Monday, January 30, 2012

Fees For Edit & Critique Service

Go forward and win!
 Hello, everyone.
Iam announcing that there is an increase in fees. this is due to the increase in advertising cost. The fees for edit and critique service will still be affordable.

Editing $45.00 Flat Fee: Includes evaluating for script formatting to industry standards, spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, etc.

Critique $50.00 Flat Fee: Includes evaluating the four basis elements of a script- introduction, development, climax, conclusion, & character development ( are 2.5 to 4 pages single space) Critiques also provide suggestions for improvements and enhancement. 

Editing & Critique combination discount $63.00 Flat Fee (when both services are ordered)

Rush Jobs $60.00 flat fee (rush jobs are done for editing ONLY. Sometimes writers need their scripts edited within a short time to meet a deadline. Rush jobs take 2 to 3 days. So send your script 5 days before your deadline. That way the editing will be done in 2 to 3 days, and I'll have 2 more days to review the edited script.)

Query Letters: $25.00 Flat Fee (this will not change.)
Synopsis: $25.00 Flat Fee(for scripts only)

Turnaround time:
Editing: 1 week
Critique: 1 week
Editing & Critique combination: 2 to 3 weeks
Letter: 2 weeks (it takes this long because the script must be read or else the writer sends a summary instead)

Scripts can be received as email attachments or by postal mail, whichever works best for you. 

If you are interested in my service, feel free to email me or call at (360) 696 - 4298. Ask for Frances.

Email Contact:   or

Inter my LOGLINE CONTEST. Visit to read the details.

Editing $75.00 Flat Fee: Includes evaluating for  spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, etc.

Critique $95.00 Flat Fee: Includes evaluating the introduction, development, climax, conclusion, & character development ( are 2.5 to 4 pages single space) Critiques also provide suggestions for improvements and enhancement. 

Query Letter: $25.00 Flat Fee

Turnaround time:
Editing: 3 week
Critique: 3 week
Editing & Critique combination: 4 weeks
Letter: 2 weeks (when only a letter is only requested, the writer must send a synopsis of the book. The synopsis is used to write the letter.)

Books are received by postal mail. For books I prefer to make editing corrections directly on the manuscript because books are longer and more comprehensive than scripts.

Payments are received by Paypal, money order, or cashier check.

If you are interested in my service, feel free to email me or call at (360) 696 - 4298. Ask for Frances.
Email Contact:  or

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Using Voice Overs ( V.O.)

I'm not a big fan of voice-overs. The majority of the ones I see in unproduced screenplays remind me of a Real Estate agent going from room to room saying "This is the kitchen... and this is the living room. And this is..." By the second sentence, I wish they would just shut the hell up.
But there are times when VO's work. There are times when they add so much to a movie...and those are the only time they should be used. A great VO takes you deeper into the story and the characters. It gives you the tone of the movie and improves the experience the audience has.

So here's my first two guidelines for Voice-Overs:

1. Quality VO's don't describe what is on the screen.
 They enhance it. If all it tells you is what is on the screen, cut it.
2. Quality VO's intrigue the listener as they reveal character. If the VO isn't intriguing by itself, cut it.

Consider the opening scene from CASINO.

SAM 'ACE' ROTHSTEIN, a tall, lean, immaculately dressed man approaches his car, opens the door, and
gets inside to turn on the ignition.
ACE (V.O.)
When you love someone, you've gotta trust them.
There's no other way. You've got to give them the
key to everything that's yours. Otherwise, what's
the point? And, for a while... I believed that's the
kind of love I had.
Suddenly, the car explodes. Flames, smoke and metal rise into the sky covering the view of the Las
Vegas casinos and their signs
Ace's body comes flying in - extreme slow motion. His body twists and turns through the frame like
a soul about to tumble into the flames of damnation.

NOTE: Ace is talking about love and trust as he gets in the car. His final line "I believed that's the kind of love I had" ends just as the car blows up. Those two together instantly cause intrigue.
Also, do you see him saying "I walked over to my car and got in. It was a warm day out and I never thought anything bad would happen to me when I turned the key?" That would be a bad VO!
Instead, the VO gives us our first hints of insight into who Ace is.

