You've completed your first screenplay, what do you do next?
The first thing you should do is congratulate yourself. Writing a screenplay is no easy task. Next, get use to re-writing. It is part of the process and necessary. Be subjection about your work.
Below is a checklist you can use:
Typos can catch you by surprise. If you need to copy the script into Microsoft Word and do a spell check or use an add-on tool to assist you with finding typos.
Check for missing hyphens, question marks, overuse of exclamation marks, etc.
Remember each page of a screenplay represents about one minute of screen time. Screenplays that are mostly action will typically be longer while screenplays that are dialogue intensive will typically be shorter.
Remember screenplays are not novels and they are not silent movies either.
Keep descriptions and actions to 3 to 4 lines max.
Don’t write little movements.
Only include things you can visually see or hear.
Only include things that develop the character, move the story along, or relate to the plot.
Check your page count
Embrace the white space on the page. Avoid writing a whole page with nothing but the description and/or action with no dialogue. Readers cringe when they see this. Make your screenplay a fast easy read.
Story / Plot
Check for story or plot holes.
If something happens off-screen that it is explained.
Ensure that there is a stratifying ending. Do not leave the reader/audience hanging unless it is a series.
Give the reader/audience something to care about. Ensure you have found the heart in your story.
Make sure there is something that happens within the first three to five pages of your script. Hook them from the start.
Do not let the reader/audience outguess your writing. Do the unexpected.
Ensure your script is a fast read.
Budget Friendly Tips
Keep the number of locations down to a minimum. Reuse locations to help.
Keep explosions, special effects and CGI down to a minimum or don't use them at all.
Avoid crowd scenes, if possible.
Include opportunities for product placements
Keep the number of characters down to a minimum. Only have characters speaking that need to be.
Avoid breaking every rule there is about structure, even if you think you have the greatest idea there is.
I’ve listed a few articles on structure that are worth your time to read.
The first time a character is introduced the name should be in all CAPS.
Provide a brief interesting description that tells us something about them that pertains to the story or plot.
Avoid using average, pretty, handsome… and clichés… be creative.
Have the character do something interesting.
Does each character speak in their voice?
Make sure you are using O.S. and V.O. correctly.
Avoid overusing parentheticals. Parentheticals should be on their line and no longer than two lines.
Avoid overusing ellipses.
Remember most people do not speak formally unless that is a character trait.
Characters from a foreign country, different generations, ethnic backgrounds, etc. will speak differently.
Don’t overuse saying a character’s name. It sounds funny and people do not speak that way.
Do be too on the nose or too direct… use subtext.
Make sure you are using FLASHBACK and PRESENT DAY correctly.
Use INTERCUT to flip back and forth between two scenes like a telephone conversation.
Be sure you are using scene headings correctly. INT or EXT (sometimes INT/EXT) – Primary Location – Secondary Location – DAY or NIGHT.
Avoid using DUSK, DAWN, NOON, etc. unless it is specifically needed.
Make sure you are using LATER or MOMENTS LATER correctly. Should be on a separate line.
Use MONTAGE or SERIES OF SHOTS to show a sequence of brief actions or images. Should be on a separate line.
Use INSERT to draw attention to a letter, sign, document, etc. Should be on a separate line.
Sounds should be in all CAPS.
Spec scripts should NOT include any camera directions such as CUT TO, FADE OUT, etc. Use action to direct the camera.
Budget Reduction Suggestions
Reuse a location as much as you can. This will keep the number of locations down to a minimum.
Only use explosions, special effects, and CGI if truly needed.
Avoid crowd scenes if possible, especially with this COVID-19 thing going on.
Include opportunity for product placements.
Let it sit for a few months then look at it with a fresh set of eyes.
Create a Great Title
Remember this is the first thing that someone will read about your screenplay. Make it count!
The title should be easy to remember and for others to tell someone else about.
It should encompass and complement the story.
It should be as short as possible.
Create a Logline
A logline is a summary of the central conflict of the story which has an emotional “hook” to capture a reader/audience’s attention to the story. It is usually one sentence but no more than two sentences.
The logline is your first impression of your screenplay. Make it count!
Use an active voice.
Include the goal that the protagonist must do.
Include what is at stake if the protagonist does not do a thing.
Use strong adjectives.
Do not use a character’s name.
There are several formulas for writing a logline
When [Inciting incident] happens, [Protagonist] decides to do [Action] against [Antagonist]
Classify the Story by Genre and Sub-Genre
There are several places you can go to get coverage some are better than others.
Remember coverage is an option and you may not agree with every suggestion someone provides you with.
Looks for things that were not clear or set up correctly in your script that might be where the note is coming from.
Comparable or Similar To
This a summarization of the screenplay that is used to entice someone to want to ready your screenplay.
It should not include everything that happens in the script. Only include the most important or interesting parts of the story.
Write in the present tense and use a third-person point of view.
Stick to the main plot points and main characters.
Capture the emotional dynamics of the story.
Some people include the ending while others do not.
WikiHow - How to Write a Screenplay Synopsis (with Pictures)