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I'm new to screenwriting, so do understand no expertise is claimed here, but I was recently looking for a similar book, and this is the one I wound up choosing at Amazon: 500 Ways to Beat the Hollywood Script Reader : Writing the Screenplay the Reader Will Recommend
I read the excerpt and liked the writer's style, and what she was saying made sense. Since this will be my first book to read on the coverage process, I have no idea how it will stack up against others.
Thanks to Paula, Terri, and Ron. I'm reading McKee's STORY right now. It's good, but it's also more of what I call "theory," and I have a hard time following things like that until I've actually done something. I've gone to ScriptORama and other sites and downloaded and read a bunch of scripts. After I've actually written my first one, I'm gonna finish STORY--I know it'll make way more sense to me then. I'm weird that way. I need a concrete reference to tie theory to.
Thanks again, folks. I'll check those books out, too. Whatever I'm writing, I'm a fervent believer in READ-A-LOT-AND-WRITE-A-LOT. I think Stephen King put it well in ON WRITING when he said, "If you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write."
I think craft books are great for drilling down into the detail layer, but reading and writing the real thing must come first.
I'm a novelist working on my first screenplay and really enjoying it. Feels very natural. It's a big disaster-thriller that would cost about a trillion dollars to make. :-)
Got a rejection from an editor re: a novel, that essentially said, "Sorry, there's no way a story like this will sell. Even established authors have trouble with it."
Unremarkable, I guess, except for the fact that he had seen a deadly accurate synopsis of the book online and sought me out to ask for the ms.
I imagine anyone in any kind of writing who's been marketing for a while has all manner of such rejections. In my experience, they sting a lot less as the numbers pile up. I've finally accepted the fact that AFTER you've written a saleable piece--and that of course encompasses untold amounts of blood, sweat, and tears--AFTER that, it's a numbers game. It's a matter of hitting the right person in the right mood on the right day. A numbers game that favors only the persistent IMO.
As I've mentioned in a couple of other threads, I'm a novelist working on my first screenplay. (I have an agent marketing my most recent novel.) What I'm wondering is: Once I've finished the first draft, what's the best way to get quality feedback on it, what's good in it, what's bad in it? Pay for a pro read? If so, any recommendations? I have no accomplished screenwriter friends to turn to. Hoping someone here will be able to steer this newbie.
David, I'm sure at some point my agent will see it, but my thinking was to involve him at a more polished stage. Maybe it's errant thinking, but I thought I'd just come to a spot where infinitely more experienced screenwriters are, try to find out what they think.
Thomas, thanks much, but it's not ready for any swapping at this point. :-)
Appreciate it, Mark. Nope, no screenwriter friends, and I don't mind spending a reasonable amount of cash for pro help. I used a paid editor for a detailed critique of the first draft of my most recently completed novel, and it was money very well spent. Cuts right to the heart of the matter, she knew what she was talking about, and she had no agenda beyond what I was paying her for. If I can find an entity with those proven elements to evaluate the screenplay, I'll be happy. Thanks for the recs--will check those out.
Terri, again I'll weigh in from the novelist perspective and tell you that my experience exactly matches your own. I've helped a bunch of people with queries, and as soon as I see most of them, I understand exactly why they're not working. They're usually a PACKED page of single-spaced type, giving about ten times the info they should, and doing a poor job even of that. They usually sound like they came out of the Queries 101 Workshop, generic, vanilla, bland, EYE-GLAZING.
Toward the end of my own agent hunt (for a novel), I did some research here and other places into how screenplay queries work. I discovered brevity, economy of words, with EVERY word being THE right and NECESSARY word, was the order of the day. I re-worked my novel query to more closely resemble a screenplay query. I had always had a pretty good hit rate with queries, but the hit rate on the new SuperConcise Edition was through the roof and I had an agent within weeks.
That query was two BRIEF paragraphs. When I queried the agent I eventually signed with, he responded in thirty minutes and said, "I hope your book is as good as your pitch!"
So when I help fellow novelists with queries, I hammer the concise angle over and over. Strangely enough, most don't listen. They saw a sample query on Writer's Market, by golly, that said to do A, B, and C, and that's what they're gonna do come hell or high water.
I'm rambling now. I'll stop.
Terri -- Sounds interesting. In fact, from someone who watches the novel deals daily, it sounds like something that WOULD sell. I've heard the "I just don't think I could sell this" or the ubiquitous "I just didn't fall in love with this" a gazillion times. What made me laugh about this particular rejection was the fact that the guy had initiated contact with ME and enthusiastically asked me to please send him the ms. And the book was exactly as described. Of course, what actually happened was that he farmed the read out to some underling who had no clue as to how the ms got there. Still, twas funny.
Jamie -- "This is great, but it's not right for me" and a thousand variations of it, is a standard rejection. At first you'll wonder why they just don't work with you to fix it if it's so great, but this will pass.
Hang in there, Terri. As you no doubt know, persistence is as important in the writing game as talent or skill or any other element of it. Do you watch the deals through Publishers Lunch? They send out a free Weekly Lunch with all the deals they've found or had reported in the past week. TONS of great leads to be found there.
I registered and poked around the site a bit. Out of the five or six screenplays I tried to view, one actually loaded. Traffic on the site's message board is non-existent. Not too exciting from where I sit.
No matter the story format, be it novel or screenplay, the key in the end will not be whether or not there's a flashback, but how well the story is done. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN did a pretty good job with an extended flashback, as have many others. I think it's frowned upon as a frequent story device because it's seldom well done.
This is the busiest screenwriting-related site I've found.
I have an agent, landed via a novel.
Off-topic for Pete: The site is cute and nicely done, but are you sure you've really thought out the idea of having this much info about your child online, Pete? There are all sorts of dangers, some of them horrible, associated with this. Not trying to butt into your business--just being sure you've thought it out.
Well, I just got home from seeing S.W.A.T. and call me odd man out, because I quite enjoyed it. I knew full well what kind of movie it was likely to be, my expectations were in line with that, and I think they pulled it off quite nicely. I don't go into cop thrillers looking for profundity. I go in looking for entertainment. S.W.A.T. delivered.
There's my .02...
There's obviously some history here I'm not privvy to, being a relative newcomer. Anyone care to share?
I just found out you're a writer! So am I! Blah blah blah...
I haven't checked for this specific answer but you can probably find the info you want at this site:
CIA World Factbook
Absolutely splendid reference resource.
The query process--more accurately, the whole marketing process for any kind of writing--is a frustrating one. Some answer. Some don't. Most pass when they do.
But as bad as I hate to say it, a LOT of the blame must be laid at the feet of the writing community itself. If the screenwriting submission pipeline resembles that for novels, then it is sadly a pipeline filled with garbage. I've read articles in which editors say that over 90% of what they receive is not only not publishable; it's UNREADABLE. And having seen a bazillion samples across a gazillion venues, I don't doubt what he says.
Marketing would be infinitely easier if people didn't jump into the fray until they were ready. I know of nothing that suggests that will happen, but it's only fair to assign the lion's share of the blame appropriately. Can YOU imagine reading hundreds of queries and/or subs a week, when wading through the vast majority of it is like slogging around in a garbage dump? Every end of the game undoubtedly has its frustrations.
Just something to keep in mind.
Thanks, Gil. Thanks, Ron.
To be clear, I've sure been guilty of the same thing myself in the past, but mainly before it was SO easy to interact with and learn from other writers as to the various stages, learning the craft, understanding when a piece of work might be READY to market, etc.
What's maddening to me is to be talking to a brand new writer, and they tell you how they've just "finished" their first whatever, and could you please "tell them how to query?" You explain politely that they should really do all they can to perfect the work before sending it out, that first drafts are not the kind of thing you send out, and in return they tell you "Oh, it's ready! I was careful while I wrote it so it doesn't need any rewriting." Yeah. Right. Uh-huh. And they don't listen. They go right ahead and stick it into the system. Their mom read it and loved it and, by golly, Mom is ALWAYS honest with them so they know it's great. Sheesh.
Young Tyson was the most brutal thing I've ever witnessed. When it comes to raw physical ability and potential, I think he was the best in the history of the sport. Simply awesome.
Happen to have a link to that article/study?
That's awesome, Gil. MegaCongrats to you and I hope this goes further for you!
Word XP doesn't come with the ability to save in PDF. You'll need either Adobe Acrobat (the full version, not just the reader) or one of the alternative ways to write to a PDF file. Go to this link and you can download the freebie version of their program, which works well. It will add a PDF "printer" to your system that does a nice job of conversion.
You're welcome, Teresa. I don't remember prior versions of Word having a pdf-writer built in either, for that matter.
The 995 software is a fabulous bunch of free tools that really really work. And they're free forever unless the browser ad popping up really bothers you.
I'm using FD6 too, but there have been many times when I needed a pdf version of a Word doc. Adobe will let you create three pdf's free of charge on their online creation service, but pdf995 is a much slicker route IMO, and free.
Only the Acrobat reader is free, Terri. The full version that will also create pdf files costs $150-200. Luckily there are alternatives out there that work well for most folks' needs for little or no cash.
People who buy the full version are people who create PDF files on a regular basis and need all the capabilities the full version provides. You can create files that can't be modified. Or forms that can be easily filled in without altering the form itself. Lots of uses for PDF files and the full version of Acrobat is a great tool for someone who needs those features.
For the needs of most writers, who would usually just want to convert a .doc or .wpd or whatever to .pdf, the alternatives work just fine. Final Draft will of course save out to the .pdf format without any other software needed. They probably licensed the technology to do that from Adobe, as the Corel folks probably did if WordPerfect has the "save as .pdf" option.
Universal Truism of the Writing Universe: AFTER you've written a saleable product (a condition that is probably unsatisfied in 95-99% of all submissions), it becomes a numbers game. You must hit the right person in the right mood on the right day at the right time. Life is much easier once you accept this. Unless you're one of the few who luck up and hit that magical combination early, which probably carries lotteryesque odds, the quicker you accept this truth, the quicker you can put down the Pepto and move on with what you should REALLY be doing: WRITING THE NEXT ONE!
