New writers are easy to spot, both in person and on paper because they don’t know these six insider secrets:
- Formatting is king. Your script should follow every. Single. Formatting. Rule. Otherwise, industry people will dismiss you and your script. Don’t give them a reason to pass on you! Know the difference between O.S. and V.O., know what you can/cannot include in your sluglines, and don’t throw in camera directions such as “…we push into an ECU of the dancing hamster…”
- Don’t wear a suit. Pitching an idea? Meeting an executive? Don’t out-dress the people you’re pitching to. Writers should dress business casual.
- Don’t put your WGA number or a “copyright” notice on your title page. It makes you seem paranoid that others will steal your ideas, which is a red flag. If someone is reading your script, they will assume that it’s registered and copyrighted. It’s just how the business works.
- Don’t bring your own water. When pitching or going in for a meeting, know that you will always be offered something to drink. If you bring your own water, it shows that you’re new and you don’t know how things work.
- Don’t submit a script before it’s ready. Why? Because of coverage. If you send out a bad script out on the town, companies will write coverage about it, store it in their databases, and some companies will be more likely to pass on your future work based on terrible coverage of your previous effort.
- When submitting a script, make sure to clear all the revisions first. In Final Draft, make sure you don’t have asterisks or draft numbers still on your page. Also, never ever ever include “first draft” or “final draft” as your document name or cover page. A draft is never final, and nobody wants to read your first drafts (nor should they!)
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