8 Screenwriting Lessons from “Halt and Catch Fire”

If I were an executive over at AMC, I’d be a little nervous.  What, with Mad Men and Breaking Bad all wrapping up, and to mention the producers of The Walking Dead talking about moving the show more towards a Cop Rock vibe and all. It’s a general truism for we in the screenwriting class (or at least, true enough) that nervous suits with … Read more

How screenwriters can write more and write faster

Out of the 500 or so friends and family I have in my life, approximately 498 of them are screenwriters. And of those 498, exactly one of them actually writes screenplays.  The rest just want to.  Real hard.  Yet they don’t, because they  let everything else become more important, more distracting. Wait! SQUIRREL! Me on the other hand, … Read more

5 Quick Ways to Get a Script Reader to Love Your Script

As Sun Tzu once said, “There are good screenwriters, and there are bad screenwriters.”  And while much of the difference between the two can only be measured with abstract criteria (such as “talent,” and “chutzpah,” and “originality,”)  the fact is, there are several key criteria good screenwriters do with their screenplays that are not only concrete, measurable, and observable, but also, in … Read more

How do I make my script funnier?

Making your script funnier is not easy. Handing a screenplay to someone and telling them it’s funny is easy. But making them laugh as they read it? That’s an entirely different kind of flying altogether. The word “funny” has a lot of different interpretations, but in the filmmaking profession, the word funny only means one … Read more

How to fail as a screenwriter

When asked what was the best way for an aspiring starlet to get into Hollywood, the legendary Bette Davis once famously replied “Take Fountain.” Her advice remains evergreen today, only now there are also a myriad other ways for starlets and screenwriters like us to “get into Hollywood,” so speak — that is, to make it … Read more

Writing an “audience draft” to kick your script in the pants

Is your screenplay about the audience?  Or is it all about you? My company has read a lot of scripts. Thousands. Hundreds of thousands!  (Okay, well, not hundreds of thousands, yet.) Good scripts, bad scripts, mediocre scripts.  And they’ve all had their positives and minuses.  And super-minuses. But there’s one major commonality across all less-than-stellar spec … Read more

Write better screenplay characters using verbs only

One of my writing partners and I are working on a new horror feature script, and we’re in the outlining/beat sheeting stage right now.  Our characters aren’t quite gelled yet, and we’re both firmly entrenched in the belief that character begets plot, so outside of a few key visual sequences we’ve sketched out, our plot … Read more

A Screenwriter’s Guide to Working With Independent Producers

Here are the Screenplay Readers Top 6 most important things for us screenwriters to remember when “getting into bed” with any indie producer. And by the way, some of the rules may even apply to studio producers in some instances, so it’s good to keep all of these in your toolbox when considering any deal for your screenwriting services.

Why Introvert Screenwriters Need To Collaborate

Ever since I started writing, I’ve been an introvert writer. At first, out of necessity, then out of pure mimicry of the supposed lone, struggling artist banging away on his typewriter, then, as I got older, and time grew shorter, out of the desperate pursuit pure chronological efficacy. I’ve never been an introvert socially; just … Read more

Set Etiquette for Screenwriters

If you’re lucky/skilled/badass enough to have one of your screenplays optioned/bought and kicked into production, and if they’ve invited you to be a part of the experience of filming it, you might want to keep in mind, matey, the fact that thar be only a few things an on-set screenwriter is expected to actually, well, do.

Writers groups — the pros and cons for screenwriters

I’m a huge fan of writers groups. Screenwriting, like all writing, is mostly a very lonely endeavor.  One woman.  One word processor.  Or two, if you’re collaborating.  But ironically, the end goal of all screenwriting has traditionally been a stack of pages that get turned into a film that’s projected in front of a room … Read more

8 Great Characters All Screenwriters Should Emulate

The “ideal” screenwriter.  Is it an impossible thing to aspire to?  I argue such aspiration is not only possible, but mandatory. Being great as a screen scribe isn’t easy, but the path has been clearly illuminated by not only the words and worlds of the great screenwriters who came before us, but by their living … Read more

What screenwriters can learn from Downton Abbey

If you’re a cynical screenwriter, like me, it’s not merely recommended that you watch all 3 seasons of PBS’ post-Edwardian period drama, Downton Abbey… …it’s utterly essential. Especially in today’s over-sexed, over-crimed, lowest-common-denominator TV viewing environment. (This article doesn’t give away any plot points or spoilers, so don’t worry.) Downton Abbey starts in the post-Edwardian era … Read more

How do I know when my screenplay is finished?

