Friday, May 14, 2010


Those of you who have been visiting lately...thank you! We're not dead.

But, we have been on a brief hiatus. Trips back East. Back back West (yes, we refuse to say 'out west).

Rest assured, however, that we'll be back.

Well, you were clearly resting assured anyway. So I guess...continue to sleep peaceful nights.

We'll be back soon.

Until then, we're going to post random life tricks that are awesome. Check them out and your life will be easier.

TIP #1: If you use the phrase "I'm not gonna lie," stop using it. You seem like a douche. You're welcome.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Background Noise

In writing any kind of script, but comedy especially, one of the most undervalued tricks in keeping a scene interesting is bringing the background to life. It’s kind of what Blake Snyder means by ‘putting the pope in the pool.’ But we say, take it further. Don’t just put the pope in the pool. Put the pope in the pool, surround him with eccentric pool floats and a precocious kid that keeps repeating the same swear word.

Snyder advocates putting the pope in the pool as a tool for disguising exposition. But even when you have snappy dialogue happening in the foreground, there’s no reason your scene can’t be enhanced by some ridiculous setting. If your characters are having a raunchy, hilarious conversation about anal suppositories, don’t make it happen in the privacy of their home. Make it happen in a crowded McDonald’s that’s overrun with a middle school gymnastics team. Or make it happen at a church get together. Don’t shy away from raising the stakes because it’s easier just to write two people talking.

Here’s an example:


Dick and Jane wait in a long line in the crowded bistro. PETA stickers and happy animal faces adorn the walls. A HAPPY CHILD pets her dog in the corner.

How was I supposed to know, Jane?

I don’t know. Common sense? Normal human instinct.
The use of your eyes, maybe?

I used my eyes. It didn’t look real.

In what way did it not look real? Its fur? Its cute little nose?

A few RESTAURANT PATRONS chat nearby.

Did you know it’s National Dog month?

Yeah. I’ve adopted three puppies already today.

Look, I’m sorry, okay? Why did you bring me here anyway?
Torture? Guilt trip?

I’m a vegetarian, Dick. In case you forgot.

How could I forget? Huh? Maybe none of this would’ve
happened if you weren’t always breathing down my neck.
It makes me very tense. I get jumpy.

God, I love dogs.

Please, Dick. Don’t blame this on me. I didn’t pull the trigger.

Your father is not usually a joking man. When he said target practice,
I thought he meant it literally.

Well, good work. Excellent judgment.

I didn’t mean to shoot your dog in the face, Jane! I’ve never
even used a gun before!

Aghast Patrons stare in horror as Dick panics and hurries out. The Happy Child bursts into tears. Jane calls after him.

We’ve had that dog for ten years, Dick. She survived two car accidents!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Greenberg's Hot Tub is Outta My League!


So we've been out of the loop for a while. Mostly just watching movies.

This is what we've seen lately:

She's Out Of My Leage - Ugh. This had potential, but ultimately fell short in the meatiest dramatic moments. Contrived conflict WILL sink a comedy script - and this movie is proof. Up until that 'all is lost' scene, I was pretty much on board, floating happily along, getting what I expected. So lesson: Don't underestimate the importance of getting your DRAMA right in a comedy.

our rating: 2.8/5

Hot Tub Time Machine - Better than League, by a lot. Realy good bits in this movie. And this movie is also an example of a good concept that is executed relatively well. It's not perfect, and there are some definite holes in the plot (especially towards the end) but it was a lot of fun.

I don't have the catalog of john hughes movies memorized, but I'm not sure if an expertise in them would have helped or hurt. on one hand - it's nice to really get references. On the other - I doubt this lives up to the standard Hughes set.

our rating: 3.4/5

Greenberg - It has quite a nice look to it, but the main character, as you've probably heard, is SO UNLIKABLE. That, and he really does not have any redeeming characteristics. Thus, the love story does not really make any sense. Why does this friendly, sweet girl keep returning to Greenberg? Clearly, good girls go for shitty guys all the time, but there is always some sort of reason! And here - no reason.

That, and it really can be a challenge to watch someone so unlikable for so long.

All that said, it was a pretty nice character study once you get past all that. Interesting enough, and one conversation about the problems with the emerging into adulthood GEN X was particularly riveting (cough cough...hate myself...cough cough).


So perhaps that will do as a blog post for now.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Screenwriting and March Madness

Watching March Madness, I realized that there is a really huge connection between this tourney and good screenplays.


For every one of these teams, the stakes are high in every single game. Thus, teams always try their hardest to win.

but the really brilliant part of the tournament is THE BRACKETS. NCAA brackets are to tv sports what an active protagonist, or tons of conflict are to a screenplay.

The Brackets are what make otherwise uninteresting everyday events completely riveting. Normally, we wouldn't care which of two random teams won a game, but because the tournament stakes are so high, and because we have our little brackets to KEEP TRACK of progress, we are watching all weekend long.

So in your screenplay, keep the stakes as high as possible, and always give your reader a way to KEEP TRACK OF PROGRESS!

If your hero is breaking the girl out of a prison, then let us know exactly what that will take before he does it. "okay, take out guard one, blow a whole through the ceiling, drop down on wire, deactivate alarm, and free the girl." That way we're there with him all along, we can feel exactly how he's feeling. "Nice...this is going smoothly or...FUCK there are three guards, not one!"

Alright, I've gotta get back to CBS. I could be missing something!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


When you’re working on something, anything really, but in this case a script, a way to know that you’re doing it right is to write and revise every scene until they click. And I mean really click, and right away you can totally feel it. It’s not imperceptible in any way, like maybe this works now. No, you know that something works because you’ve ratcheted up to it by building tension, and story, and character and then CLICK. It’s immensely satisfying, like the sound it makes when there’s a crick in your neck and you turn your head and your vertebrae pop back into place. Or the sensation of shaking the water out of your ear after being in the ocean.

I guess kind of what I’m saying here is that as a writer, you don’t feel right until you have that CLICK in your writing. It’s like there’s something off balance in your world, and you can’t feel normal until you know you’ve fixed it, until you know you’ve really written something to its full potential. In a way it’s almost like being an addict…you have to have that feeling of satisfaction in your work or you’ll go crazy with frustration. Feeling that click is knowing that you can write, and write well.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Screenplay too long?: What to cut...Part Deux

There are tons of posts around (including on this blog) about how to shorten a screenplay that's too long. After recently being told our 101 page comedy should be 90 (YES. 90. Things are getting that short) I've embarked on a shortening journey.

