Flashback And Format First up, many thanks to Anna who asks ‘How do I write a flashback within a flashback?’ In the first instance, I have to ask Anna … are you sure you WANT to write a flashback within a flashback?? I must confess, flashbacks within flashbacks are one of my very few pet peeves as a script reader. I don’t understand them in a story sense. If something *is* UNreal in the story (like memory, dreams, or whatever) then how can something create something **further unreal** within it?? It makes my brain explode. The other one that irks… Read More »Focus On Format: How Do I Write A Flashback Within A Flashback?
Focus On Format series
Formatting Errors If you’ve written a great screenplay, you don’t want to ruin its chances of success by getting something simple like the formatting wrong. By formatting it properly, you’re making sure the reader won’t be distracted or disengaged. Screenplay software makes the job much easier, but there’s still a few major formatting things you have to look out for on your own. Here are the top formatting mistakes to avoid at all costs. 1) Too Much ‘Black On The Page’ … Or Too Little! It’s normal that people would rather read text that has plenty of ‘white space’. It’s… Read More »Top 5 Formatting Mistakes Writers Make
The Debate Every year or so, what I call ‘The Great Screenplay Format Debate’ pops up. Some years it’s just once, others it’s multiple times. It never gets more heated than on Twitter, where produced screenwriters will insist over and over it’s about ‘great writing’, NOT ‘great format’. Mic drop. Debate over. So, are these guys right? Of course. B2W also bangs on about this, after all. As far as I’m concerned, the notion of great writing ultimately comes down to just three things (that’s concept, characters and structure, for anyone wondering). OF COURSE there’s a bunch of other stuff… Read More »What No One Is Talking About In The Great Screenplay Format Debate
What is a caption? On a screenplay, ‘captions’ are those bits of text you may see flash up on screen – i.e.: 24 HOURS EARLIER NEW YORK DAY 32 COLONY 1, THE MOON BAGHDAD, IRAQ INSIDE DEREK’S LOWER INTESTINE You know the ones. You will have seen them countless times whilst watching movies, TV dramas, sitcoms, documentaries and even short films, web series, sketches, YouTube reviews etc. Lots of Bang2writers ask me how to format these. Well, it’s pretty simple. You just need to write: SUPER: [Caption you want to put in] Apparently, ‘Super’ is short for ‘Super impose’. This… Read More »FOCUS ON FORMAT – When To Use Captions
For more on format and script convention issues, visit: The B2W Format One Stop Shop Lots of writers include music and/or lyrics in their unpublished novels and spec screenplays. There are lots of reason why this seems like a good idea: sometimes particular songs can add something to the plot, or to the storyworld (especially time period). Other times, that song might have been instrumental (arf) in inspiring the writer to pen the piece in the first place, so they’ll add it to give a ‘feel’ for the story. STOP! 9/10, the song will be COPYRIGHTED… Read More »Focus On Format: All About Music
Use. Your. Title. Page! I can’t tell you how annoying it is as a script reader to have an inbox full of scripts without names and titles on … It makes them SO hard to keep track of. In the very least, it looks like you don’t know how to use your own software – not a great first impression. So unless you’re told specifically NOT to add title information, always always fill in your title page with: Your screenplay or manuscript’s title Your name Your email address and mobile number Your agent’s contact details (if applicable) In this PDF… Read More »Focus On Format: All About Title Pages
Listen very carefully, Bang2writers. Here is when you use CAPS – aka capital letters – in your spec screenplay: When we are introduced to a character for the first time only. Like this:That’s it. Seriously. You do not *need* caps in any other place in your spec. You *can* however use caps for these things: An object that’s going to be important in the story (ie. a plot point) An animal that’s not named, but IS a character (ie. not for a random animal) A sudden noise – ie. BOOM! SNAP! KA-BLAM! To indicate a character is reading a screen… Read More »Focus On Format: All About Caps (aka Capital Letters)
All About Mini Slugs No, this is not a post about killing off ‘actual’ slugs (mini or not), but rather sluglines, which some of you may also know as scene headings or scene headers. In recent years (and undoubtedly because of the internet), it’s become popular here in the UK to follow the American practice of NOT writing a ‘full’ scene heading IF characters are going, say into another room, within the same timeframe (whatever that means, literal or metaphorical):I think so-called mini slugs are great. Sluglines aka scene headings should always be as plain as possible so as to not… Read More »Focus On Format: How To Write ‘Mini Slugs’
All About Interruption If you want to signify an interruption in your spec screenplay’s dialogue, you have come to the right place. Many thanks to Bang2writer Mohammed, who’s been in contact this week with this writing-related query … Can I ask how to format this correctly? Someone is reading a letter out loud, and the voice of the letter writer cuts in to finish the letter. I’ve done plenty of hunting around but I haven’t found anything on it. Like many screenplay formatting questions beyond the non-negotiable ones (such as font, size, margins, etc) there’s NO fancy or specific way to… Read More »How Do I Format An Interruption In My Screenplay Dialogue?
How’s your screenplay format? Screenplay format gets a bad rap and is often conflated with writing craft. Whilst sometimes the two things DO cross over, this post will deal predominantly with **how** your script looks ON THE PAGE. Continuing in the Top 5 Mistakes series, I’ll be concentrating on screenplay format today. (I’m assuming your layout, spelling, punctuation and grammar are awesome already. If not, you can check here: 10 Common Errors In Your Writing You Need To Fix Right Now.) Ready, then? Let’s go … 1) Overly long sluglines (aka ‘scene headers’) A slugline or scene header in a… Read More »Top 5 Screenplay Format Mistakes
Yeah yeah yeah we all hate Format; nobody knows anything like William Goldman says; if your script’s story is brilliant it doesn’t matter what it looks like, blah blah blah … You done? Now, here’s the top 5 mistakes I see on a regular basis: 5. Too much scene description. The obvious one. You’re not writing a novel, less is more, a little more action a little less description please and all that jazz. Sometimes writers tell me they *have* to write write lots of description so the reader “gets” it, or that Shane Black/Ron Bass/Tarantino/*insert famous screenwriter here* writes… Read More »The 5 Biggest Format Mistakes Spec Screenplays Make
Many thanks to Bang2writer Ross Holland, who has this quick query: I’m currently writing a script which has a character ‘masquerading’ as someone else. How do I show that in the script once the reader sees this in the text? As with most “advanced” and particular format queries in screenwriting, there is no “set” way – and like most things to do with format, we’re talking CLARITY – ie. making it as easy as possible for the “flow” of the read. Here’s how I’ve seen it done: 1) Starting with the Character’s fake name – for example, JOHN – and… Read More »What’s In A Name? Some Thoughts On Formatting Characters’ Names