Tag Archives: screenwriting

It’s Been a Struggle…

I’ve struggled with wanting to write lately. I’ve lost that fire I had at the beginning of the year as life’s bullshit just wants to keep piling on.

T—p exhausts me. Republicans exhaust me. Discovering someone close to me “supports” T—p exhausted me beyond comprehension. Starting to get the wedding planning in full swing is exhausting me as I start to realize the cost of it all. School is boring and exhausting. Work is absolutely starting to work on my every last nerve.

I’m exhausted.

I can’t let that deter me.

I can’t let the same things every year hold me back.

I’m better than these things. I’m stronger than these things. I’m smarter and more creative than these things.

I need to give myself another kickstart and get going with this script.

So, here we go, another month to get it right!

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INT. OFFICE – EVENING

Our weary screenwriter sits at her L-shaped desk, her ever faithful cat, Bones, curled up on the floor near her. She opens up her laptop and starts up her MovieMagic screenwriting program.

She skims, only for a few seconds, the previous pages she’s written. Satisfied that she’s caught up, she cracks her knuckles, places her fingers on the keyboard like a pianist ready for rehearsal to start, and tap tap taps away.

Two pages later, she realizes – the opening is too long.

She pushes back from her laptop and leans back in her chair, stares at the last things she’s written, and decides…she must blog about it.

FADE OUT

Listen, we all know that writing is rewriting. I’m also aware that it’s probably not the best idea ever to rewrite as I go along. The more I look at this screenplay the more I realize…this opening doesn’t work. It just doesn’t. It’s taking way too long to get to the story. I’m at page 10, and I should be at the moment THE BIG THING happens that brings us into the premise.

I really have to decide at this moment. Scrap it and start over? Create a better outline? Or, do I keep going along and do what I’m supposed to do later which would be rewrite it to fix things?

 

 

 

 

Casting…

Sometimes it seems as though roles taken on by actors were made especially for them. Marlon Brando in The Godfather, Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, Geena Davis in Thelma and Louise, Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, etc. etc. etc.

When I’m writing, it helps to imagine who I would cast in the roles of my screenplay. I don’t have any knowledge of the above actors being thought of by the screenwriter when the ideas came forth (The Godfather was a book, so I doubt it there. I don’t have enough off-hand knowledge of the others at this point in time to know otherwise).

I’m currently working on an LGBTQ rom-com. A story that’s been in my mind for quite some time (I’m pretty sure if we go to the way-back machine on this blog of mine you could find somewhere else I’ve spoken about it). What’s been incredibly helpful is casting it in my mind. Not every single character, mind you. Just the ones that are driving the A story and the B story.

The funny thing is, my main character for the B story stands out more vivid in my mind and it is going to help me so much in developing this characters voice and style within the story. I can only hope that one day I could have this person star in the future movie that I’m writing! I know I’ll never utter a word about who I’d want in the roles if and when I ever get the chance to pitch this script.

I can share these choices with you.

The leads:

A Story – Samira Wiley and Ellen Page

B Story – Kristen Wiig and Shiloh Fernandez

I have pictures of them saved in a folder that’s titled after this script. This way I can reference them from time to time to really fully imagine them. Wiig’s character is the one giving me the most as I can easily picture the character and her mannerisms in Wiig’s skin.

I could also easily see Wiig’s character running away with the story. So much so, that I’ve thought of re-working the original premise slightly to fit that character’s story. I’m just not so sure it’s 100% a great idea to that.

So, I’m going to plug away with the version in my head that is aching to get out!

 

 

 

INT. OFFICE – MORNING…NIGHT…AFTERNOON?

I always see little blurbs about writing habits. Habits like getting up early to write before the day really starts or staying up late, etc. I hear stories about successful scripts being written during breaks at work and I think… WHY can’t that be me?

I’ll tell you why. The one big thing holding me back. Well, maybe more than one thing.

