Screenwriting

POINTERS


General

To receive the most sympathetic reading for your script in Hollywood, generally . .

  1. use screenplay format to your advantage—get it right. Best way to do this, and the easiest, is with screenwriting software—free, cheap, or dear.
  2. only put ink on the page that is absolutely required . .
    • cut all excess words, use only words absolutely necessary for telling your story
    • eliminate excess periods, whether . .
      • in scene headings
      • after pages numbers
      • in ellipses
      . . as they subliminally tell the mind to stop.
  3. check your spelling. Run spell check on your computer before sending anything out.

Do all this to minimize stress on the reader's eye and enhance clarity. If you tire the reader, he will be less sympathetic to your project. To ease the reader's load, and make things as clear as possible, consider . .


Format

Transitions

Eliminate CUT TO:s, except when making an important scene change, as in a jump in time or huge jump in geographical location—which can also be handled without CUT TO:s. This goes for other transitions such as DISSOLVE TO:s, etc. Delete MOREs and CONTINUEDS at the top and bottom of pages (an option that might need to be deselected in screenplay software). Strike the CONTINUEDs in dialogue lines that are often used when an action narrative passage interrupts a character speaking. That the same character name heads off the continued dialogue suffices. Eliminate places where pages break long dialogue passages, which may result in a MORE and CONTINUED (in your software), by shortening the speech, or breaking it up with an action narrative.

Directorial Cues

Let the director determine when the titles roll, where to focus the camera, etc. Just lay out the 'establishing' or 'long' shot except in those cases where a certain shot is required for reader/viewer suspense or understanding of a special moment. A close-up of the shoes of someone we'll meet later might add suspense, for example.

Scene Numbers

Eliminate all scene numbering.


Punctuation

  1. Never use bolding.
  2. Single space only; no double line spacing in action narratives or dialogue.
  3. Use underscoring instead of italics, and only . .
    • with foreign terms, or
    • when to leave out the emphasis would lead to misunderstanding of something important
  4. Use special punctuation, meaning anything other than . .
    • periods
    • commas
    • colons
    • semi-colons
    • apostrophes, etc.
    . . sparingly, especially in dialogue.

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Other Screenwriting Pointers

  1. Tips and suggestions on screenwriting action narratives.
  2. Tips and suggestions on screenwriting dialogue.
  3. Tips and suggestions from Screenwriting.info
  4. 'Screenwriting Tips from a Screenplay Contest Judge' by Gordy Hoffman.
  5. Screenwriting Tips...You Hack by Xander Bennett.
  6. Scriptologist.com directory of screenwriting tips.

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