Archive | Tone

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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Example of How To Introduce Your Protagonist (Erin Brockovich)

One of my favorite scripts is “Erin Brockovich,” because I love the writing. It is abundantly clear, sparsely written, and dense with meaning. This script captures worlds of information with just a few simple, extremely well chosen words. To my mind, that is excellence in screenwriting. Please read this excerpt of the opening of the […]

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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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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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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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