WHEN DO I KNOW I’M FINISHED? PART TWO

April 16, 2012

You have completed the script/novel checklist from Part One.  You have polished it more than your mother’s good silverware.  You are finally ready to let it go out into the world.

BUT… 

It is still not fit to send to agents, producers, managers, publishers, and studio people.

It’s not ready?  I’ve done all the work.  It’s a great story. The dialogue is crackling.  Why can’t I launch it into the world now?

So far only your eyes have been made contact with your novel/script.   You need another pair of eyes to read it. You want to send out your absolute best effort.  You don’t get a second chance.

  • Story points you think are clear are incomprehensive to another pair of eyes.
  • The great speech you wrote reads like a long boring lecture to another reader.
  • What you thought is a great twist ending is telegraphed on page twenty.
  • You used “your” when you meant “you’re” like fifty times.  You used the word “like” in an annoying way one thousand times.

Whom do you let read it?

  • Friends?  Only if you want them to say, “It’s great I can’t wait to see it up on the big screen.  Or, I don’t know what to wear to your first book signing.”   Hmm, no real feedback there.
  • Family?  Only if you want them to ask, “Is this what you’ve been working on instead of doing more important things around the house?”  Not much help there either.

Here’s whom you should let read it:

  • Your trusted fellow screenwriters or script/novel consultants.  They are familiar with the techniques of writing screenplays or novels; story, structure and format.  They know how to give proper criticism, “Here’s where it wasn’t working for meThe main character never changesThis should be an O.S. not a V.OThe second act drags.  What does your main character really want?

If you’re getting feedback from more than one source, look for consistent notes and criticisms.  They are most likely true.  Make those changes.  Read it again.  It’s ready for your final polish.  Read it again.

It’s ready to be sent out but I can’t let it go!

More excuses: “There’s just one more adjustment I need to make.  I don’t think my opening and closing images work.  The All Is Lost moment needs to be stronger.  I think it will be better if her best friend is French.”  

Question:  What is holding you back?  Answer: FEAR.   “What if no one likes it?”  “If I don’t get any positive responses I’ve been wasting my time.”

All writers have those fears.  You’ve done the work.  It is ready.  It is the best you could do.  It has your unique voice, originality and story. Yes, it’s finally time to send your precious baby off.  You’ve put all you could into bringing it up; nurturing it, letting it mature into a good honest full rounded script/novel.

YOU ARE FINISHED!  SEND IT OUT!……   And start the next project immediately. Good luck!

Any excuses you like to share?  Leave a comment below or email me at: Stephen@rewritedr.com.


Using “Beat” is boring. Give it a life.- ReWriteDr tip

September 2, 2011

A spec screenplay is a reader’s experience.   When you use the word, “beat” that experience becomes boring.  A “beat” is just a place holder when nothing happens.  Gee, that’s exciting to read.  Using a gesture or movement can actually add to your scene.  It can show character or tension.  For instance:

CARRIE: I don’t want to talk about this. (beat) I want to talk about us.

Examples of substituting “beat”.

CARRIE: I don’t want to talk about this. (smiles) I want to talk about us.

CARRIE: I don’t want to talk about this. (looks down) I want to talk about us.

CARRIE: I don’t want to talk about this. (slaps the table) I want to talk about us.

CARRIE: I don’t want to talk about this. (takes a deep breath) I want to talk about us.

Each substitution of “beat” added character or tension to the scene.

Should you never use “beat”?  95% of beats should be an action.

A “beat” shouldn’t be a pause in life; it should have a life in your script.


ReWriteDr Tip: YOUR TITLE PAGE – What should be on it and what shouldn’t be on it.

July 26, 2011

Your title page is your introduction to the reader.  What to make a good impression?  Format it correctly.

Do put on the title page

  • Title
  • written by
  • Your contact information.

That’s all!!!!

