Guest Post Week Redux -- Tip #1
Don’t editorialize! A script doesn’t explain characters, a script hosts characters to live in it. A script that explains is like an actor who indicates. - tip by David
Guest Post Week Redux
Guest Post Week is back, baby! For those just joining us: this is the week when I post only reader-submitted tips. New tips go up fast, the comments get a bit rowdy, and a good time is had by all. (And yes, I promise it will only last one week this time.) If you want to share your tip with the world, post it in the comments below or email it to the usual address.
So we made it to 300 tips. Wow. After 300 of these things I feel a short break is in order. There will be a small hiatus over the weekend before we pick up again on Monday with a brand new Guest Post Week. I’ve got a few guest tips saved up, but if you have a tip you’ve been dying to share with the world, now’s your chance. Post it in the comments or email it to the address in...
Screenwriting Tip #300
Remember why you’re doing this. I recommend writing screenplays because it’s fun and you can’t imagine doing anything else. That way you can’t lose.
Screenwriting Tip #299
Say it with me: You are allowed to deviate from your outline. Just make sure it’s rock-solid before you start moving away from it — that way you can see exactly how those changes affect the whole.
Screenwriting Tip #298
If there’s no good reason to set your script in the recent past (the 90s, say), don’t do it. Not just because of the inevitable anachronisms, but also because you’re putting us at a slight remove from the characters and their emotions.
Screenwriting Tip #297
Go easy on the caps-lock in those action scenes. There’s a fine line between capitalization-for-emphasis and sounding like the Unabomber.
Screenwriting Tip #296
Yeah, if you change the country that your script is set in? You do have to change the dialogue to suit.
Screenwriting Tip #295
Fewer metaphors and similes, please. They gum up the action lines, and they make the prose flowery in a way that’s ill-suited to most genres.
Screenwriting Tip #294
You have to show us why we should love these characters. Sometimes that will involve hurting them badly. Call it the ‘Whedon Gambit’.
Screenwriting Tip #293
Don’t do that thing where one character makes a lame joke and another character points out that it was lame. It reads like an apology. Hey, here’s an alternative: make the first joke funny.
Screenwriting Tip #292
It’s ‘sleight of hand’, not ‘slight’. Not unless your character’s hands are really, really small.
Screenwriting Tip #291
Assume your audience is capable of inferring the back-story, noting the foreshadowing and spotting the subtext. Err on the side of not explaining, then see how much of it your test readers ‘get’. You’ll be surprised.
Screenwriting Tip #290
Don’t fall into that lilting rhythm trap where all your characters speak in sentences of a similar length, punctuated by one-and-a-half punchlines per page. It lulls readers to sleep. Throw in some sentence fragments, some terse characters, some ramblers.
Screenwriting Tip #289
If you’re writing comedy, go see stand-up comedians. For one thing, you’ll hear what comic timing sounds like.
Screenwriting Tip #288
Trust your story instincts. If some character or plot element screams out to be included, write it into the first draft and justify it later.
Screenwriting Tip #287
You know if you’re the sort of writer who needs to outline. Don’t kid yourself into thinking you’re not — you’ll just be wasting your own time further down the track.
Screenwriting Tip #286
Flashbacks are like voiceovers — just because some of your favorite movies have them, doesn’t mean you should sprinkle them all over your script at random.
Screenwriting Tip #285
Please, for the love of god, surprise me. There’s nothing worse than being able to see where the story’s going and knowing you still have 50 pages left to read.
Screenwriting Tip #284
If a script has big problems, they’re almost never in Act Three. You can usually trace the rot all the way back to the start of Act Two, if not earlier.
Screenwriting Tip #283
‘Beleaguered’ does not mean the same thing as ‘belabored’. And they’re both crap words anyway. Don’t use ten-dollar words when cheap, reliable ones are available.
Screenwriting Tip #282
You have to know what you’re doing before you break the rules. Writing a whole script in first-person narrative voice will only work if you know why you’re doing it.
Screenwriting Tip #281
Scared? Not sure if you can pull off this script? Maybe you think it’s way too ambitious, and besides, you’re not even sure what you’re trying to say yet? Relax — that’s perfectly normal.
Screenwriting Tip #280
Don’t work on other people’s ideas, unless you really need the money. It might be good experience, but you won’t love it like you do your own scripts.
Screenwriting Tip #279
Don’t get involved in forum/Twitter wars. It’ll mess up your whole writing schedule.
Just Finished A Script?
Let’s say you’re a recent Script Frenzy participant. (Congratulations, by the way.) Let’s also say that you’re now wondering exactly what to do with those 90+ pages you produced back in April. This hypothetical scenario has an answer! Hack Notes is my script consulting service. You send me your script, I send you detailed, professional-grade notes on how to improve your...
Screenwriting Tip #278
You use a RSS feed reader, right? I don’t know of a better way to find story ideas and stay interested in the world.
Screenwriting Tip #277
So many people write mid-points that are barely there. Ideally, the mid-point is supposed to shake up everything and provide momentum for the long, dark second half of Act Two. So write a good one — I dare ya’.
Screenwriting Tip #276
If you can’t find the story, try setting creative restrictions: Could this work with only two characters? Could it all take place over the course of one day? etc.
Screenwriting Tip #275
I don’t ever want to see another over-stressed character throwing his cell phone out a window/into the nearest body of water. Let’s euthanize this one.
Screenwriting Tip #274
Be sure to celebrate properly when you finish that first draft. I’m talking to you, Script Frenziers. And if you can handle it, don’t look at your draft again for at least a week.