In the first book, there was a list of the Seven Deadly Sins of Screenwriting. 16 of the little pests. I found a few more.
Using Find (Ctrl F or Apple F) in your computer, chase down these words in any form you find them. Losing them or changing them will strengthen your work.
“Find” spaceisspace should find only the word you’re looking for, not every “is” in your screenplay.
He is grinning… becomes… He grins.
The convicts are singing opera… The convicts sing opera.
Nacho hightails it out of the town… Nacho hightails it out of town.
Ralph can’t tell that she’s French… Ralph can’t tell she’s French.
She laughs. She then looks at Alice… She laughs. She looks at Alice.
Tika walks down the hall… Tika prisses down the hall.
Sitting at the poker table, Doc deals the cards… At the poker table, Doc deals…
The surgeon stands at the operating table and works… At the operating table, the surgeon works…
Cheryl is looking at Stephanie… Cheryl studies Stephanie.
I am just totally exhausted… I am totally exhausted.
Tom sits by the entrance of the mall… Tom sits by the mall entrance…
The tape begins playing… The tape plays.
She starts moving toward the den… She moves toward the den.
Betty is really pretty… Betty, hot as a two dollar pistol, struts in.
The kids sing a very old song… The kids sing a traditional song. (“very” means the following word is weak…)
She turns and looks at him… She looks at him. (Don’t overdirect the read.)
Bonnie hangs up the phone… Bonnie hangs up.
He pours some coffee… He pours coffee.
Kevin, still in paint covered overalls… Kevin, in paint covered overalls.
He puts on a tie before leaving the room… He puts on a tie before leaving.
Nora has an amused expression on her face… Nora is amused.
Tony seems upset… Tony is upset… So, is Tony upset, or just appear to be?
Carol pushes her way inside… Carol pushes inside. (“his, its way” too!)
They both stare slackjawed at the comet… They stare slackjawed at the comet.
Jonah realizes Sam is the killer. (A script’s not a novel. Stay out of their minds.)
(as on the end of an adverb!) search for lyspace Also search for ly. and ly, as lyspace will not find an adverb at the end of a sentence, etc. Grade school writers go wild over adverbs. You’re past that now. Use them, um, sparingly. If at all.
Search for and (most of the time) change these words in whatever you write and the results will be tighter and more clear. Okay, so it’s twenty six deadly sins. So sue me.
FYI… “priss” as a verb really threw the person who translated the book into Japanese!
You don’t HAVE to take these words out all the time… duuuh… but you do need to be aware that a lot of the time, you don’t need them.