Below is just a portion of a recent TriggerStreet review I wrote for a story called Aliens Don't Make Crop Circles. Hope you enjoy it.
So Kevin and I have "a history."
Over a year ago (has it really been a year?), I reviewed an earlier draft of Aliens Don't Make Crop Circles. Kevin had written in his production notes that he didn't want to bothered by complaints about format, which set me off. In my review, I took the most logical approach to this kind of situation - I ONLY talked about format and refused to provide analysis of story or character or anything else until he cleaned up his script because it looked like @#$%. I believe that was also the review where I had written, "Take heed my advice or fail. I am Mystery Man. Hear me roar."
Ahh, good times, good times.
So, of course, I received an email from Kevin. The subject heading was "Aliens Don't Take This Lying Down." He wrote: "Mystery Man? Mystery Child could be closer to the mark... I have to say that I did read your review from beginning to end and it was full of wisdom. But what on earth (no pun in this case), are you on? Or, more to the point, what medication are you not taking...? I will explain why I have specifically asked for a no comment on the formatting in the past. It is because some people get so anally fixated with dots and commas that they forget the whole point of the site, to review stories."
And this is true - to a point. Some people certainly can be this way. But to refuse to hear feedback about grammar and format is just beyond absurd. Call me crazy, but "writers" should care about these things. In fact, a writer ought to know how to write, and a screenplay ought to look like a screenplay. The competition is brutal. You're not only competing with thousands of other writers trying to break in but you're also competing with the professionals. You have to excel on every single level. You have to make every scene, every detail, and every word count. You cannot ever and I mean EVER give anyone an easy excuse to dismiss your story or you as a writer. And there's no question that the quickest way to undermine a reader's confidence in you is a wildly gross display of incompetence and ignorance when it comes to format and grammar. In past reviews, I have quoted industry insiders who implore writers to master the craft and study Trottier's Screenwriter's Bible.
Even on my blog, I'll review a "pro" script like, say, "The Transformers," and you better believe that, no different than my reviews here, I'll take them to task for not knowing how to format a screenplay. It's ridiculous that some of these guys get paid gobs of money and they don't know any better than to use archaic techniques that were abandoned four decades ago. Scripts should reflect twenty-first century formatting.
Truth be told, there are a lot of hacks and con artists out there pretending to be "real" screenwriters and they actively bamboozle producers and studios out of enormous amounts of money. They will get hired, write steaming piles of crapola (or get hired to do a rewrite job, change two commas, and turn it in), and then they'll quickly bail when the heat gets cranked up for more rewrites. There's a lot of mistrust on both sides of the fence. Grammar and format is just a first step in a thousand toward proving your sincerity, worth, and legitimacy as a screenwriter.
Okay, okay, stepping off my format soapbox...