Policy on Spell Check

I am currently grading student screenplays. My spell check policy has been made clear to them since the first day of class. “Don’t run your spell check, get an F.” Now, after an entire semester, they are turning in their final assignments. 1/4 so far have failed to run their spell check. Wow. Even I am amazed. So I created this handout for the first day of next semester’s class.

This stuff matters.


“I read to the first typo.”
Hollywood agent

If you have a word spelled wrong, you get an F. Everyone should know this by now. To understand my motivation, read chapter 78 in my most illuminating book.

Basically, it’s a matter of professionalism.

I have devoted my life to writing. To keep from blowing my brains out every day, I must think writing, and writing well, actually matters. So if you don’t think writing, and writing well matters, you make me feel I have wasted my life.

I run my spell check. You can too.

To give it a different light, if I put in my syllabus that I loathe the New York Knicks and that if you so much as mention the New York Knicks in a homework, I will give you an F… what about that would be unclear?

Why would you then mention the New York Knicks in a homework?

Would that be clever?

Or professional?

Endeavor to make me feel I have not wasted my life.



Filed under Uncategorized

11 responses to “Policy on Spell Check

  1. As a reader, I can only applaud this policy. In any piece of writing a few typos are bound to slip in, but when I’m actually NOTICING “Wow, there are a lot of typos” before page 10, it’s a terrible harbinger of what awaits me. I never just slap a PASS on because of it, but it always works out that I could have saved myself an hour of reading by doing so.

    I just discoverd your blog. Good stuff. I’m currently diving into your archives to catch up.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Glad you’re reading me! Give a look at my amazing book, Your Screenplay Sucks!. So uplifting!! It’s so EASY to get the grammar and spelling right… but I find if a writer doesn’t care about the small things, they probably aren’t so hep to the tuff stuff like story…

  2. Spelling, format, typos – those ought to be basics. Since they aren’t, it’s an easy leg up on the competition to get them right. A lot easier than plot, characterization, dialogue, concept, and the other hundred things that can earn you a pass, anyway. Why not go for the low-hanging fruit? And if you think your script’s so great you shouldn’t have to worry about spelling or other petty concerns, well, a) you’re wrong and b) think how much more great it will be with all the words spelled correctly. Spielberg will be knocking at your door any moment!

    I Blame Ninjas

  3. Ben

    As a fellow college writing prof, I am impressed at the ballsiness of that policy. What fills me with murderous rage when I hit those spelling errors is that, if nothing else, we teach that writing is about revision. When you hit spelling errors, it’s clear that not only have they not considered or rewritten what they wrote, they didn’t even bother to reread it.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      I just got sick to death of circling their mistakes and writing RUN YOUR SPELLCHECK. Now, it’s on the syllabus. I announce it in class the first day. I hand out a page to each student with my big red: F SPELL CHECK rubber stamp on it (given to me for Christmas by my amused children) and it still doesn’t work.

      My theory, and I tell them this, is “I will give you the grade you ask me for. If you ask me for an F, I will give it to you.”

      And they still do not listen. It’s amazing. If you have my book, read chapter 78.


    SPELL CHECK POLICY should have a hyphen.

    spell-check policy.


  5. yourscreenplaysucks

    Beats me. My book editor spelled it spellcheck. My sons spelled it spell check on the big rubber stamp with the F on it. Those are two options, anyway. Spell-check may be a third. Hmmm.

  6. dobes

    In general, I applaud your policy, though I think I would take just one grade off for each spelling error. But guy – you need to review comma usage rules. Really!

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      After years of words spelled wrong, I instituted the F policy. It’s helped, but you’d be surprised how many students still don’t do it. How hard is it to run Spell Check? Not very. I had an agent who said, “I read to the first typo.” That’s what they’re up against.

      re: commas… yeah, my grammar sucks, but that is a sort of judgement call. Tie can go to the runner. If you don’t run your Spell Check, you’re a clod. Or you look like one.

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