ALLIGATORS IN A HELICOPTER

a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Friday, January 19, 2007

I've Said It Before, But I'll Say It Again...

I actually have posted on this before, but since they keep popping up in things I read, I feel that I need to rant about these bad screenwriting habits again.

Things that drive me crazy in your script:

CHARACTERS TALKING TO THEMSELVES. There are times when a character might logically talk to themselves -- hell, there are times when I talk out loud to myself -- but it needs to be done very judiciously and sparingly, if at all.

Instead, I read script after script, where the writer, desperate to make us understand what is going on in a character's head, will have them just blurt it out, even if there is no one else in the room.

I read one script the other day that had about 15 different incidences where this happened, with about a half-dozen different characters. And in most of the cases what they were saying was really very obvious anyway.

Trust your readers/audience to understand things, and if you think they need a push, figure out how to do it visually or more inventively. There's always a better way than the random I'm-alone-but-I'm-chatty blurt out.

MENTIONING THE MOVIE IN THE SCRIPT THAT YOUR SCRIPT IS SIMILAR TO. I've read two scripts in the last week that did this, part of an odd habit that is shockingly widespread and endlessly reoccurring.

It seems to be driven by guilt. Writers who find themselves penning scenes (or storylines) that are derivative of something that came before feel driven to namecheck this film, as if acknowledging it makes it okay.

But there are few really-original moments any more, and pointing out the ones your script is borrowing is counter-productive; it just makes the reader even more-aware that even you know that you haven't put forth the effort to make your tale truly original.

Best-case scenario? You make your script as original as possible. But if it does hew close to something that came before (because that's the best way to tell the story), don't feel you have to point it out. If you are doing a story about some kids going on an adventure, you really don't need a scene in which "The Goonies" plays on a TV in the background, or one of the kids mentions that in "Stand By Me" the kids found a body.

CRIMINAL MISUSE OF APOSTROPHES. "It's" is ONLY to be used to represent "it is", not when something is possessive.

"Let's" is short for "Let us", so you shouldn't write "Lets go".

Apostrophes are used as possessives, or to replace letters. If you are talking about the Kennedy clan, they are the Kennedys, not the Kennedy's.

It's The 1960s, not The 1960's. Shortening years, it should be The '60s, not The 60's.

Characters are in their 30s, not their 30's.

VARYING THE NAME OF THE SAME CHARACTOR IN THE SCENE DESCRIPTION. If a guy's name is John Brown, you shouldn't be calling him John sometimes, and Brown others. In the dialogue, fine, but not in the scene description.

And after you intro characters, we should never see their whole name again. It shouldn't say JOHN BROWN as the name over all the dialogue (much less something like ASSISTANT DA CHARLES KINCAID). Pick the first name or the last and stick with that, and make sure it's what you are calling him in the scene description.

EXCLAMATION POINTS IN SCENE DESCRIPTION. These look really amateurish. If you are writing an exciting scene well, you really don't need them.

47 Comments:

At 1:43 PM, Blogger Will said...

I'm with you Scott, on everything but the apostrophes in decades. The New York Times still puts the apostrophe where you don't like it, like "60's." I kind of like it that way myself, even though I can't really justify it logically.

 
At 2:04 PM, Anonymous Joe Valdez said...

If these gems were found in scripts that were being developed, or had been possibly greenlit already, my question is what makes spelling, grammar or basic computer literacy irrelevant in Hollywood?

 
At 2:43 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

No, these are pretty much all from scripts by people who hope to be professional screenwriters.

 
At 4:35 PM, Blogger The guy reading this over your shoulder said...

As another script reader in hollywood, and someone also named Scott, I agree completely with your assessment. On the note about exclamation points, I actually read a script a few weeks ago that asked a rhetorical question during scene description, and I wanted to throw the spec against the wall. Also, I'd add to the list anytime a writer uses the phrase "we see..." or even "the camera sees...". Call me oldschool, but referring directly to the reader (as 'we' or anything else) takes me right out of the action, and those kind of comments can always be added for the actual prod. script if absolutely necessary.

 
At 9:41 PM, Anonymous WillReadForFood said...

I think you're being a little hard on the whole apostrophe thing and it bugs me when readers freak about grammar.

I'm a reader, too, but I feel like I've reached a Zen Place on all of that crap. I see it, I don't understand it, but it's really not relevant. Admittedly, in amateur stuff it's a glaring problem. But I read mostly pro stuff and it's easier to overlook. The oldest cliche in the book is that the story is always the thing.