That's my attitude, though it took me a while to arrive there. I figure if I keep working toward becoming a great writer, and market intelligently along the way, it will all take care of itself eventually. My job in this thing is not to sit around wringing hands over every query and every submission, paralyzed by the waiting. My job in this thing is to become a great writer. My job in this thing is to become a great writer. My job in this thing is to become a great writer.
Any of the Dream Lotteries (a term I coined for people who want to make it big by writing or playing music or inventing the next killer product or acting or whatever--all these things are things dreamed of and they all carry terrible odds when viewed as a whole, even though that is a very flawed perception) require the players to navigate shark-filled waters. Lots of these fields have various and sundry lists of people and outfits to avoid, but the best defense will always be to simply LEARN THE GAME, learn what's legitimate and what's not. The sharks are constantly morphing, new names, new faces, new companies--this makes databases or lists very difficult to maintain.
Unfortunately, it's been my observation that far too many players will fall right into the traps anyway. They're willing to pay someone to tell them what they want to hear, and no amount of warning or explaining will convince them differently. For example, you may have seen the commercials on TV asking you to send in your idea for an invention? Do so, and you'll almost certainly get an enthusiastic response. GREAT IDEA! BUT REMEMBER, YOU HAVE TO SPEND MONEY TO MAKE MONEY AND WE CAN HELP YOU! What so many people get in exchange for thousands of dollars is a worthless design patent that is relatively easy to obtain, a boilerplate computer-generated "product report" in a beautiful cover, and "marketing" that consists of a mass mailout to manufacturers who drop this nonsense right in the trash. Value? $0.00. I used to try to help fellow inventors, and you wouldn't believe how many people would go right ahead and send in thousands of dollars after I had thoroughly explained what was going on.
People will gravitate toward those who say what they want to hear. For the rest, the best defense is to learn the game and play smartly.
I see you already found a conversion volunteer, but I sure would love to have a copy of that .fdr file meself. Hint. Hint. email@example.com Hint some more.
My shot at it...
POLICE OFFICER Johnson is down! We're after a cop killer now. Let's do this by the book fellas. We don't want some judge letting him off on a technicality; so let's make sure we do our jobs.w
Officer Johnson is down, so we're after a cop killer now. By the book, fellas. No judge letting him off on a technicality. We gonna do our jobs and do 'em right.
Johnson is down! Repeat, Officer Johnson is down. The suspect is now a cop killer. We do our jobs by the book, gentlemen. We don't want some judge letting him off on a technicality. We do it right.
Officer Johnson is down, so Billy Badass just became a cop killer, ladies. By the book. No bullshit technicality skate for this asshole. Do it right.
Welcome, David, and thanks for the kind words. If you're using EXACTLY the same words, the only thing you can really change is punctuation and the way the sentences break. You sure that's what the challenger intended?
I'm new to screenwriting myself and not yet familiar enough with all the jargon. In writing books, however, rhythm is something I often refer to when describing someone's work. And even then, the way I'm using the word may not be the same as the way someone else interprets it. To me, an amalgam of several different elements mesh together to form a unified rhythm to the work. It's almost an intangible, and it's something that I believe cannot be taught; it can be improved upon, but the talent for it is a prerequisite.
I'm sure it's clear as mud now! ;-)
If you're to use exactly the same words, that's really all you can do IMO, David.
I think there's an issue of semantics here, where several folks aren't understanding what David's asking for. I THINK what he's looking for is a way to alter the rhythm of THIS ONE CHUNK OF DIALOG, and is not talking about rhythm in its larger context.
David, I think you have to look to the CORE issue here, which I believe to be the building of stronger characters through the use of dialog. The jargon is doing nothing but causing confusion IMO, and when writing discussions get down to tedius points like this, it starts looking like theory and loses me.
Did you ever think that maybe these people are telling you these things because they DON'T want you to succeed?
Sorry, and I hate to put too fine a point on it, but that's downright silly. Rules--it doesn't matter what kind of writing you're doing--are GENERAL, not specific. But here's the key point: Very few people are able to break the rules effectively without FIRST learning what the rules ARE and WHY the rules are. And there's the flaw in "I'm gonna do it my way come hell or high water and nobody's gonna tell me different!"
Finally, it couldn't possibly be any more irrelevant than to say, "but this movie did this" or "that movie did that" in an effort to prove a point. ESTABLISHED, PROVEN writers can get away with a thousand things that we cannot. That's reality. Thinking otherwise is like a novelist saying, "What do you mean, I can't switch POV in mid-paragraph? Grisham did!" Grisham could turn in a manuscript written on brown paper sacks and get paid big money for it. Which has exactly and absolutely NOTHING to do with the unpublished novelist trying to break into the game.
I'm not an experienced screenwriter, but I am quite experienced in the fundamentals of storytelling. Will be glad to take a look for you if you like; can't promise I'll read the whole thing. If it grabs me, I will. If not, I won't read far. And I'll give you candid feedback either way. Up to you.
BTW, firstname.lastname@example.org in case you want to send it over. PDF would be my preference.
Well, I have to disagree vehemently with your conclusion that the dialogue is crap and that's that, Ellum. I can envision Tommy Lee Jones doing a heck of a job with those lines. I can also envision some horrible actor making them sound like crap.
David, as I said earlier, once a discussion on some point of tedium like this gets this mired, it has turned into an arcane discussion on theory to me, and I'm lost. Yes, there are certainly elements of good writing, ways to approach things, ways to describe certain elements and aspects, but in the end I just try to WRITE. I personally think a discussion which explored different ways to express this scene would've been a thousand times more productive than all this gibberish about rhythm and what it means.
Not being sarcastic; just telling you how I see it. I suppose there are people who do approach writing from a deeply technical perspective like this. I'm not one of them, but I wish you the best of luck with it.
Yeah, I'd love the RSS.
There are plenty of characters who do indeed talk too much, repeat themselves, etc. I understand exactly what you're saying, and AGREE with the principle of economy of words.
My only point was that it was unfair to look at these couple of lines and automatically declare them crap in every situation. Maybe they are, but it's possible that they're not. Kinda like everyone was trying to tell David that rhythm and such is about more than one isolated chunk of dialogue. That cuts both ways, and that's my point.
As a FAN who watches many of his movies--REPEATEDLY--I can tell you this. He says everything he has to in 3-4 words.
GERARD: Ladies and gentlemen... our fugitive's been on the run for ninety minutes. Average foot speed over uneven ground - barring injury is approximately four miles an hour, giving us a radius of six miles. I want a hard-target search of any residence, gas station, farmhouse, henhouse, doghouse and outhouse in that area. Check-points go up at 15 miles. (to media) You got that? Good. Now, turn those damn things off and get out of our way.
And that speech ain't the only one by a long shot. :-)
Every word? No, not IMO. The essential information could've been conveyed in probably half that word count. The rest were there not only to convey information, but because that's what the Gerard character would've said. Again, that's my point: People, and by extension, characters, don't always choose the most economical word-route. When it's done well, as I surely think this was, it is done in the most economical fashion for that character.
That speech from 'The Fugitive' was both expository and character revealing.
My point exactly. Everything must be viewed in context.
Ideas are like bellybuttons: Everybody has one. It's the execution of the idea that MAY have value. IF that idea is really special (most aren't in my experience), and IF that execution is well enough done. And IF you're sharp enough and PERSISTENT enough to see it through. I dare say 90% of all Dream Lottery players come up short on the latter.
In any event, let me be candid: When you act all paranoid about your idea, IMHO it screams AMATEUR. Everyone sits around and comes up with ideas, but as mentioned by someone else first, and then by me in the above paragraph, the work is in the execution. That's where any writer's value is proven. If you don't want to disclose it, that's fine, but you need to be aware that you're unlikely to impress anyone in the entire writing industry, no matter the format, with some little teaser and I think you run the risk of turning people off by doing it. Not being harsh in the least, just candid. And since I'm admittedly new to screenwriting and base most of what I've said here on what I know about publishing and other endeavors, I encourage someone in the know to step forward and tell me I'm wrong if that's the case, if this is a business in which an IDEA has value in and of itself on a regular basis.
Been hanging out here pretty regularly for several weeks now, trying to get to know folks a bit better, contributing a wee bit here and there. I'm wondering: Who here has sold a screenplay? Had one produced? Can you share more info on it?
Can't answer your question, but MegaCongrats on the option!
Ellum: Regarding the value of ideas--specifically, that they may on occasion have value in and of
themselves--I'll yield to your experience in this field. Even though our two interpretations didn't substantially
disagree anyway. :-) I admittedly bring some baggage with me on this concept from prior endeavors, most notably the
world of invention, wherein you wouldn't believe how many people think they should be paid for "ideas" that are
worthless in every sense of the word. But that's a long story I'm sure you don't want to hear.
Big congrats, Ron. Hey, big sale or not, you're on the board! I'm sure any of us would LOVE to be there. Thanks for sharing.
And thanks to you, Marcel.
From American Heritage Dictionary...
prac·tise (pr?k't?s) v. & n. Chiefly British.
I'd say it depends on where and who you're marketing to, David. Marketing to a Brit, practise. I think the folks who brought it up here assumed you were marketing to Americans.
Sure counts in my mind, David. Cool! How long ago?
Well, let's pretend I said, "Who here has sold a SCRIPT," Terri. :-) Now answer.
No, obviously I didn't "get it." Still don't. I have no idea what you're talking about. No big deal, though. Good luck with your current project...
Jerri, 1) You only read 25 pages of my screenplay...
No big deal, but the name is Jerry. ;-) Yes, I only read twenty-five pages. And here's my original offer to read:
I'm not an experienced screenwriter, but I am quite experienced in the fundamentals of storytelling. Will be glad to take a look for you if you like; can't promise I'll read the whole thing. If it grabs me, I will. If not, I won't read far. And I'll give you candid feedback either way. Up to you.
It didn't grab me, so I didn't keep reading. If not for trying to offer all the help I could, I wouldn't have made it past ten pages, Wayne. I sent you what I considered to be an encouraging e-mail. You replied. I replied with another encouraging e-mail, and never received anything else.
