Number scenes & renumber scenes in a drama screenplay. Here is how-to!

Correctly number, add, delete, move and renumber scenes in a shooting script
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Number scenes and renumber scenes in a drama script. Here is how to!

To be easy to grasp both for the production team and for the Dramatify app, you must number scenes, renumber scenes and number-when-moving in a certain way that follows the American Screenwriting standard.

Number scenes in a screenplay

The first rule of numbering scenes in a shooting script is that they communicate the story order in a clear way. The second rule is that they – in a logical fashion can handle changes without your team getting confused why scene 42 suddenly has disappeared.

At Dramatify, we sometimes get support questions about why a scene that has been moved during rewriting in another program and imported into Dramatify, appears in the wrong place or why scene numbers can’t start with a letter.

Numbering scenes in a logical way

An important aspect of numbering in Dramatify is the understanding that scene numbers are automatically shown throughout the application, sometimes in order as in the Story Order stripboard, and sometimes as standalone items as when indicating in which scenes a character, set or location is used. As machines are rule-based and logical, so must the scene numbering in order to not confuse either the application or your team members.

Number and renumber scenes. General principles for drama screenplays

The scene numbering convention in Dramatify shall be able to easily tell a team member the season, episode, scene number, inserted or moved scenes and scene split parts. Being consistent also makes sure that any rewrites imports correctly.

Season and episode numbers

If you are doing a series, the production adds a season and episode number when creating the episode item. When a screenplay is added to an episode it inherits the season and episode number in many listings like stripboards, scheduling, characters, sets, locations and call sheets. The screenwriter never has to add those numbers. They are expressed as s01e01, or s20e203.

Scene numbers

Scene numbers from the first imported or created shooting script version should go from 1 and ascending. When you write a script or import a script, you can select to incorporate episode numbers in the number; e.g. 101, 101, 1001, 10001; where the first number indicates the episode number.

You can not add letters BEFORE a number. You can however add them after a letter for an inserted scene, see below at adding scene numbers..

Scene parts

When you split a scene in the breakdown or in the scheduling, Dramatify automatically tacks on a colon and the scene part number; e.g. 1:1, 1:2, 1;3 and so on. This is done automatically and the screenwriter never has to add those numbers.

Reading an entire scene numbering

A scene numbering like s01e2 -3:4 should be read as season 1 : episode 2 : scene 3 : part 4. If you add an episode number to the scene number, it can look like this: s01e2 -203:4 where the “2” in “203” is the second episode. As the entire scene number rarely is presented in one go, it will not look too unwieldy!


Numbering scenes when moving story order

At Dramatify, we sometimes get support questions why a scene – that has been moved during rewriting in a screenwriting program and imported into Dramatify – appears in the wrong place. Infallible, it’s a scene that’s in the screenwriting program have been cut and pasted into a new position but without a number change, meaning that scene 146 suddenly is pasted in between scenes 90 and 91. As Dramatify sort the scenes in ascending order, 146 will be placed – as before – after scene 145. 

Numbering scenes correctly – here is how!

When you move a scene in a drama screenplay – regardless if you do the rewrite in Dramatfiy or in a screenwriting program –  you need to do three things:

  1. Copy the existing scene
  2. Retain the scene number but replace the scene header with “OMITTED – moved to [scene number]” or simply “SCENE MOVED TO [scene number].”
    for example: If you start with the scene “34. INT. THE OFFICE – DAY” it should instead read: “34. SCENE OMITTED – moved to 36 B)” or “34. SCENE MOVED TO 36 B”.
  3. Paste the scene to the right place and add the previous scene number and a letter. The scene number will now be the number of the scene before, for example, “36 B. INT. THE OFFICE – DAY”. If you need to move yet another scene after 36 B, that should be named 36C, 36D etc.
Numbering a scene when adding a new scene between two existing scenes

Add a letter to your scene! If you want to insert a new scene between scenes 10 and 11, that scene should be scene 10B. If you need yet another scene after scene 10 B, that will be scene 10 C and so forth.

Number scenes when deleting - but keeping correct scene numbering!

If you just delete or omit a scene, that can cause problems both with the team and with Dramatify. The team have no clear communication that the scene has been deleted, and in Dramatify information may remain when you import a rewrite.

To remove a scene, you keep the scene number but replace the scene heading (e.g “34. INT. THE OFFICE – DAY”) with “34. SCENE OMITTED”. You should also remove the scene text to avoid confusion.

Numbering scenes - Speciality letters for specific types of scene

Sometimes we at Dramatify encounters screenwriters that want to use letters for certain types of scenes, perhaps an “I” for an insert or an “F” for a flashback, i.e. scene “I8” or “F8”. As we wrote previously above, letters can not come before numbers in Dramatify.

To correctly name a scene, it would be something like “8. INT. Flashback of scene 4  – Mum’s kitchen – DAY” or “8. INT. Mum’s kitchen – Flashback of scene 4 –  DAY”

Top image byPhoto by Austris Augusts on Unsplash.

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