I don’t have a habit. I don’t have discipline. That’s what 2017’s theme for me should be. DISCIPLINE. I need to be disciplined. I need to create a habit. I need to set aside a non-negotiable time to write. Perhaps even a daily non-negotiable set of pages that must be completed before I can say, “It’s time for bed.”

I need to look at writing this script as a part-time job. I have time to write…I’m just not utilizing it. I used to work a full-time gig, a part-time gig, and work on getting my degree online. I no longer work that part-time gig. I definitely have time. Soooooooo?

Here’s to committing to getting up at 7am and not hitting snooze. Here’s to firing up the keurig while I’m starting up the laptop by 7:03am. Here’s to sitting down in the beautiful office my fiancee helped make a reality by 7:05am. Here’s to writing the first pages of my new script starting tomorrow.

2017 – The Year of Committing to Disciplined Habits (if that makes any sense!)

 

Character Sketches…

So my current assignment with ScreenCraft is essentially a character sketch. Just fleshing out some backstory in order to create characters that are multidimensional. Nobody likes a flat character. If we want a solid story, then we need solid characters.

I don’t mind doing very brief character sketches…the type that reads like an old school AOL chatroom: ASL (for you youths out there this means Age, Sex, Location). I might describe a bit of how they might look and how they dress. I’ve never really gone beyond the surface of my characters. It’s served me well in the past.

What would happen if I pushed deeper than that? I’ve never really tried. I’ve never thought about what my characters’ parents would be like, or what school was like when they were younger. I’ve never wrote out what their favorite meals would be. Or their favorite movie.

Why wouldn’t I want to do this? To really bring these characters to life I would need to know these things. Instead, I go flat and allow them to present themselves to me as I write. Again, it’s served me well in the past. Yet, I wonder how much richer their dialogue might be if I really knew them. I wonder how much deeper their reactions to things I throw at them would be if I knew how they would react if they were someone in real life.

I know why I react to things certain ways because I know my backstory. I know why my fiancee reacts to things certain ways because I know her backstory. We should love our characters as we love the people in our lives. We know everything possible about those we love and we should apply that same way of thinking to our characters.

So, here’s to creating real backgrounds for my characters. Even the small players in the story. Here’s to knowing the details about our characters from scars to first heartbreak to education to favorite scent to…everything.

 

Writer’s Block

Ahhhhh, writer’s block. We’ve all been there and experienced that dreadful stall in our minds. It’s that feeling that you want to create and write and put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) but something stops you. It’s as if some invisible force, some wall, has come between you and the creative force you know you are! You stare, mindlessly, waiting for the wall to break…for those words to flow. Ten minutes passes. Nothing.

Twenty minutes passes and you find yourself surfing the internet. Hoping for some sort of piece of information to come across your e-travels to grease the wheels. Still nothing. Frustrated, you close your laptop (or cap your pen), and walk away…another wasted opportunity to knock some pages out.

It’s time we start looking at writer’s block in a different way. It’s not, at least for me, a LACK of ideas. It’s too many floating around in my mind. These ideas, these little fragments of scenes and characters and snippets of dialogue (some from the same script, others are new ideas who decided to try and rise to the top), swirl and swirl and eventually they block the pipe from my brain to the paper (or keyboard).

How can we make that work for us? How do we clear out our minds so that the flow can start back up again? If there’s a block in anything in our lives, then we usually have to find what’s blocking it and remove it. Right? Why aren’t we doing the same thing with writing?

Perhaps we start by picking out each of those ideas that are blocking our flow, one by one, and exploring them briefly. Did that first idea you filtered out start up the flow again? No? Filter out the next piece and work with that. How’s the flow now? A bit better but not a free flow yet? Keep going! Filter out every piece of information until eventually you’ve opened up that pipe again!

Eventually you’ll clean out enough of those blocks that the useful ideas will start to (hopefully) flow again from that creativity pipe in your mind.

So, find what’s blocking you and get it out. That way you can get to the good stuff that’s been pushed to the back,  just waiting to flow out and into the world you’ve created in your screenplay.