You're certainly welcome, Wayne, and I wish you nothing but the best.
Going back to watching CON AIR now; haven't seen it in a while, and I think they did an exceptional job of establishing a sympathetic connection with the protagonist in a very short period of time. I'm drawn to that opening and the way they did that; methinks it'll come in handy some day.
I've never done that, Alex, but it's bound to be a great exercise. After you transcribe it to paper, though, remember to turn it into dialogue, as opposed to transcribed real speech. Dialogue is not real speech, but its own life form.
David, the thread might've gone more to your liking with an explanation similar to this:
Let's talk about whether or not you can effectively change the meaning and presentation of dialogue by keeping the same words and varying punctuation alone.
You threw the rhythm aspect into it, and that's a word that has meaning way outside what you wanted to discuss. Even worse, I'd say it's a word that has different meanings to different people.
In any event, from MY perspective--I fully admit your and other perceptions may be different--the discussion became a pointless exercise in what-does-it-matter minutiae. I just don't care to get that detailed in discussing something. A hard-wiring issue, I imagine.
Good luck finding the knowledge or skill or whatever you seek in this quest, though. Sincerely.
Agree, Ron. If you can find access to one of the Jane's books, you can get any info you could possibly need. They're VERY expensive to buy and it's VERY expensive to access the main body of info on their site, but some larger libraries have them.
Having spent some time in federal court (three years) on intellectual property issues, I find it hard to believe that minor changes could be made and the original creator would have no recourse. Having the ability to stick with the process against the big boys is another matter.
Absolutely, Terri. I love characters who create their OWN slang and such, provided it's right for the character, of course, which is a condition that ALWAYS applies.
Having characters do this creates some of the most memorable language possible. Before someone asks for an example of what I'm talking about, sorry, nothing's coming to mind. LOL. But I've noticed and admired writing like this on several occasions before.
And while it's impossible to know who this character is and what he's like, and therefore, how he'd really say it, based on what we've seen, this is my quick-n-dirty shot at it...
Johnson is dead. You want this guy to pay? Do. It. Right.
Just finished watching LOTR Two Towers and admiring the beauty of your country, Wayne. Unbelievable.
Not sure how many drafts I'll go through on my current (first) screenplay before I feel it's ready, but I do know that my novel went through eight MAJOR drafts before being declared ready to go to publishers. And I'm sure the editor who eventually picks it up (if I have no confidence in an eventual sale, who will?) will want further revisions. Hopefully minor, but maybe not. Who knows.
Currently working the second major draft of the screenplay. Finished the first draft a couple of weeks ago, and while I knew full well there was tons of work left to do, even now I look back at it and say, "What was I thinking, doing that?!?"
Bottom line: I wouldn't dream of submitting it anywhere at this point. No way. I want it to be at a point that I consider it a final draft, and that's a LONG way off. I just don't understand why anyone would put something into the system that they know full well is not ready. It reflects poorly on you AND it clogs the system, adding to a pipeline already bursting at the seams with junk. That's why it takes what feels like forever to get responses on submissions, folks, the fact that the recipients have to wade through the equivalent of a garbage dump looking for a diamond.
I'd also remind everyone--that includes me--that becoming a successful writer is DEFINITELY a marathon, not a sprint. It's gonna take TIME and there's no away around that. (There will always be the flukish exception of someone who lucks up and gets some early break, but believing you're going to be one of those is IMO the equivalent of planning your retirement around your lottery winnings.) Slow down. If you're so eager that you just can't wait, do what someone else suggested: START ANOTHER ONE. Read some of the many great books out there on the craft. There are plenty of things you can do other than sending something out that's not ready. That's not a smart way to go about getting feedback at all.
Who was that writer? I'd love to look that story up. 'Tis probably inspirational.
I hadn't heard the 44-year-old average thing, though that's certainly believable. I have heard that for novelists, by averages, it's the FOURTH novel written that gets published.
I'm 43 and on chapter three of my fourth novel. :-)
I must agree, Teresa. That post took a lot of audacity. Strange, I didn't see any offer to share any eventual profits from the ventue, unlikely though they may be. Instead, they reap the rewards, while the financial backers get swell things like their names listed here and there. Plus that immeasurable satisfaction factor, of course. ;-)
Try navigating L.A. with a Southern drawl and significant hearing loss. Ordering food can be a REAL problem, LOL. I spent several days at a conference at the J.W. Marriott (Century City?) a few years ago. Didn't rent a car, walked to the nearby restaurants and had a terrible time finding someone I could understand who could in turn understand me. Wound up eating a lot of room service cheeseburgers.
Thanks, Bill. For the sake of authenticity, a Tec-9 would be a poor choice. No policeman would carry one. Not trying to be anal or banal; guns are just something that are SO often mishandled in writing that I feel obliged to speak up. :-)
Guns are probably the most common authenticity errors in existence in film or novels. Revolvers that shoot a dozen times. People running down to the gun shop and picking up a fully automatic weapon. Officials carrying ridiculous guns that would never be approved. I've often wondered why it's that way, how errors make it all the way all the many hands that surely have to sign off on them in order for something to make it into bookstores or into theaters or whatever, when accurate information is SO easy to come by.
ERRATA...all the way THROUGH all the many hands...
If you've workshopped it, it's almost certainly not the kind of first draft under discussion here. Just a hunch. ;-)
Following this discussion with interest myself. As for the caps, I've never seen a script in which all nouns and verbs were capped; that doesn't even make common sense to me. I have seen plenty of them, however, in which key elements that needed to be the focus of a scene's action were capped. For example, in thumbing through the ARMAGEDDON script, there are all kinds of things capped in the action. Not excessively, mind you, but it's obvious that the writer did it whenever he wanted to draw attention to a certain element. Is this wrong? Is this perhaps something that should only appear in production scripts or something? I sure don't want to wind up submitting something with formatting problems.
Okay, thanks Terri. So I need to lose a lot of caps in the action body text, eh?
I'm pretty sure I undestand what you mean on the comment about not needing a new slug line for minor location changes.
So (beat) is now COMPLETELY out? I don't have many, maybe five in 120 pages, but if they're now a no-no altogether, I'll just have to strike those wee boogers.
Each instance in which I've used (beat) is as follows: C1 asks a question or makes a statement to which a response is expected from C2. When no response is forthcoming from C2, C1 continues. Example:
C1 Do you plan to answer the question or not? (beat) Fine, we'll do it the hard way.
If (beat) is never used, how do you handle this issue? An action line stating that C2 doesn't answer can of course be inserted, but that gets unwieldy too.
A Tec-9, which is a cheapish and very showy semi-automatic 9mm handgun...
A Glock (I think it's a Model 18, though I could be mistaken) semi-automatic handgun, carried by many, many LEOs...
Just for future reference. :-)
Never mind. Guess you can't post pictures here?
Terri, yes, some LEO carry the .40 S&W caliber (which was developed a few years back with LEO in mind), though I suspect 9mm is still the most popular caliber by far.
And yes, all the info any writer could ever need about guns is readily available on the Internet, from the FBI's standard issue weapon, to the ballistic specifications for a .22 short Remington rimfire cartridge.
Thanks, Ellum. Yeah, I've used ellipses in a couple of telephone conversations. Em-dashes to signify interrupted speech. Taking out the beats is no big deal. I agree with Bill that a minor formatting issue like this is unlikely to kill the chances of a great script; nor is perfect formatting going to help a sorry script. My position on formatting, though, both in screenwriting and novels, is that it's already tough enough to get a foot in the door, so I never want to start out with ANY strikes against me if I can help it, no matter how slight. Little things add up.
Count me interested.
In a script about the exploits of the Marine Corps in the Korean War, a certain private is introduced early on as a
pumped up gung ho marine right off the recruitment poster.
Much later on, this marine is being transported in a truck full of marines along a dangerous stretch of road at night. The hills overlooking this road are teeming with thousands of Red Chinese soldiers.
As they ride, this our marine has his head buried in a book. Another marine yells across the truck:
Hey Joe, whaddaya reading?
Our marine looks up and replies:
The Book of Psalms.
The other marine looks at him incredulously and says:
You're supposed to be Mr. Gung Ho marine.
Our marine replies:
Do you know what's down that road?
The other marine says: No.
"Exactly," our marine says.
Johnny, I have no idea if it's ready or not. You're in a far better position to know. But I applaud you for wanting to be sure your work is ready before putting it out there.
If I had it to do over, I think I'd choose "Bingo" instead of "Exactly."
Congratulations, Colin! I'm sure it's a huge thrill!
Ellum's right: That's an inspirational article, very much worth reading.
Same here: looking forward to a number of them.
Bill, you should be able to cut and paste from the PDF file. I can. Send it over if you like. email@example.com .
You can bold and italicize and underline here, can't you?
Hmmm. Try firstname.lastname@example.org Bill.
Some excellent advice there, Shell. I'll only add that you desperately need to have OBJECTIVE readers in that mix. And unless they happen to be seasoned writers and/or editors themselves, none of these people count:
Wife Husband Son Daughter Mother Lover Friend Employee
Unless they're seasoned writers and/or editors who would properly understand the necessity of brutal critique, these people are NOT objective readers. I bet you I've said this to a hundred different writers, and the vast majority of them will reply with something like, "Oh, my wife IS objective." NO, SHE'S NOT. These people are inevitably biased before they read the first word. The chance of them being brutally honest, which is what you desperately need, is nil.
Get in a group, online or brick-and-mortar. Find writers who CAN be objective and who know what to look for.
Bill, add one more T on the end of my domain and you'll be set. ;-)
E-mailed her shortly after you posted the addy. No response as of yet.
Rule of thumb on ellipses and dialog: Ellipses signify speech that trails off instead of coming to a hard stop. Em-dashes signify interrupted speech.
Wayne, if you continue the same pattern throughout your script that you have in the early pages, your easiest way to get started would probably be through a global search-and-destroy mission that gets rid of all the ellipses. Then you can go back through it and find the few places where they may be appropriately used.
Yes, friends and family can serve a useful reading purpose. Just remember to use them in addition to objective readers.
