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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    Screenwriting Class  ›  Can anyone tell me if this is written correctly? Moderators: George Willson
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  Author    Can anyone tell me if this is written correctly?  (currently 668 views)
Tyler King
Posted: May 29th, 2017, 11:59am Report to Moderator
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Hello, I'm currently in the process of writing my feature and I know with spec scripts, you are supposed to leave camera directions up to the director, but in my mind, I want my script to open a certain way... so could someone please tell me if I am writing this correctly? I would greatly appreciate it. Here's how it starts off...

FADE IN:

ON A HAND that holds up an ADDICTION PAMPHLET: "God is stronger than any addiction." The hand tosses the pamphlet to the concrete and

WESLEY (mid 30s), face covered with sores and scabs, steps on it with his filthy converse.

_______________________

See, in the very first opening shot, I wanted it to focus on the hand that holds the pamphlet, we see what it says, and then the hand tosses it, and in the second shot it reveals the character Wesley who is the one who was holding it. Is this written correctly? Thanks in advance! Much appreciation.

I'm still learning A LOT on writing techniques and rules, etc. SO MUCH to learn!!
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Heretic
Posted: May 29th, 2017, 12:22pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Tyler,

Nailed it, except no need for the "ON" or the "that."

Your first line is a first image: "A HAND holds up an ADDICTION PAMPHLET..." The first shot we imagine is a CU of a hand. Totally within the scope of a writer's choices.


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Tyler King
Posted: May 29th, 2017, 12:52pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Heretic
Hey Tyler,

Nailed it, except no need for the "ON" or the "that."

Your first line is a first image: "A HAND holds up an ADDICTION PAMPHLET..." The first shot we imagine is a CU of a hand. Totally within the scope of a writer's choices.


Thank you so much!
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leitskev
Posted: May 29th, 2017, 1:39pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Heretic
Hey Tyler,

Nailed it, except no need for the "ON" or the "that."

Your first line is a first image: "A HAND holds up an ADDICTION PAMPHLET..." The first shot we imagine is a CU of a hand. Totally within the scope of a writer's choices.





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PrussianMosby
Posted: May 29th, 2017, 3:18pm Report to Moderator
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Tyler,

that reads fine for my taste.

I'd say it's even a very good characterization of you from the start. Two lines only and we already have lots of information about Wesley. So, good intro.

Then, one "important" point I got here: There's no problem you start without a slugline, ergo no reference about place and time. You can do it but IMO you definitely should construct a transition or clear notification as early as possible that clears up where we exactly are and at what time. This can be quite tricky, so in this regard, you've chosen a complicated way to start your screenplay.

A quick example as a pattern:

-----

FADE IN:


A MALE HAND holds up an addiction pamphlet: "God is stronger than any addiction."  The hand tosses it to the concrete and

WESLEY (mid 30s), face covered with sores and scabs, steps on it with his filthy sneakers.

Only few daylight, falling through the skylights of the BARE CORRIDOR, guides Wesley the path along as he marches ahead, leaving the pamphlet behind.

EXT.  BLAH WHATEVER DAY

...

-----

My example here is in no way a good one. It simply should demonstrate that you definitely, immediately, after your opening, should serve some identification about where we actually are. And then, you completely should return to formatting normality with sluglines/ proper scene headings.



@ -- minor points-- Above in my example, I added a "male" to "the hand";;; don't know but I believe the hand should have a certain description if it belongs to such kind of starting close up shot. Possibly I'd even write more here, sth. like: A GRIMY MALE HAND

But I don't know what the hand looks like exactly only you do, so see it as a placeholder.

I'd also replace the second "the pamphlet" with "it". You shouldn't repeat words like that if a pronoun can do the job as well. << Also see the word addiction used twice (could be addiction and drug).

Lastly, I wasn't sure what you mean with converse is it the shoe brand? If so, capitalize the first letter because it's a proper name. I myself actually wouldn't go into this brand-area here at all. It's unnecessary, so I just replaced it with a simple "sneakers".

Hope some of it is of use and helps and you got fun with your future screenwriting.


No End of Wolves (9p - psychological horror)

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AnthonyCawood
Posted: May 29th, 2017, 3:22pm Report to Moderator
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Works for me.


Anthony Cawood - Award winning screenwriter
Available Short screenplays - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/short-scripts
Available Feature screenplays - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/feature-film-scripts/
Screenwriting articles - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/articles
IMDB Link - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm6495672/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
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eldave1
Posted: May 29th, 2017, 3:36pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Heretic
Hey Tyler,

Nailed it, except no need for the "ON" or the "that."

