Screenwriting 1 – Whitespace

My screenwriting class was probably the single most important class I have taken after all of those programming courses. I learned a lot about the science of screenwriting and was finally shown that although I am amazing at programming I still have a lot to learn about writing, specifically in terms of genre writing.

There are some very important aspects of screenwriting that are not entirely obvious to the lay observer.

  1. Present Active Tense – James walks; Steve simmers
  2. Paragraphs should be no longer than three lines.
  3. You can only write for the two senses impacted by film, sight and sound
  4. You have to be willing to be wrong, because you will undoubtedly be
  5. Exposition is a fucking pain in the ass


The act of writing for this genre was not the hardest thing possible, but it is certainly something to keep in perspective. Homework averaged 4 pages a week, peaking at a 10 page script due the week before the end of class. We covered commercials and PSA’s along with documentary and ended with feature length movies.

Below are the resulting files, as well as some of the notes and or thoughts i had along the way. Please do let me know your thoughts. I look forward to them:

Logline: James Kimb is left stranded, after a solar flare fries his planet. He unites a group of rebels bent on self preservation in order to steal the remaining parts and escape from their dying star.
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  • miked

    The last 5 pages were my favorite – lots of tension and I kept wanting to read more. Nice job creating an interesting world for your story to take place in.

    Some critiques:
    Everything before “THOUSANDS OF WORKERS” is background information and not describing events that are happening on the screen. This should be worked into dialogue or similar throughout the story – don’t think you have to explain everything at the beginning. The only way you’d be able to convey information that quickly at the beginning of the movie is with a voice over or title cards, and (in my opinion) that’s not a good choice. I don’t think you would have lost anything significant by cutting all that exposition out.

    Be careful with your capitalization – in a few places you write “greg” instead of “Greg”, and in a couple places you don’t capitalize the name of a character when they first appear in the scene.

    “Greg glances at the foreman, then drops his visor and
    finishes up his weld.

    A WHISTLE sounds, and the workers continue their jobs. Greg
    nods his visor down and resumes his welding.”

    Was there a time jump in between those two paragraphs? I ask because it seems like Greg does the same action twice. When there is a jump in time with the location remaining the same you should indicate it with a scene header that clarifies how much time has passed: “INT. TYCO 8 FACTORY – DAY – HOURS LATER” or whatever the case may be.

    Overall, nice work!