Vignette of ACE through rippling flames, we move in on ACE ROTHSTEIN overseeing the casino. He
lights a cigarette.
ACE (V.O.)
Before I ever ran a casino or got myself blown up,
Ace Rothstein was a hell of a handicapper, I can
tell you that. I was so good, that whenever I
bet, I could change the odds for every bookmaker
in the country. I'm serious. I had it down so cold
that I was given paradise on earth. I was given
one of the biggest casinos in Las Vegas to run,
the Tangiers...

NOTE: Here, he talks about his job, but we don't see all of that. So the VO adds a level of depth.

Vignette of MOB BOSSES sitting at a table surrounded by food and wine like the gods of Olympus.
ACE (V.O.) the only kind of guys that can actually get
you that kind of money: sixty-two million,
seven-hundred thousand dollars. I don't know all
the details.
Matter of fact...
Vignette of NICKY SANTORO standing at a bar with DOMINICK SANTORO, his brother, and
FRANK MARINO, his right-hand man.
...nobody knew all the details, but it should'a
been perfect. I mean, he had me, Nicky
Santoro, his best friend, watching his ass...

NOTE: Notice those last three VO's. Ace tells us about 62 million dollars, but we don't see it. Nicky tells us that he is watching Ace's ass, but again, we don't see it.
Later in the VO, they do describe money going into a suitcase, but they also provide more depth and intrigue by the way they do it.

If you are writing a VO, ask yourself this question "Does it add depth, intrigue, and take us beyond the visual?" If it doesn't, chances are that you are just using it to provide exposition without adding quality to the VO. But if it truly improves the experience of the reader and viewer, than this may be the technique of choice.

So what's the problem with starting a script with a Voice Over?

Two things. First, one out of two screenplays by a new screenwriter starts with a voice over and in most cases, they bore the reader to death telling them the story that should be shown on the screen.
That leads to the second part of the problem. Because VO's have been overused and abused, they automatically sets off an alarm in a reader's mind. It puts them on alert that this script may be from an amateur. If they're already looking for a reason to say "no," the VO may become that reason...
...unless it's well written.
Once again, we're in search of what makes a quality VO. In the first part of this article, I gave two guidelines:
1. Quality VO's don't describe what is on the screen. They enhance it. If all it tells you is what is on the screen, cut it.
2. Quality VO's intrigue the listener. If the VO isn't intriguing by itself, cut it.
Now, let's take a look at two more.
3. Quality VO's give a deep sense of character.
4. Quality VO's take you deeper into the story world.
In this scene from the opening of BULL DURHAM, notice the combination of baseball, sex, and religion. In about 1.5 pages, we get a sense of the essence of Annie and we have a much deeper understanding of this WORLD of Minor League Baseball, at least, from Annie's eyes.

A SHRINE -- And it glows with the candles like some religious altar.
We hear a woman's voice in a North Carolina accent.
I believe in the Church of Baseball. (beat)
I've tried all the major religions and most of
the minor ones--I've worshipped Buddha, Allah,
Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms,
and Isadora Duncan...
PAN AWAY FROM THE SHRINE across the room. Late afternoon light spills into the room, across fine old furniture, to a small dressing table. A WOMAN applies make up.
ANNIE SAVOY, mid 30's, touches up her face. Very pretty, knowing, outwardly confident. Words flow from her Southern lips with ease, but her view of the world crosses Southern, National and International borders. She's cosmic.
I know things. For instance-- (beat) There are
108 beads in a Catholic rosary. And-- (beat)
There are 108 stitches in a baseball. (beat)
When I learned that, I gave Jesus a chance.
(beat) But it just didn't work out between us. The
Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer
metaphysics to theology. (beat) You see, there's
no guilt in baseball...and it's never boring.

NOTE: By this point, there is no question that Annie is a unique character with some very interesting perspectives. Her language is poetic, which makes sense, because she is an English teacher.
But she also sees baseball as a religion...and there's more.

ANNIE OPENS A CLOSET DOOR -- Dozens of shoes hang from the door. She chooses a pair of RED HIGH HEELS, with thin straps.
She sits on a bench and
Which makes It like sex. (beat) There's never
been a ballplayer slept with me who didn't
have the best year of his career. (beat) Making
love is like hitting a baseball-- you just got to
relax and concentrate.

NOTE: We just went from religion to sex. That's quite a jump and it is an excellent hook to take us deeper into this story world.
From Annie's perspective, baseball, religion, and sex are all tied together. Are we getting to know Annie and her world?