Ah, your screenplay is finished. That “Save as PDF” command is just dying for you to click it. Getting your script out there is you’ve been working years toward. It’s that final moment when you can say “I’m finished with this screenplay.  Time to move on to the next one.”  But how do you know when … Read more

How to Hang On To Your Screenwriting Credit

Screenwriting credits get watered down. It’s a fact of life, but it’s not unavoidable. Let’s say your screenplay is getting made into a motion picture by a mid-sized production company or small studio. Congrats! But that means an entire film crew is going to be reading your script now.  (Or at least skimming it, if … Read more

Is your ego keeping you from being a great screenwriter?

A screenwriter’s ego can be her greatest asset or her greatest liability. But are most screenwriters thinking about their screenplay, and how it will entertain an audience, or how it will provide jobs for hundreds of film industry folks, or how it will make money for the studio, or how it will leave a mark … Read more

Ergonomics for Screenwriters

Screenwriters don’t think about ergonomics all that much. How does the saying go? “Typists type. Screenwriters stare out windows.” And when screenwriters are staring out windows, what are we doing? We’re sitting at our screenwriter desk. And when we’re not? We’re typing our screenplay.  And all that sitting down and mashing keys and staring out … Read more

Why Screenwriters Need to Move to LA

Yeah, the world is shrinking, and yeah you can use Zoom or whatever,  to communicate across the globe, but if you’re serious about screenwriting, you straight up need to move to Los Angeles. I hate to say it.  As it is, me and my wife sometimes can’t get to the beach, or over to a museum, or … Read more

Beware of companies selling “Hollywood access”

A friend I’ve known for 30 years stopped in for a few days, visiting from the UK. We’ve always been close, so he knew I ran a company that did something with screenplays, but didn’t know exactly what that meant.  So he asked, and I showed him how Screenplay Readers worked: Agents, writers, and producers … Read more

Screenwriter Personality Types

I’ve worked with all types of screenwriters here at Screenplay Readers, good, bad, friendly, evil —you name it.  And having written, directed and produced five feature films, I’ve had the fortune of being exposed to (or inoculated by, you might say) an even wider variety of the species known as screenwriterus domesticus. So, since the … Read more

Screenwriters That Agents Love

If you’re a screenwriter looking to sign with a literary agent, you’ve probably got the basics down: you can tell a reasonably-entertaining story on paper, you’re a hard worker, and you’re a nice gal.  But, alas, it takes more than that to win the affections of an agent. Here are five things lit agents look for when … Read more

Screenwriter Day Jobs – What are the best ones?

There are screenwriters who write one script, mail it off to Hollywood, and sell it for $500k. And then there is the rest of us screenwriters with day jobs: working our butts off in the trenches, slogging through bills, slaving away at some soul-sucking day job so we can pay the rent and keep writing … Read more

Why are my screenplay pages too long?

Are your screenplay pages too long? Sure, you’re a good screenwriter, but are your script’s scenes filled with too much description? Does your dialogue take forever to slog through? Are you simply using too many words? It happens to the best of us! Take my easy five-question screenwriter quiz to see if your script pages … Read more

The Top 5 Reasons Why Screenwriters Quit

As the owner of Screenplay Readers, interacting with dozens of writers on a daily basis, I’ve seen it time and time again – screenwriters simply giving up, and getting out of the business. It’s always a bit discouraging to see talented folks, and folks with potential, simply throwing in the towel when it comes to … Read more

5 Steps To Growing Thick Skin as a Screenwriter

With every script that comes in and piles up here at Screenplay Readers, I can’t help but wonder how many new screenwriters know how stacked the deck is against them. And I also wonder how many of them know how essential it is to know that in order to get a script sold and represented. … Read more

A Screenwriter’s Guide to Networking at Hollywood Parties

If you’re a screenwriter looking to network at a Hollywood party, you’re in for a wild ride. It’s the age-old cliché of Hollywood:  the industry party, loaded from wall to wall with wannabes, fakers, hangers-on, and phonies.  And they’re all nobodies going nowhere who think they’re somebody.  If you go to an film industry party … Read more

The Most Common Script Formatting Errors

Script formatting errors plague every writer at every level. So don’t worry about formatting too much. But if you really want it to give off that professional vibe, make sure your script formatting is as clean and polished as it can be. So before you send that script out, give it a quick look to … Read more

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