a soft lullaby can signify tranquility. Each sound has a purpose, and it's your job as the writer to determine what that is.

Convey Emotions through Sound: Sound can evoke powerful emotions. The sound of rain can create a sense of melancholy, while a lively tune can make your audience feel joy. Use this to your advantage to heighten the emotions in your story.

Consider the Silence: Silence, when used effectively, can be just as powerful as sound. It can symbolize emptiness, shock, or anticipation. Don't be afraid to let your audience sit in silence - it can often speak louder than words.

So, next time you're writing for a short film, don't forget about sound design. It's not just an afterthought; it's an essential part of your storytelling toolkit. And remember, the silence can be just as meaningful as the sound.

End with an Impactful Conclusion

So, you've made it to the final act of your short film script. But how do you wrap everything up? The conclusion of your story holds a lot of weight. It's the final impression you leave with your audience, and it can make or break how they feel about your film. Here's how to use writing for a short film to create a memorable ending.

Call Back to the Beginning: One powerful way to end your story is by referencing something from the start of your film. This creates a sense of closure and continuity, and can provide a satisfying conclusion for your audience.

Surprise Your Audience: Unexpected endings can be highly memorable. While you don't want to throw in a twist without any build-up, a well-executed plot twist can leave your audience in awe and keep them thinking about your film long after it's over.

Leave Them with a Question: If you want to spark discussion about your film, consider ending with a thought-provoking question. This doesn't have to be a literal question, but something that leaves your audience pondering.

Remember, the end of your film is your final chance to leave an impact on your audience. Make it count. Whether you choose to tie everything up with a neat bow, leave your audience in shock, or provoke thought, ensure it aligns with the story you have told. After all, the ending is the last thing your audience will remember, so make it a good one.

If you're excited about creating your own short film and want to improve your storytelling skills, don't miss Jessy Moussallem's workshop, 'Scriptwriting.' This workshop will walk you through the essential elements of crafting a compelling script, helping you bring your unique vision to life on screen.