An excerpt from my script review for The Producers which will be available 09/05/16:

5.) Format

This portion is extremely important considering this week’s script.

While searching for a PDF, before a member was kind enough to send me a copy, I noticed it on a website centered around info on selling a screenplay.

Can we learn from this script and the writing of Mel Brooks? Certainly.

The important fact to remember here is not just to read pro scripts, but more importantly, make sure CURRENT pro scripts read outnumber these historical gems.

By staying current, you’ll learn the basic trends of formatting which is crucial, because if a script looks weird to a reader before starting, it may be set aside for a project less assaulting to the eyes, or worse, thrown in the trash entirely.

The same can be said for themes, genres, and characteristics of projects being bought and produced today. You should always read as many professional scripts as you can, but readers expect certain elements for certain genres, and being up to date on that can never hurt.

For instance, if you read this comedy ONLY, before setting off to write your own, a reader would laugh at your style, and not for the right reasons.

Reading this single script DOES NOT make you familiar with professional comedies.

First and foremost, and what almost made me pick another project Mr. Wilder was in, is line after line of capital letters.

Damn near the whole thing is capitalized, and that’s hard for our minds to digest, let alone stomach the sensation that we’re being shouted at for 97 pages.

Second is the constant use of angles and shots.

I’m still unclear exactly how that opening scene unfolded, and that would be okay, so long as the person writing this script is also directing.

For us, especially writing and selling a spec script, focus on the story.

There’s nothing but the story.

Want more helpful screenwriting tips and movie/script reviews? Follow this link to our Discussion Forum.

And be sure to check out our Notes Service, where I give my detailed thoughts and suggestions on your script.

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