I've decided to post and share some screenwriting rules/recommendations as I continue forging through my journey as a screenwriter...

(These aren't official rules of thumb, just things that I've learned.)

  1. Always write in the present tense.
  2. Try not to exceed more than FOUR action lines TOTAL in-between dialogue.
  3. Never leave "Dingleberries" -- single words that result in an action line to go onto another line. (See example below.)
  4. "If you have a kick-ass first fifteen pages, a studio executive will forgive the crummy 110 pages that follow." - Aaron Sorkin
  5. "If you've given them a fantastic two hours and you blow the last fifteen minutes, you are going to get zero credit for the fantastic two hours." - Aaron Sorkin
  6. Don't write your screenplay like you would a treatment. Let the reader figure things out.
  7. The more white on your page, the more likely it is to be a page turner - which is a good thing.

 

Dingleberry example:

"Andy sits at his computer typing away a screenplay. He takes a moment to pause to make sure he doesn't have any

dingleberries."

(In other words, this line can probably be shortened by a word or two so that it fits onto a single line. Removing dingleberries makes your screenplay easier to read.)