Tag Archives | screenwriting genre

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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Subject Matter: Don’t Write About Writers or Hollywood, Please

Today I’ve read a couple of stories about Hollywood aspirings – aspiring writers, directors, actors, etc. In this reading season I’ve probably read a number of these kinds of scripts. Please, people, no. Don’t do it. Ninety nine times out of one hundred, your life as an aspiring writer isn’t interesting enough to warrant a […]

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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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Screenwriting Homework: Beat Sheets

Screenplay is about structure. Structure isn’t a random fascist convention designed to sabotage and infuriate would-be screenwriters: it’s a means for the reader and audience to know where we are in the journey. Structure as it relates to screenplay is a tool to help writers develop and increase the dramatic stakes of their story. Everything […]

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