Welcome to the complete guide for screenwriting insert shots.
What is an insert in screenwriting? An insert in screenwriting is when the writer cuts away from the action to focus on something in particular. Such as photos, signs, buildings, anything.
Most writers use this for small things that the reader wouldn’t normally imagine unless they specifically draw attention to it with an INSERT.
How do you write an insert in a screenplay? The proper format for an insert in a screenplay is to write in caps “INSERT – ” followed by the image you are inserting. Then below describe what we see.
John drives half drunk he glances up.
INSERT - ROAD SIGN
Washington DC, half a mile, keep right.
BACK TO SCENE
Now you don’t need a “BACK TO SCENE” but If it’s a long cutaway then using that might help the reader configure where we are in the script.
Here a couple insert screenplay example:
Here is one that “BACK TO SCENE” wasn’t used.
John drives have drunk he glances up to a sign for Washington DC.
Example two can be considered less intrusive to the reader so in my opinion I would use that one.
An insert shot can also be used to describe a flashback or P.O.V shot which are inserts because you are inserting or cutting away from a scene to show the reader something else.
Why use an insert?
Inserts can be used to reveal key information to give the audience an “AH HA” moment. You find out who did it. You see the way our protagonist can escape.
These are the moments would use an insert nothing more. For anything else I would just keep it in the action likes like example two above.
When not to use an insert shot?
There is an unofficial rule in screenwriting that no one talks about.
You can do anything but sparingly.
The more you use INSERTS the more the reader can get annoyed.
It throws the reader out of the story. If you’re inserting every little shot especially if you’re writing a spec script. You could cause the reader to put down your script.
Think to yourself what’s the point of this insert? Can I get away without using it?
If the answer is yes. don’t use it.
Got it. Good.
Now its time to hear from you:
Did I miss anything?
What method are you going ot use and why?
Whatever your answer is let’s see it in the comments below.