An excerpt from my script review for The Card Counter which will be available 09/13/21:
One tip given to amateur screenwriters is to read professional scripts.
That scripts. Plural.
The issue with just reading a single script and then thinking you’ve got it is you could make your single script this script.
Is there an exact format for screenwriting? No.
However there are certain techniques that professional folks find acceptable.
My main issue here is twofold, based on all the “fluff” in the beginning of the script.
(And that’s me putting it politely.)
The title page for this script?
We don’t hit it until page 10…of a total 93 page document.
So 83 pages for a drama script.
Shit, that’s light even for a horror!
The notion I want you to take away from this section as an amateur writer is to get right to your story.
No synopsis, no character breakdowns, no previous credits, industry buzz…hell, don’t even put a single quote from Socrates on a single page trying to sound clever.
All you’ll do is telegraph you’re an amateur who doesn’t know what they’re doing, and if the page count is light before all the extra “fluff” a professional reader will assume that trait carries over to your storytelling as well and it’ll be a quick, easy pass and onto the next writer in the stack.
Professional readers probably didn’t want the “fluff” from Paul Schrader either, but the guy’s got a track record, so they’ll tolerate it.
All the other stuff applies here too, like typos, directing via description, etc.
But just tell your story.
You’ll be forgiven the occasional error like improper scene headings, transitions, or the like…
Just give your reader and interesting, mentally digestible story.
If a professional wants a synopsis or character breakdown, you’ll be asked for that before the script.
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