the mythical orthodoxy of screenwriting



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  • #31
    Rule #1: There are no rules.


    • #32
      Don't Suck.
      I agree. The screenplay should stand on its own merits without all that extra-curriculur hanky-panky.


      • #33
        That you have to have a film school degree to succeed in the business.


        • #34
          never write that a character cries.


          • #35
            Never do a scene where the protag is talking to the grave of a dead loved one.

            Well, actually, maybe that is a GOOD rule, after all.


            • #36
              Never do a scene where the protag is talking to the grave of a dead loved one.
              That's a new one.

              How bout...

              Never open your script to a slow pan of your protagonist's messy bedroom as he wakes up in the morning.


              • #37
                Don't show extremely graphic displays of violence in progress against children or animals. If they are to be victims of violence, only show their bodies afterward. If you show a little kid or puppy getting splattered onscreen, the audience will hate you.

                Don't know if that's really a rule, but I've heard it repeated often enough by film professors and on messageboards.


                • #38
                  If you work hard, learn all you can, and want it bad enough, you'll make it in this business.


                  • #39
                    Some other people already mentioned the ones that irk me the most, but here are a few more:

                    - Spelling doesn't matter. An editor will clean your script up later.

                    - You'll never sell from outside of Los Angeles.

                    - If you write a great script, it'll magically find its way into the right hands.

                    - Using CAPS for anything other than character intros is amateurish.

                    - If a pro did it, that gives you the green light to do it, too.

                    - If a pro did it, that means you can't/shouldn't do it.

                    - A comedy MUST have a hilarious joke/situation ON EVERY SINGLE PAGE.

                    - The leaner it is, the better it is.

                    - You won't/can't sell your first script.

                    - You won't sell until your 9th or 10th script.

                    - You're either born a writer or you're not.

                    - Anyone can learn to be a good screenwriter if they just practice.

                    - Learning theories won't help you improve your writing.

                    - The end of your first act must land on page 30. The end of your second on page 90, etc.

                    - Nine act structure is fundamentally/dramatically different from three act structure. :rolleyes

                    - Query letters don't work.

                    - No one at the Big 5 will answer your queries.

                    - If you write it, they will cum.

                    - If you can't write a good logline, then your script is obviously flawed.


                    • #40
                      If you work hard, learn all you can, and want it bad enough, you'll make it in this business.
                      This one's my favorite.


                      • #41

                        If you are a chick, you gotta write a rom com.


                        • #42
                          Re: rules

                          Rule 1: outline, outline and outline

                          Rule 2: look for the universal truth in the story you're trying to tell

                          Rule 3: tell your story in a dramatic way

                          Rule 4: tell your story in a visual way

                          Rule 5: get the first draft done

                          Rule 6: accept all notes as help rather than personal criticism - always start off from the POV that the person giving the notes is right and you are wrong

                          Rule 7: never assume you know your story better than anyone else

                          Rule 8: rewrite, rewrite and rewrite

                          Rule 9: read screenplays

                          Rule 10: never give up learning

                          Rule 11: keep writing, keep churning out scripts - each one will teach you something (there is no substitute for doing)

                          Rule 12: write because you have to, because you love it, because it gives you pleasure - not because you want lots of money or an Oscar

                          Rule 13: write the kind of scripts you would pay to watch - write what interests you, what you're passionate about, even if it's uncommercial (just don't expect to sell it)

                          Rule 14: live a life worth living - enjoy life - get out and do stuff outside your safety zone, be alive; it's easy to write if you have something to say and our experience is the fuel for what we write

                          Rule 15: realise that there are no rules in screenwriting, but that you have to know what they are before you can break them


                          • #43
                            Re: rules

                            Rule 8: rewrite, rewrite and rewrite
                            Practising what you preach, Wolfy?


                            • #44
                              Re: rules

                              All dialogue must have subtext. If your characters EVER actually say what they're thinking, then you've failed.
                              This one is actually true

                              I'll add "avoid writing westerns and pirate scripts, they never sell"

                              Oh, and never use CAPS when sounds GO OFF


                              • #45
                                Re: rules

                                I always rewrite - even if that rewriting isn't very good. I have very little talent and ability, but I do the best I can. My efforts are honest.