AN AGENT TOLD ME TO FORMAT SCRIPTS THIS WAY:
1. ONLY 12-point COURIER -- typewriter type font.
2. With major shifts in SETTING 'tis best to use CUT TO:
Rules for BULLETS (also called SLUGS) AND CUT TO’s
BULLET or SLUG IS ON THE LEFT as in:
INT. BAR – NIGHT
Hit enter twice
Joe takes the bottle and drinks.
CUT-TO means another scene and locale. It does not indicate the cutting that the editor will do in that scene. Leave those details to director/ editor.
A “CUT TO” requires no punct,( :) but do line-space once betweeen scene-ending
and CUT TO . . . THEN 3 line-spaces b4 you set up next scene w/its SET
LINE . . . Slugline/subslugs . . . Dialog. Example:
INT/EXT DORM ROOM / DOORWAY DAY
SUPER: (means superimposed) 1960 BOB IS 19
Notice: no punc but the colon on the superimposition. A colon announces
the info that follows.
We like TLC here: tight, lean, & clean of excess punc or style; iow, no
overkill; less is more.
Use INSERTS sparingly, which require a BACK TO SCENE (thus you lose
several script lines and you may need them when script gets too fat!)
3. Reset your margins according to directions below. If a buyer sees a
misformatted script, into her/his trash it goes.
4. If you suffer grossly from a COMMA VIRUS get out your old grammar book
and STUDY about what they are supposed to do and not do. Study it well.
Then, re-execute w/a fine-tooth comb. Especially in direct-address (DA)
5. NEVER put a parens indentation w/in dialog. Parens go UNDER character name or
WITHIN dialog by 6 character-spaces. . . . NEVER put an ACTOR-DIRECT
under another actor's dialog (example p 10). Use a sub slug for that
6. Regarding EXPOS: Exposition is for prose; scripts are not a prose
form, scripts are blueprints, so every time you do a TELL, reassess and
make it a SHOW. SCREENPLAYS SHOULD BE OCULAR, ENVISION-ABLE.
THERE'S MORE, OH THERE'S MORE, but I won't go on cuz I've pointed
out (pencilled-in) just about every execution flaw. Rework this sample
and resend it b4 I request a script. I gotta know you got it and got it
good, sir, b4 I trudge thru bad copy once more. Took me hours to work
on this sample; not willing to suffer thru that again. Ball's in your court
Study our guidelines and the whole web site b4 picking up your pen
again. If a writer cannot read, I care not to deal w/him. I know you
can read, so do it.
OUR AGENCY: CHADWICK & GROS LITERARY AGENCY
Garden District Branch
Lessman @ Screeenplay Pkwy 671
Baton Rouge LA 70806-5426
225 338 9861 225 338 0279 (fax)
Anna Piazza, Director Tony Seigan, Overseas Officer
Texas Office: JDitt55939 @aol.com
Service: Ouida2@aol.com (CC:
REGOOGLE THEM TO MAKE SURE THEY DIDN'T SWITCH OFFICES.
GOOGLED THIS MYSELF - GETTING READ BY AGENTS!
SUBMIT TO A LITERARY AGENT YOU CHOOSE FROM THIS RESOURCE PAGE
* * *
Break Em. Once you learn why / how they came to be in the first place.
Once you learn they’re no longer necessary. (Once you come up w/a better
idea, one that casts Clarity & Simplicity in A Grabber of a Storyline & its
sequel Gimme an Easy Read.)
The old timers' rules don't hold any more. They worked w/a different
technology, so the old masters must yield to the new-wave film-making
techno needs. No more hybrid spec-shoots. Spec is story. Period.
No "we see" or "us" in script. Put "us" in your script and you move your
AUD to the screen. Who t'hell is watching this film, anyway? . . .
But (she bows her head humbly, possibly in shame), I just read Francis Ford
Coppolo's THE CONVERSATION (1974) in SCENARIO mag (Summer '99) and
he has us all in his script, so go figger, eh?
