Is your script really ready to compete? The screenwriting business is a highly competitive environment that demands complete professionalism--and the only place to show that level of skill is on the page.
Guess how long it takes for an experienced writer, producer, director or development professional to determine whether your script is worth ready? About 15 seconds. That's it.
It doesn't matter what you look like, where you live or what kind of car you drive. The people who buy screenplays and put them into development or give them the green light for production only care whether your screenplay is of professional caliber.
Keep your script out of the slush pile by adhering to these 5 industry Dos and Don'ts for writing a winning screenplay:
Screenplay Do--Keep your structure simple
You're already very familiar with a 3-act story structure, that is, a coherent beginning, middle and end. Situate your story in the introduction, then build toward your climax. This is called plot complication, which is any aspect of a story that the protagonist or antagonist must overcome in order to move forward, ultimately reaching a resolution.
Screenplay Do--Use consistent tone
Make sure your tonality is consistent across the board with appropriate dialogue, character descriptions, scenes, plotting and structure matching the genre (e.g., comedy, drama, action, horror).
Screenplay Do--Pace yourself
Keep to the appropriate page count and include scenes that propel the action and move the plot forward. In a speculative script (i.e., spec script), pagination typically runs between 110-120 pages, with the rule of thumb being that 1 page equals 1 minute of screen time. Ideally, you want a balance between dialogue and action in scenes that transition logically.
Screenplay Don't--Include scene numbers
Scene numbers are easily spotted on the first page. Until your spec script gets financing, casting, a director and a production team, you don't need scene numbers. They are a distraction and carry no weight in a non-commissioned, unsolicited screenplay.
Screenplay Don't--List anything
Cast list. Location list. Props list. None of these contribute to your spec script being a good read--and your screenplay must read well before anyone will ever respond to it. Let the producers and the prop department make the lists.
Yes, your script is a blueprint for a brilliant film or television episode. But you're the architect, not the finish carpenter. Avoid cluttering your script with details that are better left for others during later stages of development.
Do you want to take your script to the next level?
Receive a thorough analysis of your screenplay and connect with an experienced Hollywood professional who will provide extensive feedback to help you improve your writing as you get ready to pitch your script.
Register for our upcoming 1-to-1 Screenwriter Workshop January cohort today--payment plans available!