I agree with all your points but I would add a few things:

1. The 'Get the character work out of the way in the first 15/30 pages scripts.' I love these. Characters, relationships, problems, they're all laid out quickly in obligatory fashion so the plot can happen and, once the plot happens, that's it.

2. The Rambling Second Act: If there's one thing I've learned, it's that everybody can write the First Act. For that matter, most people know what the Third Act is, even if it isn't very good. But the Second Act is usually a horror show of mishapen scenes, illogical scenes, aimless plot points, colorful filler, the list goes on.

The Kitchen Sink Ending: This is the ending that goes as far over the top as could be imagined to desperately save a script that wasn't working in the first place. I always appreciate the fireworks, but endings are clearly not appreciated the way they should be.

This could be a longer list, but I'm just adding my frustrating 2 cents.

 
At 9:47 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

I can't stand when people write WE SEE.

Anyway, good stuff here.

 
At 10:00 PM, Anonymous WillReadForFood said...

'We See' is a bit misunderstood.

'We See' in a spec script is usually wrong or awkward (but not necessarily bad.)

'We See' in a script that has been assigned makes more sense in a relative way. Those writers have been paid to bring the script alive. They're not writing in the hopes of 'selling.' They've sold. They're writing in the hopes that the project will move forward and that their 'vision' will help.

Usually, it's overkill. But sometimes (rarely) it's effective.

 
At 11:14 PM, Blogger Scribe LA said...

Thanks, Scott. More, please.:-)
Scribe

 
At 7:33 AM, Anonymous Moviequill said...

'we see' more and more spec writers using this because they are downloading too much Shane Black screenplays off of free sites, thnking this is the proper way to write... either that or film school teachers better start getting a clue

 
At 7:45 AM, Blogger Joshua James said...

Don't understand the bias against exclamation points, really. I've read bad scripts that have them and I've read good scripts that have them.

The issue, it seems, isn't the exclamation points nor is it the "we see" or "camera sees" usage (which are stylistic choices) but rather, that the story being told in said screenplay is sucking, majorly, and don't you think it's a bit misplaced to lay the play on exclamation points?

For certain, bad grammar and mispelled words, that shouldn't happen. But style choices?

Myself, I don't care for novels that are written in the present tense (A MILLION LITTLE PIECES blew before we knew it wasn't true) rather than past tense . . . But I wouldn't say that Don Dellilo shouldn't write his that way . . . because his work is great, even when he uses a style I don't particularly care for.

This is, of course, simply only my opinion . . .

 
At 10:40 AM, Blogger Emily Blake said...

Sad how the same problems that plague high school students pop up with supposed professional writers.

I should give this list to my students. I hate the exclamation point thing because by the time I've read a paper with eighty million exclamation points my eyebrows are in my scalp.

Thanks for the comment about the spostrophes. I don't care if the New York Times does it. Their head copy editor should beaten with sticks.

I can see the use of "we see" though. I try to not use it, but sometimes it's the only way to establish something, like an object that needs to be on the table but made a big deal of, like something you're berely supposed to notice but will become important later.

 
At 10:43 AM, Blogger Emily Blake said...

Now I should be beaten with sticks. That was supposed to be something you're NOT supposed to make a big deal of, and something you're BARELY supposed to notice. Aww, hell.

 
At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Don Magic Juan said...

I also do some reading in good old Hollywood.

"We see" doesn't really bother me. I don't understand the rage against it. It gets the point across.

I don't necessarily mind little asides to the reader either. THE FUGITIVE is one of the best scripts I have ever read and it includes its fair share of descriptions like "Kimball has just learned something important here." It's not a visual description, but it keeps the reader immersed in the story.

I won't punish a writer for using slightly questionable techniques in order to effectively convey his/her story. A writer has to somehow compensate for the absence of actors and actresses, who can bring a lot of things to life that might not necessarily be "on the page."

As for the things that actually annoy me:

Overly formal speech - I hate it when a writer has his evil characters spouting nonsense like, "But it is true. The chosen one has used his dark powers against us. We shall respond with the utmost force and seize the mystic relic." Characters should sound like real people. No one really talks like this.

Witty dialogue that goes nowhere - I admit that this can occasionally work. Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino built careers off of it. But, by and large, I don't need to hear your wiseass characters exchange irrelevant witticisms for five pages. Chances are, you're not that clever or interesting. Don't try to be.


