An excerpt from my script review for Coming 2 America which will be available 03/15/21:
Coming this week or next, we have an interview 3way did with a screenwriting member of the site.
Personally I’m hoping we can use most (if not all) of it because there’s a ton of great information in there.
One of the things discussed is the need to read scripts to be successful in screenwriting.
I agree 100% and have said so before.
What I want to discuss here though is being able to tell the difference between reading a shooting script (a version close to the finished product) and a spec script (the “nuts and bolts” of your story when pitching the idea).
The version of the script being reviewed here is of the shooting variety.
Did everything from it make it to the final picture? No.
The specifics to focus on though, when writing your own spec, is to avoid using celebrity cameos and specific song references.
This script is chalk full of them, especially a running gag reveal where the actual musicians are performing live for Akeem, not just recordings.
The first issue is the cost this will add to a project.
The second is your story should be able to function and be interesting without these particular cameos.
The same goes for song cues.
CUE MUSIC: “TBD” Royals by Lorde? — If I Ruled the World by
Can I be honest? And it may hurt your feelings, but nobody cares about your particular taste in music.
And if you can’t even commit like in the above example, why even waste whitespace typing that out?
The simple answer? You shouldn’t.
Music should only figure into your plot if it ties in directly.
The example I like best, and tend to use, comes from one of the many screenwriting books I read long ago, where a detective is having breakfast at a diner and the man two booths over whistles a few bars of a song the detective heard playing the night before, right before a victim was murdered.
Is that man the killer? It’s part of a good thriller, but the point is the song ties in directly to the plot.
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