ANNIE SLIPS ON THE RED HIGH HEELS -- Smoothing her hands up her calves as she does.
Besides, I'd never sleep with a player hitting
under .250 unless he had a lot of R.B.I.'s or
was a great glove man up the middle. (BEAT)
A woman's got to have standards.

NOTE: On top of all of that, she's got standards. While I think this is an excellent punchline. It also again says what Annie is about. She knows baseball and she feels that she is contributing to the game in her own unique way.
Important: She's not a groupie or whore or anything like that. She is someone brings her own unique value to the game.

ANNIE STARTS PACKING A HUGE HANDBAG -- With fruit, an official scorebook, binoculars, a radar gun, and lipstick.
Y'see there's a certain amount of "life-wisdom"
I give these boys. (beat) I can expand their
minds. Sometimes when I've got a ballplayer
alone I'll just read Emily Dickinson or Walt
Whitman to him. The guys are so sweet--
they always stay and listen. (beat) Of course
a guy will listen to anything if he thinks it's
ANNIE TOUCHES PERFUME BEHIND HER EARS and, ever so slightly, in her cleavage.
I make then feel confident. They make me feel
safe. And pretty.

NOTE: And her final line tells us a little about Annie's own needs.

Did you notice how that VO fulfilled all four of my guidelines for a great VO? It enhanced what was seen on screen, intrigued us, gave us a deep sense of character and took us deeper into the story world.

Poor VO's "tell" us a lot, but don't entertain, intrigue, etc. But, a quality VO can lure a reader deep into your story and build a deeply satisfying world that we'll enjoy living in.
One last point: If you read your VO and can't tell if it fulfills these guidelines, cut it. A VO is a tool and should only be used if it truly enhances the script. So if it is on the fence, cut it.
Follow these guidelines and you'll have readers and Producers raving about the quality of your story...all because of that VO.

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Creating Comedy Situations: Misinterpretations

You're writing a scene and you want it to be funny.
What do you do?
First, you can look for what might naturally be funny about it.  Maybe you throw in a twist or two.  Create a comedic surprise.  Write some humorous lines of dialogue.  All good ideas.
Let me present another possibility -- a comedy situation.
Putting the characters in a comedic situation instantly increases the chance for great punchlines, action humor, prop humor, and toppers that take a scene from a mild chuckle to a gut-busting howl.
Let's look at one of those situations from the "Comedy Writing For Screenplays Class."

STRUCTURE: One or more characters has misinterpreted a situation and continues to act out of an incorrect perspective.
This creates comic opportunities by having characters operate as if they're in completely different worlds.  It is also an easy way for a writer to look absolutely brilliant.
Our example is from the movie, "MY COUSIN VINNY."
In "MY COUSIN VINNY," written by Dale Launer, Billy and Stan have just been put in prison while awaiting trial.  Stan is completely paranoid that someone in the prison is going make him a sex slave. Watch how this misinterpretation rules Stan's behavior in this scene.

As Bill and Stan step into the unit, cheers and sexual taunts
ring out.  Bill and Stan try to ignore the other prisoners,
but can't hide their fear.  Stan is on the verge of tears.
They are shown to

CELL 1-32
The door slides open.  They enter their new home -- a 6' by
10' cell with steel bunk beds.  The door slams shut.

You know what happens in these places?

Yeah, I know what happens in these

NOTE:  For the whole second act, these guys are constantly in "fish out of water" situations, but this is the set up for this scene to turn into a well-written misinterpretation.

And sometimes, there's a big guy
named Bubba that no one wants to
tangle with and he'll protect you.
But then you have to become his sex-
slave and do whatever he wants.

There's only the two of us here.

Stan's eyes scream fear.  He points outside the cell where
four folding beds stand against the wall.

What about those cots?  I mean, what
if they put someone else in here?

Billy has had enough.

Shut up.

NOTE:  That's the setup for the entire scene -- the fear of a big guy named Bubba.  And here he comes.
As you read the part, pay attention to how Vinny reacts naturally for his character while responding to Stan's natural behavior for his character.   Neither are acting out-of-character, but they are misunderstanding each other.