Wow, Paul. Your wife is a great asset to have around! In many ways, I'm sure, but certainly in this one. She's honest because she's in the business and understands that anything else is worthless to you.
Addressing the broader group, if I may wax anecdotal on this issue for a moment, I went for probably five YEARS without ever having any worthwhile feedback on my writing. All I ever got was, "Wow, this is so great!" and other blather. And I spent a lot of time in online writers' groups!
I finally stumbled into a crit group of serious, talented writers, proudly submitted a chapter, and those folks brought tears to my eyes. I wiped them away and decided to become a real writer.
The Moral: Don't assume just because you're getting feedback from other writers, that it's worth having. Many writer communities that are open to everybody are nothing more than Mutual Back Patting Clubs. You tell me how great I am today. I'll return the favor to you tomorrow. Then we can all sit around and moan together about how unfair that mean old system is that doesn't appreciate our genius.
You bet, Paul. That's exactly the kind of group to be in; they're hard to find, but that's the right kind for sure!
Kim, yes, I should clarify that friends and family CAN be good for some things: spotting typos, grammar errors, etc. Those are factual issues for the most part, and lots of reasonably intelligent people are able to provide that kind of feedback. Unfortunately, that's the easy kind of feedback. Those are what I'll refer to here as STYLE issues; they're easily found and easily remedied.
The tough feedback to come by, and the most sorely needed, is in content. With the exception of someone like Paul, whose wife is herself a pro who understands the necessity of brutal honesty, this is where our families and friends usually aren't of much help. They don't know what to look for in the first place, couldn't read it objectively even if they did, and rarer still is the friend or family member who can be truly candid. They love us! They mean well! But they don't want to hurt us and they'll avoid doing it, even subsconsciously. They're just not gonna say, "Kim, this is dreadful. Your characters are about as exciting as watching paint dry, and your plot makes them look vibrant." Sometimes, that's what we need to hear. Some of us, me included, need to be whacked over the head every now and again.
And, as you've obviously discovered, some writing groups are so demanding that they're not feasible for everyone. Gosh knows I've seen some of those, too. I joined a serious novel crit group a while back, one which you had to apply to in order to join, have your writing pass muster, show that you can critique, etc. etc. Within a week of joining, however, it became very apparent that I was not going to be able to be a part of this group. They had a rigid format that they required for critiques, one that could easily consume an hour or two per CHAPTER of crit, even ultra-brief chapters. YEESH! I work 50-60 hours per week. I write MANY hours per week. I'm in a specialized technology course working toward a certification I really want. And I want to spend some good time with my dear bride. Bottom line: That group won't work for my life. I bailed.
What to do when that happens to you? Find another. There ARE other writers out there who are compatible with you and your needs. They're hard to find. It may take quite a while for it all to come together, but keep looking for that fit, because it WILL be worth it when it does come together.
I hung out for a long time on a particular open writers board. The open board itself is a nice social tool as far as interacting with others in the writing community, and you can pick up a few helpful tidbits here and there, but from a serious writing perspective, it's all but worthless. Except for the fact that it provided a means to meet a few compatible, serious, talented writers. I began networking behind the scenes with them. Some of them knew others who were compatible. Before long, we are able to build a small (20-30 people) core group of serious, talented, compatible novelists. It's now an invaluable tool to me. You might want to approach it from that angle; make a friendship here and there, swap some work behind the scenes, and keep an eye out for other like-minded writers. It'll happen.
In the meantime, consider enlisting professional help if that's something you can afford. I hired an editor to do a detailed critique of my recent novel and it was money well spent. She identified problems I would've never found. She made suggestions I wouldn't have thought of, etc.
My FD allows assigning different voices to different characters right now, Wayne.
What version do you have?
No doubt! But if they include suggestions on how to de-suckify it, I'm happy. :-)
Telephone conversation, during which you want to show one side some of the time, the other end at times. Is there a standard formatting protocol for this issue? Inserting a new slug line each time there's a switch seems unwieldy.
How do you handle it?
Thanks much, I figured there was a standard way to handle it, one I just didn't know about. Makes sense.
Sorry, David, but unpublished/unproduced writers disparaging ultra-successful published/produced writers is a pet peeve of mine. I see wannabe novelists do stuff like this all the time to Grisham or King or name-the-author.
There are inconsistencies in everything. Few works are perfect. But I believe you should only disparage a successful writer once YOU can trump what they've done. Can you do that?
And BTW, there's a difference between discussing a piece of work and labeling something as "lazy deception." Even so, I'd say that time spent writing would be better spent than an endless discussion in tedium that accomplishes nothing.
The point on melodrama is this: With the exception of a few examples for which it is the norm, MELODRAMA is almost universally something which should be AVOIDED in writing. Soap operas, okay. A few TV movies, okay. But even in THOSE genres, a writer could be chastised for being melodramatic, meaning it is over the top WITHIN THAT PARTICULAR WORK.
When you see someone pointing out melodrama in your work, you can safely assume it's NOT a positive comment!
Wayne, my friend, I wouldn't personally call any of those movies melodramatic, but I really think you're not grasping the point here. You're trying to rely on a dictionary definition of a word and then apply it to art across a variety of contexts.
Bottom line: Bill saw your dialog example as melodramatic. I agree. It abandoned any attempt at subtlety and tried to make a point via in-your-face, elaborate, violin-playing emotion that just wasn't warranted in context of the scene. It was over the top vs. what was needed to maintain the status quo of the scene. And again, virtually 100% of the time, in any format of writing, when someone refers to some element of your writing as melodramatic, THAT'S NOT A GOOD THING.
Over and out.
Thank you, Paul, for summing it up succintly. Two discussions indeed.
Bill, the quality of the work is exactly what I'm talking about. And let me offer a wee bit of clarification on my meaning.
When I say disparage, that's something above and beyond criticism or discussion. If the original post in this thread had brought up the same issue, with a "Hey, do you think this could've been better if..." angle, that wouldn't have been disparaging. It would've been discussion. No problem. It's the "lazy deception" snippet that bugged me. I don't think David should say something like that unless he can write a better script than SIXTH SENSE.
I've seen this same thing so many times over on the publishing side of writing. Writers will talk about some popular writer, calling their work "garbage" or "a joke" or pick-your-slam, and then they post their own work and it looks like a junior high student wrote it. (Not saying David's work looks that way; just making a point.)
As for your kind words re: my writing, they're almost certainly TOO kind, Bill. My screenwriting is in its infancy, but I'm having a blast with it and I work hard to get better at it each day.
When I look around for scripts to read, I try to keep an eye out for the earliest drafts possible, especially ones written by non-household-name writers. By my thinking, there's where I can see work that initially interested someone enough to move it into the serious pipeline.
I watched AMERICAN BEAUTY last night. First time I'd seen it all the way through; I'd started watching it once before, got bored, turned it off. After hearing so many people talk about how great it is, I decided to watch the whole thing. UGH. A well-done movie, perhaps, but I hate depressing stories and this was the ultimate.
I started reading the script one time, and remember that the version I was reading starts in a courtroom.
No, I didn't make it to the end of the script. I was darkened almost to the point of wailing after two hours of watching it. I can only imagine what the reading experience would be like, LOL.
In my experience, the value of any message board- or chat-based writers' site that's open to the public, is primarily limited to social interaction. There's simply too wide a variety of people with regard to talent, drive, ambition, and goals, to be of significant value from a craft or marketing perspective IMO.
Sites that offer a service are a different beast altogether. Some services provide good value. Many do not. And none are going to have good success percentages, because probably 90% of the people who call themselves writers have no shot at success anyway.
So at the bottom line, as is usually the case, it depends on what you expect or hope to get out of a site.
There's a guy in my area named Beau Leggett. No, really. And he's a cut-up. Walks up to people, assumes his best redneck version of a James Bond persona, and says, "Leggett. Beau Leggett."
What does FILTERED designate?
SHOW DON'T TELL is bandied about just as much, if not more, in the publishing world as it is in screenwriting. And there's a great reason: The natural tendency of the vast majority of writers is to TELL instead of SHOW. Good storytelling is of course a balance between the two, but TELLING being way way overdone is the reason for the SHOW DON'T TELL drumbeat.
IMO, you must learn the rules/guidelines/whatever you want to call 'em, learn why they exist, and learn for them to be second nature, BEFORE you can break them EFFECTIVELY.
It's a guiding principle they're trying to get across, not a concrete law.
Absolutely. That's all I'm doing: discussing it. :-)
It's just a rule I've seen attacked many many times, and I think it needs to be viewed in context of how it got to be such a relentlessly hammered point.
I guess I agree and disagree with that. I'll certainly concede that there's an entire industry built around sucking money away from untalented people under the pretense that they're going to teach them how to be successful writers.
But I also think even highly talented writers must work incessantly to hone their craft, and I think an essential part of that is understanding why certain rules and guidelines exist, learning when to adhere to them, when to break them, how to break them effectively. And I think that process works better when those things are learned and absorbed and ingrained in that order. You obviously feel differently about it, which is fine.
Shell, what on Earth did I say that gave any impression whatsoever of talking down to anyone? I honestly cannot imagine. I wasn't talking to any one person in particular, rather just throwing in my .02 on the topic. In any event, if you read something I said as talking down, you most certainly read it differently than it was offered.
Just got back from COLD CREEK MANOR. 1.5 stars. Same rating from my wife. Predictable. Zero twists of any kind. A very linear WYSIWYG plot.
No truce necessary, Shell. I was never in battle mode. :-)
No truce necessary, Shell. I was never in battle mode. :-)
You cannot transfer over a program and expect it to run. It won't. A Windows installation routine puts files all over the place, makes entries into the registry file, etc. etc.
You can copy your FD screenplay files over (.fdr files) but to run the application itself, you need to uninstall it on the old laptop, then re-download the installation file from the vendor and do a fresh install on the new machine.
FD allows installs on two separate machines, BTW, so if the current laptop is the only one you've installed it on, you can install on the new one without a problem. But if you'll uninstall on the old machine, it will re-up your available installs to two, in case you want to run it on both your new laptop and perhaps a desktop machine somewhere.
