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Table of Contents Acknowledgments Introduction Act I: Storytelling Idea 1. You have not written something you care about! 2. Your idea isn't vibrating with originality! 3. You picked the wrong genre! 4. Your story is only interesting to you! 5. Your story is about miserable people who are miserable the whole time and end miserably! Or worse!! 6. You haven't spent enough time thinking up a fantastic title! Character 7. You picked the wrong main character! 8. You haven't constructed your main character correctly! 9. You are not specific about EVERYTHING when you create a character! 10. You haven't made "place" a character in your story! 11. We have no rooting interest in your hero! 12. Your opponent is not a human being! 13. Your Bad Guy isn't great! 14. The opponent is not the hero's agent of change! 15. The Bad Guy doesn't feel he's the hero of his own movie! 16. You don't give your bad guy a Bad Guy Speech! 17. Your characters do stupid things to move the story forward, a.k.a., they do stuff because you make them! 18. Your minor characters don't have character! Structure 19. You worried about structure when you came up with your story! 20. You don't have enough tension! 21. You have no time pressure! 22. You don't give the reader enough emotion! 23. You bungled your story structure! 24. You have not done, and then redone, and REDONE, a one-line outline! 25. You have not done a "random thoughts" outline! 26. You have not used the Kerith Harding Rule of Drama! 27. Your B story does not affect your A story! 28. You don't use Set Up and Pay Off to your advantage! 29. You haven't buried exposition like Jimmy Hoffa! 30. You don't withhold surprises until as late as possible! Scenes 31. You haven't pounded each scene enough! 32. Your scenes don't turn the action! 33. You don't have enough reversals! 34. You have not shouted at each scene, "How can I jack up the conflict?!" 35. You have not used the incredible power of rhyming scenes to your advantage! 36. You haven't cut the first and last lines from as many scenes as possible! 37. Your character does research when she could be talking to somebody! 38. Your characters talk on the phone too much! 39. You have not made every scene memorable! Dialogue 40. You don't keep a log of overheard dialogue! 41. You haven't separated the characters' voices! 42. You haven't worked your dialogue hard enough! 43. You didn't A-B the dialogue! 44. You have Q & A dialogue! 45. You have characters speaking text but not subtext! 46. You did too much research! 47. You didn't do enough research! Act II: Physical Writing Welcome to Writing 48. You aren't educated in your chosen storytelling medium! 49. You're using the wrong writing instrument! 50. Your prose is not CRYSTAL CLEAR! Format 51. You don't understand screenplay format! 52. You have naked sluglines or no sluglines at all! 53. You over-direct your actors! 54. You use parentheticals wrong! Characters 55. You change character names on us! 56. Too many of your characters have names! 57. Character names begin with the same letter! Or WORSE, they RHYME! 58. You do not describe main characters with a concise, telling, two (or so) sentence character description! Scene Description 59. You use novelistic language! 60. You poisoned your scene description with "to be"! 61. You haven't cut as many "thes" and "thats" as possible! 62. You don't put the most important word at the end of the sentence! 63. You describe dialogue in scene description! 64. You have not paid attention to image order in scene description! 65. You haven't cut scene description to the bone! Rewriting 66. Don't repeat! Anything! Ever! 67. You rewrite while you write! 68. You do a rewrite by reading the whole script at once! 69. You don't have a killer first page! 70. You blew your first ten pages! ARGGGGGHHHH! 71. You haven't ripped out the first twenty pages! 72. You haven't cut every bit of extraneous action! 73. You think your first (or ninth) draft is perfect! Picky, Picky, Picky 74. You don't know the meaning of every word in your script! 75. You use numbers instead of words! 76. You call shots! 77. You call specific songs! 78. You didn't run your spellcheck, you moron! 79. You trust your spellcheck! Ha! 80. You think longer is better! 81. You didn't read your script out loud! 82. You used a crummy printer! Act III: What Now? Don't Be a Jackass, Be Professional 83. You want to be famous more than you want to write! 84. You think your script is special and rules don't apply! 85. You put the wrong stuff on your title page! 86. You haven't done a table read! 87. You're dying to send the script out before you're really, really ready! The Industry 88. You haven't the first clue how the business works! 89. You don't know what time they eat lunch in Hollywood! 90. Your sense of entitlement is in overdrive! a.k.a. "Don't fight the notes!" 91. You don't know what a decent query letter is! 92. You made boneheaded demands in your query letter! 93. You don't want to sign their release! Angst-O-Rama 94. You think Hollywood will steal your idea! 95. You don't understand Hanlon's Razor! 96. You don't know the difference between Natalie Merchant and Patti Smith! 97. You don't know you can write your way out of a hole! 98. You don't know how to get an agent! 99. You get excited when they say they like it! 100. You're confusing hope with denial! Fading Out About the Author
Library of Congress Subject Headings for this publication:
Motion picture authorship.
Motion picture plays -- Editing.