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Your screenplay sucks

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    Your screenplay sucks Your screenplay sucks Document Transcript

    • Your Screenplay Sucks! Screenwriting Crib Sheet Colon after FADE IN Need to tell us character’s name in CAPS and need a brief description of who they are (personality) Looks are only important if they are very important – don’t spend too much time with clothing Scene description should more aptly be called action description Don’t put ANYTHING obvious in there, Example “ Cody slashes at branches near by” – near by is obvious What character loves to do/adores is a good thing for openings Print to proofread “a large house” – you should be more specific when saying things like this. “a Tudor mansion” Don’t give us too much detail or info Don’t clarify things that happened two pages ago Don’t forget sluglines when people change rooms, Kid goes from kitchen to dining room – this requires a new slugline Anything that you can make visual – make visual Whenever a new actor is introduced, their name/character is in caps “a line of ADULTS” “make their way” isn’t a good phrase If someone is at a desk, you don’t have to say sitting at the desk Numbers are written out “thirteen” not “13” – very long numbers are okay” To interrupt use two dashes and then don’t say “interrupt” in the next scene description 1
    • If a person doesn’t respond don’t say “he is silent” – we know that Don’t’ do “BIG KID #1, BIG KID #2, BIG KID #3” – do “GIGANTIC KID, OBESE KID, BUFF KID” You are not the director Get rid of the movie in your head – just give us the shorthand version – this is responsible for tons of overwriting Crucial info only! Cut dialogue when an action will suffice Instead of “yeah” give a nod or grunt in the affirmative With jumps in time or flashbacks, remind us when you come back to the present day Screenplays are all in the present tense, nothing in past Need to make every word count – try to use specific nouns and verbs rather than adjectives and adverbs “written by” on your title page should have a lower case w On page one, you’ve got the time to set the stage/mood/genre/setting of the story – This is the only time you have the opportunity to do this Less dialogue and more mood on page 1 Names aren’t capitalized in dialogue CAPS in dialogue means that the person is yelling Parentheticals aren’t in the dialogue, there is a break for the parenthetical then dialogue. Don’t have any sluglines at the bottom of page By cutting some dialogue, dialogue that is left becomes stronger Don’t hide the good dialogue in the bad dialogue “Under the table, he clenches his fist” NOT “He clenches his fist, under the table” This is a good example of why image 2
    • order is important and you should end sentences with the important thing Don’t talk about the Zeppelin disaster, show it Don’t talk about a mean dad, show him “Nowhere” is one word Don’t repeat info from the slugline in the action Break big paragraphs up into smaller ones “He exits” not “He then exits” Don’t describe someone as woman and then girl, confusing Don’t use a phrase to describe when a word will do “dirty hair” is as good as “Hair that looks like it hasn’t been washed in days” Same sentence or phrase shouldn’t appear twice on the same page Punches with fist – grin on face – both obvious FLASHBACK comes before INT. or EXT. With a flashback that isn’t actually the truth – explain that it’s not real, make it obvious Tell the character/functional name when we meet somebody, nobody should have two different names No spaces between parentheticals within dialogue, but do put it on a different line Smile is a word you should be aware of – maybe you are overdirecting the actors – people use this a lot, often too much within one script Think of edit points – the scene should end on an exciting note. Clothing isn’t as important as you think First words in parentheticals are lower case “Nate runs back to his dorm room” would likely be impossible in one scene. “Nate runs away” is possible though. 3
    • All dialogue should move you forwards. If you can cut one exchange do that (unless is messes with rhythm) “walks” is a deadly sin – there are better words Question and answer dialogue is bad Yelling shouldn’t go in a parenthetical, the thing yelled should go in caps If people are whispering, don’t say whispering before each line of dialogue. Say it once in description and maybe italicize it. 4