There are certain inalienable truths of shortening: It's a pain in the ass. It's not fun. It takes a lot of concentration and determination. But finally, it has to be done.

So I thought we could share some tips that I haven't seen around the internet and maybe also comment on those tips.

First and foremost: Don't use the TIGHT feature on Final Draft. That's cheating and you'll end up looking like a total noob.

Here are some common practices:

1) Clean up widows and orphans. Don't let any one word of dialogue get a whole line.
2) Look for big chunks of dialogue. Reword thing so they are shorter.
3) Same for action paragraphs.

Here's what I've found useful while scanning our screenplay:

1) Look for blocks of action tacked onto the end of your scenes. Do you need this at all? Probably it is too detailed. We don't need to know how someone walks away. just that they walk away at all.

2) Look for LONE lines of action between dialogue. Can this be tacked on to earlier action paragraphs or deleted all together? Each of these takes 3 LINES in your screenplay. And it's probably not worth it.

3) Look at ALL YOU WRYLIES. And delete them. Then read through again and see if you needed them at all.

4) CUT FREELY. Cut broad swaths from your screenplay. Don't be afraid. If you miss a joke, you can always put it back in, and chances are you'll forget it was ever there. Make them scenes trim and fit, yo!

5) Look for ellipses. Are they really needed. Are they the character hesitating, or you hesitating as you wrote?

6) Do you have really long character names? Comb through and see if maybe characters are referred to by name too often (either in action or in dialogue).

That's all we can think of for now that isn't covered in depth elsewhere.

Oh! And it's been said so many times before, but it needs repeating - get into your scenes as early as possible, and get out as late as possible!

Dick and Jane

Monday, March 15, 2010

Screenwriting is Simple...right?


So you’ve got an idea. Say your logline is, After nuclear warfare destroys much of existing society, mutant rabbits must battle with mutant turtles to determine the future leaders of Earth. You’ve got a hilarious ending planned, in which the lead mutant rabbit challenges the lead mutant turtle to a foot race, and the whole script is going to be brilliant.

Then you start to run into some little problems. You want to have a character that acts as a spy, but you can’t come up with a unique ‘traitor-villain’ on either the rabbit or turtle side. So you invent a Wall-E inspired cockroach character who passes information for food. Why, though, is this cockroach the only cockroach survivor? It doesn’t make a lot of sense, so you create a whole army of mutant cockroach survivors. So, then there’s the problem of for whom the cockroaches are fighting? You figure that logically, the cockroaches would have their own agenda, so you create a separate rebellion subplot, in which the cockroaches are trying to sabotage both sides of the war.

Okay, so that’s still simple enough right? Cockroaches vs. turtles vs. rabbits. Fine. But then you start to think about relationships, and you realize you don’t have any real character bonds, let alone a romance. So you ask yourself, what if one of the rabbits likes one of the turtles? And in comes your romantic subplot. You figure you can add a lot of tension if the lead rabbit’s daughter loves the lead turtle’s son, but when one of the cockroaches spots the lovers intertwined, disaster ensues.

You’ve got a lot of conflict going on now. But that’s fine. It’s good to have a lot of conflict. Until you come to the problem of resolving it. Unless everybody dies, somebody has to win this war. And defeat the cockroaches. And reunite the separated lovers. And the cockroaches have really weakened both sides, but you can’t have the cockroaches win! So you decide that the turtles, who really are the good guys, find a mutant plant that gives them impossible strength, so they can defeat the rabbits. But…what’s to keep the rabbits from getting a hold of the same plant? How can you make it exclusive to the turtles?

So…you make it an aquatic plant that the rabbits can’t get to. But…what about the cockroaches? They may not be excellent swimmers, but they could survive underwater long enough to steal some plant from a turtle. My god, this is getting complicated. And what if the turtle and rabbit versions of Romeo and Juliet both eat a ton of the plant so that they can put an end to the war once and for all and make freakish mutant rurtle or tabbit babies together? What language will the turtles and rabbits speak so they are able to understand each other? Will there be subtitles?

This is a problem we often encounter: in setting up a lot of conflict, we set up a need for many, many solutions. And when the solutions don’t come easily, we create a new element that comes with its own set of difficulties to make the solutions work. But then we have to solve a new problem, and so on…So, the key is, simplify. Make your rabbits fight your turtles, make the turtles have the obvious defense of their shells, and so they win. The teenage mutant turtle and his teenage mutant rabbit girlfriend run away together and live happily ever after, and a giant shoe falls from a telephone wire onto the cockroach camp, so they’re out of the picture. The end. Sounds simple enough. Right?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Getting In the Mood: How Screenwriting is like Sex

It occurred to me recently, while I was staring in boredom at a flashing cursor on my computer screen, that writing is a lot like sex. Sometimes, you’re really into it, and it feels great, and satisfying, and you don’t want to stop. But sometimes you’re not. Sometimes there’s just this limp hunk of dialogue glaring at you, and you cannot bring yourself to punch it up. It’s not turning you on. It’s making your head hurt.

So then you have a couple of options. Either you can scorn your lover, put on Judge Judy, and eat a bag of chips…or you can try to make it work. And here’s the thing… maybe you’re not aroused, but if you let it happen, if you let the script touch you in some new kind of way…is this getting weird?...then usually it starts to feel pretty good. And you start to get in a rhythm. And you feel close to your writing.

This is not to suggest that writing always has to be a sensual experience to be gratifying. Only that the two practices are analogous. And if you’re open to letting yourself go a little, if you get out of your own head, then sometimes you discover it’s not about being in the mood, but about releasing yourself into some other reality.

You’re probably thinking this sounds pretty cheesy. Or that it’s easier said than done. Or that you’re a virgin, so this is all pretty foreign territory. Well, okay. Valid assertions. But think about it this way: When you’ve finished a great scene, don’t you just want to throw your head back and revel in the glory of this moment? Don’t you feel ecstatic? And isn’t that feeling worth pursuing, even if you’re not all revved up from the start?

I don’t dispense this advice because I always dive in, no matter how blah I may be feeling. I dispense this advice mostly to myself. Because I am almost never in the mood to do good writing. And when I am feeling somewhat inclined, it requires a lot of foreplay to get me where I need to be. But when I make myself forge ahead, it’s rarely a mistake. What’s the worst that can happen? It’s mediocre, and later on, I go back and try again. And in the end, every time you give it a go, it’s a learning experience. Have I sufficiently confused my discussions of fornication and composition? Good. Then I’ve made my point.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Donnie Darko Screenplay: Awesome Set Up and Pay Off

I spent my teenage years being something of an emo kid. I was in a bunch of bands and watched Saved a lot. But, unlike many of my cohorts, I never ‘got’ Donnie Darko (well…to the extent that anyone can get that movie, I certainly didn’t understand what the big deal was).

