978-0-684-85640-7 / 9780684856407

500 Ways to Beat the Hollywood Script Reader: Writing the Screenplay the Reader Will Recommend


Publisher:Gallery Books



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About the book:

So you want to write a movie! You could consult Robert McKee's influential Story, Syd Field's rather schematic Screenplay, which extrapolates lessons from famous films, or novelist-turned-screenwriter Meg Wolitzer's literate Fitzgerald Did It, inspired by her own experience.

But the script you pour your soul into won't be read by a single soul you've ever heard of. If a star or mogul reads anything about your story, it will be in the form of "coverage," a brief report reducing your screenplay to a one-sentence summary, with a very few pages of synopsis and ratings of your characters, dialogue, and plot. That report is written by a Hollywood reader, who is likely to be a smart woman desperate to find something she can recommend to her boss--someone like Jennifer Lerch. If her eyes glaze over, you're dead.

Your eyes won't glaze over reading Lerch's 500 brisk mini-lessons. How many pages can you turn in? Not over 120. How crucial are the first 30 pages? Utterly. How many big, climactic moments do you need in those 30 pages? Two. How many scenes do you need in the dramatic opening sequence? Three to five. How many parenthetical comments directly addressed to the reader can you include? One or two per script. How about your favorite passages, where you plumb your characters' inner depths? Throw them away: "If the character doesn't say it, wear it, or do it, delete it." How do pros write? "Staccato. Economical." That's how Lerch writes. And if you want to get anywhere in Hollywood, you'll have to please someone just like her. Know your enemy--and make her your best friend. --Tim Appelo

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