How to Break Down a Script or Side FAST!

Ever wondered what method is right? There are so many methods for breaking down a script, each one claiming helpfulness. In the end, you get so frustrated you decide that the thousands of years people have been breaking down scripts have been stupid and that you're going to start a rebellion so you don't have to deal with them anymore(!!!).

Well, I've got some good and bad news for you.  The bad is; I've got yet another method for you. The good? It's made up of probably hundreds of other methods I've heard of over the years. 

The only difference between this and others is - I don't claim that I've got the right one. I've just got a one. Use it or don't. You're still a good person if you don't. 

Now on to the method:

Analyzing a Script:


1. Find my Fighting For (has to rely on the other person in the scene, or else it becomes boring)

A Fighting For is what you want in a scene. It's quite literally what you are Fighting For. Your fighting for can't be something like "to be right" or "to seem cool", because that doesn't involve the other person/people in the scene, at least not directly. A strong Fighting For would be something like "I want to convince the other person to go out with me while showing him that I see through his petty excuses." This involves the other person directly and is easy to determine by just looking at a scene once. If the other person isn't involved in the fighting for, it becomes boring and disconnected. 

Make sure to react to the choices the other actor makes as the character would. And don't stay stuck on your reactions. Maybe the other actor doesn't say their lines the way you planned. It's unprofessional to correct them (that's the directors' job), so instead of changing their performance, change yours. You could even make changing it a bit comedic. In real life, we often plan the way we will say things before we say them, and it almost new goes to plan. You could visibly express your disappointment in the change (although make sure you aren't expressing it as you but as the character) and make it comedic.

 An acting book that I suggest that uses the idea of a Fighting For (and from which I got most of this step) is How to Make you Audience Fall in Love with You. You can find it on Amazon for Kindle. As a plus it's also a Kindle Unlimited Book, so you can read it (and many others) for free with a monthly subscription. I promise that this isn't sponsored - I just really like my acting books.

 2. Go through each sentence in the script and associate a picture and opinion, or an experience and opinion

 Each word that's a thing (stop sign, river, street, person, lampost, vehicle, teddybear, bed, etc.), associate a visual with it. If it's a stop sign, every time you get to that word, visualize the same stop sign. 

 If it's a feeling, emotion, or something that isn't visual, associate an opinion with it. Maybe your character likes the feeling of anger because he or she feels powerful when they are feeling that emotion. Maybe they hate crying because it makes them feel weak. Maybe they dislike sun because the love of their life broke up with them on a perfect sunny day. Now everyone calls them a vampire. Make it interesting. Dare to be different.


  1. For each sentence assess which of the 7 universal emotions are used. Make this broad, and don’t box yourself in too much, otherwise, your instinct will never be able to kick in and your mind will get too used to the same thing all the time

 Anger, Fear, Disgust, Contempt, Joy, Sadness, Surprise. Everyone, no matter where they are in the world, knows and has expressed each of these emotions at least once in their life. It's universal. It's in our human programming. So these are the emotions you need to master. The best book in the world for learning this is Acting Face to Face (Book 1 explains why, Book 2 explains how). It's also on Amazon and also Kindle Unlimited. Even if you don't read the book, do this step. Just write down which universal emotion is used. Don't write down which variation of the universal emotion, otherwise you will box yourself in. This is especially helpful for Shakespeare.

  1. Figure out what you are reacting to, why you are reacting to it, and how you react to it.

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but also pretty darn (excuse my French) important. 

  1. Decide what happened before the scene, and that will set the stage for the emotions you feel, even. This helps because instead of just expressing the emotions about a particular sentence, and only expressing it about that sentence, you may have a lingering emotion from a different part of the day that comes into the scene.

 Again, self explanatory.

  1. NEVER think about what happens after the scene. In real life, we never know what happens next, and although we may ponder over what might happen soon, we are usually pretty in the moment. 
  2. Find a song for that character if you are working on it for longer than a day.

One thing that I find helpful is finding a song that you think fits the character. Just like couples have an "our song" and sometimes people have a "my song" that they feel connects to their inner being. Find a song like that for this character. This is optional but extremelly helpful. If you find a song for the person, listening to it can help you get into character. Millie Bobby Brown does this with Eleven from Stanger Things, and you can see her performances are moving.


I hoped this help you all! 

Filed Under: Acting Theatre Break Down A Script Script Character Art Arts Drama Script Method

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Name: Abigail
Uploaded Date: Jul 07,2018

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