The gang huddled together nearing a dozen times throughout my high school career, and watched that movie. But all I remembered was the fuckin’ weird rabbit and that I would rather be doing almost anything else. I barely paid attention.

Until last night. I rewatched the movie with Jane and was FLOORED.

Holy shit. The whole thing is, as the title of this post suggests, an incredible exercise in set up and pay off.

I’d have to re-watch and take notes to cite examples, but that’s not even the point of this post. There is no reason to cite specific examples, b/c it’s as simple as FIRST HALF and SECOND HALF.

The first half of the movie you’re kind of sitting there like…wtf is this movie? What’s going on? Why do all of these things keep happening?
Who is this old woman?
Why am I watching bizarre inspirational videos with Patrick Swayze for two pages of script?
What’s up with the jet engine?
What’s with the rabbit? The gun?
Is that really Seth Rogen?

But in the second half ALL OF THIS IS PAID OFF. So well. It’s seriously mind boggling. The end result is a movie that is so RICH and satisfying that it really is awe inspiring at times.

I’m an arrogant jackass, and don’t like to admit when things make me jealous, but the writing in this movie made me really, really jealous.

Waking up this morning I reasoned that we can definitely do that. Better, even (okay...maybe it! we can too!) And so can you.

Comb through your script looking for references, locations, clothing, lines, throwaway jokes, and see if you can pay them off.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The LA Conundrum: Favors and Screenwriting

One of the hardest things to adapt to as a screenwriter in LA is that your future success depends on asking people for things. And, if you’re anything like us, you HATE asking people for things. Maybe it’s pride, maybe you have issues with giving up the reigns to your own destiny, maybe you don’t want to be a pain in the ass. But you hate it.

We’ve been trying to convince ourselves to just shut up and do it, thought We look to born and bred Angelenos for inspiration. These people will contact their entire email address book for the smallest of favors! They have been incubated by validation in a world that runs on it.

Dear Everyone I know,

Will you pick which head shot you like best?
Will you pick the carpet in my living room?
Do you think my bio is too ‘new agey’? (YES)
What is the best way to get to Santa Monica from the Valley?

These questions are seriously common for a lot of people around here. Asking for help and validation in every life decision. And we’re not advocating that you BECOME this way. HELL NO. But emulate them in the smallest way. As a screenwriter, you’re going to have to.

Don’t be afraid to ask people you know to give you notes on a script. And don’t be too apologetic about it either. THIS PLACE RUNS ON FAVORS, AND THEY’LL BE HAPPY TO ASK YOU TO RETURN IT SOON ENOUGH!

Plus, the people you reach out to for help will certainly ignore your request. At least at first. And that is where PERSISTENCE comes in. It is quite possible that the royalty of Hollywood writers/actors/douchebags are unremarkable in every way, except for there ability to be PERSISTENT without being ANNOYING.

How do you do this?

Fuck if we know. We tend to retreat much too often to be considered annoying.

But it’s something you have to do. Don’t be afraid. Charge ahead, bravely into the world of favor asking and willing reciprocation. Take people to lunch. Pick brains. Make real connections, and maybe you'll meet some not-so-flaky people (let's face it, that's as good as it gets, in any city...)

Lead by example! Volunteer to read your friend's scripts. Write good notes in a TIMELY FASHION. Make yourself invaluable to the people you know, and maybe they’ll pick up your call or return your email next time.

Until then…keep trying.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Walk the Walk

Sometimes, when we’re reading (or writing) a screenplay, the action gets a little dull. And it’s easy when you’re writing to settle for making the action as simple and straightforward as possible. You want to tell us what’s happening economically, and that’s a good thing. Still, a well-written screenplay doesn’t just consist of snappy dialogue. Action that’s descriptive and specific enhances character, setting, and story.

A simple way to punch up your action is to scan your screenplay for words that tend to be overused like ‘walk’ or ‘laugh’ and replace them with more accurate verbs. Especially in instances where you have a character ‘walking slowly’ or ‘laughing menacingly.’ Try ‘ambling’ or ‘cackling.’ A screenplay that doesn’t repeat dull verbs reads well. Also, the particular way that one of your characters walks or laughs can say a lot about him or her. So keep this in mind when you’re re-writing. Don’t go too crazy, and have everyone stride and strut and chortle all the time, but think about your verb use.


Jane rushes in, harried and panting. Dick emerges from the kitchen, drying his hands on a dish cloth.

Where have you been? Dinner was ready hours ago.

Well, don’t blame me. You’re the one that had to have fresh Italian parsley.

Fast Mart didn’t have it?

No, Dick. Fast Mart didn’t have it. So then I walked over to Grab N’ Go, and they didn’t have it either, so I walked to the bus stop, caught the bus and walked to Fresh N’ Fast, and they didn’t have it, so I walked to like three more places that didn’t have it, then I walked to the Farmer’s Market, and I walked all over looking for it there, but I couldn’t find anything but apples, so then I walked to an Italian restaurant, and finally they sold me some. Then I walked home. And that’s where I’ve been.


Yeah. It was crazy. I hope you appreciate the things I do for you.

No, it’s just, man you did not tell that story well. There are other words for walk, you know.

Oh, yeah, Dick? What do you suggest?

Well…saunter, stroll, amble, march, pace, hike, toddle, totter, stagger, move, go, mosey, meander, ramble, wander, promenade, step, run, rush, hurry, stalk, swagger, advance, parade, shuffle, hobble, scuffle, trundle, shamble, waddle, trek, tramp, scramble, trudge, slog, traipse, trek plod, lumber, tread, clump –

Jane slaps Dick in the face and strides away. She looks over her shoulder at a stunned Dick.

You said trek twice.

Well, there you have it. We don’t mean to sound like a dick, but spicing up your verbs makes your story more interesting.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Along the lines of our "free notes" idea, we've decided to do the same thing with loglines. Not positive if we'll have time to read and give notes on three scripts this week, so instead we're gonna check out some loglines!

