Julie has taught at the Oxford Student Union at Oxford University, The West England University in Bristol, Wilmington University in Delaware and San Francisco University in Quito, Ecuador. She also teaches writing classes at Warner Bros., The Great American Pitchfest, The Creative Screenwriting Expo and the Willamette Writer's Conference in Portland, Oregon.
She is a volunteer at the Afghan Women's Writing Project, she blogs for the Times of Israel, and is working on a memoir.
I'm hoping to set up an interview with Julie down the track. Meantime, here's a simple but valuable piece of advice she posted on her blog recently.
Five Tips for Clean Pages
You know that feeling you get when you receive an email from someone – someone you love and care about, and yet the email is one long, dense block of type? And your shoulders slump a little? Why can’t they just use paragraph breaks? This is going to be a slog.
Script pages that are cluttered and have “too much black” give readers the same feeling. And they frequently get put at the bottom of the pile if not rejected entirely. Which is a crying shame because your story might be GREAT. But your pages are off-putting. Listen, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, real human beings read your scripts. They might have read three other scripts that DAY alone. So you want to make your pages very clean and easy to read.
Here are five ways to clean up those pages.
1. Avoid Camera Directions
Do not use camera directions of any kind. No “tracking shot”, no “angle on”, no “smash cut”. These instructions do not belong in your spec script and definitely muck up your pages. Don’t do it.
2. Limit The Number of Consecutive Action Lines
Try not to write more than five lines of action in one block. If you have more action because you are writing an action scene, simply use a paragraph break. Break up those big blocks of action lines.
3. Avoid Lengthy Dialogue
Avoid dialogue that is more of a monologue and is longer than ten lines. Monologues that take up half a page or even a whole page instantly put a reader off their feed.
4. Keep Sluglines Simple
Simplify your slug lines. Do you need:
INT. MOTEL ROOM - DAYTONA - SPRING BREAK – DAY ?
No. Many writers include in sluglines what should actually be in the action lines below it. Long detailed sluglines are very off putting.
5. Learn About and Use Mini-Sluglines
Use mini-slug lines. If you are in the same location (one house, many rooms, as one example) instead of slugging every mini-location within your location, you can use a mini-slug which looks like this KITCHEN, or OUTSIDE ON THE DECK.
|Taken from Michael Clayton (2007), by Tony Gilroy|