Often we talk about “scripting” our routines. With that we mean writing down a routine, with patter, stage directions, and all necessary information. Some people refer to it as a screenplay. But there is a difference between a script and a screenplay.
Strictly speaking, in a script, we find all that is necessary to stage the play (or movie, or magic routine), with all the important things that happen, with all the characters in the play, and all the consequences that arise out of the characters’ actions. We find the plot, the dialogue, and everything else what helps us to understand what this play is about. We could call a script a shorter, “actionable” version of the screenplay. Enough information so we can understand what’s going on in the play, and how we put it into reality. A script can be used by actors onset, and they will use this to go through production. A script is used by actors on the stage, and they learn their parts from that.
The screenplay is a bit different, because it might be almost like a novel. Therefore, most of the time, a screenplay is taken, and a script made out of it. I am aware that in theatre and the film industry, there are no set standards to this, and people are arguing about the definitions of what should be called a script, and what a screenplay. Lots of grey zones and discussion here. But that isn’t too much of importance, because I am only interested in this case, in the practical applications for us magicians.
I see the screenplay more than the novel, the vision, the story. The script is the technical realisation of the screenplay, with all the necessary information for the practical performance included.
Therefore, if we write a script for a magic routine, it is not the same as writing a screenplay for that routine. The screenplay might be a first draft, a summary, or a vision, a story, or whatever describes the idea of our magic routine, so we get a better understanding of what’s going on in the routine, or what this routine should mean or express. The screenplay is where we can give anything into, even the ideas and reasonings behind the story. It is very helpful to take the time and write a screenplay, when developing a routine.
A great deal of the work starts after the screenplay is finished. When the screenplay is finished, and the routine stands by its own, the fine-tuning starts when writing the script with all the important details. It is a lot more work, most magicians probably will shy away from, but it is worth the additional effort. It gives you the chance to evaluate the routine another time, and give it a second, in depth examination.
Try it and see the improvement of the quality of your routine, after taking the time and suffering through both of them. I see it like this: “I think up a great story, and I write a novel (screenplay). When this is finished, I sit down, and work out all the nifty-grifty details and things that are needed to put this into action (script).”