I can't think of any other minor things that get under my skin. What really kills most scripts is a combination of bad plotting, lame concepts, and weak execution.

Most amateur scripts aren't really terrible. They're just sloppy and mediocre. They lack drama and tight plotting.

 
At 7:49 PM, Blogger Grubber said...

Hi Scott,
Thanks for that list, always nice to have a warning list to refer to, just in case one falls prey to these at 1am in the morning :)

Question regarding character names though, I understand what you are saying but if the character is a military person e.g. Sergeant Brook, would it be acceptable to use SGT BROOK as a character name. In my instance there are civilians and military characters in the same scenes, by using their official title even in a shortened manner it helps to differentiate between the two. Is this okay?

Would love your advice on this one.

As always, many thanks.
cheers
Dave.

 
At 9:37 PM, Anonymous chris soth said...

Well, I'll say my usual thing: when these things occur in a good script, we forgive them. And the apostrophe one just might...people do it. I do. you do.

WE SEE...lose it.

If you write it, WE SEE it...yes? Try cutting it (I'm looking at you, Emily), and remember, what you're writing in the screenplay is what WE SEE. Should we start thinking that if you DON'T put WE SEE that WE DON'T SEE whatever you're describing.

Mentioning ANY movie drives me nuts. Then in Inside Man, Denzel keeps mentioning both Dog Day Afternoon and Die Hard...and yes, it drove me nuts and took me out of the movie.

 
At 11:20 PM, Blogger Mark said...

The character in the film referring to other movies. I think Kevin Williamson started this with "Scream".

I also knew that the horror movies that I liked to watch would be dead for a while.

Anyway, good points. And more easily picked up on if the screenplay is lacking in other areas like story and character.

thanks

 
At 1:52 AM, Blogger Lucy said...

I can't stand "We see..." either. Everything in a movie is SEEN. It's a visual medium. End of, as far as I'm concerned.

I hate movie refs, but I hate the line "This isn't a movie, this is real life!" in scripts more. I have a tally chart as to how many times it crops up. I know, I'm sad-sad-sad, but it's amazing how many times it rears its ugly head.

Good grammar goes without saying I think, though the one instance I hate more than apostrophe misuse is mixed tenses, present continuous/past simple: "I am sat..."/"He is stood"...OH MY GOD!!!

I have to say though, I think exclamation marks can have a place. I don't mind writers using them for effect in this sort of way:

John opens the box. What the fuck!

He runs out the door.

We're not meant to see what's in the box yet - we only need to know it's the catalyst that gets him on the move and out the door, so why not? I don't tend to use them like this myself, but have no problem with writers doing it like this.

The one thing I can't stand, even if used correctly, are semi-colons in scene description. It looks amatuer IMO as I think it breaks up the "immediacy" of the action.

 
At 1:53 AM, Blogger Lucy said...

Bollocks. AMATEUR. ; )

 
At 7:42 AM, Blogger Brett said...

There's a fair amount of grammar nonsense I can largely ignore, since (to a point) grammar is as much style as it is rules.

[That "whoosh-thud" you just heard? That was the sound of a hundred thousand ass-puckered junior high English teachers swooning and fainting to the floor in shocked disbelief, injured to have it suggested that perhaps the bulk of the red ink they splash onto composition books is to demonstrate their "mastery" of a subject at best only tangentially related to creativity and actual writing ability.]

What I can't stand—what drives me right up the wall, across the ceiling, and down the opposite wall—is when wastes my time with a pile of pages wherein not one crumb of wit, soul, heart, or desire can be found. Fifty thousand words certified free of all passion. A hundred pages where not one original thought, word, or action seems present.

Dull is dull, no matter how good its grammatical hygiene.
.
.
.
B

 
At 7:54 AM, Blogger Joshua James said...

I can't stand movies that have characters who talk about the importance of Jesus in their lives, but that doesn't mean that scripts with characters like that are automatically bad.

I mean, come on . . . we see? So it bothers you, but that doesn't mean it's a bad script . . . you know how many good scripts there are that are published which have that in there?

With regards to characters referencing movies (Inside Man was mentioned) that doesn't take me out because people do it in real life, in real life people constantly reference TV shows and movies, so why is it surprising people do it in their scripts?

I mean, if a script is bad, it's because it's written badly. Not because of we see or movie reference. This all makes me feel icky, like when it was said years ago voice-overs mean you've written a bad script.