So twitterers, man your twitter stations, and prepare to retwitter for free logline help sometime today!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

emergency post

be totally aware of what you are thinking at all times.

for instance, i just got back from a trip. took my first home shower. had the thought "huh. i kind of forget which way is hot and cold at home."

then i thought...these are the thoughts that make a screenplay rich. this kind of dialogue. in movies that i love, the dialogue is peppered with incredible anecdotes, or surprising realizations. this stuff tells you so much about a character.

i thought everyone forgot how their home shower works.

but jane never forgets.

this has to say something about CHARACTER.

this was an emergency blog post. i'm gonna start doing this now. when things come to me, if i have time, instead of jotting them in my note book, i'm gonna post about them.

clearly i guess this means there will now be a lot more rambling, odd posts that are often stupid or irrelevant.

but i think things like this are really what's worth sharing and what i wanna blog about.

then again, maybe i'll never make another post like this again.

Screenplay too long?: What to cut...

Recently, I saw a link that said “How to Make Your Screenplay Better.” And then I realized, that that is really the root of all our problems of screenwriters. We always have to strive to make our work better. I also realized that that is really what this blog is about. Cataloguing all the ways that works for us, so these tricks and tools get indoctrinated in our heads, and maybe sharing it with whoever reads this.

So I asked myself that question, and the first thing that popped into my head – the one piece of advice that has stuck with me possibly more than any other – is to get into your scenes as late as possible and get out as early as possible.

We always ask ourselves this question. With literally every scene. Is that “Hello, how are you?” really necessary? No…probably not. And if you cut it, it might help solve some pacing or page count problems or any number of other issues you might be faced with.

Here are our top 5 pieces of extraneous dialogue:

1) Hi. – we don’t need to see our characters greet each other. If you do this a lot, that could be five or ten pages of purely useless dialogue. Also, see number 2.

2) Any response to hi. See number three.

3) Salutations in general – Yes, this basically got three spots because it is the most frequent culprit. There are some really interesting ways to incorporate salutations, but they must be used sparingly. (when salutations are acceptable…future post?)

4) Opening with a question – Scan your work for scenes that open with question, and see if you could achieve the same effect by opening with the response. Or even the response to that response. But be careful not to rephrase the question in the response, it usually comes off as sloppy. “What do you mean rephrasing the question in the response comes off as sloppy, John! I want a divorce!” SEE!!! Open with the demand for a divorce and work backwards, and I’m hooked.

5) Any aside. At all. Especially to end a scene. Especially if the scene ends on a joke. Don’t deflate your punch by having one character comment on it before you cut away. No matter how clever that comment is…you want to get out of every scene as quickly as possible, and on a high note.

This kind of cutting is what a lot of people refer to ‘cutting the fat’ in a script. Often, these mistakes come in early drafts, but they also stick around far too long after that.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Nick Fellowship...

Well, well, well.

The truth is out.

Although we pretend to be solely interested in writing movies, these escapades truly all began in an interest in writing for TV. When we began writing specs for TV they all sucked, but we've learned some things in the process, and will perhaps share these things below. Might as well...the nick fellowship is coming up.

Here are our brief thoughts (in between punching up our 30 Rock, eating french fries, and trying to moisten our addled-by-California much for an inside the parentheses thought. Am I right....?.................

right though.....


too much............)

Anyways, our thoughts:

We hear 30 Rock is hot to spec

Buy or download a script for your spec and study format and structure

Watch your show to get a feel for timing.

Don't accidentally rip off a plot already used (guilty...)

Don't hold back! Be radical, and stand out.


Anybody else? Tips?


Monday, February 22, 2010

Screenwriting expressions adored by many, but not by all???!?

Ugh. Most expressions really piss me off. Especially in regards to writing. Maybe because they're expressions and I'm such a counter-culture psuedo bohemian douchebag that I can't stand how apt they often are. But maybe also because the people who spout these kernels of wisdom and truth more often than not are crappy writers and new-age hipsters that worship three moons and plan their lives according to their horoscopes.

And there is one expression - king of all expressions in the writing world - that rears it's ugly head more than any other. "WRITING IS REWRITING". ughhhhh. I hate hearing this when I'm like "Yeah, just gotta go work on a rewrite for a little." "ah, yes. of course, friend. you know what they say..."writing is rewriting."

Yea. They say it. I know. But I don't want to hear it. It haunts me everywhere i go. and it's so true that i think it needs to be changed to..."Rewriting is writing." Subtle, yes, but oh so deep, insightful and brilliant as well. Or are these expressions, in fact, exactly the same?

Bask in that.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

First 30 or bust?!?!?! The most important pages in any screenplay...

The first 30 pages of any (normal length) screenplay are completely, totally most the important. Hands down. If you get your first 30 right, you’re going to get your end right, and you’ll probably have a pretty easy time with the vast, disgusting wasteland that Act 2 often presents itself as.


Because by creating a screenplay you are creating an entire world. You need to set up the world. Can animals talk? Is bowling the most popular sport? What are the rules in your world.

Same goes for characters. Your hero and villain have to be set up in the first 10, but by the break into two, you have to show us not only what they want but also how they are going to get it. What is going to stand in their way? What are their flaws?

The first 30 pages of a screenplay provide a roadmap for the rest of your journey, and if you nail them, you’ll have a way easier time finishing a first draft you can be (kinda) proud of.

We usually rewrite the first act 2 or 3 or 4 times before moving forward, making sure we’ve planned enough, that we’ve done significant set up and that we have someplace to go.

We recommend the same for most people.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Don't Text in your Screenplay

The only reason we like texting in real life is because it's a good way to avoid talking to someone that we don't want to talk to. We don't have to pick up the phone or call that annoying friend/relative/associate and that is awesome! No confrontation, no awkwardness, no conflict..

Texts are awesome...right?!??!!?

Not in your screenplay, douche.

You WANT conflict. As much as possible. So why avoid it? If Dick and Jane are in bed together, and Dick can just TEXT his mistress about the awesome and experimental sex they had earlier in the toolshed, Jane probably won't have any idea what's going on, and it's really easy to cover up.

But imagine this...


Dick and Jane read in bed. Dick eyes the clock impatiently. He swings one leg over the bed carefully.

Where are you going?


You just went.

My stomach hurts.

I'll make another appointment with the gastrointestinal guy.

Jane, please no. He...makes me uncomfortable.

We'll get to the bottom of this. Pun intended.

Dick sighs and slinks into the bathroom. Jane turns her attention back to her book.

(under his breath)
I know. So good. It felt so good.

Good, sweetheart. Let it all out.

Yes, pumpkin. No you.

When did you have pumpkin?

Jane stands with her ear to the door.

No. I love you pooh bear.

