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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

Updated every Monday, one selected e-mail will be posted and answered here each week. With many years of experience in the film and television business, I look forward to providing answers to your questions (often with a humorous eye) about screenwriting or the entertainment industry in general.  Please send your e-mailed questions to: Script Advisor.  You may also wish to visit our Screenwriting Help E-Mails - The Archives.

This week's question: 

I've heard that it's a good idea to write a screenplay like I'm watching the movie.  Do you agree and do you have any tips about how to do that?


This week's Answer: 

A Writing-Watching Way

Terrence, I appreciate your question.  Yes, it can be effective to write a screenplay as if you're watching your "mental movie."  The imagination is a powerful tool.  And to help you get into the spirit of things and  feel like you are watching a movie, I do have a few tips for you.

1.  When you write, sit in a dark room.  Try not to look at the lit monitor screen -- or, if you must, imagine that it's a movie screen.  And try to ignore those words on it.  No, wait.  That's your screenplay.  Never mind.  You're going to need that.

2.  Have a friend or neighbor or family member stand close to you while you sit at your desk, writing, and shine a flashlight around, acting like an usher.  Oh, that's right:  18 year-old ushers don't have flashlights.

3.  Have another friend or neighbor or family member stand on the other side of you, shining their cell-phone screen into your eyes.  And, while they're at it, have them take and make a few calls, or, at least, text somebody.

Or... you can just close your eyes, let your imagination project the mental movie onto the back of your eye (you could consider that area to be the movie screen.  One of many in your personal, Retina Multiplex Theatres.  That should do it.  Oh.  One more thing:

Scatter some popcorn and sticky candy around your office.

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