A Brief Primer On Things Not To Do When Writing

by Ron J. Friedman & Steve Bencich

Now that the Frenzy is over we asked Ron and Steve–who sometimes work as writers–for advice on making the leap from young scribe to master. Take it away, boys!

So we have roughly 500 words to write something to transform brand-new scribes into screenplay-scrawling masters. A bit of a challenge perhaps, but we can do it. After all, our 500-word article on piano playing (excerpt: “Place your fingers over the black and white things and press them musically”) was a tremendous success.

As writing is very easy, it may be most convenient to offer a comprehensive list of things NOT to do when sitting behind the keyboard.

Here goes:

DO NOT use any of the following words or phrases: “Look, “, “begins to”, “starts to”, “is [verb]ing”, “Suddenly,”, or “All of a sudden,”. Look, we hate all of these. Get out the find/replace and erase them right now. We'll wait. Also eliminate any character named Gordon.

DO NOT record and transcribe natural dialogue word-for-word to get a sense of how people talk. While many areas allow the stealth recording of complete strangers, other locales such as California require “two-party consent”. Also, sticking a micro-recorder under a tablecloth in a public place can get you physically assaulted. Trust us on this one.

DO NOT write more of your story than is necessary. Life is too short. Those crappy inkjet cartridges are expensive. If everyone reading this can cut just one word from their script, together we'd save gallons of ink. And that's a lot of ink. Brevity is good for the environment.

DO NOT look back. Ever. Once you write it, move on. Next day, keep going forward. Keep writing. Only when finished should you take a look to see how much it sucks and if you want to bother rewriting. And if it does suck, so what? I mean, what have you lost, really? A few precious hours of your life? Hours of youth and vigor that, decades from now when you're laying in a pile of drool on your death bed, you'll give anything–ANYTHING to get back? Well tough. It's too late.

DO NOT buy regular 8 1/2” x 11” paper and spend hours making three holes on every sheet with a rusty hole puncher from 1983. You can buy the paper with the holes already there. You know that, right?

DO NOT fasten your script with rubber bands, masking tape, wood glue, or any less than three or more than one metal brad. And when you send out your script, don't double-side the print to save paper. It's not like it's ink or something.

DO NOT put your script in a box with a shoe and mail it to a prospective agent with a note that says “just trying to get my foot in the door!!!!” It worked once for George Lucas, but never again.

DO NOT break ANY of these rules under ANY circumstances. If you do, you will surely be a terrible writer. Remember, rules are made to be followed.

Good luck! Not that you'll need it now, writer.

Ron & Steve occasionally work as writers.