WRITING A MOVIE SCRIPT:
23 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO GET YOUR SCREENPLAY REJECTED
1-13 by Pinaki Ghosh from www.thescreenplaywriters.com
14-23 by Elizabeth English
1. Offer camera directions in your screenplay. Don’t trust the intelligence of the director or cinematographer and offer camera directions in your script like, ‘pan’, ‘zoom’, ‘dolly’, ‘trolley shot’ or ‘low angle shot’. That will make your script look like one from history and is a definite way of getting it rejected.
2. Offer editing directions in your screenplay. Similarly, go ahead… show a complete disregard to the editor’s intelligence and write editing instructions like ‘cut to’, ‘dissolve’, etc. and your screenplay will look like a thing of the past. In modern day screenplays editing directions are no longer in vogue. Only ‘fade in’ and ‘fade out’ are used twice or thrice in an entire screenplay.
3. Do not capitalize character names. Do not capitalize the character names in the beginning, while writing a movie script. Leave them in lowercase text and your screenplay will be rejected for sure. Similarly, leave words that denote sound, like WHOOSH, or CLANG in lowercase, to show how little you know.
4. Make your screenplay shorter than 90 pages or longer than 140 pages. While writing a movie script, you should definitely make it longer than 130 pages, or shorter than 90 pages to make sure your screenplay goes straight into the trash bin, because normal screenplays are 90 pages to 130 pages in length.
5. Write very lengthy dialogs. Writing a movie script? Love writing interesting dialogs? Then go ahead and make them lengthy. Make each dialog lengthier than 5 lines and that will ensure your screenplay is ripped and made into paper airplanes.
6. Write very lengthy scenes. While writing a movie script, make sure your scenes are lengthy enough to get the screenplay rejected. While normally scenes are less than a page in length to maximum three pages, with 5 page scenes being an exception; you should concentrate in making your scenes more than 5 pages in length… to join the rejected screenplay writers’ club.
7. Write lengthy descriptions. While the normal length of writing a scene description is 1 to 4 lines, you should break the rule and write at least 10 line scene descriptions to be a part of the frustrated screenwriters’ league.
8. Use character names that sound and spell similar. Make your character names sound confusingly similar. Or make them start with the same letter, so that the viewers are thoroughly confused.
9. Use character names for very minor characters. Give character names to even minor characters that appear just once and have one line dialogs, to prove you want to get your screenplay rejected. While the rule is, you should use the professions to identify minor characters, rather than names, a violation of the rule is recommended if you want to do the opposite of normal.
Show me your driving license. God save you if you don’t have one.
The above is normal, if this POLICE OFFICER appears only once in the entire movie. In a good screenplay, a name like ‘HARRY’ or ‘TOM’ or ‘DICK’ would have been inappropriate for this role.
10. Use wired slug lines. Scenes start with slug lines like:
INT. COFFEE HOUSE – NIGHT or EXT. BEACH – DAY
While normal screenplay writers use only ‘day’ or ‘night’, you can be a rebel and use wired slug lines like DUSK, DAWN, SUNSET TIME, SUNRISE TIME, to stay ahead in the race of getting your screenplay rejected.
11. Make a mess of the alignment. And finally, make a mess of the alignment. While the rule is, scene slug lines and action descriptions should be extreme left aligned, character names should be center aligned and dialogs should be left aligned, but an inch towards the right.
12. Use plenty of mood descriptions throughout the screenplay. Use of phrases in brackets like (smiles), (looks worried), (laughs out loud) with every possible dialog to prove yourself to be a complete novice. Experienced screenwriters avoid using such phrases as far as possible because these are for the director to decide. Three such uses in a complete good screenplay are allowed.
13. Do not visualize. While writing a movie script, write it just for the sake of writing it. Do not visualize anything in your mind’s eye. Do not bother if your scenes will be picturesque or boring.
14. Exposition in dialog. Have the character explain and describe what is happening on the screen.
15. In the action paragraphs, describe in detail what the character is thinking, wanting, expecting, is afraid of, plans to do, how he/she feels about something in the past, or what he/she did long ago. Don’t show it, tell it!
16. Describe the characters in detail, exactly what they are wearing, their age, hair color, weight, etc. Say what movie star they look like. You’re the casting agent, right?
17. Note what copyrighted music should be playing, or what songs are heard: title, artist. This greatly adds to the cost of the production!
18. Don’t have characters mention each others’ names at the beginning of the script. The audience will be reading the screenplay while watching the movie, so they’ll know who is who, OK?
19. Forget about transitions from one scene to another. Just jump right into the next scene without any mention beforehand of what to expect. Audiences love to be surprised and confused.
20. Do not break up dialog with action. Let your character talk on and on. Everybody loves talking heads. Full pages of dialog, with no action, is one of the best ways to have the script rejected.
21. Don’t bother having characters react to each other or to various situations, either visually or in dialog. Just drop it there, leave them, and the audience, hanging, and quickly move on. People in real-life never react to anything, right?
22. Don’t waste time editing that screenplay. Never mind checking spelling, punctuation, grammar, formatting, syntax, missing pages, or a 3-act structure. What you learned in elementary school is good enough. Someone else will edit it for you after its optioned.
23. No need for a great first page. Write a screenplay like a novel, with long 3-page descriptions of the opening scene. Don’t forget to mention how and where the opening credits roll in that scene. You don’t need to “hook” the reader from the first page. They’ll read the whole script, word-for-word, because they’re paid to, and then reject it!
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