Hey all you awesome newsletter subscribers!
This month’s newsletter exclusive comes from what I’ve learned from reading professionals scripts– a lot of them! It’s truly one of the quickest ways to learn. Professional scripts show you what to aspire to, and amateur scripts can help illuminate what to avoid.
- If your first scene is somebody waking up to an alarm clock and going through their daily routine, try again. Unless you’ve got a nonsensically unique twist on this opening, please try something else! Your first ten pages are critical, and you want to start your script off in a memorable, engaging way.
- Use the flash forward gimmick at your own risk! This goes for TV writers as well. The “flash forward” gimmick is this: cold open on an exciting event, where something happens and then you cut to: FIVE DAYS EARLIER… I’m a fan of nonlinear storytelling, but this is overused. I think I’ve read five scripts in the past month that all used this opening. It was kinda cool in Alias, but audiences wise up quick and you can’t keep relying on the same old shtick. (Castle finale, I’m looking at you.)
- Page count matters. If you’re writing a thriller, try to keep it at 90-ish pages. Anything else you want to come in under 110. It’s important to tell the story you need to tell, but if your finished rom com is 140 pages, people will write you off as amateur and move on.
- Unique ideas stand out. The more times you can surprise your reader, the more you win! Amateur scripts are predictable, so the more you think outside the box the more enthusiastic your readers will be. It’s human nature to get excited about surprises and twists we didn’t expect.
- Describe your character’s essence. I don’t really care if your character “has brown hair, blue eyes, and is attractive.” That’s boring. But if your character is a “debonair trust fund kid with a perpetual smirk on their face” or “the Clark Kent of the art world” I might actually remember who’s who.
If you want to get your hands on some scripts to read, check out this list.
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See you next month.