 
At 8:03 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

I'll be the first to say that story is king. If I've learned anything (particularly through my $60 notes thing) is that there are plenty of aspiring writers out there who can write a scene and know format, but very few know how to tell a story.

But at the same time, if you are trying to impress someone with your writing skill, even stuff like its/it's and other kludgy things in your script just work against you.

The trick is to write a script that immerses the reader without having a lot of little potholes in it that just get the reader's mind thinking about stuff that isn't your script, like wondering why the hell you are talking about "American Pie" in the middle of your teen comedy or wincing at scene description like "John sees Callie for the first time. She's beautiful! He can't stand it, and starts to grin!"

As for exclamation points, I've read scripts that had hundreds of them in it. All unnecessary. Again, if you are writing well enough, you really should need an exclamation point to tell the reader that something exciting/shocking/horrofying is going on.

Grubber -- "Sgt. Brook" is fine. "Assistant CIA Director Nathan Bedford", over every line of his dialogue, is overkill.

 
At 8:08 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Joshua -- I think movie references can work, if they work. But not if they are reminding the audience of other, better, similar movies that they could have stayed home and watched.

I think things like flashbacks and voiceovers (and the use of characters talking about Jesus) can be good tools if they are used right; I think they have gotten bad reputations because they have been used wrong so many times.

Things like "We see" aren't really tools, though; they are just less-imaginative, more-clunky ways of describing the scene.

 
At 9:21 AM, Blogger Joshua James said...

"We see" aren't really tools, though; they are just less-imaginative, more-clunky ways of describing the scene."

Then how do you explain the fact that there are imaginative, successful working screenwriters with scripts published now who have used this way in a screeenplay?

To be clear, I'm not trying to pick a fight with you or anyone else that reads scripts for a living . . . I absolutely know you have to read loads of bad scripts by bad writers . . . and to be honest, do you think that taking away exclamation points, or we see, or voice-overs is going to make those scripts any better?

I am a bit nuts about this, I guess . . . so many times I hear about what you're not supposed to ever do in a screenplay, only to get a copy of the script a movie I admire and see that it breaks many of those self-same rules . . . I guess that, just as you have your pet peeves, I have mine.

One of those is basing judgments on a script on things that have little or nothing to do with story.

As long as it's grammatically correct, as long as the words are spelled out and clear, why state that this (insert peeve) never works when oftentimes it does?

 
At 11:15 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Because there is a world of difference between a script written by an established writer who has nothing to prove (and thus doesn't have to sweat the small stuff), and one written by an aspiring writer who is trying to convince someone that he knows what he is doing (and thus does).

 
At 11:39 AM, Blogger MaryAn Batchellor said...

Hadn't thought of the "nothing to prove" aspect before. Makes sense. But even in the established screenwriter's world, is there really ever "nothing to prove"?

 
At 12:04 PM, Blogger Joshua James said...

My point is that the established writers WRITE well and it shows in the script, often using techniques which we're told only bad writers do . . . yet these scripts, as it were, are not bad. . . if these techniques were so terrible, they wouldn't be implimented, would they?

Does that mean once anyone makes serious money writing screenplays, they can immediately throw out any and all of your points and it will not cost them when and if a reader evaluates a script?

 
At 1:13 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

I'm just saying that, when writing a script as an aspiring writer, you should only have things in it that helps the script and the impression that someone is going to have of you as a writer.

Most of the things that I wrote about just knock points off. At times the effect might be slight or subtle, but it's a fact.

Pat over at "Could You Describe The Ruckus" currently has an interview up with Gordy Hoffman, a writer/director who runs the Bluecat competition.

Asked what bugs him when he reads an entry, Gordy doesn't cite poor storytelling or bad structure. He cites "mispellings" and "describing the thoughts of a character".

Again, it's all about story, but you can't devalue the pieces either.

 
At 4:55 PM, Anonymous don magic juan said...

"My point is that the established writers WRITE well and it shows in the script, often using techniques which we're told only bad writers do . . . yet these scripts, as it were, are not bad. . . if these techniques were so terrible, they wouldn't be implimented, would they?"

Bingo. It's much ado about nothing.

It's a lot easier to nitpick minor surface details like "we see" than it is to really get at the core of why most bad screenplays don't work.

 
At 7:41 PM, Blogger James said...

"VARYING THE NAME OF THE SAME CHARACTOR IN THE SCENE DESCRIPTION"

I think you meant "character."

