Learn & Become A Better Screenwriter
The below list are very important tips for writing great Script Contributions. We highly recommend you pay attention them.
Show don’t tell – You’ve probably heard this before, and for good reason. Screenplays are a visual medium, and it’s vital to write what we are meant to see and hear on screen instead of telling us the intent in an Action Line.
An example of telling:
Adam is furious. He wonders what Bruce is thinking.
Rewritten to show not tell:
Adam grits his teeth in fury. ADAM: “What are you thinking?”
Scenes are usually 1-2 pages long – This is true across all Types of screenplays. Of course there can be scenes that are shorter or longer, but try to keep your scenes within this range.
Try to stick to the voted-in scene idea – Don’t drastically change or deviate from the previously voted Scene Idea, otherwise it will become a different scene and Contributors might not want to vote for it.
Get to the point of the scene quickly – The more efficient you are in your pages, the greater interest they will hold for any reader or Contributor. Scenes don’t need as much “set up” as many writers believe. Also true when it comes to dialogue. No need for formalities at the beginnings of most scene, just get to the conflict.
Write in the present tense – Verbs should be active, visible, and in the present tense. Also avoid gerund verbs ending in “ing” because they unnecessarily take up more space on the page (“is running” is the same as “runs.”)
Avoid politeness and chit-chat – This kind of dialogue is mostly unnecessary and can clutter a scene and possibly bore the audience. We are polite and chit-chat in everyday life, but screenplays are heightened versions of events and require conflict over reality-based interactions.
Don’t repeat things – Whether pieces of information, lines of dialogue, or even single words, try to avoid repetition. It’s redundant and wears on the audience’s patience.
Break up big chunks of action - Keep action lines to 3-4 sentences, then put paragraph returns in – otherwise your screenplay will look like a novel, which is not desirable.
Don’t tell backstory or relationships in action lines – This kind of information has to come out in the dialogue of the scene so that the audience can hear it, otherwise only the reader will know it.
Don’t overuse characters’ names in dialogue – Make it clear what each character’s name is to the audience, but then try to limit the number times the rest of the characters use their name. It can be very distracting.
Avoid camera angles – You are not the director of the screenplay, so most camera angles are unnecessary in the Script.
Use parentheticals sparingly – Parentheticals are mostly unnecessary in screenplays, and most directors and actors will ignore them anyway. The intent of the line of dialogue should be clear from the words you choose and the context. There are specific cases that Parentheticals are absolutely necessary, such as if the line is sarcastic or directed to a specific character in the scene. But mostly they can be avoided.