36 Basic Screenwriting Tips

Please note that Tarantino and co. have certain privileges they can afford but you as a newcomer are bound to standard formating to avoid an amateurish look. Also the screenwriting style is not something carved into a stone and will always be changing. That's why read new screenplays that are in circulation or in production, read other blogs (there are some links to other screenwriting blogs) to catch the newest trends and standards.

Tip #1
When describing a scene avoid, by all means, such phrases like "We are overlooking the skyline..." or "We pan over to the other guys" or "The camera zooms out..." You are not the director and thus give directions like that. Your writing itself must do it. Write for example like this "The phone rings. A hand reaches for it. Let's it ring twice. Silence. The hand puts it back." Here you have a close up of the entire scene without telling it was a close up.

Tip #2
Don't describe everything to the fullest and in every detail and don't write prose. A screenplay isn't a novel. One page should have more white space than black ink on it.

Tip #3
Your final draft should be around 95-110 pages. A little more or little less is okay too. Please don't write 140 pages, unless you are Quentin Tarantino and is allowed to do anything with a script anyway. You are maybe telling me now that you can't even write to that many pages after you followed the first few tips and cutting all the bullshit out... well let's see the next tip.

Tip #4
Set a goal for yourself on how many pages you want to write per day. I'd say 5-10 pages is good. Let's go with 5 moderate pages per day. Write every single day if you can. That way you don't lose the rythmn and you stay focused on the story and characters. If you seem to be stuck with the story or can't come up with the next scene to finish the last of the five pages, then just take a short break, drink tea, coffee or smoke and come back. If that didn't help, just make some shit up. Your goal is to have the damn five pages down. You don't get to sleep or party unless it is done.

That way you'll have a first draft in roughly 30 days. Why 30 days? That will make a 150 page script! Yes, more or less it is true. And yes, I calculated one or two days where you just couldn't get to write the full 5 pages or even at all. We are all human beings and sometimes things just don't work at all. Just don't take this as an excuse to leave writing for more than two days. You'll lose the script. But your concern was the amount of pages: 150. That's too much! Yes and no. In your first draft, especially when you write this fast and with no mercy, you'll undoubtly write a lot of crap in your story. Now it's time for a second draft and editing time; this is where the fun begins.

Tip #5
Don't tell me you can write a perfect script in a first draft and don't tell me you know some one who can. You can't! You need several drafts, at least a second one; 100% sure. Cut everything unecessary out (it hurts sometimes, but just do it, it doesn't matter if that one line was the perfect line you've written). Add some scenes or dialogue to correct plot holes and unbalanced character traits. Take your time.

Rest of the tips will follow this year 2012 with revisions of the previous ones. Also I will include better examples (e.g. as images for clear view of formatting). Stay tuned.