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 "Help to the writer" by Lynne Pembroke 
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Post "Help to the writer" by Lynne Pembroke
Title: Help to the writer by a judge of several major TV script and
screenplay contests. Advice and tips on preparing a script
before entering a contest.

Author: Lynne Pembroke


Introduction There are many screenplay contests available
to the aspiring screenwriter. These contests can be a good
avenue to getting one's work noticed and/or make a sale. So,
it's important to make certain that you have written your
screenplay to the best of your ability and according to industry

The most important thing to do for any aspiring screenwriter is
to first learn the basic techniques of screenwriting before
sitting down to write one. I come across many hopeful writers
who think that all it takes to write a script is a good story
idea and a lot of explosive special effects. While a good story
is important, with or without the special effects, writing that
story using proper industry standards is equally
important. (Please visit http://www.cover -- Tips for Screenwriters link for
further information.)

There are specific techniques to the craft of screenwriting
involving everything from act structure to proper screenplay
format, which must be followed. It's difficult to write
engaging characters, focused plots and entertaining screenplays
without having a solid framework in which to bring it all to

Before any money is spent submitting your work to a
screenwriting contest, it would behoove the writer to first
educate himself in the "tools of the trade". There are many,
many screenwriting books available as well as workshops and
seminars, both online and in live classroom situations. My
advice is to take advantage of them. Then, armed with the
basics, write, write and then write some more.

Then before submitting your work to any screenplay competition
have it copyrighted and WGA registered. (United States
Copyright office: <a></a>. Writers Guild of America: <a></a>.)

Advice and Suggestions I am a judge for many contests and
as such, have read thousands of TV scripts and screenplays. I
can assure you that the winners are chosen because their
screenplays or TV scripts contain great stories and are written
to industry standards. Therefore, putting your best foot
forward is a must. Below are some pointers to keep in mind
before you submit your screenplay.<UL><LI> If your purpose is to
"break into the business", make certain that the script contest
you enter offers meetings with agents and/or producers as part
of the prize for winning and not just cash prizes. Of course,
if it is just the extra cash you're after, then go for it!

<LI> Make certain, before you write that entry fee check and
send in your material, that the screenplay contest or TV script
competition is a reputable one and indeed has, in the past,
delivered to its winners what it promised in its promotion.

<LI> Presentation of your screenplay does count so make certain
your screenplay follows the accepted industry standards. This
not only includes using the proper screenplay format but also
such things as a typo-free screenplay and the correct binding.

<LI> Keep in mind that the industry professionals who sponsor
some of these film and TV competitions do so in order to find
good producible material, hopefully for lower rather than higher
budgets. Therefore, entering a screenplay in a genre with a
story that screams "high budget" lessens the writer's chances of
winning. This means that</UL><OL><LI>Sci-fi special effects
stories taking place on purple planets populated with giant,
paisley-skinned, seven-armed, Plasmanian Wooglegorps who
magically float through the air using anti-gravity belts or

<LI> a 1920's Period Piece necessitating Model-T's, Zoot suits
and flappers or
<LI> an action/adventure story that has the
bad guys blown to smithereens, along with their Lear jet, over
the ocean, followed by a high-tech nuclear submarine underwater
search and rescue mission while the oil slicked water burns out
of control, are not the best way to go.</OL><UL><LI> Make
certain that your story is told visually. Film is a visual

<LI> Make sure you don't have "on the nose" dialogue or too much
dialogue and that all the dialogue sounds natural.

<LI> Check to make sure that your characters are interesting,
engaging and have good character arcs. Nothing worse than
having an unlikable hero, a wishy-washy bad guy, or a
protagonist who starts out angry at the world and by the end of
the story is still angry at the world having learned and changed
nothing in his nature. </UL> Conclusion Once you've gone
through your screenplay and are satisfied with it, have it read
by someone else. After all, your story is intended for a
movie-going audience so honest opinions from friends and family
members will give you a feel for that audience reaction.

Then do yourself a favor and have your screenplay read by an
industry professional that has experience and good credentials
in the area of script analysis. A writer can become too close
to his work and not be able to "see the forest for the
trees". It is to your advantage to have any possible format,
story, character, dialogue and structure flaws found and
corrected before it is submitted to a movie or TV script contest.

While there is never any guarantee your screenplay or TV script
will be a winner, writing one to the best of your ability and
which meets industry standards is a must, as the competition is

I wish you great success in your present and future
story-telling adventures.


Email me at:

Lynne Pembroke Los Angeles, CA. 323-953-5921

Copyright 2003 Lynne Pembroke, <a></a> The
information on this page may not be reproduced, republished or
mirrored on another webpage or website without the permission of
the links site owner or webmaster.

About the author:
Over 18 years experience as a freelance script reader/analyst &
consultant for agents, studios, producers, script consulting
companies & screenwriting competitions. A writer, poet &
screenwriter. Specializing in screenwriting, script writing help
& screenplay analysis of movies/tv scripts. Services provided,
include: story analysis, ghostwriting, rewriting & adaptation of
novel to screenplay. Website:

This article was re-posted by permission.

[Note: While trying to honour the author's request, we were uncertain about some of the codes she inserted, in her article. The stuff (eg. unnecessary use of <a>...</a>) we knew would negatively-impact the article's appearance and functioning, on this message board, though was removed.

Also, due to size restrictions, this article's title had to be truncated. Appologies to Lynne Pembroke. - Admin.]

Tue Jul 10, 2007 7:31 pm
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