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"Your competition gave me a sense of validation, and the inspiration to continue my other scripts. I am honored, grateful, and humbled by your having selected me."
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Thanks to all who submitted to our fall/winter 2016 contests! Alma Murray Dunham's delightful romantic comedy "Flawed" took top prize in the feature film script category while Virginia Bole's excellent MOW "Once a Killer" won the pilot/MOW script category. Rounding things out was Kevin Dembinsky's hilarious spec for "The Grinder" and winner of the TV spec srcipt category, “When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Legal-aid."
To see the complete list of winners and finalsts, click on the WINNERS link.
Also, our spring contests are underway! Categories include feature film scripts, pilots/MOWs and TV spec scripts--simply click on the FILM and TV links for info.
We are offering a special discount to students--only $25 per entry!
NOTE: Electronic submissions and payments now accepted! Please see guidelines for info or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any enquiries.
Our affiliated production companies will have the chance to consider the scripts of the winners, runners-up and finalists, for our film and TV contests.
We're always expanding! Here are the latest companies to join us, showing great interest in reading scripts our winners and finalists.
(Grumpy Old Men, Grumpier Old Men, Secret Cutting)
(The Single Chick's Guide To Italy, Hotel Paradise)
ACCLAIM'S ADVICE FOR SCREENWRITERS
Trusty nuggets of wisdom from our popular series on submitting, characterization, dialogue, storytelling ability, and just about anything concerning scriptwriting.
DIALOGUE DRIVES US FORWARD
Scripts are driven by dialogue as much as anything else--a reader needs to feel that the lines propel each scene in the script and helps move the story along at a good clip. Dialogue should illuminate and educate us about the characters and the story.
But make sure all dialogue earns its keep. That is, be wary of including scenes just because they feature some sparkling exchanges. If the lines are such gems, let them shine in scenes that are important and necessary, and omit any scenes that aren’t vital.
THROW SOME KNUCKLEBALLS
Let your characters say the unexpected every now and then and keep the reader guessing.
Having your characters say what we think they might say, react the way we assume they’ll react, ultimately makes for well, a predictable read.
HOOK US EVERY SEVERAL PAGES
The three-act formula is a time-tested structure, standing square-jawed and sturdy. But don’t neglect to place some well-timed hooks throughout, as they propel a story. It’s not just about what happens at the outset of each act, but what happens within acts, and how it all keeps us interested.
REIN IN THE FLASHBACKS
Stories should be relatively agile and move forward at a brisk clip. Don’t put rocks in the pockets of your plot, as too many flashbacks will only weigh it down and slow the forward motion.
Sure, sometimes flashbacks can illuminate why Ralph always carries a red ribbon in his breast pocket, or why Sully is deathly afraid of gophers. But don’t overdo them, because a story unfolding in real time is more immediate and intriguing. We want to become entranced in the spell you’re trying to weave; don’t keep yanking us out of the thread.
Keep in mind that no one will ever find fault with a script that is flashback free. Consider revealing back story through dialogue instead. And if you use flashbacks at all make sure they carry their weight and provide real insight.
EASY ON THE ALLUSIONS
Avoid doing things like describing your character as a ‘cross between Holden Caulfield and Hank Chinasky’ or a ‘female Atticus Finch.’ For one thing, it’s a risky game to assume everyone has read or seen the works to which you allude. (I once read a script profusely sprinkled with several nods to literature and classic films, and I must say, it felt like the writer was beating me about the face and neck with his rolled up Liberal Arts degree. Pretty high on the pretentious meter.)
Literary characters like these are complex, and they should hardly be used to sum up your characters. Besides, why dip your brush in someone else’s palette to color your own work? Paint an intriguing picture of your character and let us be drawn into his story. Don’t look for a ready-made icon to explain him.
DO NOT SPARE THE CHANGE
Your principal characters MUST change in some way by story’s end. This is iron clad. It can happen in a big way or a subtle way, but make no mistake it must happen. If there’s no apparent growth, then the reader will feel like he’s wasted his time, something you NEVER want him to feel regarding your work.
Stay tuned for more nuggets!