Archive for August 2nd, 2012

August 2, 2012

50 Dead Giveaways That You’re an Amateur Writer

Danny Manus of No BullScript Consulting has written a new list, 50 signs of an amateur screenwriter. As he puts it,

There are probably hundreds of signs that the writer of that script I’m screaming at is an amateur. But today, I’d like to give a mere 50. Most of these may seem like common sense, yet you’d be amazed at the sheer number of projects plagued with these issues. Some of them may make you worry about your own work. But hey, at least you’ll know for next time and you’ll be one step closer to making sure your work is at the highest of professional standards.

The following is in NO particular order and covers a broad range of script issues.

  1. Writing CUT TOs, FADE TOs, FADE OUTs, or any other Transition between every scene.
  2. Telling us instead of Showing us.
  3. Description is in past tense instead of present tense and does not use the active form of the verb. For example, John drives – not John is driving. Danny stands – not is standing. No -ING verbs.
  4. Not using pronouns or articles in your sentences. THE room, HIS dog, HER chair. You don’t walk into room – you walk into THE room or A room.
  5. Having wordy description paragraphs longer than 4 lines on a page without a line break.
  6. Not CAPITALIZING your characters names the first time we meet them in your description. Or capitalizing characters names every time they’re seen or mentioned.
  7. Capitalizing every noun and/or verb in your description.
  8. Not having a new scene heading for every new location or writing things in your scene heading other than the location, time of day and relation to the previous scene
  9. Your description tells us exactly what your characters are thinking or are about to discuss in dialogue, or tells us backstory the audience cannot see.
  10. The script is written in Microsoft Word, Notepad or Celtx.
  11. Not knowing the difference between a Montage and a Series of Shots. A Montage condenses numerous scenes, locations and the passage of time while progressing the plot and character arcs. A series of shots is a visual style to show many different actions or specific visuals all from one scene or a short time span.
  12. Having Camera Direction in your description (“we see”, “shot of”, “camera pans” etc)
  13. Writing parentheses before dialogue on every page explaining the emotion or how the line should be said.
  14. You are not using “Intercut With” when going back and forth between two scenes instead of restating the scene heading each time.
  15. Lengthy location descriptions or too much production design – we don’t care what color the couch is.
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August 2, 2012

Quote of the Day: Federico Fellini

Cinema is an old whore, like circus and variety, who knows how to give many kinds of pleasure. Besides, you can’t teach old fleas new dogs.