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The Importance of Active Verbs Dec 20

Dude, aren’t all verbs active?Are you using active verbs?

Good question, smartass!

The truth is, there are passive and active forms of verbs. The active form (without the “ing”) is almost always the best one to use.

For example, I often see a variation of the following sentence:

Jack is sitting at his desk.

It’s grammatically correct, but it’s passive. Consider this version:

Jack sits at his desk.

Now we have something that not only uses the more active tense but is also shorter (which you should know by now is a good thing in screenwriting).

So things are better, but “sits” doesn’t tell us a whole lot about what Jack is really doing or feeling. It’s something of a wasted verb, because if he’s at his desk, he’s obviously sitting.

What about?

Jack pores over his research at his desk. / Jack fumes at his desk. / Jack types frantically on his computer.

Get the idea? Much more descriptive and interesting.

It gets worse

I’ll often come across something like this sentence after a master scene heading.

Katy on the ship’s deck.

Now you’re not even trying. Sure, it tells us who we’re looking at and where she is (and it’s brief), but again, it doesn’t provide us with any action or context.

What about?

Katy grips the rail of the ship’s deck, eyes burning.

A seasick Katy slouches against a crate on the ship’s deck.

Katy scrutinizes her crew on the ship’s deck.

You get the idea. Don’t be lazy. Use a more descriptive verb, put us in the mindset of your character and make us feel something.

Note: In the first of the three sentences above, I actually use an “ing” form of the verb in the second half of the sentence. That’s perfectly acceptable.

Do you have any writing questions? Let me know!

Category: Style, Words, Writing  | Leave a Comment
One Week Sale! Dec 04

You survived Black Friday and capitalized on Cyber Monday… Now it’s time for:

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I’m giving $50 off all proofreading and script notes services from now till Sunday, December 10th.

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MoviePass – Is It Worth It? Oct 17

What is it?

MoviePass is a service that allows you to see as many movies as you like (but only one movie per day) for a flat monthly fee. So in a 31 day month, you could conceivably see 31 different movies… or one movie 31 times, if that’s your thing.

When the service was first introduced several years ago, it was quite pricey. But now that there are new investors, including the co-founder of Netflix, it has an incredible new price tag — just $9.95 per month!

That’s right, for the price of less than one movie ticket in many cities, you can see an “unlimited” number of movies.

How does it work?

After you’ve purchased your MoviePass subscription, you wait for your card to arrive in the mail. Due to the rush of new subscribers, there have been some frustrating delays — up to six weeks or more. So manage your expectations accordingly.

When your MoviePass card (a Mastercard debit card) arrives, you’ll need to download the MoviePass app and enter your card number.

Next, you pick a local theater, and it will display a list of the eligible movies playing. (Currently, you can only see 2D movies in a standard cinema — no 3D, no IMAX, no RPX, etc. Any showings that are ineligible will be grayed out.)

I would make sure you open your app before you leave for the theater — just to make sure the movie/showtime you want to see is available on the MoviePass app.

Sadly, you cannot reserve your ticket in advance; you have to be within 100 yards of the theater to use the app to check in. That means you’ll need your MoviePass card and a functioning smart phone with cell phone service.

The first time you select a movie showtime and click “CHECK IN,” it will try to authorize your account. When I tried this, the app just churned and churned for five minutes, waiting for the authorization. I’m the impatient type (and also know that some apps are buggy), so I simply exited the app, then reopened it again, and poof — I had been authorized and checked in!

“Checking in” is a bit misleading. You’re not actually checked in to anything. What happens is that behind the scenes, MoviePass adds the funds to see the movie to your MoviePass debit card. It doesn’t mean you have your ticket yet or that there are actually tickets left for the show you want to see. You still need to go to the ticket window or kiosk to purchase your ticket.

You simply tell them what movie you want to see, hand them your MoviePass card (and theater rewards card if you have one), and that’s it! If the showing is sold out, the app has some functionality that allows you to select another movie. I haven’t encountered that situation yet, so you’ll have to tell me what that experience is like.

Is it worth it?

$9.95 per month to see as many movies as you like? Of course it’s worth it!!

But there are a few things to keep in mind. Here’s a quick list of the current pros and cons:


  • One low $9.95 monthly price.
  • See a new movie every day.
  • No blackout dates or movies.
  • Can be used at 91% of theaters nationwide.
  • Inspires you to see a whole host of movies you may not ordinarily want to shell out the bucks for.


  • It might take a while for your MoviePass card to arrive.
  • While it can be used at thousands of theaters nationwide, it may not include your favorite theater (but it probably does).
  • Can only buy one ticket at a time. No biggie though — if you want to pay for two or more people, just make two separate transactions.
  • The app may be a little buggy. Just keep trying. (That’s your only recourse — customer service for MoviePass is notoriously non-existent.)
  • Cannot reserve movie seats in advance. You have to be at the theater and hope the showing hasn’t sold out yet.
  • Cannot see anything other than a 2D movie in a standard cinema.


If you’re like me and love to see movies, don’t let a few Negative Nellies online dissuade you from getting MoviePass. It’s a fantastic bargain!

Do you have MoviePass? How has your experience been?

Are You Going to ScriptFest / PitchFest This Year? Apr 23

ScriptFest / Great American PitchFest

ScriptFest / PitchFestEvery summer, screenwriters from around the world descend upon L.A. to pitch their scripts to agents, managers, and producers at various events. It’s a great way to test your material and pitching skills on people who hear pitches for a living.

The event I’m most familiar with is the Great American PitchFest. In recent years, they’ve joined forces with ScriptFest to provide a three-day extravaganza of information sessions, panel discussions and pitching opportunities for aspiring screenwriters.  I’ve never failed to learn something or meet a great new connection at every event I’ve attended.

If you’re going this year, use the code: SCRIPTWRECKEDJUDY10 to save 10% on registration.

And please make sure to get your script ready for prime time with the longest standing and best proofreading service in the business — mine, of course!

See you June 23 – 25, 2017!!

Category: Events, Pitching  | Leave a Comment
Capitalizing God, Mom and Dad Jan 22

When do you capitalize god, mom and dad? 

When to capitalize God, Mom and DadBased on the frequency with which I encounter these capitalization mistakes while proofreading scripts, there seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding this question. Luckily, there’s a really easy trick to remember when to capitalize these words:

If the word is being used like a name, then it should be capitalized.

So let’s look at the sentence:
“Are you there, Mom?”

Now let’s substitute the name Karen:
“Are you there, Karen?”

The sentence still makes perfect sense, so “Mom” should be capitalized.

Now let’s try another:
“Some people believe there’s a god that lives in the clouds.”

Substituting Karen:
“Some people believe there’s a Karen that lives in the clouds.”

That doesn’t make sense, so “god” is not capitalized.

Even if, in the context of the story, you were referencing a supernatural being named Karen, you still wouldn’t have written the sentence that way. You would have written: “Some people believe that Karen lives in the clouds/Some people believe that God lives in the clouds” — now a perfectly legitimate capitalization.

The “a” preceding the word is a big tip-off not to capitalize. Here’s a full list of articles and pronouns to watch for (i.e. If mom/dad/god is preceded by any of these words, then it doesn’t need to be capitalized):

  • a
  • an
  • the
  • my
  • your
  • his
  • her
  • its
  • our
  • their

A final note: Many atheists believe that “god” should never be capitalized, while many religious folks believe that it should always be capitalized. Both are wrong. It depends on the context. It’s a grammar thing, not a religion thing.


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Category: Writing  | Leave a Comment