Screenwriting : Present Participles by Frank Wood

Frank Wood

Present Participles

I just got my first review on Talentville and was ripped to shreds for my use of present participles: "Waving her arms, she runs toward the police car." Although the reviewer mistakenly calls the sentence past tense, I remember reading (somewhere at some point) negative comments on the use of -ing forms. My reviewer would have had me say: "She waves her arms and runs toward the police car." The two sentences appear to me to have slightly different meanings and implications. Are present participles to be avoided in screenwriting?

Max Keanu

TRY: http://editminion.com/ Effective for a fast, first draft check of passive or generic/over used words (that, really, just, then, suddenly, etc) AutoCrit.com is higher quality, but requires you be more savvy on its sugesteded parameters. - måx

Norman William (Welthagen)

Also two avoidable words where possible "of" and "is" People tend to write - "She looks out "of" the window. Sounds stupid right> Try "she looks out the window" "he gets out the car" you'll see how much cleaner your writing becomes. The word IS tends to bring in a natural ing in a sentence. He is running. Drop the IS and it becomes He runs.

Eric Raphael Harman

It is all in the Story! Grammar can be fixed, a crappy story can not be fixed.

Thomas Barragan

"Waving her arms, she runs toward the police car." -This means she is waving and running at the same time. I would have written it as: "She waves her arms as she runs toward the police car." "She waves her arms and runs toward the police car." -This means she waves and then runs right after. Depending on what you want the character to do, you and the reviewer are both right. If your version is what you were intending then don't worry about what the reviewer said. -TmB

Mark Ratering

If you are not a known writter your a "bad writer" if every " I" is dotted "T" crossed. If your known, "don't worry, the actors/director will put their spin on the "masterpiece". Double standard but Life is not Fair.

Mark Ratering

I wont respond David to cowards that dont use their name, I have my own way of writing like a doctor and you David should be in a nut house.

Mark Ratering

Carol what was that nutjob tool david's last name? He again is talking out of his ass!!!

Mark Ratering

I think that they should not let you on this site if you don't use your real name.

Mark Ratering

Know your fallacies Ad hominem Latin for to the man. The attempt to discredit an opponent by attacking the person instead of the argument. Exp. What would you know about labor laws you don’t have a job. Faulty cause Substituting association for causation Many woman claim to be pacifists, but before woman got the vote, there were no nuclear weapons. Guilt by association The attempt to discredit an opponent by associating their argument with an undesirable idea or person. How can you defend christianity? Torquemada was a Christian. Loaded Question A question which limits the range of discourse by containing a controversial or unjustified assumption. In your opinion, what makes the iphone the best smartphone False dilemma Presenting only two possible alternatives to complex situation, when in fact there are more. You don’t support our troops, and that makes you a traitor.

Norman William (Welthagen)

"Of" is not a great word but yes there are sentences where it is unavoidable and if it doesn't make sense without it then it becomes usable. But if you can drop it and it doesn't affect the sentence then the sentence will be cleaner because "of" it. I'd also look at dropping the word "are" everywhere I can as well.

Norman William (Welthagen)

Really? Well if it is David that's a huge compliment. Seems you have something most writers strive for. A very recognizable voice.

Norman William (Welthagen)

I don't believe it's "going out my way" to just drop words. I strive for cleaner sentences and the advice for dropping "of" came from Dave Trottier when I paid him for notes on one of my scripts a while back. My screenplay was littered with them, as well as "is", "are", "because". Perhaps it is preference but I find when I look out the window in the morning, sounds cleaner than when I look out of the window in the morning.

Mark Ratering

NOT IF YOUR A WELL KNOWN JERK

Rob Freeman

This is a prime example of the definition of the word "nitpicking"

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

Not sure if anyone other than the three with the spat is still reading, but I'll add my two cents anyhow. I think using a phrase like, "he gets out the car" sounds inelegant. According to my copy editor, there is no absolute rule as to when to use a preposition like "of" or "that." I might write something like, "he argues there's no point," instead of "he argues that there's no point." It all depends on what sounds better. As for "ing" words, using them is also situational. "he sits at his desk" could mean that he's standing and then sits down, or that he's already sitting. To help eliminate confusion, I'd write "he is sitting at his desk" or "seated at his desk," if that's what happens or "he sits down at his desk" or "he takes his seat at the desk," if that's appropriate. It's all about effective communication. One should strive to eliminate confusion and interpretation. In a screenplay especially, you want to explain exactly what should happen, as you see it in your mind's eye.

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

Also, Frank, remember that most of the people at Talentville, as well as here, are not professionals with vast amounts of experience. Take their advice with a grain of salt. When their comments are rude, I suggest ignoring them completely.

Rob Freeman

Reviews are just one persons opinion. Truth be told "She waves her arms and runs toward the police car." and "Waving her arms, she runs toward the police car." is the exact same thing, and for someone to make an issue out of it is.... say it together folks... nitpicking.

Rob Freeman

and slightly crazy, and perhaps lonely

Norman William (Welthagen)

You're talking to writers Rob. Nitpicking is the bases of our entire existence and if we have the fortune to get our stuff read, it could be thrown in the bin because the people who read scripts are avid nitpickers. So better to be the best we can and nitpick the shit out of everything.

Rob Freeman

My suggestion for you Norman is to nitpick on the important stuff, like characters and story and so on. But in regards to "She waves her arms and runs toward the police car." and "Waving her arms, she runs toward the police car." that is just sillyness. If someone threw a script out because of THIS...time to find a new line of work.

