500 Ways to Beat the Hollywood Reader by Jennifer Lerch



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  • 500 Ways to Beat the Hollywood Reader by Jennifer Lerch

    Helpful esp. after you've written a first draft. Perhaps not the best but it does work as a concise checklist for you to see what you have and haven't touched on yet.

  • #2
    Yeah, it's not bad. The title just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It's so negative...Like the reader is our "enemy", or something. It does provide a viable checklist, but I've found that trying to adhere too closely to it after the fact can be overwhelming and can actually convolute a script more. JMO.


    • #3
      IMHO I thought it was way too simplistic, tips like: "your protagonist needs motivation." and "use spellcheck". Wow, like, earth-shattering stuff. I'd take a look at Denny Martin Flynn's book, How Not to Write a Screenplay. I found it much more usefull when re-write time came, and funny as hell too. The guys a reader too (or was) so he's real direct in his style, gives you an understanding and even an appreciation of what they do.


      • #4
        "How Not to Write a Screenplay", eh?

        I'm on Amazon as we speak. Thanks


        • #5
          "use spellcheck"

          I'm amaized how many poeple don't.



          • #6
            i thought how not to write a screenplay was a big load of dumb.


            • #7
              For me the main thrust of Lerch's book is to get the script looking right and to tighten it up. Maybe not so useful for re-writes but certainly as a straightforward idiot's guide it's pretty good.


              • #8
                I read it when I first started out and enjoyed it immensely. I still pick it up every once in awhile for reference, though I realize, as with everything, it should be taken with a grain of salt.

                I have seen How Not to Write a Screenplay a million times, but have never picked it up. Is it something I should get for rewrites?


                • #9

                  you might find how not to write a screenplay interesting, but if you're reading other screenwriting books, you'll probably not find it terribly useful. what's good about it can be found in other books. i read it a few years ago, and thought it was okay, but when i read through it more recently, i found a lot of silliness. stuff like,

                  One of my pet peeves is

                  SMASH CUT TO:


                  SLAM CUT TO:

                  These are increasingly popular, especially in television. No such thing exists. A cut is a cut; you cannot cut any faster than from one frame to one frame. [...] The effect the author is going for here is probably one of sudden juxtaposition or shock. [...] If you're really eager to make a sudden transition, give the editor a hint by writing:

                  ABRUPT CUT TO:

                  is just silly. he claims "no such thing" as a SLAM CUT: or a SMASH CUT: exists, and then defines those cuts in such a way as to make it true, as if using either of those phrases means you're suggesting cutting faster than from one frame to another, which of course, is nonsense -- and then recommends using "ABRUPT CUT" instead. you might as well use the former if you're going to use the latter, because they indicate the same damned thing, and after all, "a cut is a cut." the only reason ABRUPT CUT: could possibly be better, is because, for no good reason, he defined SLAM CUT: out of existence. (i've never used any of those transitions, and think if the writing is good, the context of the cut should be enough. i just object to defining something out of existence so that you can make up your own transition.)

                  Don't tell the actor how to communicate to his audience, tell him what to communicate.

                  So I married someone else instead.

                  Alexis seems less than excited.

                  Don't coach an actor an how to say his lines. You'll be wasting precious words. Once a good actor has learned his lines, they are part of the character, not your screenplay.

                  lines such as that aren't primarily for "coaching the actor," they're there so that the reader, who doesn't have benefit of an actor delivering the lines unless and until the film goes into production, can imagine the characters, their personalities, their deliveries. before a script can be a movie, it has to be read by dozens of people, all of whom have to be able to envision it without actors, without sets, without anything but their imaginations, and it's advice like this that makes so many screenplays dry and boring and less visual than silence.

                  She drives down the street listening to Bonnie Raitt's "Burning Down the House."

                  One, you're wrong. Chances are something else will eventually be chosen. Two, if the reader isn't familiar with your favorite music, it's confusing and meaningless. Three, a reader's orientation is to visual images, and we are not likely to hum along as we read.

                  one, you're not wrong. even if something else will eventually be chosen in the film, in the script she will still be listening to bonnie raitt, and if it works in the script, that's what matters. two, if a reader finds a song title "confusing," he's an idiot. even if he doesn't know the song, it's not gonna be confusing. at worst, it means nothing to that particular reader in and of itself. terry rossio and bill marsillii used a beach boys song to great effect in deja vu, and i did find myself humming the song -- despite the fact that i'm not a beach boys fan, at all. nicholas kazan used a rolling stones song to great effect in fallen. and there's a hundred other examples of a song being useful. bottom line is, like all things, only use a song if it's useful to telling the story and don't if it's not.

                  ...revealing a beautiful 18-year-old girl we will come to know later as AMY.

                  There is nothing catagorically wrong with this ... but bear in mind our old axiom -- the screenplay should tell us what we see. We can't see that this girl's name is amy. Writing just "a beautiful 18-year-old girl" is more cinematic.

                  first, you can't see that she's eighteen either. maybe she's seventeen, maybe she's nineteen, maybe she's a well-developed fifteen and it causes her no end of grief at school because the boys are so immature and don't know how to deal with the fact that she looks like a woman when the rest of the girls still look like girls, and so she sits alone in the library and reads books to avoid getting her bra snapped and so on. you just don't know. second, when you introduce a speaking character, unless you have a reason to withhold the name, you don't withhold the name. because then, when you reveal the name you have to explain who this person is and that they were actually introduced forty pages earlier but you withheld the name for no good reason. also you're wasting time writing "the beautiful 18-year-old girl" every time she pops up instead of just calling her amy.

                  and there's a dozen other things in the book that i found, at best, unnecessary, and at worst, wrong. a lot of the book is just one guy's opinion (much like this post), which is fine as far as it goes, but a lot of his opinions are minority opinions, and if you did exactly the opposite of what he suggests, 1/3 of the time it probably wouldn't hurt you one bit.

                  holy goodness, this post has gone on too long.


                  • #10
                    Re: 500 Ways to Beat the Hollywood Reader by Jennifer Lerch

                    I read Lerch's book on recommendation by a friend. She spoke of this women as though she were the next Linda Seger.

                    Well...she ain't.

                    The book serves as a moderately helpful checklist after the first draft is done. What bothered me was that some of her so-called "tips" were just common sense--which is what another poster pointed out. If she would've cut this crap out, she could've whittled it down to 300 "tips" and it would've made a better checklist.

                    As it is now, who wants to scan through 500 checklist points just to find the good ones?