As for moving over your screenplay files, if you don't have an easy way to network the two machines, you can get a little USB thing called a JumpDrive and move them over that way. JumpDrive is just one particular brand, BTW. ThumbDrive is another. It's a tiny little keychain gizmo that plugs into a USB port, and VOILA!, it shows up as a hard drive. Super super handy. I carry a 128 MB version with me almost everywhere I go.
I just saw that West had already mentioned the USB gizmo. Yup, same thing I'm talking about. You can buy 'em at Wal-Mart now.
From my reading of the original post, my guess is he has zipped up his Final Draft folder and thinks he can just move that over to the new machine, unzip it, and run it. That's what I'm saying won't work. You could do that in the DOS days and even early versions of Windows, but not now.
All I was talking about moving over were actual screenplay files. A 32MB USB drive is only about $20 now and will probably hold dozens of typical .fdr files. For that matter, even the full-blown Final Draft 6 installation file--the only file needed in order to install it--is just 11.3 MB. And it's a painless solution.
I THINK, and I could be mistaken on this, he can just go to Writers Store, download the FD demo file, run the install, and then unlock it with his registration key.
Gil, I've never used MM but I just downloaded the MM demo and am tinkering with it. Looks to me like it works almost exactly like FD, in that you can do almost everything via the ENTER and TAB keys. Its interface is a lot cruder, less polished looking than FD, if that means anything to you.
My only gripe with FD is the way it often skews/distorts several lines of text on the screen. Frustrating. Beyond that, it's been trouble-free for me.
I did the demo of Dramatica a while back and positively hated it. I don't like software that tries to tell me how and what to write, and that's how that software struck me. That's just me.
I use and LOVE Power Structure for both novels and screenplays. It's a fabulous organizational tool.
Wayne, you talked for hundreds of words and said the same thing I'd already said, which was that he would need to reinstall the software on the new machine--via the installation file--and move his screenplay files over. In fact, he can move them over several at a time via floppy and won't need anything additional, although the USB drive is still a great gizmo to have on hand.
FD has the read-aloud feature, as well.
Sorry, Westley. :-( I just got home from a game myself, where my team managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Winning by 11 with under 7:00 left in the game, and LOST.
I also understand very well the unique pain of losing in overtime. Year before last, my team played and lost the longest 1-A football game in NCAA history, SEVEN overtimes. That's the closest I've come to crying over a loss in a long, long time.
Strange year in football; gonna be a LOT of coaches looking for new jobs at the end of this year, methinks.
Cheer up. The pain will pass.
Yes, Richard, I know MM has the read-aloud feature. Someone above said that the coolest feature about MM was its read-aloud feature. I merely pointed out that FD has it, too.
Hehe. Anyone else listen to themes while you write?
Oh, I don't use the read-aloud feature either. I probably would if there was an affordable way to have it read in semi-realistic voices, but that's not the case. There are good sounding solutions out there, like Natural Voices from AT&T but they're too pricey for my tastes considering what a limited role they'd have for me.
Glad I wasn't the only one, Ellum!
If what the lady said made sense to you, and if you agree that her suggestions will make it a stronger piece, then go for it. You always want your work to be the best it can be, right?
No surprise, but interesting to see it in black and white. Thanks for posting...
Not saying it applies to what you're talking about here, but registering something for copyright is exactly that: a registration. Copyright is automatically established the moment something is tangibly created. Registration is a means of proving copyright as of a certain date, etc., but you do not have to register a work through the copyright office in order to own the copyright on it.
Wondering that too, Shak. From looking at the details available on Truby's site, it looks like just development software to me, not scriptwriting software. Who knows.
Excellent point, Ellum. I was reading a screenwriting Q&A column a few days ago and someone wrote in with a comment along the lines of, "I'm afraid they won't take me seriously because I'm a teenager." To which the host said something like, "And how are they supposed to know this?" Bingo. Let the work speak for itself.
I can't make it, but if I were anywhere close, I'd be there in a heartbeat. $59 is reasonable enough to test the waters, and if it's worthwhile at all, then it's a steal.
I didn't get that e-mail, but I'd like to. Where might one subscribe? :-)
Sorry your script didn't advance. Rejection--and non-acceptance is surely a form of rejection--is tough. Gonna be tough to ever advance in the writing world if you react this personally to it, though. Shrug it off. Move on to something else.
If you write the best screenplay ever written, you could languish forever in obscurity, never to be recognized.
Bull. Crap. Only if the writer hides that script somewhere. If he puts it out there, it will not only be recognized, it will be fought over. Might not happen on the first try or the twentieth, but it will happen. Genuine cream will rise to the top.
I have no idea what your script is like, but let me be blunt: 99% of the time, when I hear someone making the above argument, and subsequently read their work, it's perfectly evident why that work was rejected. It's usually garbage. Everyone out there thinks they've written the most fabulous ever created--almost never is that true.
And BTW, get your work read by someone who's both knowledgeable and OBJECTIVE. Anything else is meaningless if you want to REALLY know what you have. Friends and family are good for stroking the ego. Occasionally someone will be fortunate enough to have a friend or relative who's a pro and understands the necessity of candor, but that's rare.
About 75% of the time, if the "knowledgeable critics" love a movie, I wind up hating it. It has become patently obvious to me over the years that they and I have vastly different ideas about what good film is.
Nah. Critical acclaim is not important to me. I do want to be successful, and I plan to be, but when I write, my goal is to entertain people, to transport them to a world outside their own, as opposed to impressing the "experts."
As Stephen King once said concerning the fact that critics don't care for his writing, "I'm perfectly happy to be the McDonald's of words."
Wayne, we're obviously talking apples and oranges, my friend. Yes, it's certainly necessary to impress the gatekeepers and those who finance and make a movie. That's common sense. It is not, however, necessary to impress film critics and such, which is what I'm talking about.
Jeremy gets the HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD award! Bravo!
Wayne, I do believe you've set a world record for Most Metaphors Used In A Single Thread In The History Of The Internet!
Well, I guess I'm the odd man out here, but if I wasn't working--I'm pretty sure that's what you've said here several times--and got offered $5000 for something I wrote in "a few hours," the buyer would be the proud new owner quicker than he could sign the check. Not sure what "a few hours" is, but even if it's ten hours, $500/hour ain't bad. That's just the businessman in me, I guess.
A SYNOPSIS, according to every pro I've ever heard or read, in any kind of writing--and I've studied stuff like this on how to interact with professionals when marketing your work, laboriously, for years--includes everything about the story, including the ending. I've seen articles and interviews in which agents all but laugh at people who write a "synopsis" but hold back the ending as if that's going to somehow lure these professionals into reading something. If they ask for a synopsis, they want to know the story: beginning, middle, END.
A PITCH or a blurb or a teaser or a logline, is something else altogether. THIS is the style you see on book jackets, NOT a synopsis. THIS is what you would include in a query letter, for example.
A synopsis is a tool asked for by a professional and they assume they're asking it OF a professional who's done their homework.
ADDENDUM TO MY PREVIOUS COMMENTS...
Since my first day on this board, I've clearly disclosed that I'm new to screenwriting in particular. I'm not new to writing, however, and I'm far from new to the ins and outs of marketing. I've studied it intensely literally for years. For that reason, I stated my thoughts above on synopses very clearly and without much qualification. I have no doubt that if you talk to a seasoned pro, you'll be told quickly that a synopsis discloses the entire story, you'll be advised that to think you're going to bait a pro into reading something by clever nonsense, is silliness to the Nth. (Again, a pitch or blurb or teaser is something else altogether.)
There are a number of people here who are more seasoned on screenwriting in particular than I, people who offer quality help to others on a regular basis on all sorts of screenwriting issues.
There are also people here who are obviously new to marketing writing of any kind, who wade right in, stating opinions as if they've been around this stuff for fifty years.
To those seeking help here, be careful. There's good advice being doled out here, and there's advice that will make you look like a rank amateur if you follow it. Don't blindly adhere to what you read here. Research it for yourself. Pay a visit or two or a thousand to Google. Find what the real pros, the experts with bona fide credentials, have to say on these issues when you have questions. The Internet is chocked FULL of advice from true pros given freely. Avail yourself of it.
Use the synopsis as a tool to tell the editor exactly what the book is about and how it progresses
logically from Point A (Chapter 1) to Point B (The End). Never, never, NEVER leave questions
unanswered. Don't tease the editor and leave him/her guessing as to Who Dunnit, or how the
internal/external conflict, plot, subplot(s), etc. are resolved. You can keep your readers in
suspense, but keeping an editor in suspense is a sure way for him/her to make good use of your SASE
(self-addressed stamped envelope) to send your manuscript whizzing back to you, rejected.
ERRATA: "Excerts" should be "excerpts." SHEESHARAMA.
Superbly put, Gil.
Not every situation calls for a synopsis. Perhaps a blurb or teaser is what's needed in a particular situation. But when a synopsis is specified, be it in contest rules or in some entity's submission instructions, then it should absolutely include beginning, middle, and end. That's WHAT a synopsis IS, a road map of sorts that shows that a writer can construct, uh...a beginning, middle, and end.
Wayne, I hate to be so blunt, but you're just flat wrong on it being "varied" in screenwriting. It's not. A synopsis is a synopsis in either format of writing, novel or screenplay. As said above, a synopsis is NOT always the proper thing to use, but when it's called for, most certainly when it's requested, it includes the ending. I hope all those who are reading this thread will understand that there are many things you can do that instantly brand you as an amateur and get your submission returned or trashed. Many of these are often discussed, such as formatting blunders and such. This one may not be discussed as much, but it's just as much of a giveaway that you're clueless. It's hard enough for a talented, serious writer to break into the business as it is. It makes no sense to create obstacles to your own success over something like this.
Kirsten, it's exactly what you said and you were exactly right. :-)
Four hours? How long is this script, Terri?
A brutal killer may be the genetically perfect fourth son of Adam and Eve.