Frank Wood

At the end of my original post, I meant to say, "present participle". I only hope ad hominem does not turn into ad baculum. Having studied this entire thread, I feel I have been educated in how present tense relates to screenwriting. Thanks to all of you. The Tallentville review was my first. I am just starting my third feature, and have had no professional feedback on anything. One gets so much conflicting information about screenwriting, the only way to get to the gist is to wade through a lot of irrelevance and flawed opinion. Reading others' screenplays has helped me because, as a reader, I get to see what it is like to be on the receiving end. Anything that makes me hesitate, anything that breaks the flow is annoying. You learn a lot through the experience of bad example. Marcello, your post cleared a few things up for me. For a prose writer, staying in the present tense is hard enough without worrying about exactly how to do it. Clarity is easier the less grammatically confined one is. At this point, I must conclude my reviewer was a bit nitpicking. However, this investigation of present tense in screenwriting has been enlightening. Again, thanks.

Mark Ratering

Reading scripts as a producer or working for different producers for 30 years not once did I care about grammer. I was thinking does the story work. How much will it cost and who could I get to Star. I never cared about what the word "is" "is".

Rob Freeman

Right on Mark.

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

I agree with you, Mark, to a point. It all boils down to effective communication. If using phrases that are not grammatically perfect gets the point across in a crystal clear way, that's all that is necessary. But we also need to remind ourselves that Hollywood script readers are looking for any excuse to stop reading. While one cannot know what each reader's pet peeves are, I think it's safe to assume that most of them are literate and that many will be turned off by blatant affronts to the English language.

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

I've often told people who argue with me about basic rules of grammar and punctuation that, if I have to reread a sentence more than twice, or if I have to reread more than one sentence even once, I stop reading. A lot of grammar and punctuation rules are silly and uptight, and people who point them out are pedantic and nitpicky. But most of those rules really do facilitate the conveyance of ideas the way one wants others to understand them.

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

Frank, thanks for teaching me a new word. I don't think I'd ever heard of "ad baculum." I mean, I probably had, but it didn't register. That's one of the things I love about forums like this one!

Eric Raphael Harman

People with Phoney Names should be banned from this site. Grammar is less important in a script because it is changed to reflect how people speak according to the time period during revisions. Though grammar is more important in Novels, it is not that important in dialogue. Still what remains is the Story, crappy Stories cannot be edited.

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

Oh, I think we need to be very specific on the topic of grammar in writing. Dialogue is a whole 'nuther thing. Dialogue needs to reflect each character. Some may use perfect speech at all times, while others barely speak the language. I don't imagine anyone was arguing that dialogue must follow proper rules of grammar. As an aside, John, I'm just wondering why you're opposed to pseudonyms.

Jason Dailing

Grammar is a tool and should be wielded as the writer sees fit. If what works for Franks is "Waving her arms, she runs towards the police car," then Frank should go for it. There are a hundred different ways to write this same sentence, and this thread has covered half of them. Some of them violently. Personally I feel the verb "runs" should be more descriptive (i.e. She dashes toward, she charges toward, she makes a b-line towards), but then again it's not my script. It's Frank's, and only he can tell his story. And as Mark said, grammar alone isn't going to make or break a script from being produced to someone who can visualize the story. And if you do give it to a producer who declines and nitpicks the word details, then you'd be better off not working with that kind of person in development. Talentville isn't producing your script Frank, so they literally have nothing better to do with their time than to focus the details. Though on the other hand, they could have some good advice on certain aspects and I would take them, polish as much as you feel necessary. But at the end of the day it's YOUR script and you can do whatever you damned well please :D Its the glory of writing!

Frank Wood

I appreciate your comment, Jason. The sentiment you express could only have come from one who loves words. Each of us is very different. It is our uniqueness that gives us a mandate to express ourselves. My singularity is the only reason anyone would want to hear anything I have to say. That's why it is so important we each find an individual voice. With this in mind, it becomes absurd to compare one's creation with that of anyone else. I think , what I'm hearing from you who have more experience in this craft than I, and from you who understand the protocol of Hollywood more than I, is that the language should be respected but not feared.

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

And we have to show, not tell. That's a hard one for people transitioning from prose. Also, one-page-per-minute is a guideline. Some screenwriters run a bit longer and others shorter. This adds another level of complexity to our writing. We could economically describe action in a few sentences but, if what is supposed be on the screen will take three minutes, we have to write and format that scene to reflect the actual amount of time that will pass.

Kristen Tinsley

LOL! I see that all the time, but I'm often told by my employers to avoid commenting on that because overall the story really matters. Grammar can be fixed, but if it is too many mistakes, you fail on that section of points. Also, never use "we" or music cues or camera angles. Don't be upset because you got ripped apart. If they failed your script on grammar alone, there must be something wrong with them.

Norman William (Welthagen)

Certain comments above are littered with good advice while others are poison to a new writer. How anyone can say grammar is not an important aspect in writing a script is beyond me. Story is the most important aspect but how will the reader know what your story is about if he or she cannot even make it through the first ten pages. Once again we have been bashed with advice from someone with a claimed and unverified success simply to make his point.

