Script and Consultants
Unfortunately there are about sixty guidelines that have been given to the entry level gate-keeper / reader that are applicable to spec writers.
Incorrectly formatted slug lines and non secateurs sub headings confuse the reader as do spelling, wrong use of woids, overly pedantic and repetitive Dickensian prose used over and over again with flowery run on sentences in the action lines as well as mispelt / used words threw-out mean the script will either get there script tossed, skimmed, or read later. The use of $1.00 words to impress, do impress. Deplorabely they do it in a negative manner. (All the errors plus italics in this paragraph kinda get to ya after a while. Right? Try six times a day.)
Incorrect use of there/their; your/you’re; its/it’s; maybe/may be; etc. create a wrong image in the reader’s mind. As do excessive use of words ending in –ly and –ing. The “If you don’t care about your script why then should I?” attitude clouds the reader’s evaluation. A compelling script that has a high page count is not as much of a problem as a changed font size, tampered margin or tweaked line spacing. These three are a big no – no.
Crisp, compelling emotive dialogue paramount.
minimal use of contractions create a fast read.
How it looks on the page
if not more
what is said.
Many people in Hollywood hate to read.
Any excuse you provide them to not read will cause your script to die a premature death.
Unless you are sure you are reading the FIRST draft of a sold script from an unknown writer, following that script’s format is of little to no value.
Sunset Boulevard wouldn’t make it past the entry level reader today. Neither would many writer / director scripts that are not a writing assignment or a prefunded project with bankable attachments.
Don’t fight the rules,
Sell the script then adjust them.
But make sure the story is compelling.
First Rule: Thou Shalt Not Be Boring. Second rule: Keep The Reader Riveted.
Networking or shopping the script has limited value if you don’t have the goods.
Dave Trottier has an excellent book and blog about formatting a script on his website. (keepwriting.com)