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Thursday, 30 August 2012

Screenwriter's Digest #3

Vince Gilligan (via David D. Burstein) has three excellent storytelling tips for those not wanting to ruin their work by rigid long term planning.

Script Quack offers two words and great craft insight for those struggling to get to grips with structure.

Danny Stack touches on the realities involved in becoming a professional screenwriter for those looking to create a ten-year plan.

Jeffry Hirschberg shares his 11 Laws of Great Storytelling for those wanting increase the odds of their screenplay achieving greatness.

Screenwriter's Digest

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Terry Rossio On Writing


Most aspiring screenwriters simply don’t spend enough time choosing their concept. It’s by far the most common mistake I see in spec scripts. The writer has lost the race right from the gate. Months — sometimes years — are lost trying to elevate a film idea that by its nature probably had no hope of ever becoming a movie.” 


- Terry Rossio [Shrek, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Mask of Zorro]

Friday, 17 August 2012

What Your First Draft Needs

There is a danger with beginner writers who may feel that their first draft has to be perfect.

I know because it's how I used to think.

However, a first draft is not meant to be brilliant. There's no way to get a first draft right other than to get it wrong. Or some of it, at least.

It's why it's called an exploratory draft.

It's where you follow your curiosity and explore ways of doing things to see how it plays out. It needs time to be left alone. It's meant to be torn apart later on. The majority of it doesn't have to make the second draft.

This stage is less about quality and more on getting something down. It doesn't have to be great but it has to be something.

You need to go through what doesn't work in order to find what does.

The first draft is an essential part of that discovery.

Rewrite Later 

You only get one chance to make a good first impression but you get many to write a great screenplay. Writing is rewriting and the only healthy way to approach a first draft.

I have had a first draft dip into the two hundred page mark to then write the second draft from scratch. Those two hundred pages of exploration told me what I didn't want and directed me to what I did want.

Every project is different and will teach you new things but obsessing and perfecting at the first draft stage will only drive you mad and start to see writing as a chore.

Your first draft is meant to be off the mark that's why no one else sees it. It's meant for your eyes only, as a place to begin, and to reshape as you see fit.

Don't sweat it. By all means put effort into it, however, avoid rewriting as you go along. Give yourself a break and just head towards that finish line.

Rewriting is for later. Best to worry about it when it matters.

Good luck!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Your Idea Is Not A Television Series

It can be tough finding the right medium to tell a story in especially when you discover a versatile concept that could work or crossover into either television, film, web, literature, stage, radio, video-game or graphic novel.

How do you know what to write it as?

The short answer is: you don't.

Unless you're specifically: a playwright, scriptwriter, or novelist. However, if you've yet to figure that out or commit to a set course, or want to write in more than one discipline, then it's not as simple as knowing what you don't want to write. Everything is possible.

You can chat to people about it or consult writing books. You can do some research consuming a mass of product looking at how others have done things with the story concept they had. Ultimately, you just have to follow your instincts and see where it takes you.

The goal is to do the story concept justice - to attract a producer/company and an audience.

Naturally they want their money's worth, and often, it's nice to get more. The story concept is our pitch to them. If the work is poorly executed or doesn't suit the format then it may never find a buyer or reach an audience. Or it might - but may not be worth writing home about.

Concept may be KING but execution is EVERYTHING.

I have blogged about this before, although, find myself in the aftermath of such a dilemma on both Project Nightingale and Project Spacebound. More details to follow on the former. The latter is a different narrative beast altogether and no longer concerns the screen industries.

It always pays to be open minded on other mediums and routes a story and character might take. It's always about what's best for them and the story concept - not yourself.

Just dive into that story and don't be afraid of surprise!

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