Notes from a Screenreader: Old News

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Photo via Go Into the Story.

How long ago did you write your script? Does it show?

It is impossible to stay convincingly up to the minute with technology and pop culture in a script, but it is possible to blow the dust off by doing a careful read for obsolescence.

  • There’s an app for that. All of that. Bring your characters into today by rewriting pre-smartphone plot points and conventions like alarm clocks and video stores and getting film developed.
  • Culture shock. The mainstream keeps getting wider, and that is a good thing. Many spec scripts feel stuck in the past because they fail to acknowledge radical recent changes in American culture. Rewrite for diversity and inclusiveness and shifting ideas about privilege and personal identity.
  • Don’t write what you know. Not in the way that you know it. Tell your story in a way that it has not been told before rather than making a copy of a story that you loved five or ten or fifteen years ago.

ANNIE LABARBA 

Annie is a screenwriter, story consultant, and reader for major screenplay competitions.

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