Norman William (Welthagen)

Lets see what John August has to say about Grammar in screenwriting. http://johnaugust.com/2006/of-course-grammar-matters Or how about mega UK Screenwriter Janice Hally http://suite101.com/article/why-spelling-and-grammar-are-important-in-sc... Or how about the excellent Script Nurse. http://thescriptlab.com/screenwriting/script-tips/907-grammar-your-ace-i... What does Paul N. Lazarus say? Oh, he's the Director of the Film Program at the University of Miami http://metaphilm.com/index.php/detail/is_grammer_and_foremat_important/ Award winning author Katherine Atwell Herbert? http://www.absolutewrite.com/novels/elements_of_screenplay_style.htm And finally what does Kris Cramer say. He's an author and screenwriter and was an employed script reader for studios. The people we send our scripts to Rob. See his very FIRST rule on what gets a script rejected. http://www.kriscramer.com/2009/five-ways-to-turn-off-a-hollywood-script-...

Heath Verona

Grammar doesn't really matter. You can easily hire someone to correct your spelling if needed. Besides I have read hundreds of scripts from major studios and the grammar wasnt great, but they later just hired/payed someone to fix the spelling.

Mark Ratering

Norman you back up your point very well. My counter is as a producer and film-maker. I not only say... here is my script ...I say here is my film equiptment and my cameras. I don't try to sell to Warner but to ACME. I also may throw in cash. Grammer is not on the top of the list of the independent and/or low budget.

Sandra Campbell

Dan, I don't know. You want to leave?

Norman Ray Fitts

The second sentence is in active voice and that what matters. Active voice implies motion and generally takes fewer words to say the same thing.

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

Thanks for cutting through all the distractions. Agreed. People are people, and what bugs one person won't necessarily bother another. The main point should be, turn in a compelling story in a professional package. No one will grade you down because your script was too professional, but there are plenty of readers who will use the first typo as an excuse to discontinue reading. If you haven't hooked them before that typo, kiss your chances goodbye.

Bassam Messaike

Hi Frank, I sure didn't mean to "rip your script to shreds." Please don't take it personally. We all trying to learn this craft and we could any and all the advice that comes our way. I truly read your entire script. As I mentioned, any improvement to your script is an improvement. I am just like you, new at this and your review was my second's. I did read somewhere that we are not supposed to use the "ing" or the past. I told you, your script was funny and hoped you'd fix it and make it into a movie. But your script also was full of typos and incorrect formatting (I am not talking about one or two but probably on each and every page) that they really got in the way and clouded the script. That's all what I was trying to convey. Good luck again and hope to see your movie one day. Bassam

Frank Wood

Bassam! It's you! I really didn't mean I had taken anything personally. This post was my way of verifying and trying to understanding your critique. Before you brought it to my attention, I only thought about present tense, not about passive and active voice. Your comments led me to study this issue, and I am grateful to you for that. Perhaps I needed to be "ripped to shreds". Now that this issue is behind me, I will try and put the same focus on formatting. I taught myself what formatting I know off the internet. I got a lot of conflicting or confusing information, especially about the difference between a spec script and a working script. Since you were the first to read my script, you discovered my formatting blunders before I knew they existed. I stand (sit) prepared to fix my mistakes. I'm only trying to get this thing right, and you have helped me do so. So far, my "talent bucks" have been well spent.

Kristen Tinsley

Marcello sorry but you are wrong. I cannot fail a script based on just one error. I can fail you if you have numerous mistakes because that shows poor writing ability and how can you be trusted to submit something else or rewrite the script. Story does matter and if you do a good job telling it, I will pass you. Most of the time, its not the grammar that is the problem, it's the execution of the concept.

Kristen Tinsley

Bassam you criticized Frank's grammar? Take a look at your own, please. Seconds not second's.

Paul Sumares

Um ... I think the correct way to say it would be "... and your review was my second one." Or more likely, he meant to say "...and yours was my second review."

Paul Sumares

But I'm really glad that seasoned script readers like Kristen would not toss out a great script because of a couple of grammatical errors. Lots of great artists are not the best technicians.

Kristen Tinsley

Thanks, Paul. I've learned over time to be forgiving because I'm really on the writer's side. I am was a creative writing major and I'm used to it. I just wish that more writers would invest in their scripts and hire people like me to fix them. Authors hire editors, why shouldn't screenwriters?

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

@Kristen, perhaps my ignorance of the industry has gotten the better of me, and I admit that I don't have any Hollywood experience. I'd like you to elaborate your comment that you "can't fail a script based on just one error." Does that mean someone is overseeing you? Like, you have to justify to a superior why you passed on a script? My point is that readers are people. People have pet peeves. I doubt that many readers would be put off by a script void of spelling mistakes or improper grammar, but I'm sure there are plenty of readers who'd be irritated that someone submitted an unprofessional script. Many people will stop reading if it appears the writer didn't have enough sense to have their script proofed before turning it in.

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

@Frank, I really enjoyed Talentville while I was actively involved. Some day, when I have more time, I'll get back to it. I think it can be a really valuable tool.

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

I'm only going off of what friends in the industry have told me, so I may be completely wrong, but I've been told, repeatedly, that readers are looking for the first excuse to stop reading. Kristen might weigh in to let us know if they are required to read through to the end. I don't believe they are. I've always been told that the standard is to read the first five pages. I imagine, if the script is really bad or very unprofessional, they won't even bother going that far. If anyone wants to completely ignore the manner in which they present their script, they have that right, and I wish them well. I won't take my chances. I'll make sure my script has been proofed before I let anyone read it.

