22 unwritten rules for screenwriters
Ever wonder why movies seem to resemble each other in so many ways? Or why action scenes all seem to be staged by the same choreographer? Or why certain story points keep repeating themselves in film after film?
Well, there are unwritten rules screenwriters are expected to follow. We don’t really want to follow them, but if we don’t capitulate, somebody else will step in and force our hand.
Here are the 22 most common unwritten rules of screenwriting (Some of these come from The Freeman Institute. If you have any additional rules, please feel free to add them in the comment section):
- During all police investigations, it will be necessary to visit a strip club at least once.
- All beds have special L-shaped sheets which reach up to armpit level on a woman, but only to waist level on the man lying beside her.
- All grocery shopping bags must contain at least one loaf of French bread or a bunch of celery that sticks out the top of a full bag.
- It’s easy for anyone to land a plane, provided there is someone in the control tower to talk you down.
- The ventilation system of any building is the perfect hiding place. No one will ever think of looking for you in there, and they will allow you to travel to any other part of the building without difficulty.
- If you need to reload your gun, you will always have more ammunition, even if you weren’t carrying any before now.
- Should you wish to pass yourself off as a German officer, it will not be necessary to speak the language – a German accent will do.
- The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window in Paris.
- A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating, but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.
- If being chased through town, you can usually take cover in a passing St. Patrick’s Day parade – at any time of the year.
- When paying for a taxi, you don’t need to look at your wallet as you take out a bill. Just grab one at random and hand it over. It will always be the exact fare, including tip.
- Mothers routinely cook eggs, bacon and waffles for their husbands and children every morning, even though they never have time to eat.
- Cars which crash will always burst into flames.
- The Chief of Police will always suspend his star detective – or give him 48 hours to finish the job.
- Any person waking from a nightmare will sit bolt upright, perspiring and panting.
- It is not necessary to say hello or goodbye when beginning or ending phone conversations.
- All bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red readouts so you know exactly when they’re going to go off.
- Most laptop computers are powerful enough to override the communication systems of any alien civilization.
- Any lock can be picked by a credit card or a paper clip in seconds – unless it’s the door to a burning building with a child trapped inside, in which case you will need a battering ram.
- Police Departments give their officers personality tests to make sure they are deliberately assigned a partner who is their total opposite.
- Television news bulletins usually contain a story that affects you personally at the precise moment you are watching, and it’s never necessary to listen to the complete bulletin.
- It doesn’t matter if you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts. Your enemies will wait patiently to attack you one by one. They’ll dance around in a threatening manner until you have knocked out their predecessors
Now you know our dirty little secret… he-he