Screenwriting Tip #99
Voice-over usually feels like scaffolding. You know-something you left in there when you were constructing the first draft, but really should have torn out after it served its purpose.
Screenwriting Tip #120
Always remember that funny trumps everything. Your script could be written in crayon with your name spelled wrong on the cover, but if it's genuinely funny, none of that matters.
Screenwriting Tip #156
The easiest way to write kick-ass protagonists is to make them incredibly good at what they do.
Confused at the outline stage? Stuck in the swamp of Act Two? Don't know who your protagonist is or where she's going?
You might feel like a hack. But don't worry-you're not alone. Even the most experienced writers feel like this at times. Sometimes we just need a few short pointers and reminders to set us on the path again.
Xander Bennett worked as a script reader in the trenches of Hollywood, reading and covering hundreds of mediocre screenplays. After months of reading about heroic Sea World trainers, transgendered circus detectives and crime-fighting chupacabras, he couldn't take it any more. Xander started a blog called 'Screenwriting Tips, You Hack', a place designed to provide short, witty tips on screenwriting for amateur writers all the way up to journeymen scribes.
This book is the evolution of that blog. Dozens of the best scripts (along with many brand-new ones) have been expanded into bite-sized chapters full of funny, insightful, highly usable advice. Let Xander's pain be your gain as you learn about the differences between film and television structure, how to force yourself to write when you really don't want to, and why you probably shouldn't base your first spec script around an alien invasion.
Xander Bennett is a screenwriter and has been a Hollywood script reader. Frustrated by the quality of the screenplays he was reading as a script reader, he started his blog, "Screenwriting Tips.You Hack," as a snarky diatribe. The blog now delivers a tip per day and is the home of the online script reading service, Hack Notes. Bennett has written for television, videogames, role-playing games, and comics, and is the author of a 2008 graphic novel.
Introduction; The Basics: Before You Put Digits to Keyboard; Structure: Learn the Rules or Get Off the Field; Grammar and Word Choice: Saying What You Mean; Your Protagonist: The Most Interesting Girl in the Room; Other Characters: Sidekicks, Sock Puppets and Straw Men; Rewriting: Why You Shouldn't Number Your Drafts; Common Mistakes: Don't Be That Guy; Productivity: Writing Equals Ass On Chair (So Buy a Decent Chair); Personalization: Write In Your Unique Voice, Unless Your Unique Voice Is Creepy; Extremely Specific Mistakes: Hey You! Yes, You; And The Rest: Loglines, Queries and Managers; Afterword: Why We Write