Kristen Tinsley

@Jacqueline, you are right. A screenwriter that is paranoid about their work getting ripped off will never work in this business. The paper trail starts when you email your script to a reader or whoever you send it off to. We are not in the business of stealing people's ideas. When a writer sends out their work to a competition or a agency, many eyes land on it. Who is to say that no one will steal it that way? Most of the time, no body has an original idea that can be stolen. Trust me, if you have a great concept and you send it out, it gets picked up quickly. You can't be paranoid in this business and too afraid to work with a script reader. We read your stuff anyway, so what's the problem. All of my clients get a non-disclosure agreement before I read their script. Within that agreement I agree to not share the screenplay with anyone and i do not get credit at all. I give some screenplay writers ideas and I don't even get credit for it when they use it. But I don't care, that's my job. An editor would not steal an idea for a book. It is their job to trim the fat and make everything shiny and perfect. That is what a script reader does as well.

Kristen Tinsley

@Marcello, You are right and wrong. It depends on whom a reader is reading for. The only time I stop reading a script is if it falls under the guidelines of not being ready. This would mean that the script is under the allowed page length, spelling/grammar or is a knock off of a script. For example, I read a script that was 55 pages in length, full of errors and read like a novel. I had to fail it because nobody in their right mind would keep reading it. The story was bizarre and didn't make any sense. The writer also had a synopsis that was supposed be a certain word count. He couldn't make the work count so he repeated, blah, blah, blah until he reached the word count. Do you think I should have taken this writer seriously? I must read through the entire screenplay because I have to cover it and answer questions. But yes, there are readers who will only read your first five pages. These guys don't have the time I do because i work from home.

Kristen Tinsley

Yes Rocky was full of mistakes. It was the story that hooked them. This has happened and the main reason why I am told not to fail a script based on spelling and errors. I know of one script that looked like it was written by a five year old and still got produced. There is an exception to every rule, but for the rest of you, better safe than sorry.

Frank Wood

@Marcello, The reason Tallentville and Zoetrope work to accelerate the learning process is because they put the writer in the reader's shoes. I have read some bad scripts on both sites, but I have also read some great ones. Either way, when you are pushed to review others' screenplays, you become the victim of bad grammar, obtuse plot mazes, two-dimensional characters, failed attempts at humor, etc. One encounters himself and his own errors in the mistakes of others. The minimum number of words per review is 300 on Talentville and 200 on Zoetrope. My reviews have averaged 2500 words. On Talentville, one must review three scripts to earn the "talent bucks" to buy a review, and Zoetrope requires four outright per submission. The ones who started these sites knew this learning process would happen to us and planned it that way. I really didn't understand the implications or the process until I became a happy victim of them. The old adage about learning by teaching is somehow especially true in the screenwriting game.

Mark Ratering

If the story is great then I'm sure grammer will be the last thing anyone cares about. Rock em in 5 and and you'll stay alive!!!

Mark Ratering

Film writers are much more paranoid about their " ideas being nicked" than authors.You can write a screenplay and steal an idea and have it on the street in 10 min. A novel takes a year....or two.

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

@Frank, I'm glad I'm not the only who writes review that way exceed the minimum 300 words on Talentville. Others, sadly, aren't as thorough. But I've still received some good constructive criticism. At the very least, reviewing other people's work can be a great ego booster. I too have read my share of clunkers. I always wrote very diplomatic reviews and tried to be encouraging. The majority of scripts I read were atrociously bad. I mean, real crap. But the handful of good ones were really good and a joy to review. For me, that whole give-take process is a lot of fun.

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

@Kristen, do all script readers give feedback, or do they just grade it "recommend," "consider," or "pass"? Coverage is a service that the writer pays for, no?

Kristen Tinsley

I get $75 for the coverage I give. I comment on conflict, character. dialogue, premise, overall, writing ability, pacing, structure, and logic. I correct formatting, grammar and spelling as I go. I also write a synopsis and log line. I give development notes and suggestions. I can even estimate budget and suggest where to send it. Most readers are required to give some kind of feedback, but it is usually general and brief. I have always given in depth coverage. I get to choose recommend, consider or pass by saying it or grading it by a number between 1-5. Nobody gets a five. If you get a one, that is a pass on your script and you as a writer. Most people get a 3 overall. You pay for coverage when you submit to a screenplay competition. However, those readers are the ones that only read the first 5- 10 pages of your script because they are rushing to make that money.

Kristen Tinsley

Most script reader jobs are un-paid internships. I've always read for producers, directors and production companies.

Kristen Tinsley

Oh boy, Mark. It is just as easy to steal a book idea. If you and others are so paranoid, why are you fishing around Talentville? True a script can be written in under a year, but good luck selling it.

Mark Ratering

Yes I agree but I can sell the idea of a script easier than a novel. I dont use talentville, I hire people like you for your help. More trust more professionalism.

Kristen Tinsley

I went on this talentville to see what it is about. I would be scared to put my stuff up there. i would just hire someone like myself to critique my work. Yeah even I the great and all powerful needs a script reader to check her work :) I write novels too, but I will be dammed if I let a publishing company buy it. Who does that anymore? Self publish and hire an editor.

