Monday, March 23, 2015


You want to write for a living. You want to sell that screenplay. Here are some hints to help you further your goals:

 1. You must write "spec" screenplays. Lots of them. Your first one will be awful. Your second one may be fair. Your third one might be OK and your fourth one may be good. Personally I still don't think that four is enough, but I know you will want to sell your first one.

 2. You will need to know the difference between a spec script and a shooting script. You will be writing spec scripts if you are not being paid to write. That's the simple explanation, however there are lots of differences between the two. A spec is a sample of your writing as well as a script that you hope to sell. When you are paid and are writing on assignment it is also a sample of your work, but you will have other people who will give you input left and right.

3. When writing a spec script there are some very important keys that you must know. These things are not written in screenwriting books. They are the unwritten laws of the spec. First, you can't write lots of exposition. These are all of the descriptive passages wherein you tell the reader if it's raining, or what kind of dress a woman is wearing, or the architectural style of a building. It also covers whether the characters are standing or sitting, where they are looking, what hand movements they make or if they walk in or out of a door. Please stop putting all of this into your specs. It will drive an agent or producer crazy. They simply want to know if you can use a proper 3 act structure, have an interesting plot and most importantly if you can write interesting characters.

 4. Stop directing your actors in you specs. Don't tell me what they think, feel, where they look, how they look, what expressions are on their faces, if they walk across a room, if they smile or frown. All of these decisions will be made by the real directors and actors based on the script's dialogue and story information. If you are lucky enough and talented enough to sell your script, it will be rewritten so many times that most of these things will be moot.

 5. Don't crowd your script with too many characters. Ask yourself if introducing the parents or aunts and uncles of the main characters is truly important. If anyone doesn't move the story forward or help the star characters in some important fashion, then get rid of them.

 6. Your stars must be on every page. OK, maybe they are not in one or two scenes, but no more then that. Everyone needs to know that Studio movies cast big stars so that they will at least be assured of a big opening weekend at the box office. Every star wants to be in every scene.

 7. Stop writing flashbacks. Tell that information in dialogue if it is very important to the script. 8. Do not describe every punch in a fight scene.

 9. Do not tell the music playing in the background. Do not write your own lyrics and put it in the script.

10. Do have your star grow and learn something about themselves.

 Now, go back and edit those scripts then send them to me. See my web site at: