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    What do you want to discuss regarding screenwriting?
    #1
    Moderator David Jimerson's Avatar
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    I ask, because things do get slow in this section.

    Is anyone writing?

    Are you part of writing groups?

    Do you have any writing goals?

    Why do you write?
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    Senior Member Batutta's Avatar
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    Is anyone writing? I can't seem to give it up. Was going to start something today, got pulled away by work.

    Are you part of writing groups? I write so I don't have to be around people.

    Do you have any writing goals? Selling at least one original script before I die.

    Why do you write? I'm happiest when I'm writing.


    I've written over thirty feature length scripts at this point, and have reached the lowest point of despair over the fate of almost all of them. I'd stress for anyone wanting to be a writer is that, other than writing and working on your craft, get very skilled at the art of self promotion (something I'm terrible at). Meet as many people in the film industry as you can and work those relationships. Any minuscule success I've gotten (and it has been minuscule) has been through people I've known for a very long time. The other road is to pick up a camera and learn to do it yourself. You'll probably do your material a disservice, but like anything, keep at it and you might get somewhere. Since I have the social skills of a tomato I've been shifting my focus onto the latter route for the past couple years. Sometimes it's tough to stay motivated. My job is so sedentary, as is writing, that picking up the momentum to go out and shoot can be a challenge. One thing it's reinforced though, is that the script truly is everything. On set, things move way too fast to try and fix any deficiencies in the writing. It would be like trying to paint on a rocking boat in the middle of a hurricane.
    Last edited by Batutta; 07-31-2016 at 03:03 PM.
    "Money doesn't make films...You just do it and take the initiative." - Werner Herzog


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    What are the forum rules for posting excerpts from an old comedy spec?

    Technically, the "characters" belong to the show creators/copyright holders but TV spec writing has been around for ages and is deemed an acceptable form of getting one's talent shown even if a particular spec itself doesn't sell. An interesting thing about "Seinfeld" is that there's a site with all "Seinfeld" scripts. Castle Rock initially chafed at the formatted scripts being uploaded there but eventually relented and let the site owners keep the dialog that they themselves jotted down off broadcast/DVD.


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    Moderator David Jimerson's Avatar
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    TV specs are fine. It IS industry practice.
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    Moderator David Jimerson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Batutta View Post
    Is anyone writing? I can't seem to give it up. Was going to start something today, got pulled away by work.

    Are you part of writing groups? I write so I don't have to be around people.

    Do you have any writing goals? Selling at least one original script before I die.

    Why do you write? I'm happiest when I'm writing.


    I've written over thirty feature length scripts at this point, and have reached the lowest point of despair over the fate of almost all of them. I'd stress for anyone wanting to be a writer is that, other than writing and working on your craft, get very skilled at the art of self promotion (something I'm terrible at). Meet as many people in the film industry as you can and work those relationships. Any minuscule success I've gotten (and it has been minuscule) has been through people I've known for a very long time. The other road is to pick up a camera and learn to do it yourself. You'll probably do your material a disservice, but like anything, keep at it and you might get somewhere. Since I have the social skills of a tomato I've been shifting my focus onto the latter route for the past couple years. Sometimes it's tough to stay motivated. My job is so sedentary, as is writing, that picking up the momentum to go out and shoot can be a challenge. One thing it's reinforced though, is that the script truly is everything. On set, things move way too fast to try and fix any deficiencies in the writing. It would be like trying to paint on a rocking boat in the middle of a hurricane.
    Would you want to put anything you've written up for discussion?
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    Senior Member alex whitmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Batutta View Post
    Are you part of writing groups? I write so I don't have to be around people.
    And there you have it !!


    Here is a nice blurb on the history of screenwriting, tracing its origins and metamorphoses.

    http://www.screenplayology.com/conte...style-use/1-1/


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    Moderator David Jimerson's Avatar
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    Actually, I've found writing groups to be stimulating.

    I also find working directly with the actors who will be playing the parts, to work their roles into characters they want to play, immensely rewarding.
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Jimerson View Post
    TV specs are fine. It IS industry practice.
    Indeed.

    So, here's a background story. I have this "Seinfeld" spec that I began writing around 1993. It has undergone numerous iterations, although its post-show (1998 onward) history is, obviously, more as a writing exercise and an homage to my youth and affection for the show in its early years. I was able to give it - without officially submitting it - to several folks in the industry around 1993-94. Some were connected to the show; others were agents. In 1996 or so, the script was submitted to the show producers via a lawyer friend-of-a-friend, who had connections in the industry and was a budding writer himself. The reply came a few months later, "XYZ, thanks for thinking of us. We'll pass".

    The script was shelved, as the show was getting long in the tooth anyway and LA was full of "Seinfeld", "Simpsons", "Home Improvements" scripts and, by then, "Friends" and "Frasier" were the hot shows. Late in 2003 and no longer in LA, I pulled a formatted copy out of storage and attempted to impress a non-pro female companion. She wasn't. As I had not seen it in quite a while myself then, the dialog seemed new and, despite my inherent author bias, I essentially agreed with her. The script went untouched again until 2008 or so, when I resumed my creative writing.

    The above is, obviously, a story of the script, not the script itself, and I am sure others have similar stories that are far more interesting than mine. I'll see if I can post a few pages later. They need a quick one millionth update. Because those couple of extra words is what will make it absolutely irresistible.


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    Senior Member Batutta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Jimerson View Post
    Would you want to put anything you've written up for discussion?
    Sure. Wouldn't be anything recent, as like every writer I'm paranoid about people stealing my ideas. I wrote a biopic about the Wright Brothers a while back that people say is one of my strongest pieces of writing. I can PM it if you're interested in reading it.
    "Money doesn't make films...You just do it and take the initiative." - Werner Herzog


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    Senior Member alex whitmer's Avatar
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    Since we were recently on the subject of dialogue ...


    Designing your dialogue


    Dialogue is perhaps one of - if not thee - most misunderstood elements of film. Choosing the spoken and unspoken words that any given character will use to advance the story is a paramount decision that requires every bit of attention to detail as each and every action, scene transition, character attribute and continuity of plot. You cannot underestimate dialogue’s contribution to story.

    I have lost count of the number of scripts I have read that start out with ‘What’s up?. Nothing. What’s up with you? Nothing.’ Or its equally painful equivalent. Basically, if you do not know what your characters will be talking about, then you really have no idea what your story is about, beyond whatever it is that goes boom and zap.

    Dialogue serves two main requirements: advancing the story, and reinforcing plot and character attributes beyond what the visuals can effectively do on their own. If for example, one of your key characters is a shy nerd type, and you have put that in their introduction, then the actor and director will draw that out. If all goes well, the audience (and reader) will see that sans dialogue. Once you open their mouths (or however you decide to include words and noises – tee shirts, protest signs, professional titles, etc), the words they use need to reflect and reinforce that they are the shy and nerdy type AS WELL AS ADVANCING THE STORY. They won’t be using the same dialogue as the macho asswipe, or the heroine that saves the world. As the character grows and morphs through the plot, their dialogue will also reflect this.

    This is hardly light-bending news, yet dialogue remains the most overlooked if not ignored element in film – in my opinion.

    Dialogue also serve another purpose, and that is to unveil what the film is really about. On the surface, the film looks to be about revenge, or love conquers all, but bubbling just below that surface, there is another story running parallel – or perpendicular - to the main plot. It may be a hidden story that deals with taboos or with public figures. Or just something the writer feels strongly about, but doesn’t want to use film to send an overt message.

    Let’s say, for example, you have film whose main theme is revenge, person against person, with a clear protag and antag. A woman getting a divorce from a cheating husband. She wants revenge for the scorn. Serious revenge. She finds some sympathy among friends and family. This is the film most of your audience will perceive. But let’s put another element in there, what the story is really about. In this case we’ll borrow from the seven deadly sins, and go with Vanity (pride). As the story unfolds with a tit-for-tat legal and emotional battle over who gets what and who gets hurt the most – and who wins, we also get a lesson in the personal decay manifested by vanity. In the end, it may appear the husband is the big loser, while in reality it was the wife, whose vanity was her eventual undoing.

    It wasn’t so much that her husband cheated on her, but that her social status was humiliated, and she was knocked down a rung or two. She will do whatever damage she needs to do to get those rungs back. THIS will be revealed via clever use of dialogue.


    Let’s say two of her friends are talking about the divorce over coffee. We’ll say our soon-to-be-divorced woman is having liposuction.

    FRIEND #1
    Addy’s having lipo today.


    That may trigger a few thoughts among the audience. Why? Did the divorce / affair set off some image issues?

    FRIEND #2
    Again?


    Ah, okay, this isn’t new. Maybe the second time? Third? To really tap your underlying story, try to pick words that drive home vanity and its curse. Instead of 'Again?', go for the throat ...

    FRIEND #2
    Tallow companies must love her.


    Now we have established this is likely an obsession with image. No OTN to say that.

    From there, make a simple slip back to your main story of revenge …

    FRIEND #1
    She's sending the bill to the asshole!


    If this were just a one layer story – as many are – then you just go with …

    FRIEND #1
    Abby’s having lipo today. Sending the bill to the asshole.


    This also establishes that these two friends appear to be sympathetic. Which may or may not be true


    Or something along those lines.
    Last edited by alex whitmer; 08-04-2016 at 11:32 AM.


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