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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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Screenplay: The Importance of the First Five Pages

The opening five pages of your screenplay give me a ton of information about the breadth and scope of your project. As with the opening of a novel or any other literary work, the opening of your screenplay should be a microcosm of the world of your script. It’s the first taste – but as […]

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Look at It From the Reader’s Perspective…

I just got through another big push of scripts. There were a handful of recommends, but overall many of them were dismal. When writing, just get the words down on the page. Get through that first draft. But, then rewrite. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. As you get closer to the time you’re going to send your […]

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Do Your Homework: Watch AFI’s Top 100 List Films

If you’re writing screenplays, it’s very important to know the field. You should be watching movies in the theatre now and also studying previously released films. Here is a wonderful basic list of the great movies, which you should see to have a basic understanding of our industry. In addition, you should endeavor to watch […]

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What, Technically, is a “Beat” in a Screenplay?

A writer friend of mine emailed asking me to better describe what is a screenwriting “beat.” Here’s the skinny. This is actually a point of confusion for many people, and I recall it was very confusing to me when I started at film school because there are actually three kinds of beats, but people just […]

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Screenplay Competition Reading: It’s All Subjective

Here is the good, bad, and ugly of screenplay competitions: art is subjective. For everything everyone tells you, in the end it all boils down to taste. That’s why you just have to write your passion. One reader (producer, manager, agent) might not have any interest in your story. But another will. We write for […]

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Do Not Write What’s Not on Screen

Okay, we all know, “Show, don’t tell!” I will never forget my sophomore English teacher hitting that point home with a sledgehammer every class. As a screenwriter, I hear, “Exposition is bad.” Now I have a better understanding of what this really means. With screenwriting, it’s fairly simple, actually, but hard to do well and […]

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