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.
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.
Have a reading of your script out loud. When your script is read aloud, you can hear where the dialogue isn’t working. You can listen to where the action lines slow down the read or is confusing. Watch listeners’ faces and see if they are lost. If people look bored so would your reader. If you have actor friends, great, if not, as long as your non-actor friends can read, use them.
WAYS NOT TO TAKE THE READER OUT OF YOUR SCRIPT
Don’t have characters with the similar names. Readers do a lot of reading. They read fast. It’s hard to differentiate between Denise and Dennis. Sarah and Susan. Fred and Fran. Even Jack and John can be a problem if they are used constantly. You don’t want to give a chance for the reader to stop and have to figure out which character is which. Then they are taken out of your story and you lost any momentum you had earned so far. Be creative.