You're wrong, Wayne. Why not just back up and say, "Hey, I was wrong. I'm glad I found out the right way to do it now." I've punted like this countless times in debates on writing and a bazillion other issues. There's no shame in it and it's not painful.
I think it's (V.O.) or (filtered) but I'm not positive on that. Wait until someone who knows for sure weighs in before you commit.
Greg, IMHO, you need the Adam-Eve tieback if it's in the script, for that's where the strongest intrigue element lies. Again, IMHO, based on what you've said thus far.
I DO like your latest. I love ultra-brevity. My reservation on that exact version, though, is that there have already been some movies in which a bad guy holds some key to saving a kid. Sorry, can't remember the names, but I know they're out there.
Terri, that's your right to agree or disagree with what I said to Wayne, but I wasn't rude and there was nothing low about it. I was simply candid and was the one to actually say what I suspect many others are thinking.
Writers need candor. There's too little of it. There's plenty of ooshy-gooshy "let's all hold hands and tell each other how great we are" conversation in writerly circles. Occasionally the unadorned truth needs to be spoken. If Wayne can't handle my gentle comments, he's gonna have a way tough time succeeding as a writer.
Wayne, have a great day.
HUGE CONGRATS, SHELL!
I'd say your friend's chances of becoming a successful writer are about the same as his chance of winning the lottery. A writer who can't accept absolute candor about his work is a doomed writer unless he's stellar and lucky.
The best group of crits I ever got brought tears to my eyes. Literally. I thanked them, and started considering what they had said. They were right, and I determined then and there that I WOULD become a good writer. A huge and indispensable element of such a quest is the constant search for brutal candor, which you should accept with strong gratitude.
I respectfully disagree with Terri on the need to read the whole thing, though. If something is so poorly written that it doesn't hold your interest, it's a waste of time to slog through it. No pro submittee is gonna keep reading something like that.
Ellum, anytime I ask someone to crit something of mine--a long piece like a novel or script--I make it perfectly clear that if the story's not strong enough to hold their interest, then they are by no means obligated to slog on through it, and that I'll be most appreciative if they'll just tell me it didn't hold their interest.
I seriously doubt that Jess blasted the guy. My hunch is that Jess put it as gently as possible, and the guy really didn't want a crit in the first place--he wanted praise heaped upon him.
It's asking a lot when you ask someone to crit a long-format piece. It's asking beyond the pale when they're expected to read something that's not even approaching professional levels and this is evident early on.
Shell, yes, there's a lot of REALLY bad stuff out there. As I've probably mentioned before, I've read comments by editors who say that 90% of all subs are not only not publishable, but not even readable.
There also seems to an assumption that if a reviewer stops reading early in the script, then they always fail to say why. Certainly not so.
I'm almost certain some opinions now being espoused on this issue are different than what was expressed by the same people on earlier threads, when it was rightfully pointed out that you sure won't get a full read from a prodco or agency if you can't manage to hold their attention in the first ten pages. (Not directing this at you, Ellum.)
And sorry, Ellum, but I certainly don't agree than anyone who manages to put words to paper or screen is automatically deserving of respect and acceptance as a writer. Kindness? Yes. We're all human beings and should treat each other with kindness. But if someone refuses to accept anything other than praise, they don't deserve respect as a writer.
Nor is there always something positive that can be said. The vast majority of people who call themselves writers cannot write and have no chance of success. This is hardcore, mathematical reality. Ask ANY person out there who receives submissions on a regular basis if this is true or false. People who cannot write should not be falsely encouraged. This causes them to go on wasting their time instead of using other gifts that they do have. It would be like me spending enormous amounts of time and energy each year to go try out for an NFL team, despite my having zero chance of success, and no one ever being honest enough to say it.
$125 is still a decent price, but do be aware that it can be bought online for $160ish.
Final Draft has a setting in the options to turn these on and off; I'm quite sure MM has something similar. Poke around in OPTIONS or PREFERENCES.
Worth mentioning that it's a great piece of software. I've played with Movie Magic and prefer FD. My only gripe with FD is the fact that it has a nasty habit of distorting a line or two of text every now and again. But, I can't imagine trying to write scripts without good screenwriting software that truly does make proper formatting automatic so you need worry only about writing.
An amateur magician plans a murder and finds more illusion--and reality--than he bargained for.
I don't really like that, but it seems to be the best my tired brain is willing to generate at the moment.
THE EXORCIST and THE OMEN are both around the top of my list. Also a couple of others I can't even remember the titles of. There was one back in the seventies that scared the crap out of me, a guy kept calling this babysitter(?) on the phone and saying "Have you checked the children?" At some point during the climax, the police were on the line and said, "The call's coming from inside the house." OOOF. Anyone remember the name of that one? May not scare me at all now, but as a teenager it got me.
My wife and I saw THE EXORCIST during our honeymoon. It terrified her, gave her nightmares for days, and she positively will not watch it now. In fact, I won't even play the DVD while she's in the house. I watched it by myself a couple of months ago. SUPERB movie.
I keep winding up back at the first one I suggested for you:
A brutal killer may be the genetically perfect fourth son of Adam and Eve.
I think that's a great logline for your story, and not just because I wrote it, but because in one ultra-concise package it delivers the most intriguing aspect of your story. A cop chasing a killer? Nope, not fresh in the least. Someone chasing a killer who holds the key to a child's salvation? Nope, been done, and fairly recently; will come across sounding like a copycat. The above suggestion nails the intriguing core.
Of course not. Feel free to use it, and best of luck with it.
I'll let the more experienced actually answer the question, but I highly recommend Trottier's SCREENWRITER'S BIBLE as a staple for your bookshelf.
Are you talking about coverage you get by hiring a reader yourself, or coverage you get via a submission to a prodco?
Unless it's specifically requested, I won't put it on mine at all.
Well, I think the clear message they'd receive if I plastered a WGA number on a submission is, "Hey, I know you people steal stuff! Don't even think about it!" I wouldn't want to deal with that mindset myself and would probably return it or trash it pronto.
And why on EARTH would you put "first draft" on something? I want my work to speak for itself, instead of coloring their perception of it before they read the first word.
I've definitely read advice from successful screenwriters who say put nothing concerning a draft on a spec sub, and not to mention it in a query. Nor is there reason to say this is your first screenplay. Both are just things that cry out, "There's gonna be something wrong here!"
If I run across the columns again, I'll post 'em here.
Someone who has a track record of success with material similar to mine. Someone who demonstrates an understanding of the industry. Someone who seems genuinely impressed by my work. Someone who could offer genuine suggestions for improving my work. And of course, someone who doesn't ask ME for money. ;-)
Sounds like a message that needs to be posted far and wide, Joe.
Submit free material? I'm afraid I don't get it.
Oh please, when you start talking about all the great writers who couldn't accept criticism, you're dealing with exceptions. There are ALWAYS exceptions in ANY endeavor in ANY field, but you can't bet on those. A writer who can't take criticism has as much chance at success as I have at winning the lottery. It may happen, but it wouldn't be wise to plan my retirement around it.
I think--though I'm not certain--that the laws and rules concerning what agents can and cannot do are pretty much specific to California. Everywhere else, including the publishing world of NYC, there may be generally accepted ethical rules that most reputable agents adhere to, such as those espoused by the AAR, but agents are not prohibited by law from taking part in these various things.
Yes, Alyssa, we all must figure out which criticism is on target and which is not. I recently subbed my first screenplay to two different places that offer reviews in exchange for cash. One person sent back 11 pages of detailed feedback. Said some good things about my work. Said some not-so-good things. Offered plenty of concrete suggestions on how I could improve the piece. Valuable feedback. The other, which was more expensive, sent me 2 pages of feedback that could not have been more different. Shallow, ultra-negative, read like the guy was cranking out the two-page minimum as quickly as possible.
Not all advice is good advice. We must figure out which is which. A good way to do this is to look for PATTERNS. If multiple people lock in on the same problem, then you almost certainly do have a problem there. Likewise, if multiple people point out a strength, it's probably a real strength.
In any event, we MUST deal with it in a professional manner, not like a mother hen guarding a baby chick. If not, we're doomed.
No word here.
Of course, I didn't enter, so that could be it.
Seriously, good luck to those who did.
Absolutely! In addition to it making sense from a marketing perspective, you also want to have a paper trail in case there are ever legal issues.
There is a school of thought that frames ALL writing, all story, in mythic terms.
I'm still looking for explanation of the phrase "submit free material." :-)
Thomas, I have no idea why you're pulling such an attitude with me, but it's absolutely uncalled for. I asked for the meaning of a phrase you used, a phrase that is NOT common parlance within the industry. That's all. I didn't ask sarcastically. I had no part whatsoever in the tussle going on with you and other people. I don't give one rip what kind of belt you have, and fail to see how it's even remotely relevant to the discussion at hand. Stow the attitude.
Thomas, having 15 scripts out means you've written 15 scripts of some sort. Although it's admirable to have completed that many scripts, it says zero about their quality or chance of success or you as a screenwriter. And while the fact that you've written successful music is something to be congratulated, it in no way whatsoever means that you can write good scripts. Or novels. Or shorts. Or poems or greeting cards. Maybe you can. Maybe you cannot.
As for the martial arts thing proving something, I too have worked my way to positions of success in various and sundry endeavors. These things have both strengthened and taken a toll on me as a man, but again, they in no way prove that I can write or that I will be a successful writer, although they may aid me in understanding the realities of a tough ordeal. I suspect this is the case with several people here. This is about writing, not martial arts, not music. You may be and probably are a very talented individual, but the egotistical rants do not become you. I don't think they become anyone, personally.
Gil, for the sake of nitpickers everywhere: PRINTOUT should be one word. :-)
Not trying to be anal; I make goofs like this and always hope someone points them out before I sub.
Who's Ann Smith? That's key.
At someone else's rec, I used Barb Doyon's $50 service and it was a superb value. Ten single-spaced pages of meticulous on-the-money feedback, and she had provided me with detailed background on her and her service beforehand.
Check your e-mail, Rich.
Yup, it was you who recommended Barb to me, Eric. Thanks much. Great value. Not "coverage" in the traditional PASS/CONSIDER/RECOMMEND vein, but a great review and she's obviously experienced.
