What is a Script Writer?

Written by 90 Seconds
Last updated: October 4, 2023
What is a Script Writer?

If you’ve ever watched a movie or television show and cringed at the clunky dialogue or poor plot development, thinking to yourself “I could do better than that,” script writing or screenwriting may be a viable career path.

This primarily freelance role can provide you with job flexibility and the opportunity to work on a variety of unique and interesting projects while flexing your creative muscles.

Read on to learn more about some of the primary and secondary roles for which a script writer can be responsible, along with some of the skills and abilities that can make each of these roles the perfect career choice for a certain personality.

Primary roles

Show runner

The show runner is essentially the head scripter, holding creative control over the entire production (or sharing this control with the video producer).

In some cases, the show runner may be responsible for much of the show’s scripting, giving the scripts over to subordinate staff writers to make the finishing touches.

In other situations, the show runner may essentially be the final editor, working over the staff writers’ material before it’s distributed to the actors.

Some sitcom or drama staff writers eventually work their way up to this higher-level position after years of script writing.

Feature film screenwriter

The role of a film writer in the video production industry can be a solitary one – in many cases, the stereotype of the brilliant but isolated writer who is essentially left in peace to write (other than the occasional edit request) is fairly accurate.

Film screenwriters may either adapt a screenplay from a book, short story, or other written work or compose it themselves, sometimes with input from the director or producer.

The more well-known and well-regarded the writer, the less the director or producer is likely to intervene in the scripting process.

Secondary roles

Sitcom staff writer

Sitcom or comedy writing can be very different from other types of script writing due to the tight deadlines and collaborative environment.

Often, a group of writers will spend long workdays around a table, tossing ideas back and forth and hashing out script language.

This type of fast-paced work environment can be appealing to many, but some writers who tend more toward introversion could find the constant interpersonal stimulation to be draining.

Script "doctor"

Often, a final script will need to be modified on set – whether redoing dialogue that reads well but doesn’t sound quite right when spoken aloud or even combining several characters into one.

Some production companies will outsource the script writing process (or simply purchase already-written scripts for production) but employ a script doctor to make the final tweaks during filming.

This can be the ideal role for a writer who pays fine attention to detail and has a talent for improvisation.