Because I promised Erika to talk a little about screenwriting, here’s what I learned during my “conquest of Hollywood” between 2006 and 2008.
First, the easy part. When you write a screenplay, you don’t have to wonder what person or what tense to choose: it’s always present tense and third person. Try to avoid passive voice, of course, and also the “we see”. Write only what can be seen or heard – no thoughts or things that cannot be filmed. Wrylies (or parenthetical) are to be avoided at all costs in dialogue, apparently actors won’t read them anyway, so it’s useless to add them, unless the line is intended to be sarcastic or it’s totally unclear how it should be said. But again, the less the better.
Second: movies are action, not dialogue. Dialogues should be kept short. Monologues are for theater, not movies. Some say more than four lines of dialogue should be cut. And Talking Heads are boring, make sure to put some action between the characters’ lines (and never ever put the actions into parenthetical).
I’m not going to talk about the rules of having something happen by page 10 or the act breaks, or anything like that – feel free to check either the Screenwriting bible or How NOT to write a screenplay (my favorite, giving examples of both good and bad screenplays). For proper formatting, use either Celtx or Final Draft. Don’t give camera shots – you’re writing a spec script, and all the technicalities are for the shooting scripts.
Length is between 85 and 120 pages with the belief than one page equals one minute – don’t even try to sell a three hour movie, they’ll trash it without reading it. I’ve also heard drama doesn’t sell, and avoid children and animals. Your spec script will be considered a writing sample, and probably never actually shot. You might land some assignments, but before you see YOUR movie out there, it’s better if you write something low budget and shoot it with your friends! 😉
To “direct” without camera shots, simply put a new paragraph. Avoid big blocks of text and descriptions and purple prose, of course. And then… check Bekah’s article on screenwriting, she certainly knows a thing or two as well! 😉 Questions? Feel free to ask. Can’t think of anything else at the moment… *blush*