Does that change the meaning of your post...? Nah.

My question:

What happened, Scott? On a similar post dated some time in 2005 you pointed out that formatting wasn't something to be overly stressed.

And now you're overly stressed by bad formatting. What happened?

 
At 8:17 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

I'm not stressed by bad formatting per se. Just bad writing in general.

 
At 10:49 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

I'm starting to believe you're the reincarnation of my long-ago first-year journalism professor, especially in your derision of exclamation points.

As for the referencing movies thing, I will note that it would've bothered me more if "Office Space" hadn't mentioned "Superman III".

 
At 11:59 PM, Blogger Grubber said...

Thanks Scott, appreciate that clarification and I think I would be too lazy to include your example on each piece of dialogue for that character. :)
cheers
Dave

 
At 6:42 AM, Blogger Joshua James said...

"Just bad writing in general."

"We see" is not bad writing. It's on page 2 on American Beauty and on page one of Blood Simple and on page one of Bound.

It took me ten minutes to look those up . . . I know I could find a lot more if I had the time and really dove into Drew's Script-o-Rama.

I could probably find some exclamation points, too, maybe on one of Shane Black's scripts, or Sam Raimi.

And character thoughts, too, though I don't use those myself.

I'm against bad writing in general, too. But I don't believe style choices, be it "we see" or exclamation points or "Gerard knows he found something important here" in The Fugitive is bad writing . . . the scripts you're talking about would be bad whether these things are in them or not -

I get it, they're pet peeves of yours . . but good writers use these things in good scripts, so in and of themselves, they are not bad writing. If they were, great writers would not be doing it.

To me, that's like saying - don't use the word "the" because you've read so many bad script with the word "the" in it, you know what I'm saying?

 
At 6:48 AM, Blogger Joshua James said...

August as the first few pages of his script THE NINES up, and there is much use of "we see" therein . . . http://johnaugust.com/archives/2007/some-of-the-nines

 
At 8:44 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Well, first of all, I never said anything about "we see". It doesn't bother me that much, though I think it's a little lazy; again, there's a way to phrase things better. But on my list of transgressions, it is pretty low.

But again, remember that John August wrote "The Nines" for himself to direct. He doesn't have to have the scene description all nice and professional; everyone knows he can write.

The problem with exclamation points are that bad writers use them a lot. I'm sure you can find plenty of exclamation points in good scripts too (while understand I'm only talking about exclamation points in scene description -- in dialogue they are fine).

But they are generally unnecessary, as is "we see" and lots of other things that bad scripts use a lot. Flashback and voiceover? These are strong tools in the right hands that should be held onto despite being badly abused by amateurs. But things like exclamation points and "we see" just feel so, so unnecessary; they don't add anything to the script, while they are really quite tainted at this point.

If you want to use them, go ahead. But I just don't see that they improve a script; they are both lazy writing. John August can afford that; you can't.

 
At 9:22 AM, Blogger Joshua James said...

I don't think John August was being lazy, anymore than Aaron Bell was in American Beauty . . . Bell hadn't established himself when he wrote that, btw . . . they wrote it in the best form they saw fit, and it worked.

All words and techniques are abused by bad writers . . . it's not the fault of the words or techniques, but rather how they're used . . . I don't see that you've made your case here, basically great writers can be sloppy or lazy (though I don't think that's how they would view their work) once they've established themselves - I mean, the first thing they tell scribes, when starting out, is to read the good scripts by good writers . . . and you're telling me that they're only sloppy becuz they're successful?

I dunno, man, but it seems that we're going to go around and around on this without resolving it, so I guess I'll stop bothering you . . .

 
At 9:32 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

American Beauty was written by Alan Ball.

There's a lot that you can learn from great scripts in terms of story, and structure, and dialogue, and the way scenes are constructed, and how they flow into each other.

Nuts-and-bolts scene description? Not necessarily. Obviously they'll be largely well-written, but again, many are written by writers who are at a stage of their career when they have proven they can write.

We who aren't at that stage yet need to do everything we can to make sure our writing is as good as it can be, and that means being cognizent of some of the things that make your script look amateurish rather than improving it.

Defend exclamation points and "we see" all you want, but my point is that they are unnecessary, and stink of fish.

 
At 9:47 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

But don't get me wrong -- some of these things aren't a huge deal at all. A few "we see"s or exclamation points won't doom your script.

