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Screenwriting Tips

Tips to keep in mind while writing your script to help you make the best first impression possible. Proper screenplay format is important. Learn it, love it, use it:

Always spell check. Twice.

Don’t print on colored paper, add pictures or deviate from standard screenplay format in any way. Show your creativity in the characters, story and dialogue, not the packaging. Doing this will only label you an amateur and usually land your script in the trash.

Always bind with brass brads. No clips, fancy binding, or staples (unless your script is a short).

Don’t follow trends. What’s hot today won’t be tomorrow. A good screenplay is always hot.

Don’t send your script out before it’s ready. Production companies, agents, managers and studios will read your script only once (if you are persistent and lucky). They will never read a second draft on spec.

Be specific. General descriptions are not your friend. And, whenever possible, use vivid visual descriptions.

Do your research. If you have a scene with a lawyer in it and you’re not a lawyer, ask a lawyer what they would say and do in that situation. Details like these will either strengthen the reality of the world you have created, or take away from it.

Don’t tell the reader what characters are thinking or feeling. If it doesn’t come across in your descriptions and dialogue, it won’t come across on screen.

If you cannot see it or hear it, it does not belong in your screenplay.

Avoid using descriptors like typical and average. What you might describe as typical or average does not give a clear visual and is different for everyone depending upon their cultural background.

Never send your first draft to industry professionals. Always have it reviewed first, preferably by both friends/family and a professional script reader.

Remember, you are not writing a shooting script. That means no scene numbers, FADE OUTS, DISSOLVES, POVs, or camera directions of any kind unless absolutely necessary.

 
 

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