Dick...? Are you talking to...?

Jane edges the door open. Pokes her head in. Sees Dick standing in front of the mirror, nervously chattering into his cell phone.

She grabs the hairspray and blasts him mace style in the face. Dick grabs his face, stumbles, falls, and knocks his head on the bathtub.

Dick dies. Jane picks up the cell.

I'm comin' for you next...bitch!

See! If Dick was texting...none of this could have happened. At most, a little suspicious "what are you doing? who are you texting?" might have come up, but that's not dramatic. PLUS. Nothing is more of a buzz kill on the big screen than a 20 x 20 image of a blackberry screen "U R SO SEXI LUV U. CAN'T WAIT 2 C U L8ER BABEZ!"

Always be as cinematic as possible! Never text!

The end.

Love always,

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Free Screenplay Notes!

Hey Everyone,

We've been talking a lot lately about how hard it is to get someone (really anyone) to read your script. It's annoying. It especially annoyed us before we got out to LA.

We're like..."If someone would read our script we would so gladly read theirs." Because we really enjoy reading other people's work and giving notes. That's something we firmly believe in: learning how to give good notes and think critically about screenwriting improves your own writing exponentially.

That is why we're offering FREE NOTES to three people each week. We'll twitter "FIRST 3 RT'S OF THIS POST GET FREE NOTES THIS WEEK" and when those RT's happen, we'll direct message you our email and read/give you notes that week.

We're not going to waste time summarizing your work or giving a synopses or anything. We're just gonna read it, open word, and write down what we don't think works and some suggestions on how to fix it.

This will keep us reading scripts, and hopefully inspire a little more reading friendliness in the writing community.

Alright. Tweeting presently.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Screenwriting problems in THE BLIND SIDE

Some problems with the blind side…

1)   Early on, a teacher finds a letter written by Michael Oher (the silent football player), that details exactly how he feels at his new school.  It’s called “white walls” or something, and is basically a perfectly crafted insight into his mind.  Pretty obvious and convenient trick to get into his head when we have no other way in.  Oh…except for all the subtext of everything that was going on.  This note really hits you over the head.
2)   The  convenient cut away…Michael goes to a party at some crack den, and tosses some gangsters against the furniture (gun wielding gangsters).  I mean yea…Mike is big and scary but these are gangsters…with guns.  Well…cut to: Michael chilling at a laundry mat without a scratch on his face.
3)   Act I was too long. And the opening scene seems totally misplaced.  For those of you who have seen the movie…do you agree? It opens with a bullock VO over a football play, describing ‘the blind side’ and the importance of the left tackle. But then we don’t get bullock for like…15 minutes and we never see her analyzing tape again. The audience needed to learn why michael’s position was so important, but it could have happened when SJ was teaching him.
4)   Still, we liked it, just like everyone else. Generally entertaining. Good for what it is. Recommended to our parents.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


The more difficult, and more original, that you can make your hero’s problems, the better your screenplay is going to be. In Oz, Dorothy certainly encounters her fair share of problems, including, of course “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” Part of what makes Dorothy’s story so great is that it’s at once very simple and intrinsic – all she wants is to go home – and surprising and fantastical. The world she must navigate to reach the wizard is fraught with interesting peril.

But, that’s been done. Lions, tigers, bears, witches…they’re all still threats, but you can’t successfully employ your everyday dangerous carnivores or wicked, magical women without some kind of twist. Say, for instance, that Dick and Jane are in an Oz-like world. They’ve already encountered some giant, scary animals and the audience is terrified of what else lurks in the shadows. You spring a witch out, that’s no real surprise. Even a cannibalistic witch…see Hansel and Gretel. But say all of a sudden Dick and Jane are just confronted by an innocent looking little kid.

Dick and Jane slowly make their way through a tangled jungle thicket.

Do you hear that?

F***. What if it’s another oversized, man-eating wasp?

No…it sounds…smaller.

Suddenly, a SMALL CHILD, 8, emerges from the bushes wearing a chef’s hat and apron and smiling broadly. Dick and Jane breathe a sigh of relief.

Aw, hello. What’re you doing out here? Where’s your mommy?

Without warning, a few more SMALL CHILDREN materialize, all holding various kitchen utensils, including a butcher knife. Things start to look a little sinister.

Are you kids lost?

The Small Children begin to advance on Dick and Jane, all smiling widely and wielding their kitchen tools menacingly. The first Small Child licks his lips.

Oh. My. God. Dick, I think they’re going to eat us!

Who would expect a tribe of tiny cannibal children to be the next enemy that our brave heroes face? A masterful example of the unexpected nemesis can be found in the comedy, Galaxy Quest, when a bunch of actors pretending to be a starship crew land on a strange planet. First, the gang encounters a village of adorable aliens who seem innocuous until they start ripping each other apart. Then, the hero is trapped on the planet and faces a pig monster which he thinks is the worst imaginable creature he could possibly battle. But no, next a cluster of nearby rocks transforms into a behemoth villain and nearly squashes our unsuspecting hero like a bug. The scenes that take place on this planet, hence, are both suspenseful and comedic because you just don’t see it coming.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Some of you may have noticed that, of late, Saturday Night Live lacks a certain, well, funniness. Recently, while watching a particularly humorless episode of the show, we came to an epiphany: almost every sketch would be improved by either a literal or proverbial punch in the face.

SNL relies heavily on characters that repeat a certain phrase or behavior. Sometimes, this trick works, but more often than not, whatever humor is originally present quickly fades and I want to tear my eyes out.

A perfect example is a recent sketch in which Kristen Wiig, playing one of her usual obnoxious characters, begs everyone in the room, “Don’t make me sing” despite the fact that she is clearly dying to sing. While she brutishly tries to make up words to music she doesn’t know, she continues to repeat her protestations. Here’s a link to the clip, you’ll see what I mean: . By the end of the sketch, everyone in the room clearly wants to punch Kristen Wiig’s character in the face. BUT NO ONE DOES IT!

And how hilarious would that be? Instead of a sketch trailing off, as this one does, with a slightly altered version of the same joke, one character should just get fed up and punch someone (preferably Kristen Wiig) in the face. It would be surprising, and refreshing, and if you’ll pardon the pun, add a much needed punch to SNL’s currently pretty flat show.

Comedy is all about surprise and shock, and SNL totally lacks that. So do a lot of comedy shows these days. Repetition done right can be humorous, but done predictably…well, it’s predictable.

Moral: Don’t be afraid of a punch in the face. It could save everything.