Frank Wood

I'm starting to detect questionable and contradictory information on this thread: First, I do not claim any exclusive knowledge on either writing or selling screenplays. However, I have completed two feature spec scripts and sent query letters to hundreds of producers and agents in the past three years. My submission rate was around five requests per three hundred query letters. Also, I have, in the interim, scoured the Internet and made dog-eared my copy of Syd Field's book for information on the subject of screenwriting. I found that reviewing services charge from between three hundred and fourteen hundred dollars for coverage of one's screenplay, depending on the track record and reputation of those doing the reviewing. Some offer different levels of depth in their coverage, charge a range of prices. In an earlier post, someone told the story of their screenplay being called crap by ten producers in a row until an eleventh producer loved it and even defended it to the other ten. This would imply that the acceptance or rejection of a screenplay by a producer is a very subjective matter. I have also read, and it is logical to believe, that Hollywood readers are writers themselves. Although I have only been writing screenplays for three years, I have written the English language seriously for fifty. Any writer of whom I have ever heard, with the exception of Ishmael Reed and E.E. Cummings, worshipped spelling and grammar, not to feel superior but to clarify the message they were attempting to convey. Even with perfect grammar, communication is hard enough. I understand that it is the commercial appeal of the story itself that ultimately sells tickets. However, I stands to reason that if a bad writer can have a good idea, and a good writer can have a crappy idea, then a good writer could have a good idea, and a bad writer could have a bad idea. The latter, to me anyway, seem more usually to be the case. Through the decades, I have noticed a correlation between good writers and good ideas. Many times, writers are drawn to the craft because they have ideas. Art of any kind is great in direct proportion to its ability to entertain and enlighten. The tools and techniques available to the writer all exist to this end. Without them, the optimum experience by an audience or reader is compromised. What happens to ticket sales then? Wouldn't hiring someone for seventy-five dollars to review my screenplay be a bit like cleaning the house before the maid arrives? Further, since this is a screenwriting forum, a place where business solicitation is frowned upon, what is to prevent me from believing posts of this sort, despite the subtlety with which they are masqueraded, be seen as anything but a sales pitch? Wouldn't some specific credentials be in order from these solicitors to give their claims credibility? This is a sincere question and is asked without malice. I seek only the truth that it might set me free. I would also like to mention that the author of Final Draft, Ben Cahan, is a co-founder of Tallentville. Should you like to like to check out Zoetrope, it was an idea in 1998 by a guy named Francis Ford Coppola. Ideas cannot be copyrighted. The only thing I have going for me is I. Besides the remote and happy chance someone steals my Idea and makes millions, nobody can do it exactly like I can. I think one of the reasons this craft is so difficult to master is because it requires nothing less than finding a voice unlike any that has ever been heard. The only way to achieve this is through one’s uniqueness. I have read of cases in which an idea was stolen, rewritten, produced, and then flopped. Later, the original work was produced and enjoyed commercial success. One would probably get some industry attention were his idea stolen and made successful.

Mark Ratering

Frank I'm very appreciative of your post... wise words. I think we have to remember that we first are film-makers. We are one of the first artistic people that a producer will use to make money. The money may go for his Ferrari or his next film or girls lots of girls. The producer is a money machine. I love the film "Big Fat Liar" where a producer steals a kid's idea. If you get your work directly to a producer, he's thinking about "the idea" and his next condo in Malibu. If you get it to the cogs that are under the producer, of course they are trying to prove what geniuses they are, picking you apart!!! Grammer does not mean a thing when the bills are due on your anus hair bleaching.LOL

Mark Ratering

Frank I'm very appreciative of your post... wise words. I think we have to remember that we first are film-makers. We are one of the first artistic people that a producer will use to make money. The money may go for his Ferrari or his next film or girls lots of girls. The producer is a money machine. I love the film "Big Fat Liar" where a producer steals a kid's idea. If you get your work directly to a producer, he's thinking about "the idea" and his next condo in Malibu. If you get it to the cogs that are under the producer, of course they are trying to prove what geniuses they are, picking you apart!!! Grammer does not mean a thing when the bills are due on your anus hair bleaching.LOL

Kristen Tinsley

Wow! Somebody sounds bitter. Marcello asked me how much readers get paid and most of the time we work for free to read crap all day. That was off my own personal discussion. Stage 32 is all about marketing. What is actually frowned upon is writers complaining about the free script reads they get when they were wrong in the first place. If you read my bio or my wall before shooting off your mouth, you would know which companies I read for. Script readers don't get credit for their work. I don't know should I send you my BA in creative writing from Hunter? Did you IMdb me?Should I ask M. Night to email you personally? I don't need to brag about who I have read for. Being discreet is part of my job as well as anyone else that works in script development. Bottom line, I have worked my fucking ass of in this business. I've worked on films and wrote screenplays and read screenplays. I put in my time and you want to say that my prices are for maids! Are you kidding me. You wouldn't have the balls to go through what I went through because you think you are so great and everyone should worship you because you can pick up a pen. If you completed two spec scripts, where is your deal, what's your status at the bank? Where did you go to school for screenwriting? I interned with Nora Ephron, God rest her soul, can you say that? I'm adapting the book, The 21st Century Guide to Bachelorhood and it has already been optioned, can you say that?

Kristen Tinsley

Gee look at that, Stage 32 offers script coverage by an unknown person for $60! But I guess nobody needs to pay that little. The more money you pay, the better right? Go ahead and pay thousands, I doubt you will learn anything from that coverage because you think Syd Field will help you do better. Even Stephen King wrote a book called, On Writing and has a whole chapter on grammar and how important it is. He wrote screenplays too! Syd's information is outdated and when did he ever write a selling screenplay? Never! He is just the go to guy because he is first to come up in a screenwriting book search. I would tell you which books to read that actually help, but I'm not sure you even qualify as a writer that can be helped.