Your first line is a first image: "A HAND holds up an ADDICTION PAMPHLET..." The first shot we imagine is a CU of a hand. Totally within the scope of a writer's choices.


Agree with this - Should work just fine


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Tyler King
Posted: May 30th, 2017, 3:44pm Report to Moderator
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Thank you for the help everyone! I really appreciate it.
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Tyler King
Posted: May 30th, 2017, 5:17pm Report to Moderator
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I'm not going to make another thread just for this question, but I would like to ask this...

I read somewhere that you should avoid words the end with "ing" and "ly" because they aren't considered written in present tense. Anyway, wouldn't this still read okay, if I wrote...

He stands outside, smoking a cigarette.

Or...

He stands outside as he smokes a cigarette.

The first sentence is actually a little shorter, and IMO, is still written in present tense, but I don't know. What is everyone else's thoughts? There are so many screenwriting rules to learn, it's almost frustrating!
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eldave1
Posted: May 30th, 2017, 5:37pm Report to Moderator
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You'll get differing opinions on this.

I would write it:

He stands, smokes a cigarette.

You are not going to need "outside" assuming EXT is already in your heading.

I generally avoid the ing words unless I am implying someone engaged in an ongoing activity.

e.g., Dave kicks the ball against the wall - to me implies one kick

Dave is kicking the ball against the wall - to me implies an ongoing actitvity.

Number one rule is that if it is clear - you are probably okay


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Tyler King
Posted: May 30th, 2017, 7:03pm Report to Moderator
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Thank you sir.
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eldave1
Posted: May 30th, 2017, 7:18pm Report to Moderator
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no problem, friend


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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leitskev
Posted: May 30th, 2017, 9:17pm Report to Moderator
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There is no reason not to say "he stands smoking a cigarette",

"He stands, smokes a cigarette"...is awkward.

Even better, I think, is to improve the poorly descriptive word "stands".

Maybe:
He leans against the car smoking a cigarette.
Smoking a cigarette, she flirts with the gangster.


Sweating profusely, she grips the gun.
He runs coughing from the building.
Scanning for danger in every direction, the sheriff surveys the crowd.

The main verb remains active...she grips the gun, runs from the building, surveys the crowd.



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leitskev  -  May 30th, 2017, 10:06pm
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eldave1
Posted: May 31st, 2017, 10:31am Report to Moderator
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Quoted Text
"He stands, smokes a cigarette"...is awkward.


Why?


Quoted Text
Even better, I think, is to improve the poorly descriptive word "stands".


Yeah, but not really the question he had. Fact of the matter is you may not need "stand" at all. Or, you could add some pop to the act (e.g., the ember from his cigarette glows as....).  


Quoted Text
Maybe:
He leans against the car smoking a cigarette.


I prefer - He leans against a car, smokes a cigarette.

Just a matter of taste I guess.

The bottom line is - is it clear. If you pass that test - is it interesting/engaging.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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leitskev
Posted: May 31st, 2017, 10:48am Report to Moderator
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I would gently offer that it is awkward, but that at a certain level screenwriters have become used to seeing it this way so have become immune to its being awkward. This thread is a perfect example of how that happens.

A writer, any type of writer, should be taught the tenets of good writing. But in screenwriting, we don't want to take the time, so it has become convenient to just issue arbitrary and simple rules, such as "no 'ing' words".

Like lemmings, we follow along until we actually get used to weird phrasings.

Such as the man stands, smokes a cigarette.

The man lights a cigarette.
But he stands there smoking it.


If we say he smokes a cigarette, the impression would be we see him smoking it from beginning to end. As in I smoked a cigarette before breakfast.

But what the writer wants here is just a quick shot of a man smoking a cigarette...in the state of smoking.

I'm not being a jerk, even if it sounds that way. I only began writing screen about 7 years ago, and I knew no more than Tyler, I had the same questions. People said "no ing words", and I followed orders. At first. But I knew these things often didn't sound right. So I've spent a lot of time researching it, including for prose. I am not an expert, never will be...but I know for sure that these rules, or rules of thumb, are leading to a lot of awkward writing when they are followed too strictly.

And IMO, it becomes an amateur "tell" at some point. A lot of VERY, VERY good amateurs do it. Even people trained in elite film schools.

But awkward is awkward, and you don't usually see that in pro writing. Those writers move on from the rules.

I'm not starting a fight with Dave, whom I fully respect. Maybe my comment helps, maybe not, people can decide on their own.
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