First rule? There aren't any rules. Well, to my mind anyway. That isn't to say there are no guidelines, but that's all they are.
Presently, on one of the screenwriting listservs, there is a discussion about the use of ellipses... or is that ellipsi? Someone was told never to use ellipses; doing so would cause the "studio executive to throw down the script."
Where does this come from? Who writes the rules? And exactly who is the studio executive that actually reads a script? And, more importantly, where is he?
I can and will only speak for myself, lest I get someone in trouble who follows my unorthodox search for fame and fortune. I use ellipsess sparingly and with care... sometimes.
Ellipses do serve a purpose; they can take you into the next paragraph of narrative...
to a different shot within the scene.
Ellipses can indicate a break in dialogue...
Or loss of train of thought, which happens
to me me occasionally.
And why do we have to give them -- it -- a name? In my handy desktop guide to punctuation they are referred to only as "three dots". So, I ask you, how can there be so much commotion over... "three dots"? If we're going to get excited, and break rules that don't actually exist, lets get excited about something big... like the exclamation point.
If I were a screenwriting guru; if I were the head of a studio (What am I talking about?) I'd outlaw exclamation points in every script. I would "throw down" every script that contained even one exclamation point (even though as an executive I wouldn't be reading them). I hate exclamation points!!!
... which illustrates why I passionately dislike the exclamation point.
"I hate exclamation points!!!" You tell me: am I yelling happily? Or am I seething inside at the mere thought of the little buggers? Is my inner voice low and guttural as I mouth, "I hate exclamation points", or am being lighthearted -- even joking? Who can tell?
I am not joking. Exclamation points are very distracting and everyone interprets them differently. One exclamation point is bad enough, but give me three or four and my eyes start to twitch, and my lips start to curl like my pit bull before his jaw lunges for that flea on his back.
With that said, each to his own... (!)