Screenwriting : Rules of screenwriting by John Radtke

John Radtke

Rules of screenwriting

Do you follow the "screenwriting rules?" What are your rules for writing a script?

D Marcus

I follow all the standard format "rules". After all a screenplay is meant to be read by dozens of professionals trying to do their job. My only rule for writing a script is, "Don't be boring."

William Martell

No shoes, no shirts, no service. You have to be more specific about what you mean by "screenwriting rules". I have often yelled: "Screenwriting rules!"

Anthony Cawood

There's a great article and Scriptnotes podcast on this subject this week -

Peter Davidson

186,282 miles per second. It's not just a good idea, it's the law.

LindaAnn Loschiavo

Rules: no dialogue that just narrates the character's background; no getting the actors wet; no cliches; no dialogue that's "on the nose"; NO dragging out the scene -- enter at the mid-point (in medias res) and get out early.

Pierre Langenegger

Too right, Dan

Anthony Cawood

Can someone tell me where these rules are recorded, I think I may not be following them as I don't have the rule book or website. Beyond 'Courier 12' I don't know any rules, hang on there's also 'Courier 12 FD' and 'Courier Prine' too... So that can't be a rule either! Personally I follow most of the currently establish 'rules' which are actually just commonly accepted guidelines... But I will happily break them if I think there's a reason to within the script... As I said check out the link above and the Podcast on the subject by two very successful screenwriters.

LindaAnn Loschiavo

I type my scripts in COURIER CAWOOD -- -- everyone loves that font! x o

Jerry Doubles

Get Final Draft -9 to type your screenplay - no rules!

Anthony Cawood

@LindaAnn - ;-) sounds like a great font... No doubt Final Draft will alter the page count on my scripts if I install it! Useless info time - there is a variety of Rhubarb called Cawood.

Owen Mowatt

Award winning rhubarb?

Anton West

Oh dear Alle, I thought you'd dropped the 'I'm award-winning' stuff. You won some categories in a film competition for newbies. That's all. Please stop misrepresenting yourself.

Owen Mowatt

Character must change at the end of the story - NOT TRUE Protagonist must be likeable - NOT TRUE Agreed, and I hope this goes someway towards putting an end to this "character arc" myth too

Anthony Cawood

@Owen, LOL - not that I know of, tastes nice though ;-)

Mike Romoth

I've been using Trottier's Screenwriter's Bible as a major reference for rewrites on one of my screenplays. I think it's important to remember that movie-making is a highly-collaborative business enterprise...which makes it very different from most writerly activities, which are typically solitary. On any movie project, the writer will be working with an enormous number of people who are not writers. As in any professional context, the more you can give your co-workers (and bosses) exactly what they want, the better. The "rules" help non-writers get what they want out of our writing....professionally (not necessarily creatively). As the writer, it's your job to work those rules to your own advantage...and to make those rules appear nearly invisible beneath the glorious flesh our words provide the story.

Stuart Wright

Courier 12 pt and you're off

Lisa Molusis

There are no rules. Write a great story.

Tony McFadden

@Alle, what " 3 features screened at Cannes", if you don't mind me asking? Or is that one of "the secrets"?

Luke Sokolewicz

I've recently been applying Robert Mckee's "Story" principals. In tandem, I've used Blake Snyder's "Save The Cat" book. They've both been great guides to get me going. They serve as great books for a foundation of screenwriting and the basics of story. Although it should be mentioned that while successful, both McKee and Snyder didn't produce a lot of movies...which makes me not be adhere to every single "rule." Does anyone recommend any other screenwriting guru(s) that offer a different perspective? Maybe one who got a lot of movies produced?

Doug Nelson

Rules? I don’t need no stinkin’ rules. There are time tested customs and traditions when it comes to the acceptable screenwriting format and I urge you as a writer to go with the flo if you want your script read. Swimming against the current will frustrate, wear you out and get you nowhere. It’s your choice.

Andrew Pritzker

Formatting is important on a professional level, but not in regards to story or genre. The script itself will be turned into a shooting script, broken down to calculate budget, production scheduling, actors sides, and every possible element used by every department. Of course, your screenplay can reformatted once it gets past the initial read and sale, but even in the earliest stages, agents, managers, and producers are counting pages. Formatting makes for a more accurate count and communicates that you're a pro.

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