Why A Goat?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I was getting ready to make my first real post on my blog when I decided to check out what Billy Mernit has been doing lately. I had planned a commentary on how many screenplay reviews I have written at Triggerstreet and some common problems that I keep seeing. Lo and behold, Billy's latest post is about grammar and punctuation, specifically the use of "it's" and "its."

Yes, it IS important to use correct grammar and punctuation in a screenplay. There is a difference between an ellipsis, a colon, and a hyphen, and using a comma in the wrong place can change the meaning of a sentence.

My favorite books on the subject are "The Deluxe Transitive Vampire" and "The Well-Tempered Sentence" by Karen Elizabeth Gordon. "The Deluxe Transitive Vampire" is a book on grammar, and "The Well-Tempered Sentence" is a book on punctuation. And YES, there is a difference between grammar and punctuation.

Whew. Now that I've got that out of the way, I can talk about my screenplay reviews. I've done almost 300 in the last year and a half. I am a mere beginner by Hollywood standards, but I have managed to figure out the basics.

Lately I've been doing reviews for a small circle of friends who are all part of World Tree Productions. I find that I tend to be less formal with them because we are comfortable with each other. I will use terms like "cliché" and "flat" to describe a character, which I would never do in my reviews on Triggerstreet. Most of my reviews on TS are for newer members: people who are not used to receiving criticism. For many of them, my review is their first exposure to anything resembling professional notes, and it can be quite a shock. So I try to soften the blow by making my comments as clinical and professional as possible.

With the work I've been doing for Matt and Russell at World Tree, I've gotten out of practice at being a low-key as possible when I point out an error. I'm going to start doing reviews again at Triggerstreet this week. I wonder if I'll get any complaints.


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