Trust Your Readers (and yourself)

The more scripts I read the more patterns I see. Reading copies of scripts that have produced reveal different patterns than reading a stack of hopefuls, unvetted besides an entry fee and a rough page count.

A major difference, one that I didn’t notice to start with but now that I’ve seen it I can’t unsee it, is confidence. More than half of the scripts I’ve read for for this contest have been written by someone who lacks confidence.

  • He doesn’t think I’ll understand how the lines are to be said by the context. 
    • Puts wrylies under half of the dialogue.
  • She doesn’t trust that her words can convey the tone and emotion of her idea,
    • Adds italics and bolds and caps and underlines all the way through until her script looks like an old Batman comic.
  • He feels like I’m not smart enough to understand what he’s talking about.
    • Puts dictionary definitions and notes in the middle of the page to explain terms, ideas, and even how to pronounce words.
  • She isn’t confident in her role as the creator of this world.
    • Adds notes like “they can ad-lib here” or “we can change this for budget reasons”.
  • He doesn’t want to be the one to actually have to pin things down.
    • Introduces characters with lines such as, “We’ll call him Bob. He’s middle-aged and normal looking.” (rather than “Bob, 37, cat hair on the knees of his cheap suit”).
  • She doesn’t want to be seen as pushy or controlling.
    • Uses “it’s like”, “almost as if”, “maybe”, “I think/feel”, “you could”, etc. in the action lines.

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Don’t be boring

I’m a first-round reader for a film festival this year which means I’m working my way through a large stack of screenplays, television specs, and pilots. My tangible reward is a pass to the festival this fall. A festival I attended last year because I had a couple of scripts make into the second round and I wanted to go network and see what it was all about. A weekend that was amazing and fun and that I want to attend again (especially for free!).

The less obvious reward is the knowledge that I’m gaining. The past six weeks have been a crash course in scriptwriting, mostly what not to do, and will likely provide me with many blog posts. But the first lesson, the one that stands out above all the rest, is-
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First Post

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I’ve put off publishing this site for almost a month because I couldn’t think of what to post first. What ground-breaking, witty, insightful thing would start the adventure with the perfect tone?

Then I realized two things. First, no such thing exists and that’s a lot of pressure to put on a single blog post. Two, only about five people are going to read this anyway and y’all already know me.

So here’s the idea- I’m not sure yet what this blog will become. I know I’m supposed to pick a niche and a brand and all that. It’s good advice. But what I want is a place where I can think out loud about stuff that relates to art and creativity, tell stories about the funny and weird crap that happens to me, and let folks know when I have new stories ready for reading. So that’s what I’m going to do.