Bassam Messaike

I agree with Frank's posts, except that I was nitpicking :) I think Talentville is great and affordable. For those who don't know, you can join for free, review scripts, earn fake money for each review, and buy reviews for your own script. You can also buy membership where you can choose what you want to review. It advises you to get at least five reviews of your script ,before starting a re-write. While it is geared toward paying members, you still get a lot of benefits for free. For a novice like myself, who does not want to spend much money on reviews, treatments, analysis, and coverage, five reviews would probably provide me with useful feedback to improve my writing skills and scripts. In this sense, I would not mind a reviewer pointing any grammatical errors. On the contrary, I'd welcome it. It could only improve my script. In fact, I recently entered a script in the Bluecat Screenplay Competition. It is one of the few competitions, that provide you with an analysis after you enter, which is great. Both reviewers, at the end of their analysis, indicated that I should go back and proofread my script, for typos and grammar. When I went to do this, I found tons of them. I think this will improve my script for the next competition and so on and so forth. So for any future reviewers of my own scripts, have no mercy and rip it away!!!! And if you find any errors in this post, go ahead too.

Kristen Tinsley

Well Frank surely minded you pointing that all out! I wonder what qualifications you have to be a script reader? What else was wrong with the screenplay, did you just comment on grammar because you don't know what else to say in 300 words or less? I read for Blue Cat as well, and they would not have hired me if I was only capable of commenting on grammar mistakes. The scripts that win are flawless and free of error. Anyone can log into a free site and give their opinion on someone's work, but that hardly qualifies them as a script reader. Try working for development people first. You have to pay to get enter a script into Blue Cat. So how can you agree with Frank when he says that you should not have to pay to get coverage? We only read the first five pages by the way. The more we read, the more money we get. Grammar will not help your story if you don't know how to fix it in the first place. No one will hire you to write a spec script if you can't write. Talentville is for people who have been rejected because they can't get an agent. Trust me, if you were talented enough, you'd get an agent. If the script you sent to Blue Cat was good enough and you won, you get an agent who then shops your script around to people like me to read and improve upon.

Paul Sumares

Hi Frank. I don't have any experience as a script writer, but for what it's worth, in my view, those 2 versions of the line from your script have very different meanings, just as you suggest. The one you wrote clearly tells me that her arm-waving is happening while she is running. The "suggested" version I could easily interpret as meaning that the arm-waving and the running are done in sequence, one after the other. I've seen similar sites as what this Talentville sounds to be, only with songwriting, and people on these sites often have no more insight than you do. It seems to me that for technical questions, you should go only to professional authorities on the subject; I'm sure there are many books and resources for things of that nature. Talentville, like these songwriting web sites, is probably better for getting a gut reaction from other people who generally know what a script is trying to achieve. But some may have very good tips, that's true as well. With song demos, if I got some criticism on my production skills, for example, I would often go check out their own material and see if it impressed me enough to take them seriously. Perhaps you could do the same. The quality of people's work often speaks much louder than their claims and credits. Otherwise, it is simply the people with a long history as a professional in the field who are worth their weight in gold when it comes to feedback. As I write this I am compiling a CD of my film cue samples for someone who has been writing music for video games since Broderbund was in its infancy, and who has scored for games like many from the Myst series, Pariah, Riven, Prince of Persia, and Lord of the Rings. Although what he listened to so far of my samples he called "Great stuff!", THIS is a guy I want tearing my music apart ... much more than other aspiring songwriters or film and game composers like me (thus the follow-up CD to him). And he's only doing it because my uncle (who he is very fond of) used to teach his jazz piano and jazz band classes long ago. Those kinds of connections and relationships are the best, as I'm sure you know. I hope you can find experienced people to review your work, however you find them. As an aside, I don't get at all that your post has to do with grammar, so I don't think it helps us to talk about that here. The grammar in your version is fine, of course. Here we are only talking about the use of certain linguistic techniques in a specific form of literature. Sorry for rambling. :-) Best of luck!

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

I agree with those who appreciate critical feedback. Even if I don't necessarily agree with it, I often take something constructive away from it. I paid for coverage once (and will again in the future) and their review was a mixed bag. Some of the criticism was valid, from an industry perspective. At the time, I was self-producing, so some of the things pointed out were irrelevant for my project (things like including some production direction, camera shots, etc.), but it was still helpful, especially now that I'm submitting it to festivals and competitions. Some of their comment left me scratching me head though. Things that made me wonder, "did you actually read the script I sent you???" But I still thought it was well worth the money spent. Asking friends and family to critique your work is almost not worth the bother. All they tell you is how talented you are and how proud they are of you. I had one friend, another filmmaker, who gave me very specific feedback and suggestions. I followed about 80% of his advice.

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

I hadn't heard about Ephron. I hadn't realized she was so old. She looked much younger that 71!

Frank Wood

@Paul: I didn't know about the music exchange sites. However, I know more about song writing than I do about screenwriting. I would love to have a professional evaluation of my screenplays. I started making up songs at six (1956) and have spent a lifetime writing, recording and playing. I have thirty songs produced, many more recorded, and hundreds are still unrecorded. I fear I will not last long enough to leave a record of them all for my granddaughter (who is also a musician). Although I was never a great success, I am proud I stayed true to my muse and never tried to write in any genre. My songs were never mainstream, but they are unlike anybody else's. Through the seventies and eighties, my band opened for many big-name stars, and my backstage connections made for a very interesting life. We did it with original music. Whatever my songs are, they are completed works. I would advise anyone in composing or (screenwriting) to always remain true to his own vision. If the world likes it, that's great, but those who emulate others in their creations never find an individual voice. Every audience can sense a performer's motive. The purest motive is a passionate focus on communicating with each song (or screenplay) the emotional message inherent in the work itself. Image is a result of this, not an end in itself. If one can get his ego out of the way, any valid criticism of one's work, despite the source, rings true, and it becomes easy to separate the wheat from the chaff. The Chinese believe there are three types of musicians: the creator, the interpreter and the listener. Of these, the highest is the listener because the others serve him. All good fortune with your music!