THE BEST SCREENPLAY EVER

written by

Stephen W. Buehler

(In the lower left or right hand corner, email address, street address and phone number)

  • stephen@rewritedr.com
  • 4804 Laurel Canyon Blvd. #506
  • Valley Village,CA91607
  • 818-510-1716

If you wrote the screenplay with someone else you use the “&” sign. – You’re a writing team.

written by

Stephen W. Buehler & Albert Einstein

The “and” is used when the first writer has now gone and they’re hired a second writer.

written by

Albert Einstein and Stephen W. Buehler

Don’t put on the title page:

  • WGA registered – If you want the receiver of your script to view you as a professional, they assume that you have already  registered your script – that’s what professionals do.  Amateurs put WGA#.
  • The © symbol.  Same as above.  It’s not necessary.
  • “All Rights Reserved”.  Same as above.  It’s not necessary.
  • Any image, design or cute figure.   Keep it clean and simple.

If you place those items on the title page, you’re saying, “If you steal my idea, I’m going to sue you.”  Wow.  That’s not a good way to start a relationship.  They know the score and they hope you do too.

You want them to read all the pages of your script.  Don’t make them stop at the TITLE PAGE. 


ReWriteDr Tip : Titles

May 6, 2010

Pick a compelling title.  It’s the first thing that people learn about your script. Does your title hint of what the story may be about?  Does it make you smile or feel good or evoke an emotion?  Some good titles: 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN, WEDDING CRASHERS, MEET THE PARENTS, BACK TO THE FUTURE, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, 3 MEN AND A BABY, RUNAWAY BRIDE, KNOCKED-UP, DUMB & DUMBER.  All those titles either gave you a hint of what genre the film is and what it may be about.  Some bad titles: AS GOOD AS IT GETS, SOMETHING’S GOT TO GIVE, THE ISLAND, GIGLI, JERRY MCGUIRE, SIDEWAYS, HANCOCK, THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, TRAFFIC, UP, SIGNS, RATATOUILLE.  When you read these titles you have no idea what kind of film or script you’re looking at.  If you picked up two scripts and had to read one, which one would you pick to read, GLADIATOR or THE MAN?

Do you have any examples of good or bad titles?


ReWriteDr: SCREENWRITING TIP

May 4, 2010

Save your most powerful words for the end of the sentence.  Build suspense for the reader.  Frantically John searches the room.  He finds a bomb under the table. COULD BE WRITTEN WITH MORE SUSPENSE:  Frantically John searches the room.  Under the table his finds a bomb. We don’t know what John’s frantic search turns up until the very last word.  Plus that fact that is was a bomb is surrounded by a lot of other words and can get lost in the paragraph.  Readers tend to skim.  Save that important word for the punch, like you would for a joke.  Your script will be read by a Reader.  Make it suspenseful, fun, exciting for the Reader – it  is a reading experience.


ReWriteDr: SREENWRITING TIP

April 15, 2010

When introducing a new character give their age.  MATT 25, SUSAN, mid-twenties, SAM early nineties.  Make a hard decision and commit to it.  Don’t make the reader stop and have to figure it out.  Sometimes it’s obvious, but not always.  Don’t take the chance.


ReWriteDr: SCREEN WRITING TIP:

April 10, 2010

You can’t tell us what’s happening inside the character’s head. You can only describe what action the character is doing.  We must understand what is going on by the action lines and dialogue only. That’s your job as a writer. It’s hard.  Billy glances at his brother remembering when they were little. Inside Head. – Re-worked: Billy glances at his brother and smiles.  Joan realizes that she is not the woman she thought she was. Inside Head.  – Re-worked: Joan places herself in front of the mirror and shakes her head.  Marty knows the second he turns the knob, the bomb would go off. Inside Head. – Re-worked: Marty reaches for the wires but retracts his hand.  He takes a deep breath.      –  If you use the words, thinks, realizes, knows – you’re inside the character’s head.  Get out of there.