Formatting serves the singular purpose of serving the pro readers
and techs who’ll need this and that from your script in order to do
their jobs w/it.
Simply go for Easy Read (ER). ER is not only a compelling grab but any
inscription that does not snag your reader. To snag is to force a reader
to reread that word, phrase, sentence, scene, to backtrack in any way
(very annoying for the reader, very sad if your error is one of basic
SNAG: big word. Snag a reader, endanger a sell.
Snags come in many varieties, especially in punctuation. Punc is a
language all its own. Punc is the screenwriter’s most able helper,
for Punc is bent on an economy of words, well-suited to the blueprint
you’re writing, the non-prose you’re going for.
Punc can save not only words, lines, pages but entire scenes if used
properly, if used judiciously. Punc lends tone to your authorial voice
as well as the voices of your characters.
. An “!” can say “excited” “loud” “angry” "urgent" w/out using a single
word, saving a parens line, or even a subslug.
. A “?” can add a lilt at the end of a character’s sentence, be it a
question or not.
. A period after a question rather than a question mark takes the lilt /
lift outta the character's voice and makes it, perhaps, a snide
. An ellipsis allows the voice to trail off . . .
An ellipsis can say . . . I'm listening (on the phone), a break in
the character's lines w/out having to use a (beat) or any other parens
to break up too-thick dialog.
If you use an ellips, execute it correctly: A sentence that ends w/an
ellipsis takes a period alos, so you end - - end - - with 4 dots - - and
. The dash (two hyphens, not one) effectively says this speaker is being
interrupted by an impertinent cli-- “Outta my face, you pesky agent
. Hyphenate 2 or more words that form one modifier, like a "not-so-new"
. Get out your old grammar and figure out what the colon and semi-colon
can do for you as well.
GENERAL SCRIPT EXECUTION: Our agency signature script is
TLC -- tight, lean, & clean (mainly of camera directs). Courier 12-point,
no exceptions, or rarely. Print copy on 20-weight, please do NOT print
your script pp on cardstock; yep, I get a few of those and it's torture
to work with.
NO STAPLES on any script or synopsis sent to an agency or other pro reader-editor.
PAPER CLIPS work just fine.
Mail scripts in BUBBLE BAGS or a PRIORITY envelope. Plain yellow envelopes
often tear apart and arrive trashed or not at all.
COVER: PBW -- plain brown wrapper. A blank piece of cardstock.
Not in hot pink, please (unless your story's sleeze), but white to
beige to black as understated as possible. The author must be
invisible if his/her work is to speak for itself.
TITLE PAGE, the 1st page inside the cardstock cover:
. No illustrations, no bold, no italics, no underlines
nor quote marks around title.
. Title in all 12-pt CAPS.
. Title and author appear once and only once in a script
-- on title page only.
. Guild registration number, copyright, agency contact info-only, not
the author’s contact info. . . . This goes for your final draft, not the
first draft you submit to us. Till your scripts fly, we'll need your
contact info on them, thereafter you'll need ours.
. Number of pages at top right: 101 pp / 101 pages. This is a personal
affectation, a hangover from my book-market days; allow me, pro readers
dig it--saves em from having to go to all that trouble to flip to the
end of your script to see (yawn) what they’re up against.
. Script header: Don't. Page number only, upper right corner, no punc
around number is necessary, like hypens b4 - aft, like a period. Seems
the number can stand on its own for pure-D clarity, and pure-D clarity
is all we're going for.
Headers are more important in book mss than screenplays because
book mss are not bound therefore vulnerable to being jumbled.
. Your script body / top of page begins 2 line-spaces below p#
. Line-space 3 times between scenes for ER but for several other, more
First off, when you separate scenes w/a break of 3 lines rather than the
old amateur squeeze-cheat of 2--or even one!--you accentuate the power
of your cliffhanger, provide a rest for the reader’s eye and also a long
deep breath in the dark space of anticiptation -- that old feeling of
coming to the end of a chapter and all that that promises -- before
reader leaps into the next tension / new scene. A springboard, not a
blur a blah a yawn.
