Screenwriting Tip #243
Never trust the first idea you come up with. There’s a reason it comes to mind first: because you saw it somewhere else, and it’s probably a cliché.
Hack Notes Price Change
Starting April 1, the price of all Hack Notes services will go up slightly. (No, unfortunately, this is not an April Fool’s Joke.) The new price will be $80 for the basic notes, with the other options going up by a similar amount. I agonized over this decision. The problem is that I’m spending way too much time on each set of Hack Notes — frequently four or even five hours,...
Screenwriting Tip #242
Feel free to write like crap in the first draft. Throw in placeholder action, bad dialogue, whatever it takes to make it to the end. Then the real work can start.
Screenwriting Tip #241
Don’t kill off the most interesting characters in surprise twists. Sure, it’s startling… but then all your interesting characters are dead.
Screenwriting Tip #240
With horror, show how the evil/impossible/supernatural intrudes on the characters’ every-day lives, disrupting even the simplest of activities (brushing their teeth, dropping the kids off at school, etc.). It’s an easy trick, and it works.
Screenwriting Tip #239
In comedy, shake up the joke formula every once in a while. Throw a heartfelt ‘character moment’ gag in there. It can’t ALL be edgy sex-and-drugs jokes.
Screenwriting Tip #238
Don’t write scenes that end exactly the way the protagonist expects them to. Plant mini plot twists everywhere.
Screenwriting Tip #237
That scene that you think has to be in there, or the audience won’t know what’s going on? It doesn’t have to be there. The audience is always smarter than you think.
Screenwriting Tip #236
When you finish the first draft, put it away for at least a week. Don’t even look at it. When you come back to it, the crappy parts will be obvious.
Screenwriting Tip #235
Speccing a TV show? Before you do anything: sit down with an episode of the show, a pen and paper, and write out the A, B and C story beats as they happen. Trust me.
Screenwriting Tip #234
The phrase is per se. Just like that, in italics. Not ‘persay’, or anything else you might have come up with.
Dear New Readers From Script Frenzy...
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Screenwriting Tip #233
Remember: characters should act in their own best interests. There are exceptions, but rampant altruism usually doesn’t make for interesting plots.
Screenwriting Tip #232
Why are these two characters, who seem to have nothing in common, friends? And don’t say ‘because it serves the plot’.
Screenwriting Tip #231
Please, no more scripts about rich white people and their incredibly trivial problems. MODERN FAMILY just barely gets away with this, and you’re probably not as funny as MODERN FAMILY.
Screenwriting Tip #230
Having Twitter open in the background may not, in fact, be good for your writing.
Screenwriting Tip #229
Stuck on your rewrite? Try printing off the pages and reading them with a red pen in hand. -tip suggested by Matt
Screenwriting Tip #228
Your horror script doesn’t need more scares and fake-outs. It needs horror. Y’know, existential dread?
Screenwriting Tip #227
Don’t send out your first script. If you were learning carpentry, would you try to sell your first table? No. You’d give it to your grandma, because she’s blind and can’t see how ugly it is.
Screenwriting Tip #226
Read scripts for other media. You can learn (read: ‘steal’) a lot from scripts for plays, radio and comic books.
Screenwriting Tip #225
If you can’t think of a good title… there might be something wrong with your concept.
Screenwriting Tip #224
People, it is not that hard to write a decent protagonist: Step 1. Figure out who you want the protagonist to be at the end of the script. Step 2. Go back to the start of the script and make them the exact opposite of that. Step 3. Insert plot in the middle. It’s so easy, even James Cameron can do it!
Screenwriting Tip #223
If you want to emphasize parts of the text, pick a system and stick with it. Don’t just switch between italics, underline and Caps Lock whenever you feel like it.
Screenwriting Tip #222
See if you can get away with cutting bits of explanation, scene setting, stage cues, and still have it make sense. Basically, let your dialogue do the work.
Screenwriting Tip #221
Stop obsessively checking your page count. It doesn’t make you write any faster.
Screenwriting Tip #220
Why not read an Oscar-nominated script? They’re all available here.
Screenwriting Tip #219
A test: try rewriting an action scene without ‘as’, ‘while’, ‘are’ or ‘then’. Just one event after the other, in the order that they happen. Now tell me it’s not better than what you had before.
Screenwriting Tip #218
When it comes to action scenes, the simpler the better. Kill your adverbs. Ever read the screenplay for ALIEN? It’s sparser than the surface of Mars, and it’s effective as hell.
Screenwriting Tip #217
Are you planning on taking part in Script Frenzy this year? And if not, why the hell not? We could all use a little extra motivation.
Screenwriting Tip #216
Repeat after me: a hyphen is not the same thing as a dash.
Screenwriting Tip #215
Always be on the look-out for cool and unusual names. Real life people tend to have awesome names, whereas every second protagonist is called ‘Jake’, ‘Jack’ or ‘John’.
Screenwriting Tip #214
It’s very simple: if you don’t laugh at the jokes, neither will anybody else. If you don’t get creeped out in the scary parts, neither will anybody else. And if you don’t love your protagonist and care what happens to them…