Stop telling me your characters are attractive

Tom is attractive. Beatrice is beautiful. Their dentist is gorgeous. Their mail-carrier is a MILF. Having read hundreds of scripts in my career as a script reader, I’ve encountered these sentences and many others like them. In the world according to screenwriters, the universe is an attractive place. Unfortunately, in many scripts, that’s all the … Read more

Screenplay Readability — A Few Quick Tips

Marilyn Monroe with script asking "Some like it what? I'm so confused."

Script readers read scripts. A lot of scripts. Sometimes a reader at my company will chew through 10 or more in a week. (Overall at Screenplay Readers, we’ve read over 21,000 scripts since 1999.) But what is it like for a script reader to read so many scripts? Exhausting. Fact is, most of the screenplays … Read more

How to write interesting characters for your script

the grim reaper saying "I have come for your useless characters."

Write more interesting characters. Yes, you. You should be writing more interesting characters. Here’s a few things you can do to your draft right now. Don’t think about it. Just do it. Your characters are boring and that makes you boring and that makes us bored.  Don’t be boring. 1) Delete the scene where you … Read more

How to get focused so you can sell your screenplay

ostrich with his head sand saying "There's a writing career down here somewhere, I just know it"

“How do I sell my screenplay?” “My screenplay is done. Now what do I do?” “How do I get my script produced?” These are the eternal questions asked by aspiring screenwriters everywhere. But, as you might’ve noticed, get paid for writing for the film and tv industry is not an easy thing to do. Why? … Read more

Screenwriter Networking – The Basic Do’s and Don’t’s

Screenwriter networking is absolutely essential to any screenwriter’s career. People knowing people, referring people, befriending people — without any exaggeration, this is how films and television get made in the film industry. Once more for emphasis: meeting and working with film and tv people is mandatory if you want to make it as a paid screenwriter … Read more

Five Ways to Write Better Female Characters

Writing female characters seems to be a difficult thing to do for most screenwriters and tv writers. Bad female characters seem to be the rule rather than the exception. But there are writers working hard to change this paradigm, by introducing and developing their female characters with a bit more care and realism. And by … Read more

Become a Better Writer by Playing Dungeons and Dragons

Screenwriting and Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). What possibly could a roleplaying game have in common with the century-old art and craft of writing a screenplay for film or television? What on Middle Earth could these two worlds have in common? Believe it or not, there’s actually a Hobbit-ton (pun intended) of overlap between the kind of techniques … Read more

How to write better villains in your screenplay

Is the villain in your screenplay reaching his or her fullest, most extraordinary villain self? Or is your villain limited by mundane, mealy-mouthed tropes or other half-baked screenwriting mistakes? It’s time to take charge of your villains, screenwriters! I’m here to help you unlock your villains’ potential, and unleash your villainous power. Because villains are … Read more

How to write screenplay subtext

Subtext in a screenplay isn’t easy to spot, and writing subtext — or writing subtextually — isn’t easy to do. A screenwriter requires not only verbal dexterity, but a certain depth of life experience to draw from, in order for her subtext to actually work. At the end of Arthur Miller’s classic feel-good play Death of … Read more

Getting into scenes late and leaving scenes early

Getting into a scene late and leaving it early. It can be difficult, even for expert screenwriters. But in Hollywood filmmaking, screenwriting lives or dies depending on how well it can dance on the ever-shrinking stage of audience attention span. In other words, there’s not much space to tell the whole tale in exhaustive detail, … Read more

How to write screenplay action and description text

Writing a screenplay often involves coming up with beautiful characters, stark settings, and really cool hovercraft race sequences. Communicating these elements effectively is the task of the script’s action and description text. The challenge is that not only must the action convey what’s going on to someone reading the script, but also to people turning … Read more

How to Not Be A Racist Screenwriter (Even Accidentally)

Racist screenwriter isn’t an archetype you see a lot of in Hollywood. But racism in screenwriting is all too common. It’s true that the film industry is taking significant steps towards diversity, and that we can discuss how big those steps are, or how late they are, or whether or not those steps will take … Read more

How to Be A Screenwriter That People Recommend

Sure, we all know experienced producers, agents, and name talent use screenplay coverage to separate good screenplays from bad ones. But did you know they also use it as a mechanism to keep their eye open for good screenwriters? The RECOMMEND, CONSIDER, or PASS on a script coverage is typically the one “big final score” … Read more

5 Ways to “Seduce” a Script Reader

In my line of work, script reading, we get paid to read scripts and give notes or write coverage. Which means we have to read every single page of a client’s screenplay. But, as you might imagine, it’s quite a different situation at a studio or production company, where a producer may be asking a … Read more

The Screenwriter’s Bill of Rights

With the amount of available outlets for filmed entertainment exploding exponentially each year, the demand for screenwriters at nearly all levels below the “Studio Tentpole Writer Line” grows ever higher. But so does the number of producers and companies jumping into the filmed entertainment sector, at all levels, from Podcasters to YouTube Humor Channels (like … Read more

Screenwriting for Documentaries — Some Quick Thoughts

Documentaries have one key, primary ingredient that makes them documentaries: they reveal reality. But then again, so does a security camera, propped up over a cash register in any given liquor store. So what is it that differentiates a documentary film from a security camera feed? Or the video babycam for that matter? Or a … Read more

How to get your screenplay under 120 pages

“I loved the movie Django Unchained, but the script was too long…” “The Dark Knight made us millions, but the script was 167 pages, so let’s not do that ever again…” …Said no one ever. Yet, if you’re lucky enough to get your script into the hands of someone who can make or break your … Read more

How screenwriters can win arguments with producers

With all screenwriters, it happens sooner or later. Eventually, we all get into fights with producers. Creative, financial, it doesn’t matter – if you’re writing screenplays, and you’re at all successful in getting one of your scripts into any sort of development or production pipeline, you’re going to have a fight with a producer. At … Read more

Writing an elevator pitch for your screenplay

Many of the scripts that come into Screenplay Readers have a lot going for ’em:  great dialogue, solid pacing, characters that leap off the page… But sometimes a screenplay can have all those things firing on all those cylinders and still come up a bit short in the RECOMMEND department. Why is that? In most cases, it’s easy to … Read more

Persistence: How to make it as a screenwriter

Screenwriters are often malnourished. No, not in the food sense, but in the department of career orientation. Some ask “Can I make it as a screenwriter if I don’t live in LA?” (a question I answer in my article here). And some ask “What are the best day jobs for screenwriters? (which I offer some suggestions … Read more

How hack writers write female characters

If you’re like me, you want to see smart, capable, females up on that big screen. You want to see female characters through an accurate lens. To write in the dark, ignorant of 50% of the population just because that’s the way it’s always been, is no longer acceptable.

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