Paul Sumares

Fascinating story and thoughts, Frank! Thanks for sharing them. And thank you for your encouragement with my own music. I'm sure your impact on your granddaughter will be much more than the sum of your music.

Frank Wood

Thanks for the kind thoughts, Dan. Also, thanks for your original response to my question about present participles. Avoiding -ing and an awareness of the passive versus active voice definitely improved my work. Since your post, I have rewritten one of my screenplays focusing on the active voice and am part way through my other finished script. The overuse of "and". "then", etc. all seem to stem from the passive voice. While rewriting, I began to see the pattern. My rewrite knocked two pages off my script, helped me zero in on eliminating a lot of wordiness, and made for a smoother read.

Mark Ratering

I think Kristen is a very sharp and intelligent woman and I don’t have to look at her bio or IMP Crap!!! I go with my gut!!! $75 is a great price, Visa or Mastercard !!!! About agents I lent a friend of my a couple hundred thousand to partner with a big agency on Sunset. After he got it started he got twenty clients real quick. They were the sons and daughters of stars and VIP’s. I can get an agent tomorrow bout $3,000- 5 grand a month.

Kristen Tinsley

@Marcello. Yes somebody does oversee me. There are rules that I have to follow. I can't fail a script just because I didn't like it or there were mistakes. I must and always will remain objective. Kind of like a journalist. They can't state their personal feelings on an issue, but they can find someone who agrees with their view and include their comments in the article. I have to do the same thing. there are other readers who cover the same scripts that I do. Three other people or just one other person can cover the same script. We almost always zero in on what is wrong with the script and give the same scores. The comments speak for themselves and we have to point out the exact line and page number that a grammar mistake was made. If there are too many, then that writer loses points in the writing ability section. But that doesn't take away points from the other sections. We grade individually.

Kristen Tinsley

@Marcello. Sadly, Nora had blood cancer. She didn't look or act her age:) She didn't physically write her scripts anymore. She hired other writers to do it, she just gave the idea and guided them. That is what happens when you get to the top I guess.

Emanuel F. Camacho, Pmp

Started reading through the posts and saw a bit of argument forming so I skipped ahead...apologies if my suggestion has already been given. "Waving her arms, she runs toward the police car." Depending on the emphasis needed to get this aspect across, this may not be as strong as you might need. While the structure is accurate, using pronouns for this type of document leaves participles. Something you could try differently (also forgive me, for all I know this thread is long over -- within terms of you actually needing anymore advice) "She was running straight for the cop, flailing her arms in a panic." Instead of "she", if the sentence is not already modifying the prior sentence, or (if) it is a sentence on its own, use the character name (for now I'll call her Sheila -- sorry no clue what the character is named). "Sheila ran straight for the cop, flailing her arms in a panic." I changed a few words in this one aside from just using a name and not a pronoun. I also removed words that affect the tense of the sentence to assume a current action as opposed to using a past tense term like "Was" inside a sentence explaining the present that also has a term using the suffix "-ing" which is another past tense modifier. It's almost like using a double negative -- but you're working with tenses as well as pronouns to describe an action that is most likely attempting to be immediate and urgent and in the now. I hope this helps.

Bob Wagner

Dan: If you're intent on unsubscribing to this feed, go to the "My lounge subscriptions" tab. After you've clicked on it, you'll see the lounge discussions you're subscribed to. Simply click on the "screenwriting" button to unsubscribe. It will give you one of those do-you-really-mean-to-do-this? messages, and clicking on that removes you from the lounge.

Emanuel F. Camacho, Pmp

Seems like the advice here has boiled down to a debate on the quality and (general) quantity of the reviews and suggestions given by a couple of websites. Not to be adversarial, but all of us are generally here for a reason, to network, to assist, and to communicate. Sometimes we as professionals might have specific info to impart, as such, some of us may feel we are the sole advice-giver on a topic of which we are expertly suited. However, this is a social network, for all intense case and purposes -- it is not called "xyz network" -- in other words, don't argue your point on a piece of advice to the length that you have to filibuster your credentials... Once you have done that, you have lost all of us, even if you are defending your point against someone adversarial. Simply give the advice, and move on, adding walls of text to why you are amazing and this person should do only what you have stated is crass and childish. You only have a small window of information from the person requesting the advice, a premise if you will - not an entire universe to which only you are privy...stick to giving that person advice within that microcosm, and ignore being sucked into arguments from others outside of giving that advice. I'm sure there is a lot of great advice on this thread, but it gets drowned out by the miasma of ego-tossing...

Author G D Grace

Just shared it on Facebook, Frank. Hope your'e having a great day. ~GD

Emanuel F. Camacho, Pmp

Well if you prefer to read walls of text while people argue instead of actually help... I'm here to network, learn where I can, and help where I can. But then again, its only my opinion. You have yours as well. M

Emanuel F. Camacho, Pmp

Also Mr. Guardino, I'm not sure if you perhaps felt I was directing any of my post toward you...not at all -- it was intended in general. You, I believe have given some of the strongest advice on this topic. I'm not entirely sure why you responded so aggressively in your reply commented toward me. But perhaps you have already been experiencing a lot of what I stated in my comment, and are already aggravated about arguments in some of these threads? Either way, I hope the advice that has been given by everyone here is read and was helpful, my own included. I personally hate trudging through arguments to find the real posts of advice, because I like to be able to absorb good information myself...