Christina, I forwarded her intro package to you.
Did you have to pay any money to sign with him?
Agree wholeheartedly with Deb. No antagonist = no conflict = no story. Kinda like making ice cream but refusing to do any of the steps involving COLD. You can make it if you like, but what you'll wind up with ain't ice cream, it's warm mush. And it's a virtual certainty that you won't be able to sell it as ice cream. :-)
David, pretend you're a moviegoer, not a writer. You sit through two hours of building to a climax. Would you be satisfied by the ending? I think that's the question. I've seen great movies, read great books, that I loved right up to the end, then felt cheated or disappointed. Guess which element of those movies I remember?
Maybe the earlier film was optioned at very low or no money.
Harris is working on a screenplay now. Dunno what it is.
Doubtful I'll learn anything more specific, but if I do, and it's okay to pass on the info, I shall.
The "head shot" at the end of HANNIBAL, BTW, is the only scene in any movie to ever make me literally sick.
I e-mailed him asking for more details, wasn't particularly impressed with the reply, and that was it.
Your postscript is WAY over the top, humor intended or not.
The problem is that I didn't recognize the line as being from UNFORGIVEN. I saw that movie a decade ago and don't remember any line from it. Now maybe I'm the only person here who didn't recognize it, who knows.
So even though I still knew it was obviously meant to be humorous, since I didn't get the movie reference, it hit me as over the top in our current environment--an environment in which disgruntled employees go nuts and shoot up their offices, kill their co-workers, etc.
Well, for the sake of clarity: I don't think any media cause are responsible for things like that. I think some may contribute, but at the end of the day, it's people killing people.
Good luck with your script...
I tinkered with the demo and hated it. It struck me as a program trying to tell me how to write. As Richard said, some love it and some don't. I was looking for an organizational tool, not a coach. Wound up with Power Structure and positively love it. Have used it for about three years on both novels and screenplays.
The thing about PS I love is that there is a logical and obvious place to put absolutely any element of a story that comes to mind. You can use as many or as few of the elements as you like. There are no "requirements" that you have to complete, steps that must be taken in a certain order, etc. It's just a fabulous organizational tool.
For example, if a great eccentric character comes to mind but you don't know where they'll fit, you can enter that character in seconds. A plot point? Same. Logline? Pitch? Premise? Any element that pops into your mind can be instantly stored and easily found later.
Oh, and you can re-label any of the terminology to match the jargon you use personally.
There's a sale right now on PS for users of Final Draft or MM. $129. Good deal.
Probably a good thing I DON'T live near The Writer's Store, Gil!
OH YEAH, Gil. Been there and done that. Did it with a novel that wound up taking three or four years in the first draft phase. No more. I PLOW through, then go back and rewrite. This isn't to say you can't occasionally go back and change a name or fix a major boo-boo that popped into your head, but for the most part you just keep repeating to yourself, FORWARD FORWARD FORWARD.
No magic there, but that's what works for me, my friend.
Schizophrenic patient provides therapy for alcoholic psychologist.
An alcoholic psychologist finds his own past under examination after an encounter with a schizophrenic client.
As someone already said, psychiatrists are medical doctors who go on to specialize in psychiatry. Psychologists are not medical doctors, and do pretty much the same thing without prescribing drugs. Psychologists are generally PhD level, and come in two flavors, clinical and counseling.
Oh BTW, a counseling psychologist typically refers to his customers as clients, not patients.
You are kind, Christina. :-)
I've helped novelist friends with queries for a long time. There's a tendency among novelists to write long, eye-glazing queries. I believe in the ultra-brief, distill-it-down-to-the-core-intrigue approach. When I started looking into screenwriting, I felt instantly at home!
Dennis, I'm always pleased just to encounter a fellow novelist who "gets it" when it comes to condensing queries. :-)
You can often read a hundred agent queries by novelists and ninety-nine of them will sound alike. There's a tremendous cookie-cutter mentality out there that I've always found puzzling.
I am seeking representation for my novel....
Well DOH! Why ELSE would you be querying an agent, LOL. Because you like to swap emails and thought they might be interested?
It feels good to me to refine, evolve, learn. And I actually enjoy the marketing process in a way. It's filled with possibility.
Need more info, Rock, specifically the info that makes this different from the other eight million fell-in-love-with-a-best-friend's-girlfriend stories.
More info, please.
I'd suggest learning how to spell and punctuate before you put your work in front of anyone, but that's just me.
I'm not being sarcastic, BTW. And please don't tell me that it doesn't matter because this is just a message board. I've never once seen a writer who posted sloppy, error-filled message board posts, whose writing looked any different.
my writing does.
And your posts don't look like the original message in this thread, Gil.
I don't give a flying crap if your post looks like juvie chat-room dribble
You certainly have the right to your opinion. I have the right to mine.
An occasional typo is one thing. Everybody has those. Five or six misspelled words in a two-paragraph post from someone who aspires to be paid for writing is another matter altogether, and is likely a signal that the writer needs to work on fundamentals.
I contend that, with very rare exception, the same people who post with atrocious spelling and grammar are the same people who submit work into the pipeline with atrocious spelling and grammar. Maybe you don't give a flying crap about that, but I do.
Ellum, I assume you're talking to me, though I didn't introduce the flying-crap jargon to the conversation. As for acceptance, tolerance, kindness, and encouragement, "so-called writers" get plenty of back-patting from others, when a healthy dose of candor would serve them far better 99% of the time. I personally give PLENTY of encouragement when it's warranted, but when someone can't write two paragraphs in reasonably well-presented English, they're likely to have severe problems competing in the real world and someone needs to remind them to address the fundamentals.
Do you think the real world of writing, the business end that controls the commercial fate of writers, is more concerned with writers feeling good about themselves, or producing a professional level of work? I guarantee it's the latter. Read a few columns written by the pros on the business end, the people who read the thousands of script that pour in. See how they handle typo-filled submissions.
I think most would agree that it's okay to include the wins alongside a logline in certain pitching situations, but they certainly shouldn't be a part of the logline proper.
I work 54 hours per week (6 x 9) at my day job. I write regularly for several national magazines. I'm near the end of a year-long specialized tech training curriculum. Here lately, my fiction writing has slacked off just a bit, but most of the time I manage to write a few pages per day, sometimes on a screenplay, sometimes on a novel. It's SO SO SO important to get into a disciplined habit of writing daily. You may need to take an occasional break, but sure it's occasional and brief, and then get back to the pattern. The pattern is the key to productivity as a writer; this has proven true with me and every writer I know who's gotten into such a pattern.
ERRATA: but sure = but be sure
I'm kinda like that too, Eric. In years past, I thrived on 2-4 hours of sleep per night, but now I need more. I'll push hard for three or four days, then the body and mind will revolt for a day or two and demand sleep.
Another thing I'll do when I'm really inspired to finish a project, is take the notebook computer to bed with me. I'll write until I fall asleep, sleep for an hour or so, wake up, write, fall asleep, and repeat the whole sequence until the night is gone.
Oh well, need to go make some big progress on an article whose deadline is fast approaching. Happy writing to all...
Yeah, there are a bazillion registrars cheaper than NetSol now.
I make time for my dear bride, though she works just as hard as I. She too works 6 x 9 this time of year in our business, and runs an animal rescue organization.
Steve is absolutely right, BTW. You should never query and direct someone to a link. I've read comments many times about how this rubs agents/editors/etc. the wrong way to put the onus of seeing your work or pitch or whatever, on them, instead of you providing it. After one asks, that's a different matter, of course. I'll also add that I've never encountered any pro quite so open to any and all ways of reading a piece of work.
Agree with Eric. If they ask for it, fine. If not, don't put it on there.
If they won't provide full names, I wouldn't touch them with the proverbial 39.5' pole. That raises a red flag about the size of Montana.
In response to some e-querying, I've gotten several requests for the script; most of them attach their release, but two or three of them just said to attach a literary release with the submission. Anyone have a boilerplate release handy that's fair for both sides?
Thanks much, Steve.
I tailored one of the DoneDeal ones to the situation and it worked nicely. Scripts in the mail. Thanks again...
The vast majority of the time, when critics and the Hollywood power establishment love a movie, I hate it. There are of course a few exceptions, but they're rare. I'll wait for this one on DVD.
Sounds perfectly logical, Paula. After all, I seriously doubt these contests could come up with enough producers and executives, or even high-level readers, to cover all the reading that has to be done. It stands to reason that writers are a natural pool from which to draw enough readers to get the job done.
Seems to me the last two posters are attacking the original poster without having read his post, in which it seems quite clear to me that he's seen the movie.
And do I understand correctly that if I see the movie and I'm not moved as you are, then my "humanity" is inferior? Or my "maturity" is lacking? Good grief.
BTW, I really really like Charlize Theron.
Nahhhh, go for it, Steve! I am. I've heard all about it, but they're still gonna have to PROVE to me that Charlize Theron can be made ugly!
After reading the article, in which the WGA's tendency and mission to protect the original is explained, the weird thing IMO is that they gave SOLE credit. That makes zero sense. If they wanted to protect the guy who came up with the original concept, even though his script didn't get used, that's one thing. But to totally ignore Rich's writing of the entire movie as produced, violates all notions of both fairness and common sense. Very strange.
Z., that's as succinct an explanation as I've seen for this formatting issue that draws so much conversation. Nicely done.
My question is: Where in a synopsis or query would you need to use such a term?
I hate to stir this hornet's nest again, but...
In a SYNOPSIS, every piece of pro advice out there will say that you do most certainly disclose the ending. A synopsis is not in the least about teasing anyone, and trying to do so is far more likely to paint you as an amateur rather than generate a request. Being clever with a synopsis is not going to impress the pro.
In a LOGLINE or PITCH in a query, sure you can tease and try to pique curiosities. Not in synopses, though. The synopsis is not a pitch. The synopsis is a map of the story. If it's interesting, they'll want to take the journey themselves, to see how you handled it.