If you're watching SNL this week, see if a figurative or literal 'punch in the face' can save one of the many floundering sketches.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Screenwriting tricks we hate: As You Know Bob...


Dick sips his water delicately. BOB, 55, disheveled and angry, slinks over from across the room.


How goes it, Bob?

Not good. I'm at a loss. It's...hard.

Well. As you know, Bob. This is your third divorce. And, as we've discussed time and time again, the third is always the hardest. And, if I recall correctly, you're not getting any less I right?

Dick laughs boisterously.

But seriously. You know as well as I do. You're broken. You're old. Your balls are, let's face it, not worth the sack they bounce around in.

You think it's time?

You've always thought you were a woman Bob. Make the change. What better time than now? You're forty three, you have two dogs, a mortgage, two angry ex-wives, and a boyfriend.

You know something, you're right.

Yes, Bob. I do know. We both do.

This is the AS YOU KNOW BOB PROBLEM to the extreme. Don't tell a character something they already know. It's tempting. Incredibly tempting. Because it's easy. Don't slide down that slippery slope.

PHRASES TO LOOK OUT FOR (used above): As you know, as we've discussed, if I recall correctly, you know as well as I do

Monday, February 8, 2010


So you want one of your main set pieces to be your romantically involved couple searching for their first home. But as you start to write, you realize that even HGTV sometimes struggles to make that interesting, and it’s ALL they do. So how do you make Dick and Jane discussing countertops and wall color interesting?

Actually, mundane activities are some of the most exciting to write about, because they offer such a blank slate for crazy shit to happen. Take this for example.


Dick and Jane browse around an open house, led by their smug, fast-talking realtor, CARSON.

The kitchen seems nice. Spacious. Although,
I don’t cook that much, soooo…

(to Dick)
You’re gonna marry a bitch that can’t cook?

Carson sends furious text messages on his phone.

Excuse me?!

Uh, we just really like to eat out.

Just joshing you. Of course I’m sure you’re
a wonderful cook. Marvelous. Let’s take a
look at the master bedroom.


Dick and Jane stand in the bedroom. Carson talks on his phone.

Yeah. Yeah, I’m trying to make a sale to these
two total losers. Kidding, you guys! You’re the
greatest. Yeah. Yeah. Gotta go. Scratch ya later!

Scratch…what the…

Uh…is there a closet?

Why, do you need to come out of it?

Carson laughs hysterically.

Joshing, joshing.
(to Jane)
Seriously though, I bet this one’s a real dud in the sack, eh? Eh? You want a real man
take my card!

Jane stares agape at Carson. Dick blushes.

My name is slang for male genitalia. I
think I have –

Right, right, right. Hey, great hardwood floors
in here, if you catch my drift. Eh, eh?

He laughs again. Dick and Jane exchange disturbed glances.

There you go. An egomaniacal, inappropriate real estate agent gives Dick and Jane’s house hunt an original, comic twist. You can do the same with everything from shoe shopping to a haircut to getting an oil change. Don’t be intimidated by writing something that seems like it might bore your audience. Just make sure it doesn’t bore you, and you’re safe.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Don’t get too caught up in dialect. If you have an old black lady from the 1890’s, southeastern Missouri…don’t worry about getting her right down to an apostrophe. Faithfully reproducing dialect chops your work up in the worst way. It takes the reader out of the story, makes them re read lines, and makes them wonder about the sanity of the writer.

Instead, stick to general dialectical ideas. Like specific words, or phrases or expressions. If CHARACTER X lived somewhere where it “rained like watermelon gumdrop water lilies” then put that weird expression in, along with others like it. Broaden your focus, forget apostrophes and odd pluralization and focus on words and phrases. This will get the idea across WAY more effectively than an extremely specific dialect. Also, with all your characters, focus on the cadence and rhythm of their speech.

A good rule of thumb (and I forget where I read it) is to try to have at MOST one apostrophe/altered word per line. It’s not hard and fast, but it will keep you in line.

To finish, a quote from Thomas Hardy's “Tess of the d'Urbervilles”…

"Well, yes," said Mrs. Durbeyfield; and in a private tone, "at first there mid be a little pretence o't. . . But I think it will be wiser of 'ee to put your best side outward," she added.

That seriously almost looks like middle English. This is from a NOVEL and it’s still kind of a trip up…but much easier to get with. So, in screenplays…

PRACTICE WHAT DURBEYFIELD DOESN’T PREACH! Put your best foot forward, free from the hang ups and pratfalls of loyalty to dialect.

(quote taken from this article on the consistency of dialect in novels……totally different but also worth reading)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How to: Take Notes at Screenwriting Groups

We're in three groups and thought we'd share what we've learned about the in person, group style note giving and receiving process.

1) Don't get defensive. It's awkward and weird. People don't want to hurt. They want to help. Even if they suggest you kill your protag on page 5. They are dumb. You aren't. You know your story. Move on.

2) Think about every note. Even the 'murder your protag' notes can help you in some way. Think about where that asshole note giver was coming from, get to the root of it, and try to address the problem.

3) Take notes on the notes. Write it all down.

4) Don't take it personally. People don't care about you enough to make notes on your screenplay a personal vendetta against you. Chill.

5) Know your note givers. If HORROR JACK tells you there needs to be more disembodied fairy midgets...yea...And if raging feminist doesn't understand the irony or sarcasm in your SLUTTY BIMBO character...fuck her!

6) Learn and Master the "Art of Disregarding Notes". Some people just won't 'get' your story. See numbers 1,2, and 5. Do these people get your screenplay. Again...don't disregard all willy nilly. Consider EVERYTHING seriously. These people are saying these things for a reason. Figure out why.

7) WRITE TO PREVENT NOTES! This will vastly improve your writing. Pre empt your note givers by writing a good screenplay. Give yourself notes AS THEM before you present, and try to address the problems. This is a tried and true re-writing tool.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Screenwriting and Real Estate: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!

Recently, while watching the 1963 classic "Charade," we realized the importance of utilizing location in writing. The final showdown takes place first in a busy, columned courtyard. It then moves to a theater (rich with trap doors). Wherever your characters are, is the scene in some way enriched location?

This isn't a steadfast rule, but something to look for, particularly in action or comedy scenes.

Check out the scene below. Unique Location bits: perfume, lipstick, make up counter, escalators, disguise.

Clearly, this is to the extreme, so proceed with caution.


Dick sprints into the store carrying a bucket of fried chicken. Jane is close on his heels.

You won't get far! I can smell that chicken, Dick!