Frank Wood

@ Nobody, I think the most successful teachers are soft-spoken. I’ve seen a lot of passion and work go into some of these posts, usually by those truly wishing to help the next guy (or gal) along with advice, suggestions, testimony, and even warnings about what not to do. But, why rip someone’s throat out for being incorrect? Being incorrect does not warrant an attack on one’s mother, intelligence, or brand of mouthwash. Without expressing an incorrect opinion, no one might ever call you on it, and you might never discover your idea is flawed. Many times, the written word is less diplomatic, more callous than speech. I am old enough to have once received a draft notice in the mail; the wording was very polite. I confess. I have written many posts defending myself against so called "flame wars" directed at me personally by those who do not know me personally. I keep these letters in a special file; sometimes I reread them for gratification, but I have never posted them. Right now, I'm glad I didn't. "Suppose they gave a (flame) war and nobody came." But, I think I can learn something from anybody, even if I only learn, they are wrong. The truth always comes out if you keep looking. I would love to wave a magic wand and instantly have all the knowledge about screenwriting even the handful of people posting on this thread possesses. I don't know about the rest of you, but I would sacrifice a little ego to get that information. I think this is one of those situations where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. One thing I have learned is the screenwriter must carry a staggering amount of savvy with him to the blank page to end up with anything anywhere close to a marketable finished product, grammar or no grammar. We have to find out somehow. One quote not mentioned is one by Voltaire, “All things bow to success, even grammar.” One of my favorite quotes is from "The Book of Tea" by Kakuzo Okakura. The quote is a comment about some of the earliest occidental visitors to Japan. To paraphrase, "The western missionaries come to impart but not to receive."

Emanuel F. Camacho, Pmp

@Dan, It's more than fine -- no offense taken. We're all here in this great big pond together. Hopefully, we can all, as my partner says to me, "violently agree". Sometimes stirring the pot of discord reaps fresh smelling ideas that inspire greatness...

Emanuel F. Camacho, Pmp

I totally understand that as well...for me, I get really nasty if I get interrupted in the middle of a writing session, I hate stopping, I hate having to go back and make corrections mid paragraph (my OCD demands it sometimes) - I'm old school, as a wiser man taught me in my youth..."Write the damn thing, don't stop until you are done, don't worry about corrections, grammar, or punctuation...everything you write is crap! It takes a good editor to make it great. Just write the damn thing!" -- good luck finishing your piece.

Erica Murray-Healy

Don't know about the screenwriting side, but from an English point of view certainly they have two different meanings - yours meaning waving while running, theirs meaning waving then running.

Frank Wood

Dan, I just copied your post into my "Good Advice" folder.

Mark Ratering

Dan understands writing but more important understands film-making. As film-makers the camera the director and the actor and editor brings the knives and forks to the table the writer brings the food???? Sounds good???. maybe???

Mark Ratering

Know your fallacies Ad hominem Latin for to the man. The attempt to discredit an opponent by attacking the person instead of the argument. Exp. What would you know about labor laws you don’t have a job. Faulty cause Substituting association for causation Many woman claim to be pacifists, but before woman got the vote, there were no nuclear weapons. Guilt by association The attempt to discredit an opponent by associating their argument with an undesirable idea or person. How can you defend christianity? Torquemada was a Christian. Loaded Question A question which limits the range of discourse by containing a controversial or unjustified assumption. In your opinion, what makes the iphone the best smartphone False dilemma Presenting only two possible alternatives to complex situation, when in fact there are more. You don’t support our troops, and that makes you a traitor.

Frank Wood

There are many fallacies of logic both intrinsic and linguistic. Some fallacies have sub-categories. Ad hominem can be negative (per Mark's post) or positive. An example of the positive ad hominem: Since President Obama uses this brand of toothpaste, it must be the best. An interesting aside to fallacies is they can be a great source of humor. For example, one fallacy of language, amphibole, occurs with incorrect placement of phrases: Professor Higgins walks out on the veranda to watch the fireworks go up in his pajamas.

Paul Sumares

On the topic of grammar, I personally like the famous quote by Winston Churchill. To quote another source: Supposedly an editor had clumsily rearranged one of Churchill’s sentences to avoid ending it in a preposition, and the Prime Minister, very proud of his style, scribbled this note in reply: “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.”

Frank Wood

Got a belly-laugh out of this one, Paul.

Bob Wagner

I haven't had fireworks go up in my pajamas in ages.

Emanuel F. Camacho, Pmp

@Dan & Mark -- I'm a producer, I'll bring the Wine and the Tequila...

Mike Kilimanjaro Trump

the line is dull to begin with, but depending on the context of why she is waving arms around, say.... "With arms swinging, she sprints at the police car" The 'ING' is present but despite being earlier in the line, the waving arms is clearly a screen action which is complementing her running action, not taking the precedent. From my perspective it would seem an ING would be permissible where the action is concurrent with a stronger form of action such as her run. we also have to strong active words both beginning with S. Also these words swing and sprint have an air of Assonance about them. (The word swinging should still be critiqued as it too could have an alternate meaning. We also omit any 'AND', & compress to use just one SHE or HER. I think the ING's can be acceptable, (there is no concrete right or wrong in this medium) but the smart way to do it would be to use them to give strength to whatever action is about to succeed it. But yeh all about efficient assertive writing giving a clear sense of here and now and omitting those dull bridging words that clog up the big print.

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