News, opinions, interviews and more from Hollywood and the screenwriting contest scene.

Scriptapalooza Tips for Screenwriters

Each competition has it's own guidelines/rules, make sure you read them and submit exactly what each competition suggests.

Always spell check your script. Nothing is more frustrating than a producer reading your script and seeing mistake after mistake; it takes them out of the story.

Feature film screenplays should be between 90 and 130 pages.

Limit your scene description. We know you have to describe the action, but seeing 5 pages of description is tough for the reader. Remember create your story through dialogue.

Show and tell…and by that we mean showing us the character/story is doing something other than describing it in words.

Format your script. If you do not know what that means, look online at a screenplay and see what it should look like. Then, go buy a software screenwriting program.

Usually a competition does not want your name on the title page. Why? Well, the reader shouldn't know if a male or female wrote the script, or where they live. That shouldn't sway their decision about the material.

Register your script with The Writers Guild of America or The Library of Congress.

Don't include a treatment, synopsis, drawings, storyboards or sheet music.

Before you send out your script to anyone, make sure it's not your first draft and that it was read by numerous individuals not related to you. Make sure you take their notes/suggestions on how to improve your script. Or even better, get coverage from a professional script analysis service.

Be realistic about entering a screenwriting competition, you are going up against many other writers and it is very competitive.

Read as many books on screenwriting as you can. And then re-read them. Take a screenwriting course or join a writing group. Surround yourself with people writing like you.

Make sure your script has a beginning, middle and an end.

Entering a competition can give you an idea where you stand among other writers. If you are consistently placing in the Quarters or higher than you are doing something right.

Write every day. We understand this is difficult, but at least 2-3 pages each day to get the ideas flowing.

Write what you know and love. Otherwise be sure to research your subject matter.

Make sure every scene and character has a goal.

Surprise your audience. By that we mean, write things/characters/scenes that are new/fresh/exciting/original.

What's the point of your story? Have one.

Keep an idea journal for all those other great script ideas. And, stick with completing the one you are currently working on.

Just finish your script. As brutal as it is writing it, as difficult and time consuming it is, just finish it.

(Posted: 01/31/2016)

About the Author:

Originally from Chicago, Mark Andrushko packed his bags up 14 years ago and headed to Hollywood to become the next Brad Pitt. The acting didn’t work out, but staying in the Hollywood machine did. Along with co-founder Genevieve Cibor, also a Chicago native, they changed the way screenwriting competitions were run. Listing the actual names and companies of their contacts on Scriptapalooza’s website instead of the mysterious “industry professionals” created a wave through the world of screenwriting competitions. Others soon followed suit but Scriptapalooza was ahead of the pack by truly caring for the writer's interest.