Dick's eyes dart across the room. He scurries to the perfume counter, breaks the display and grabs Britney Spears' new scent, "WASHED UP HO". He sprays it on the chicken, smirks and takes a bite.

Dick looks into a magnified makeup mirror and spots Jane lurking. He grabs a tray of sample lipsticks. He turns to swing, but Jane is still across the room.

The lipsticks CRASH to the ground.

Jane leaps through woman's clothes and lunges at Dick. Dick runs towards the escalators. They are off. He climbs up one flight but Jane flips a switch. He's running up the down escalator.

Dick falls backwards and the escalator slowly carries him back to a waiting Jane, now disguised as a man.

Dick looks up hopefully.

Sir, you have to help me! Thank God!

Or thank Jane...

Jane rips off her costume mustache and shoves it down Dick's throat. He chokes loudly.

I always thought I'd die choking on a mustache...

Dick dies.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Beatles and Screenwriting: A counter argument

This post (FROM THE AWESOME BLOG...COMPLICATIONS ENSUE...) argues that because the beatles were self taught, they fooled around on their guitars, and created very unorthodox chord variations, and that this proves that following formulaic advice will lead to distinctly un-beatles like writing. It argues that only by figuring things out for yourself, can you truly create a memorable piece of work.

Shirk the formula, and you will (can…maybe) be the Paul McCartney of screenwriting. Stick to the formula, and drown in mediocrity.

But I see it differently. To me, the beatles were masters of formula. The chord variations they stumbled upon only enriched songs that were already brilliantly formulaic in construction. Their songs are simple creations that are bolstered by creative chords – not defined by them.

So in screenwriting, I think that it is fine to follow proven formulas (at least loosely). Hit your beats! You become the beatles not by ignoring proven techniques (formulaic or not), but by creating beautiful dialogue flourishes, concise and effective action, and by tying images together with instinctive pacing and flow.

These elements are what define a great screenplay. Like the beatles, writers that master these techniques have a natural gift, at least to some extent. They can hear flat dialogue, they can spot missed jokes, and they can intuitively feel what works. These screenplays are texturally magnificent, formulaic or not, and this is what defines their greatness.

Hopefully this makes sense. It’s just been stewing in my head since reading this post, and I thought it might make an interesting counter argument.

Really though – the initial post is certainly thought provoking. Check it out.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Screenwriting tricks we hate...Version 2.0 - OVERHEARING

Screenwriting tricks we hate: the lazy reveal

Dick had sex with Jane’s sister.

Jane has no idea. She and Dick gonna get married in 2 weeks.

3 days before the wedding Jane is doing the dishes when she happens to overhear Dick and her sister talking about the fated intercourse outside the kitchen window.

Complications ensue.

We’ve been meaning to write about this for a while.  It drives us crazy, and we were reminded about it whilst watching the gripping new Lifetime masterpiece, “The Pregnancy Pact”.  A huge reveal occurs accidentally when boyfriend essentially overhears the big secret.

Reasons this sucks: It’s lazy.  A lot of writers allow their hero to stumble into this kind of information.  But can’t you get your protagonist to find this out another way? Make your hero constantly in pursuit of the truth, constantly put your hero face to face with the conflict, and your hero won’t have to stumble onto major plot points.  They will create plot points. Your story will move better. And people will like your hero even more.

Really.  When’s the last time you OVERHEARD something that completely changed your life story?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Screenwriting in the supermarket - Drawing characters


Dick, handsome as ever, wearing a cowboy hat and steel toed boots, strolls through the aisles powerfully.  Change JANGLES as ambles, and EMPLOYEES turn to him in awe as he passes. Dick stops when he notices Jane, beautiful and elegant, stocking cereal.


Jane wipes sweat from her brow and nods respectfully.

I heard snowstorm tonight. You here for canned goods?

Dick shifts nervously in his colossal foot wear.

I...I...uh...I just kinda saw you there. And I thought, well gee, you're pretty. Do you think that -

Canned goods aisle five. Get.

Do you you wanna go on a date with me sometime? Maybe lunch?

I might could consider it.

Dick looks down sheepishly. Then he glances up. Their eyes meet.

Soup. Green beans. Green broccoli. Celery.

She looks at Dick deviously and winks.

Creamed corn...

Dick wobbles and stumbles backwards.

Yea...yes ma'am. Aisle five. Got it. Th-th-thank -


This was extreme but there are two points here.  1) Draw broad, distinct and memorable characters. Give their speech a unique cadence and rhythm. Make every character sound completely different.  You can always scale back if needed. 2) Always consider reversals! The action here sets up completely opposite characters than what's played out in dialogue.  The cowboy is the quivering mess, and the stock girl is confident and strong.  You can use reversals like this all over your script.  Maybe Dick actually is the strong, confident type, but he meets Jane and melts. Jane is the only cowgirl in the supermarket to meet Dick's confidence with her own brand of home-bred arrogance.  Or maybe you just you these two characters or their relationship for constant comic relief.  There is a wealth of jokes in reversals, so plumb the depths greedily.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Cut down on time spent perusing your virtual queue and amp up time spent actually watching quality movies...instantly.

1) Dr. Strangelove
2) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
3) Paper Moon
4) Cool Hand Luke
5) My Life As A Dog
6) Being There
7) Charade
8) Taxi Driver
9) On the Waterfront
10) Dirty Harry

Monday, January 25, 2010

Don't give your Dick telepathy...stay in your world!

You've set up a world where your protag has one power...laser beam eyes.  No one else has a power. Just your protag...and just the one gift.  But then this happens...


Dick and Jane stand in line at RUPT BANK. Jane taps her foot impatiently. Dick checks his phone. An OLD LADY mutters incoherently at the teller window. THUGS storm in angrily.  LEAD THUG  pushes the Old Lady down.

Shut up, bitch!

The frail old woman recoils, terrified. Her lip quivers silently. DUMB THUG slaps her in the face with all his might. THWAP.

He said shut up...bitch!

Lead Thug shakes his head at Dumb Thug, incredulous.

Jesus, Ronnie. Every time?

Lead Thug turns back to the TELLER angrily.

Give us all your fuckin' money!

The Dumb Thug hands over a plastic Halloween pumpkin. Lead Thug shakes his head again. Shoves a metal briefcase at the teller. Jane turns to Dick quietly.

Do something. Dick! Come on.

Dick nods. Surveys the situation.  Laser beams scorch from his eyes and sizzle into the Lead Thug's knee caps.  The gangster falls to the ground with an agonizing SCREAM.

