Hey all, Bitter here. I'm taking this week off for vacation and writing, so in my absence screenwriter Tripp Stryker has generously agreed to fill-in. Hope you guys find him entertaining. I'll be checking in via Twitter and email occasionally, but probably not with any regularity. See you next week!
I met The Bitter Script Reader a couple weeks ago at a party thrown by a mutual friend. We exchanged the usual pleasantries, email address and all that fun stuff. Not long after that, he sent out an email to most of his closer professional acquaintances hoping to get some fill-in columns for when he took a much-needed vacation. As it turns out, I was the only one to reply – but I had enough ideas for five people. (A common occurrence for me, by the by.) Which worked out because I knew it would take me a week to really cover everything you guys need to hear.
The truth: most of the stuff you read on this blog and other blogs is bullshit. The only thing more pathetic than a loser who argues that bold sluglines are an abomination is a loser who’s sense of self-worth is so low that he actually has to argue vehemently against a guy who thinks bold sluglines are a blight. How does this make you a better writer?
Seriously, every now and then I wade into screenwriting forums and other blogs to see these hot topics and what do you people argue over? What font to use, when and when not to bold and underline, whether or not to use “CONT’D” in dialogue. Here’s a tip – no one cares!
If this bullshit upsets you that much, you’re not a professional writer.
Does underlining something automatically render it invisible, or put it in Greek? It’s just words on a page, people!
Real writers make the rules, they don’t follow them. Wanna debate formatting? You ever read a Tarantino script? I defy you to find one “screenwriting rule” he’s followed.
Shane Black? Nobody wrote the way he did until he submitted it. He was the first guy to “talk to the reader” via wry asides. What if he said, “Oh no, I must write in this dry, boring way that my screenwriting professor taught me?” Except you know what? He didn’t have a screenwriting professor! He didn’t have anyone filling his head with stupid ideas about what to write and what not to write. He just wrote.
Real agents don’t care about this shit. A real agent would take a script that was submitted on colored paper, written in Times New Roman, with dialogue centered rather than offset by margins and they’d still read it on the merits of the writing. How do I know? Because I got repped off of a spec like that. And at one of the Big 5 at that.
The only people who care about this formatting bullshit are readers – the least experienced people in the company. How much skill does it take to read something and know if it’s good or bad? I’ve been doing that since first grade.
Here’s where some whiner is gonna pop up and say that it is our duty as writers to suck up to these readers or they might PASS. Thus, we have to do everything they say or they’ll put us on the industry-wide blacklist.
That just proves that you don’t know what you’re doing. If your fate is in the hands of a reader, you’ve already lost. Think of this as your first test. A real writer doesn’t go through readers, he goes around them. And it can be done. I did it in my first month of working in the business, but that’s a story for tomorrow.
Email Tripp Stryker at TrippleThreat69@hotmail.com. Tripp Stryker doesn't do Facebook or Twitter - they cramp his style.