Screenwriting Tip #105
If Family Guy has taught us anything, it’s that a pop culture reference is not necessarily the same thing as a joke.
Screenwriting Tip #104
If you’re going to steal… make sure to steal from the best.
Screenwriting Tip #103
You are not the first person on the planet to give your female protagonist a male name. (And Bryan Fuller has already flogged that particular horse to death.)
Screenwriting Tip #102
That twist you have — where the tough soldier guy turns out to be a sensitive soul who just wants to cut hair — is not as clever as you think it is.
Screenwriting Tip #101
Do you know what the phrase ‘gibbous moon’ actually means, or are you just regurgitating Lovecraft?
Screenwriting Tip #100
100 pages is the new 120 pages. Cut it down.
Screenwriting Tip #99
Most of the time, voice-over feels like scaffolding. You know — something you left in there when you were constructing the first draft, but you really should have torn out when it became useless.
Screenwriting Tip #98
‘Back the truck up’ is clichéd dialogue. This is something my grandpa would say, if he were a badly written character on CSI.
Screenwriting Tip #97
Bumping out the margins in Final Draft is only sneaky up to a certain point. Then it becomes really, really obvious.
Screenwriting Tip #96
We don’t need to know exactly what make and caliber of handgun the characters are using. I’m glad you did your research, but gun porn in a screenplay is just creepy.
Screenwriting Tip #95
The first word of your script better not be ‘We’. A little over-directing and rule-breaking is okay. Not so much in the first sentence.
Screenwriting Tip #94
Explosions do not create ‘sonic booms’ — they create the sound of an explosion. Don’t just throw words into your action because they look nice on the page.
Screenwriting Tip #93
Give your main character some flaws, dammit. They’re not perfect! (Unless you’re writing about Jesus. And even then, he had that Mary Magdalene thing goin’ on. You know what I mean.)
Screenwriting Tip #92
Stop writing that one minor character whose only purpose in life is to snark at everyone else. Sarcasm is not a substitute for real character interaction. (Unless you’re writing a sitcom, in which case that character is required by law.)
Screenwriting Tip #91
Who says you have to write like a novelist? If you suck at coming up with metaphors, just don’t use them.
Screenwriting Tip #90
Don’t give characters backgrounds — say, a killer whale trainer at SeaWorld, for example — that are more interesting than the story you’re telling. Otherwise, why isn’t the film about that?
Screenwriting Tip #89
Think really hard — is this man-eating monster you’ve made up actually cool, or is it kind of stupid?
Screenwriting Tip #88
If you change a character’s name in rewrites, you better triple-check every instance of that name. Otherwise I’m left wondering why ‘Sam’ turned into ‘Bob’ for three pages.
Screenwriting Tip #87
If you’re using VO to describe the action that we’re seeing, then I can’t help you, and you should probably try writing greeting cards instead.
Screenwriting Tip #86
It’s not necessary to have fifty ellipses per page. If your characters were to actually pause on every single one, this movie would run for seven hours.
Screenwriting Tip #85
‘Wise beyond his years’ is a cliche and tells us nothing. When you’re describing a character, how about using language and description specific to that character?
Screenwriting Tip #84
The line “Houston, we have a problem”, and any variation thereof, shall be banned on pain of death. DEATH.
Screenwriting Tip #83
If you’re introducing a new villain in Act 3, chances are something in your structure is fundamentally fucked.
Screenwriting Tip #82
On Page 1? People should be talking OR shit should be exploding (so to speak). If your Page 1 is mostly set-up and description, start on Page 2 instead.
Screenwriting Tip #81
Don’t be preachy. You’re a writer — it’s your job to cleverly point out society’s ills, not sock-puppet your characters into complaining about them.
Screenwriting Tip #80
SUNSET, SUNRISE, DAWN, DUSK, MIDNIGHT, AFTERNOON, MID-MORNING, TEA-TIME, and on and on… Whatever happened to just DAY and NIGHT?!
Screenwriting Tip #79
If a minor character has a unisex name, you better make it clear real fast whether they’re supposed to be male or female.
Screenwriting Tip #78
Rhyming slang: no. Not unless you’re Guy Ritchie. In fact, not even if you’re Guy Ritchie.
Screenwriting Tip #77
Every young (usually white, usually male) writer’s first script involves angels, demons, Jesus and/or a Biblical prophecy. There’s usually an archangel in there somewhere. For the love of Gabriel, do something DIFFERENT.
Screenwriting Tip #76
If you’ve got 2 scenes back-to-back, and they’re set in the same location, with the same characters… roll them into one. This isn’t brain surgery, folks.