Things to look out for in your scripts

This is an ongoing list of where you'll lose marks (or help improve your chances). If you have suggestions, let me know.

Stylistic

  1. No directing. If it can be cut and still tells the story, then cut it.
  2. No camera directions.
  3. Show, don't tell. Are you telling us what is happening or showing it? If there is an argument or fight, you need to show us what is said or what happens.
  4. Are you communicating information we wouldn't see or hear? Inner thoughts or intentions? Small details that wouldn't be seen?
  5. No FADE INs or FADE OUTs
  6. Overuse of parentheticals.
  7. Don't mention that it is a story based on something on the title page. The class expects you to create original material.
  8. Cautious of copyright law and brands. Don't use name brands, songs, or other copyrighted material.
  9. Avoid giving the directions left and right. It gets too detailed and acts like directing. Also, if it is detailing a location, it may not be accurate to the actual physical location used.

Spelling

  1. Okay or OK. Not Ok.
  2. Yeah, not ya or yahmost likely.
  3. Gimme, gonna, gotta, lemme are allowed. If it's in the dictionary, I will allow it.
  4. Cultural slang, I will likely allow—but there are limits like it has to be your culture.

Punctuation

  1. Make sure you're using it correctly.
  2. Know the difference between ellipsis, hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes. (PS: I love em dashes.)
  3. Use em dashes to show interruptions of a line, but write out the whole word so the actor knows what they were about to say.
  4. Use ellipsis when the character's line trails off.

Crutch Words

There are a lot of crutch words we use, but here are some particular ones I cut:

  1. beginning or starts. Either an action is or isn't happening. No in-between.
  2. tries. There is usually a better verb that shows them doing it.
  3. just
  4. verb forms of is or be. I mention this below in verbs as well.

Formatting

  1. I can usually tell if you aren’t using a recommended scriptwriting program.
  2. Double-check everything with the book and the lesson on formatting.
  3. New scene headings whenever you move out of a location or the time of day changes.

Numbers

  1. Many numbers should be spelled out.
  2. "XX minutes pass" or something similar. This is a film medium. The film can't run while your characters perform their action during that time.
  3. Similarly, a measures distance "one mile away" or "ten feet away" doesn't really register on film.  Use a visual representation: The length of a field, across the road, nearby, close, or far, for example.

Verbs

  1. Active verbs. “He sees.” not “He is seeing.”
  2. -ing or -ed verbs. seeing, running, etc. Make them active as much as you can. It comes down to whether they are happening simultaneously or consecutively. Most often they are separate.

Simplify

  1. I like white space.
  2. I don’t like big blocks of text.
  3. 3-4 lines maximum on dialogue or action.
  4. Don’t over-describe anything. Find a simple descriptive word.
  5. Show, don’t tell. Show me a scene playing out, don’t tell it to me. This means action and response between characters. Back and forth.