I think it's just important, when making choices in your writing, to know that phrasing things without "we see"s or exclamation points or words spelled wrong or it's/its mistakes is going to come across better than the same phrase that uses them will.

Even if it is a small amount, those small amounts can add up pretty quick if there are too many of them.

 
At 10:07 AM, Blogger Joshua James said...

I knew I got Ball's name mixed up the minute I hit post. Sigh.

I agree, make the script as tight and smooth as can be, no mispelled words, not unnecessary description.

But tying it up over exclamation points and we see, well, we'll just have to agree to disagree, though I'm glad to know of this bias, now.

I maintain that it's not lazy or sloppy if the pro's are doing it. And that taking out those things are not going to make a bad script good.

But that's just me, I guess.

 
At 8:51 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

"...if the pro's are doing it."

You did that on purpose, didn't you?

 
At 9:23 PM, Anonymous Mike E said...

Guy Reading Over Shoulder... countless pro scripts use "we see" and clever asides like rhetorical questions. (American Pie, plus quite a few already listed above.)

In crappy scripts these things are death. In produced scripts, they are apparently genius. I think unproduced writers/readers sometimes get caught up in enforcing the "rules" and miss the point. But then again, you guys have to read tons of drivel, so I don't blame you for griping a little. :)

 
At 11:10 PM, Blogger James said...

"...many are written by writers who are at a stage of their career when they have proven they can write."

Do you honestly think their writing style(s) changed AFTER being sucessful?

Shane Black, Lawrence Kasdan, Billy Wilder, Charlie Kaufman, William Goldman... the list goes on and on and on... all break the rules. And always have. (In fact, Shane Black is probbly more tame now then when he first broke in.)

These are some of the pinnacle of the craft that is screenwriting.

I know you read a lot of bad scripts. Just because bad scripts seem to do the same thing, and do it badly, does not mean it is bad technique.

That's like watching an expert marksman bull's eye a target from 1000 yards away. Seeing this mastery you want to give it a try. You ask to borrow his rifle and are surprised when you accidentally shoot someone using the same tool.

The irony is that in screenwriting, your buddies gather around and go, "Damn rifle must be broke."

 
At 12:54 AM, Anonymous another damn reader said...

gah, I hate the "but famous writers do that all the time!!!" argument. You are not a famous writer. When you are getting paid five million a script, feel free to make all the errors you want. 'til then, follow the rules.

p.s., I can't believe I've been reading for [stupidly long period of time] and haven't found this blog before. Finally, someone who can relate.

 
At 2:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I look at it like this, I hope all the newbies here continue to break all the formatting rules. Please, put in all the "we see's", and the camera directions, and the poor grammar. Keep it up. Tell all your screenwriting buddies to follow your lead.
That'll make it easier for the rest of us.

 
At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Don Magic Juan said...

"gah, I hate the "but famous writers do that all the time!!!" argument. You are not a famous writer. When you are getting paid five million a script, feel free to make all the errors you want. 'til then, follow the rules."

Alan Ball wasn't famous before AMERICAN BEAUTY. It made him famous.

Shan Black wasn't famous before LETHAL WEAPON. It made him famous.

There are countless other examples of writers crafting breakthrough scripts that include lots of "rules" violations.

That's because what really matters is concept, plot, and characters. Those things don't hinge on "we see" or a few other nitpicky rules that are mostly championed by amateurs.

 
At 12:28 PM, Anonymous Aaron said...

I think what this whole conversation has proven is that clearly there are those people who feel strongly about WE SEE and many dislike it quite a bit. If you've written a spec script, and you're trying to sell it, these are the people who are the first line of defense for the producer or the company with the check book... why give them an excuse to throw it away on such a simple little thing?

I'm not too thrown by WE SEE but I don't read amateur screenplays for a living either. There seems to be so many other ways to achieve the same thing so why take a chance on your spec?

Now, I use "we see" in another way so I guess I'll go back and see if it's as annoying.

 
At 12:57 AM, Anonymous Lucy said...

Shane Black is Shane Black. Alan Ball, William Goldman... Sometimes a writer is JUST AMAZING. It may come as a surprise but Readers *can* put people thru to the next level regardless of annoying habits because they are JUST SO DAMN GOOD. I had one of these writers on my pile about three or four years ago; but it's happened only ONCE to me. How many scripts have I read? Probably into the thousands. I'm not ruling it happening out again, but not great odds there.

 

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