Dick smirks. Jane hugs him. Dumb Thug backs away sheepishly as he slowly reaches behind his back.

Uh...I...I'm only here for comic relief.
                                                     Don't cripple me by laser beam! I just
                                                     got a puppy!

Dick continues to smiley smugly. Suddenly, he narrows his eyes, digs in and sprints towards the dumb thug.

Everybody take cover!

Dick tackles the dummy with quick power. The dumb thug hits the ground. Hard. A small canister marked "XXX" CLATTERS to the ground harmlessly. Dick grabs the canister and disarms it before knocking the Dumb Thug out with a powerful punch.

Comic relief my left eyebrow.
                                                          This dunce was the mastermind
                                                           all along.

Oh, Dick! How did you know?


But I thought...

Laser eyes and telepathy. Those are
                                                      my powers.

We've been dating the entire movie
                                                       but somehow....

There are lots of things you don't
                                                        know about me.

Dick winks.

Lots of things.

He closes his eyes and mutates into a frog. Jane smiles, impressed, as Dick hops away.

Yes...this was a little long winded...but we think it's a good example of what NOT to do.  DON'T LEAVE YOUR WORLD.  Just because your world has one mystical element, doesn't mean ANYTHING can happen.  It's tempting, but don't give your Dick telepathy.  No good can come of it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


We spend what seems like an hour many nights cruising through Net Flix for really good instant movies.  Thus, we thought it might be a nice idea to list the best...shorten some searches.  Although we've already seen most of these, they are all good to, they're available any time!

Also to come this week: 10 Best documentaries, foreign, and (of course) pre 1990.

10) LOST: SEASON 5 (had to include it...)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Couldn't stop laughing in the checkout line...


  1. 'Insane' threats about harming herself.
  3. Pretends to be dating hunky stars.

A bad bit of dialogue explored...


This is one of the most over used and ill-advised bits of dialogue out there. It should make every “bad dialogue” list out there, but somehow slips through the cracks.


Dick sips tea pensively. Jane enters in a hurry. Sits down across from Dick.

What is it? What’s the matter?

Jane. I have a confession…

He looks at her sheepishly, closes his eyes and opens them slowly.

You know how I never go to the bathroom? 

                         Well…it’s because I wear a diaper. I'm
                          wearing one now.

Jane is frozen. Dick breathes a sigh of relief.

Wow, it feels good to get that off my chest.

Jane remains awe struck. She slumps her shoulders and furrows her brow.

…I just shat.

See how bad that is? The little bit of dialogue “I have a confession…” is completely trite. Yea…that’s how some people talk…but it’s so lame as a piece of dialogue. It separates us from the character and takes away from the power of what they’re about to say. One might argue that it’s used to quickly build tension. It immediately gets the reader wondering right away. BUT wouldn’t it be better if subtext go that information across. The scene builds slowly. Dick gets more and more uncomfortable, then suddenly just blurts it out…I WEAR A DIAPER.

Plus “I have a confession…” sets up huge expectations that are almost always let down. And if the confession was important enough in the first place, it doesn’t need this pretext at all.

Another lazy trick to avoid.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Screenwriting tricks we hate...Version 1.0


This all-too-often used trick is really, really stupid.  It bothers us because, more than anything, it’s just lazy.  Here’s an example.


JANE, kisses a YOUNG DICK (lolol) on the cheek. His lips quiver. She drags her finger lightly through his hair.

I’ll be right back. I’ve got a surprise for you…


Where are you going?

Be patient, horndog. I’ll b.r.b.
She smiles coyly.

The dorky loser sighs as Jane slinks out. He looks around the room uncomfortably. Sees a poster of a young Hasselhoff, shirtless on the beach, oiled up and looking good.

Dick regards the photo thoughtfully.  Rips his Batman t-shirt off and drops his corduroys to the ground. He steps out of his pants and his eyes dart around the room. He spots some lotion and smiles to himself.



He proceeds to cover himself in baby oil. Head to toe. He's dripping wet. He looks in the mirror, rubs the oil in, glances at Hasselhoff and smirks.



Come in…uh…I’m ready for you...

The door CREAKS open. Oh no. It’s Jane's militant, gun toting DADDY.  Daddy narrows his eyes and takes the safety off his gun. Dick's eyes widen.



Jane’s footsteps THUD hurriedly down the hallway. She pushes past her parents. Sees the horny nerd dripping in oil.

And that’s it. The scene cuts away to Jane apologizing to the nerd. Or the nerd talking to his nerd friends. We don’t see how the nerd got out of the situation.  We don’t really see the girl’s reaction and the seemingly impossible situation is never mentioned again.

Never a “Uh…why were you dripping wet and shiny?” Never a “You’re lucky the gun had blanks.” And most importantly, we never get an explanation of how he got out of the situation.  We have an awesome opportunity to learn about ALL THREE CHARACTERS and it’s abandoned because it’s too hard. 

Imagine all the places the scene could have gone. How the kid could have tried to explain it. How other things could have come up. How the girl maybe is actually understanding and thinks it’s kind of cute or WHATEVER. We could have learned something here, but the writers were lazy.

A lot of times, this situation clearly arises when a writer is too married to a joke.  You see it a lot in drafts.  A joke is clearly impractical and damages the script and narrative, but it stays in.   It’s an impossible joke that undermines the rest of the screenplay, and that is why the writer has to use the CUT AWAY…it’s a lazy screenwriter’s EMERGENCY EVACUATION button.

Don’t do it, yo!

Also, if you liked the excerpt above, it’s from a feature we just finished called “DAD, DON’T SHOOT DICK: COVERED IN BABY OIL”.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Inciting Incident


Stephen Colbert's annoying, abrasive voice BLARES. Dick, 22, sits on the couch, disinterested. JANE, also 22,  reads coupons like they're the newspaper.

Yo. Blogs fuckin' suck.

Yea dude. I hate blogging.

It's like. I really don't care what
you have to say, guy from Subway.

Yea. Just stop fucking blogging. Blogs
are stupid. Bloggers are conceited.

Dick mutes Colbert. Finally. He casts a curious glance towards Jane.

We should probably start a blog...

                                                        I'm in.

Okay. Hey everyone.   We think we're pretty here is our blog. We'll basically write about anything, but we'll try to post about SCREENWRITING as much as possible. 

See Ya!
Dick and Jane

p.s. forgive the spacing. If we can figure out how to use scrippet so the spacing isn't totally off, we're gonna do it.

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