THE BAD NEWS:  If you’re making these 5 mistakes, you’re not ready for prime time.

THE GOOD NEWS:  Correcting these 5 mistakes will rocket your script quality up so fast NASA will dial you for launch tips.

1:  NAKED SCENE HEADERS: Naked scene headers are headers floating on the page with no scene description:

INT. KITCHEN – DAY

BOB
Who won the game?

No scene header should float alone on the page. At the very least — and I do mean very least — a reader must know WHO is in the scene:

INT. KITCHEN – DAY

Bob looks up at Dan.

BOB
Who won the game?





2:  FORMS OF BEING: “Is” is not your friend. Bob is lounging. Bob is eating. Bob is talking. Action is only immediate if verbs are immediate:

Bob lounges, Bob eats, Bob talks.

3:  TONTO SPEAK: Tonto Speak is scene description with all the articles (the, a, an) chopped out of sentences:

Bob opens door.  Bob drives car.  Bob kicks soccer ball.

There is no universe in which reading 100 pages of Tonto Speak will not be painful and also justification to douse a script with lighter fluid and watch it burn.

Bob opens THE door, Bob drives THE car, Bob kicks THE soccer ball.

4:  NUMERIC DIALOGUE: Dialogue is not a text message or a math equation. Dialogue is the spoken word. Which can you pronounce, reading it out as dialogue?

15?

Fifteen?

[Hint, “fifteen.” That is dialogue.]

5:  BAD PARENTHETICALS: Parentheticals are about defining inflection and attitude in dialogue when they aren’t clear in context and wording alone.

Here’s dialogue that is clear without a parenthetical:

BOB
That’s great!

Here’s dialogue that is not clear without a parenthetical:

BOB
(dripping sarcasm)
That’s great.

Parentheticals are also not about physical action. Here’s a parenthetical carrying action it shouldn’t be carrying:

INT. KITCHEN – DAY

BOB
(striding across the kitchen and bear hugging Dan)
That’s great!

Here’s what that should actually look like on the page:

INT. KITCHEN – DAY

Bob strides across the room and bear hugs Dan.

BOB
That’s great!