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03/22/2018

A few quick writing tips

As we place the final coat of wax on my Home Improvement spec, I’ve jotted down a few quick tips that we like to use and think you could benefit from.

Do whatever you can to make your script stand out. We don’t mean in the quality of your writing. We mean the quality of your presentation. Everyone does the same thing. White title page with three holes and two brads. A reader takes a stack of scripts home. What’s he going to pick to read? Just some bland white page, three hole, two brad script? Or the Lisa Frank notebook that pops against the background of banal presentation? The blue paper cover? The script whose cover has an awesome pencil sketch illustrating the central theme of the story inside? Harry Potter was rescued from the garbage bin because the woman responsible for throwing it out liked the binder clip J.K. Rowling used. We think we all know how that went for her. Stand out. Get your work read.

Do make sure your words stand out. In keeping with the motif of standing out, we have a really clever way of making sure your words pop. Draw a picture. Including a picture can be a great way to get around the unfortunate limitations words can put on us. Let’s face it. Television and film are a visual medium. It worked for Tim Kring when he wrote the pilot for Heroes. (We are in no way suggesting including a picture in your script will make it as brilliantly subversive as Heroes, but it certainly couldn’t hurt.) Be visual. And, hey. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Think how many less pages that is you have to write.

Don’t get hung up on thinking your script is going to be made. Get hung up on thinking your script could be made. When James Cameron wrote Avatar, there was no way to make that movie. So, he stuck it in a drawer until the technology was available. Don’t let someone tell you that you can’t include a million man march in your Hot in Cleveland spec. (Or million woman march as the case may be.) Can we do it now? No. But, ten years from now, that show is going to be starting to run dry on stories. Technology will be incredibly advanced and for all you know a million man march is just what they’re looking for. Write what you want. They’ll figure out a way to make it someday.

So, those are just a few of the things we like to keep in mind when working on a script. Take them or leave them. That reminds me, though, we have one more tip for you.

Take them.

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