Checklist B: Technical Execution

#21. Is it properly formatted?

#22. Proper spelling and punctuation. Sentence fragments okay.

#23. Is there a discernible three-act structure?

#24. Are all scenes needed? No scenes off the spine, they will die on screen.

#25. Screenplay descriptions should direct the reader’s mind’s eye, not the director’s camera.

#26. Begin the screenplay as far into the story as possible.

#27. Begin a scene as late as possible, end it as early as possible. A screenplay is like a piece of string that you can cut up and tie together — the trick is to tell the entire story using as little string as possible.

#28. In other words: Use cuts.

#29. Visual, Aural, Verbal — in that order. The expression of someone who has just been shot is best; the sound of the bullet slamming into him is second best; the person saying, “I’ve been shot” is only third best.

#30. What is the hook, the inciting incident? You’ve got ten pages (or ten minutes) to grab an audience.

#31. Allude to the essential points two or even three times. Or hit the key point very hard. Don’t be obtuse.

#32. Repetition of locale. It helps to establish the atmosphere of film, and allows audience to ‘get comfortable.’ Saves money during production.

#33. Repetition and echoes can be used to tag secondary characters. Dangerous technique to use with leads.

#34. Not all scenes have to run five pages of dialogue and/or action. In a good screenplay, there are lots of two-inch scenes. Sequences build pace.

#35. Small details add reality. Has the subject matter been thoroughly researched?

#36. Every single line must either advance the plot, get a laugh, reveal a character trait, or do a combination of two — or in the best case, all three — at once.

#37. No false plot points; no backtracking. It’s dangerous to mislead an audience; they will feel cheated if important actions are taken based on information that has not been provided, or turns out to be false.

#38. Silent solution; tell your story with pictures.

#39. No more than 125 pages, no less than 110… or the first impression will be of a script that ‘needs to be cut’ or ‘needs to be fleshed out.’

#40. Don’t number the scenes of a selling script. MOREs and CONTINUEDs are optional.


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