Oh please, not again, her tirade about those script software programs,
which clutter a script w/camera directs, such old-hat stuff.
These days, your specs are so much more “story” than shoot-tool;
shooting scripts take care of all the CUs, CONTINUEDS, scene numbers,
DISSOLVES, CUT TOs, et cet, so why muddy up your pure-D story with them
unless you wish to present yourself as a director? (Mea culpa, Coppolo.)
Anyway, even if you use the software programs, learn to set your own
margins and learn why they’re required: for clarity’s sake, for chrissake.
. OVERALL PAGE: Copy begins at LEFT MARGIN 1.5 inches. Very wide, in
order to accommodate your brads / binders. Run your slugs no wider than
up to one full inch at RIGHT MARGIN of page.
. CHARACTER NAME: Center it if you wish, but auto-centered CNs aren’t
necessarily accurate. Auto centering hits the center of the page, not
the center of the dialog lines / blocks: 5 tab hits (5 x 5 = 25 typed-
characters/spaces) accurately centers the name over the dialog. Looks
. SET LINE: Here, I set forth a new-wave trend (thanks to a California
producer who privileges me w/the reading of his fine work--oh yeah, how
could I forget; he's asked us to rep him, Lance Dow of Trauma Films
My pref is for little or no punctuation in a set line, rather use 3
character- spaces between the 3 parts of a set line: (1) In and/or out,
(2) place, (3) time:E.g.
INT BEDROOM NIGHT
EXT HALLWAY DAY
EXT/INT DOORWAY/BEDROOM NIGHT
That’s as complicated as a set line ever needs to be.
. SLUGS are flush LEFT 1.5 inches to one inch short of
RIGHT edge of paper. In other words, sluglines run
the full width of your marginated page.
. Indent 2.5 inches LEFT to begin DIALOG BLOCK, which is
never wider than 3.5 inches L to R,
2.5 to 3 inches is preferred.
Keep the other half inch as a spare in emergencies,
to avoid the eschewed hyphenated words that aren’t
naturally hyphenated, in dialog execution.
. PARENS are indented 6 character-spaces (one tab-hit + one
character-space) into / past the Left margin of dialog block.
Parens must be consistently correct.
Parens cannot be auto-centered.
Parens cannot run past the R margin of dialog block; if they do,
they’re probably subslugs; if they do and are not slugs, then
break parens into two lines rather than one overlong / overwide one.
Don’t waste script lines w/parens when the actor-direct can go
into its preceding slugline.
Use parens to break up overly thick dialog, but watch out for
overkill; these ploys can grow boring.
. CUT TO: Rarely used nowadays in specs except when your storyline
shifts from one major setting--place / time--to another, like another
era, another country, a flashback or daydream or . . . but not from one
scene to another in the general setting of your play.
. Forget most inside FADE INs / FADE OUTs / DISSOLVEs, etc.
Today's industry readers want STORY, not directs. My pal Anhalt
Has two Oscars he says DIRECTOR will decide all this stuff
And he gets angry if you try to. It’s ‘how dare he?’
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Our 'POSTER-BLOGGER' is ANITA SANDS HERNANDEZ, Los Angeles Writer, Researcher, Humorist, Ombudsman, Futurist, single mother of four and Astrologer. Catch up with her websites TRUTHS GOV WILL HIDE & NEVER TELL YOU, also The FUTURE, WHAT'S COMIN' AT YA! FRUGAL LIFE STYLE TIPS, HOW TO SURVIVE the COMING GREAT DEPRESSION, and Secrets of Nature, HOLISTIC, AFFORDABLE HEALING. Also ARTISANRY FOR EXPORT, EARN EUROS....* Anita is at firstname.lastname@example.org ). Get a 15$ natal horoscope "my money/future life" reading now + copy horoscope as a Gif file graphic! No smarter, more accurate career reading out there!
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