Archive | Genre

The Script Reader’s Top 10 Screenplay “Dos”

The following is a very basic list of items that get my attention as a script reader. If your script addresses each of these points, you’re probably doing a good job. I will be excited to read your script. So, here we go, a list of my top 10 screenplay “dos” when reading: DO keep […]

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The Script Reader’s Top 5 Screenplay “Do Nots”

The following is a very basic list of items that do not impress me as a script reader and, more often than not, will get your script a resounding pass. If your script contains any of these points, consider rewriting before sending out. So, here we go, a list of my top 5 screenplay peeves […]

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Introduce Your Character to the Reader

Now that we’re heading back into competition season for 2010, I am going to revisit the most important aspects of the screenplay, and in some cases I will try to link to examples of how they’re done correctly. I just read a pile of scripts and only one of the writers bothered to introduce me […]

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Writing Down the Page

“Writing down the page” is an expression that basically means the thrust of the story moves down the page with action, description, dialogue and carefully chosen sparse elements, so the reader’s eye is continually pulled down the page and then to the next page. You should aim not to get the reader’s eye stuck in […]

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Subject Matter: The Legal Thriller

You might not like it, but I just have to say it: My advice with legal thrillers is “just say no.” Legal thrillers can be completely amazing, but this genre is pretty well tapped out. We’ve now birthed three solid generations of “Law and Order” and franchise viewers, as well as two strong generations of […]

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If It Doesn’t Buy You Something, Take It Out

The more I write and the more I read, I find I return to this mantra again and again: If it doesn’t buy you something, take it out. Screenplay beats to me are a commodity. You have to buy the beats in the beginning of your story to cash them in later on in the […]

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Screenplay Openings: Most Beginnings Are Overwritten

This article follows up on Screenplay: The Importance of the First Five Pages. In the last batch of scripts I read for one of the screenwriting competitions, I would say about 30% of the screenplays had beginnings that were overwritten. It’s not uncommon. In several cases, the real story didn’t start to pick up until […]

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Q&A: Simple Present vs. Present Progressive (“-ing”) Verb Tense

Michael asks: Is it ever okay to use the “ing” present tense to describe action? “The Complete Screenwriters Manual” says no, but I don’t buy it. Monica says: Thanks, Michael. Great question. Here’s the deal with what I refer to as active verbs vs. passive verbs and screenwriting. The standard for screenwriting is to use […]

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