How to apply “show, don’t tell” in screenplays

I have a fairly large collection of “pitching sessions from hell” stories, but there was one that stands out because I blew it—afterward. This was early in my career, and actually the pitching session itself went great. The executive loved the idea and commissioned a script for a TV movie. How to apply “show, don’t tell” in screenplays…

How To Use Foreshadowing In Your Screenplay

To avoid having any one element of foreshadowing be too obvious, often the writer will throw in some red herrings–some things that could be foreshadowing but in fact don’t pay off or pay off in a different way than we expect. The person who has the gun in the drawer may become an immediate suspect in our minds, but later maybe we see him use it to light his cigarette and we realize it’s not a real gun (of course he may have a real one somewhere else….). That kind of misdirection keeps the audience guessing.

Tennessee Williams’ advice to screenwriters

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You don’t really want totally arbitrary events in your script, but if you need to capture their attention, put it in and then in the next draft work your way backward in the story so it has some motivation…

Screenwriting: Why Kim Cattrall got mad at me

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If you’re writing a script to be read by someone who is possibly going to buy it, you want to make it as easy and entertaining as possible. Yes, it’s easy to overdo the parentheticals, ideally your dialogue itself suggests how it will be delivered. But when it helps, go ahead. A sarcastic remark from an actress is not too high a price to pay.

Are screenplay contests worth entering?

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I’m pretty skeptical about script contests as a way to further your career. There are success stories but I think they’re the exception. So I was interested to read the view of Chad Gervich on the Script website. He says that winning a script rarely gives you the edge

Screenwriting: is your story novel?

name of the rose

Even the Bible says there’s nothing new under the sun, and that was quite a while ago. Generally creativity means the combination of existing elements to produce something different from either of them (and, ideally, more useful or interesting than either of them alone).

Screenwriting: write what you don’t know

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An interesting twist on the old “write what you know” adage comes from aspiring screenwriter Mark McCann, who also is a policeman. One of his shorts was produced and has won some prizes and one of his feature scripts has just been optioned–for the fifth time. He told Arkansas Online: “I try to avoid writing movies […]