CELL 1-32 -- LATER
Billy sleeps on the top bunk.  O.S. Inmates begin taunting
someone else.  Still panicking, Stan rushes to the bars for
a look-see.  A guard escorts Vinny to the door.
The door slides open.  Vinny hands the guard a pair of one-
dollar bills as a tip.  The guard shoves them in his pocket
as Vinny steps in.  He shakes Stan's hand.

You must be Stan.  How you doing?

Why'd they bring you in here?

I just got in.  I asked where the
new guys were and they brought me
(Spots Billy)
Hey, he's sleeping, huh?  Cute little

NOTE:  Notice how they are having the same conversation, but each one is operating out of a different paradigm.  Stan is freaking out because "Bubba" has arrived.  Vinny is just trying to establish a relationship with his new clients.
Second, notice how everything Vinny says and does plays into Stan's paranoia.

He turns to Stan, who is already backing into the wall.

Maybe I'll just start with you.
We'll let him get some sleep.

Vinny leans in, deliberately smiling to relax Stan, but Stan
thinks something else is going on.

I don't wanna do this.

I don't blame ya.  If I was in your
situation, I'd want to get through
this whole thing as quickly and with
as little pain as possible.  So,
let's try our best to make it a simple
in-and-out procedure.

NOTE:  Vinny's language would be innocent in any other situation, but with the misinterpretation, the writer has provided us with language that can be easily seen differently from Stan's perspective.

Stan darts away from him and moves to the front of the cell.
He cowers onto the chair by the bars.  Vinny moves in.

Relax.  Relax.  Maybe we should spend
a couple of moments together.  To
get acquainted...You know, before we
get to it.

Vinny touches his shoulder.  Stan squirms away.

What's wrong with you?

I don't want to do this?

I understand, but what are your

What?  To you?  I don't know.
Suicide.  Death.

Look.  It's either me or them.  You're
getting f--ked one way or another.

NOTE:  Stan continues to react to his fear, while Vinny reacts to this confused situation.  What makes them incongruent is how each character's reaction plays into the misinterpretation of Stan.

Stan tries to bolt away from him, but Vinny's too fast.  He
helps Stan back into his seat.  Towering over him.

Hey, hey.  Lighten up, okay?  Don't
worry, I'm going to help you.

Oh, gee thanks.

Listen, I think a modicum of gratitude
would not be out of line here.

You think I should be grateful?

Yeah, I mean, it's your ass, not
mine.  I think you should be grateful.
I think you should be down on your
f--kin' knees.

NOTE:  Most of these lines from Vinny are punchlines.  They take Stan's fear and build on it with incongruent responses – incongruent to Stan's fear, that is.  But this only works because of the misinterpretation.

I'm sorry, I didn't know it was such
an honor to get a visit from you.

Hey, I'm doing a favor here.  You're
getting me for nothing, you little

Boy, that's one hell of an ego you

What the f--k is your problem?  I
did not come down here to get jerked

Stan jumps to his feet, ready to protect himself.

I'm not jerking you off.  I'm not
doing anything.

Fed up, Vinny pushes Stan back into the chair.

You're on your own.  I'm just taking
care of sleeping beauty here.

Vinny pats Billy on the ass, waking him up.  To Stan's
surprise, Billy jumps off the bed and hugs Vinny.

Vinny!  Vinny bag-of-donuts!

And at that point, the misinterpretation is revealed and the gag is over.
The structure is of a misinterpretation scene is simple:
1.  Provide a logical reason why Character A would misinterpret the words and actions of Character B.
In this case, combining a prison stay with Stan's paranoia is enough of a reason for Stan to misinterpret the situation.

2. Have Character B pursue their normal agenda while Character A reacts like B is doing something else.
Vinny is simply there to meet his two new clients.  But Stan responds as if Vinny is the "Bubba" he fears.

3. Discover as many possible ways the misinterpretation could cause humor in the situation.
With this scene, any reference to "Cute little guy" or "it's your a ss" or "with as little pain as possible" or "simple in and out procedure" etc. instantly provokes the "Bubba" fear -- and audience laughter.

4.  Reveal the misinterpretation.
That was done by Vinny giving up on Stan, patting Billy on the ass, and getting a hug from Billy.   Obviously, the reaction from Billy was the last thing Stan would have expected, so it was the perfect reveal or this situation.
As you've seen, a good comedy situation can turn an ordinary scene into a very funny one.   That's the value of a good comedy situation -- multiple laughs from the same set up.

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