Monday, August 18, 2008

15 More Things Amateur Screenwriters Should Know

Hey guys,

You may recall the hilarious list of
12 Things All Amateurs Screenwriters Should Know, which was put together by our good friend and writer, Doc Strange. Well, he came up with 15 more funny insights that I thought were worth sharing. Hope you enjoy it.



Since posting my 12 pieces of advice here and having them published on Mystery Man's blog, I've been flooded with emails from people all over the world telling me how I've made the craft of screenwriting clear to them for the first time in their lives.

Once the original wave of thanks had passed, I realized that there was more, much more I could offer... 15 more actually, for a total of 27 hints, tips and pieces of advice, because I hear that you should publish lists in multiples of 10.

So without further ado, here are 15 more things every amateur screenwriter should know:

1) Preserving the continuity of a story is paramount to spec writing, which is why you should never use CONTINUOUS in your sluglines.

2) Mini-slugs are an effective way to preserve the pace of a story, which is why you should always write full slugs in your screenplay.

3) Writing a high concept screenplay and winning the Nicholl Fellowship are two excellent ways to break into the film industry. That is why only low concept dramas win the Nicholl Fellowship.

4) Everyone in the film industry always seems to be clamoring for the spotlight, which is why you should never write a spec about the film industry.

5) Only use flashbacks to move your story forward.

6) Proper format is essential to getting your story read because appearance is the first thing a reader notices, which is why if you have a great story, format isn't important.

7) Character flaws and likability are key to a well-written protagonist.

8) Sex sells, so you should concentrate on writing more marketable PG-13 specs.

9) To master the art of spec writing is to master the art of clarity which is why your action text should never exceed four lines at a time.

10) The best way to secure writing assignments in Hollywood is to market your achievements. Touting contest wins, options and sales will all lead you through the golden door, but choose your projects wisely as no one likes writing for a blowhard.

11) Procrastination is one of the biggest enemies you have as a writer so its always a good idea to take a some time off from your project when you get stuck fleshing out your story.

12) They say if you really want to get good at something, you should learn from the pros, which is why you should never read professionally written screenplays for scriptwriting tips.

13) Those who wish to break into Hollywood must always remember that story is king, so when you are planning your spec, keep in mind that concept is king.

14) Dialogue is a great device to use to develop your characters, backstory and motivations, so you should never use voice over to do such a thing.

And the most important piece of advice aside from the other most important piece of advice in the previous list:

15) It is important to hone your skills by reading guru books, attending classes and reading scripts. You want to be the best writer on the block because making it in Hollywood is all about who you know.

My final parting shot on these tips is to always remember that sequels are never as good as the original - so don't try to write them!