Script Note: Use “SERIES OF SHOTS” to avoid long action text

B. O'Malley

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Opening paragraph – too much description may intimidate the reader right off the bat, or may cause her to assume the rest of the script is going to be this descriptive, which may put her off.

Instead of this:

A small rural town. A wide river runs through the woods nearby. Dirt roads lead in to its paved streets. A town square surrounds a small park. The shops fronting the empty streets are decorated for fall/Thanksgiving.

Do something like this:

A rural town. The streets are empty. The shops decorated for Thanksgiving.

If the river, roads, square, etc. are all important to introduce right now, and absolutely can’t wait til later, then do this:

A rural town. The streets are empty. The shops decorated for Thanksgiving.

SERIES OF SHOTS: 

– A lazy river nearby.

– Dirt roads turn into paved streets.

– Town square with a park.

But I suspect those are all there right there in paragraph one for atmosphere/setting, and can probably wait to be weaved in.

A church congregation singing can be heard in the street.

CONGREGATION

(O.S.)

(singing)

“All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small.”

Could be replaced with simply:

CONGREGATION

(O.S.)

“All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small...”

“Church” is redundant, “(singing)” is redundant, “can be heard” is redundant.

Nitpick yourself like I’m nitpicking you and your script will automatically get leaner and more readable without even addressing any character, plot, conflict, dialogue, etc. issues.

By page 10, I’m a bit confused as to what’s going on. Lots of prose-style text to wade through. You can really pare that stuff down and still be descriptive.

Character introductions are too wordy.  Action descriptions are too wordy.

These got in the way of me understanding what was going down, and will probably get in the way for most readers.

As a result, my first impression by page 10 is lush.  I’m in love with the setting and time period, but know very little about the characters or why I should care about them.

If you’re going to take the time to include “African American” in character descriptions, be fair and add “white” to the white characters.

By page 10, I’m not feeling what’s at stake yet. We’ve got an angry, corrupt lawman and some thugs, and a white newly-minted Mayor in church with his family, a little kid who accidentally sees the lawman’s corruption, and his dad who fled the scene.

All great elements…  but give me something to worry about by page 10, that makes me have to turn the page to 11.  Or a question that I as a reader feel needs answering, even if it’s just a mild itch of curiosity I need scratched.

Get under our skin by page 10.  Right now, this is all external.  These characters are all extras/background players, compared to the rich, vibrant setting you’ve set up so well.

 

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