I've been thinking about doing one of his seminars, and one of Truby's, as well. I've tried and tried to read STORY, and just can't get into it. Too filled with theory for me, and it just won't click in my mind. I learn much more effectively by doing, and assume/hope that the live seminar has more of a practical bent?
Slightly belated, but big old honking congrats upon thee, Richard!
Each to his own, but not my kind of place.
I got a great, thorough, helpful review from Barb Doyon, for $50, after someone else on here recommended her. By contrast, I sent the same script to one of the "name-brand" online script coverage outfits at the same time, paid them something like $150, and it was a joke. Read like boilerplate.
I've been thinking about Flaxman myself, D. I like the notion of the ultra-detailed approach; my main concern is that he does it via telephone. I loathe the phone and phone skills are definitely not among my strengths.
Eric, could you please post Barb's email address? I need to email her and don't have the address on my home machine.
Thanks much, Eric.
Uhhh, er...never mind.
Marcel, do you happen to have any of your short films available online? Or for offline viewing?
The reason for the video is obvious, and doesn't bother me. I'm not sure I can get past the peer review element, though. The $30 is irrelevant in the big scheme of things, but putting your script and ideas out in the public is a risk if they're truly good. The peer review makes it infinitely less likely to be truly judged on its merits IMHO.
Anyone have contact info for Darkwoods Productions, Frank Darabont's prodco?
DOH, never mind. Found it. :-)
Unfortunate, but this is the reality of the writer's world, and calling is unlikely to do any good whatsoever. Let's face it, if they're so unexcited about your product that they haven't bothered to contact you in six months, it's pretty safe to assume they're not interested. Move on.
Another tip, relevant no matter what format of writing you're into; novels, screenplays, greeting cards, coffee cans, doesn't matter: Focus the overwhelming majority of your energy on becoming a better WRITER. Market intelligently when appropriate, then go back to WRITING. Do NOT sit by the mailbox. Do NOT sit by the phone. Do not paralyze yourself as a writer with anxiety over things out of your control. WRITE.
Z, I certainly agree that while results are unlikely as a result of a phone call after six months of no contact, there's no harm, nothing to lose, in it either. UNLESS it comes on the tail end of a writer having sat around wringing their hands for six months, that is. ;-)
I speak of this waiting issue because I've been there and done that. When I first started getting requests for my work, I was nearly manic waiting to hear something. This went on for weeks and eventually months, and accomplished nothing. At some point it dawned on me just how idiotic it was, and I went back to work.
I also finally figured out that if I wanted to survive as a sane man and thrive as a writer, I had to get off the emotional rollercoaster, with its highs of excited expectation every time a request came in, and its depressing lows of the subsequent rejections.
I decided I would concentrate the vast majority of my energy on becoming a great writer. When it's time to market something, I do the appropriate research and do what I can to get it out there, then it's out of my mind and back to writing.
And I share these thoughts and experiences now because I constantly see writers repeating the whole thing. A request comes in for a script or a novel or whatever, and they go sky high, telling everybody on the planet, sure that the big break is just around the bend. Then they go crazy sitting around paralyzed by the waiting.
Reality is that the vast majority of requests will result in rejection, if you hear anything at all. So, when I get a request for something now, my response is, "that's nice." I send the material, then beat a trail back to my writing, where I'M in control.
If I become a great writer, and intelligently work to get my work out there, it'll eventually happen. Yes, marketing is hard--even after you've created a great SALEABLE product, it's a matter of finding the right person on the right day in the right mood--but the TRULY hard part is becoming a great writer.
You can't handle the truth!
Go ahead. Make my day.
It's a countdown. (Jeff Goldblum in INDEPENDENCE DAY)
I have a good friend who proofs for several large publishers, and she does work for individual writers when she has time. She's superb. I sent her my novel just before I started sending it out to agents. About fifty pages into it, she sent an email saying it was the cleanest manuscript she'd ever seen. I've also gotten that same comment when having a script reviewed. So, I figured she'd find three or four typos in the 600 pages. She found at least 100. Blew me away. You're smart to be looking for a proofer, because it's all but impossible to proof your own work, and most writer friends aren't any better. There's really a difference in a pro eye. I'll ask her if she has time for an indy project right now, if you like. She's very affordable.
One of my favorites, though I don't know if it's as ubiquitously in the public consciousness...
Must go faster...must go faster. (Jeff Goldblum in JURASSIC PARK, and later in INDEPENDENCE DAY.)
I'll be back.
E.T.'s glowing fingertip.
It's a cookbook. (From the classic episode of TWILIGHT ZONE, entitled TO SERVE MAN)
$15 per hour, and she's very productive and conscientious; you'll get more than your money's worth, and your work will be SCOURED to perfection.
email@example.com is her email address. Tell her I sent you.
I'd surely email them to say you got a blank email. They may've meant to say something. Be sure.
I can say that only one, or perhaps two scripts in a hundred is worth a damn, anyway...Really, you can't believe the unspeakable dreck that comes in--
Well, you may get flamed for saying that, but I certainly believe you. I may get flamed for agreeing with you, but who cares? :-)
The personal computer created tens of thousands of "writers" overnight. Word made it worse. Final Draft and MM have made it worse still on the screenwriting front. Bill, who used to hang out here, had a phrase that I think is accurate and oh so poignant, that went something like this: Writing isn't as competitive as it's made out to be. It's just very crowded.
The business would be so much smoother without that 98DRECK Factor. As it is, however, every piece that comes in from an unknown writer is (understandably) weighted with the assumption that it's purest garbage. That can be a powerful assumption to overcome, which is IMHO why it remains tough for even those writers who can write, and who do work incessantly to hone their craft and produce saleable material.
I've not yet been on the screenwriting side of the fence to personally confirm the 98DRECK Factor, but I've been looking at the work of novelist wannabes for years, and you may rest assured your percentages hold true on that side. I read an interview with an editor at THE NEW YORKER (I think that's right) who said over 90% of all submissions he gets are not only not publishable--they're not even readable.
I'll also say mea culpa; In the past, I've been guilty of inserting crap into the submission pipeline myself that had no business being read by the family dog, much less publishing professionals. I've since learned to be far more objective about my work, and I try hard not to submit anything of less-than-pro caliber. I think that's a responsibility that should be taken seriously by anyone who aspires to be a professional writer.
(Climbing down from soapbox and putting on flameproof suit.)
ERRATA: I've not yet been on the screenwriting side of the fence long enough to personally confirm...
Show me the money! JERRY MAGUIRE
You complete me. JERRY MAGUIRE
Paula, we think much alike. :-)
Perhaps Gil is asking for these scenes not to study or recreate, but to use in some very specific fashion. Just a hunch, Edward.
LOL, Rich. You're welcome. She emailed last night to say she'd already agreed to do two jobs from my posting here and on one other board.
I'm anal, too, Terri. Barb Doyon reviewed one of my scripts and said it was the first one she'd EVER reviewed without a typo. And Linda herself wrote me after 50 pages to say mine was the cleanest ms she'd ever seen, bar none. Then she found 100 errors. I'd bet money on her finding a significant number of errors behind ANY writer. Heck, she finds them behind other professional proof-readers.
Very sorry about your father, Michele. I lost my own Pop on October 31.
At $15 per hour, my guess is you're looking at $40-$50 for Linda to proof a typical screenplay. Just my guess.
Just got back from seeing it. While I found the movie depressing to the Nth, if there was a better acting job during the past year, I've yet to see it. Yes, being a Charlize Theron fan, I did occasionally find myself marveling (again) that they make someone as beautiful as her look like that. Unreal. But that was certainly no major distraction. She did a fine, fine job.
The first killing was self-defense. 99% of my sympathy evaporated on the second one. Yeah, she'd had a tough life. Lots of people have tough lives and don't become murderers, though. The greatest injustice of the real situation--if the movie was really accurate--is that the brat went unpunished.
$50K up front. $200K more if the movie gets made.
Thou art welcome, Gil.
I think a lot of these may be personal favorites that don't quite rise to the level of strongly recognizable to the masses. :-)
My jaw dropped open when I read a couple of threads a few minutes ago. If ever there was a time for board mods to step in and get rid of some trouble, this is that time IMHO.
Disagreeing on issues of writing is one thing. That's called debate. And from that, it's inevitable that extra-writing topics will come up. But when I see the threads like the ones here now, I feel like I'm on a wide-open unmoderated newsgroup populated by trolls.
I suspect we have some folks on here who aren't who they claim to be, a matter that should be easy enough for Frederick to check into via IP addresses. Maybe he'll do so, and clean this place up.
Passive voice makes for weak writing in ANY kind of writing.
Way too much info for a logline IMO.
A bounty hunter goes to sea to rescue a wealthy kidnapped family, and finds his own past waiting for him.
Really? LOL, I had no clue. Really. Cool.
Thanks again, Paula. Just goes to show you how subjective this whole thing is. I sent this script--my first--to one of the highly-advertised coverage factories, one that's been mentioned on here plenty of times. The reader utterly trashed it. Sent it to Barb Doyon; she identified plenty of problems, but had some nice things to say about it, as well. Other pros have read it and said, "Uhhhh, I don't think so." Now this, which truly surprises me. Yes, I know quartering in this contest is no huge deal, but it's definitely worth a smile!
Thanks, folks. Much appreciated. All the good right back on you. :-)
LOL, Gil. I bought a Zig Ziglar motivational book one time. Read the first chapter, then realized I was too busy already working toward my goals to read about how to work toward my goals.
I personally think 99% of this stuff is a crock of crap. Others may feel differently. I've been motivated to excel my whole life. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I fail. But motivation is never the issue. And I pull myself up, dust off, and hit it again. I really think you have this kind of tenacity or you don't, GENERALLY speaking. (There are always exceptions, folks, so no need to tell me, "But there was this guy...")
I think the majority of "motivational" programs/books/plans out there are attempts to cash in by convincing people that there's an easier way to success. A formula. A road map. In the end, it almost always boils down to whether you want it bad enough to do what it takes for as long as it takes, and there's almost never an easier way.
So, after pondering the issue for a good tenth of a second, I vote NO on the personal coach. :-)
John makes a great point. Whenever I get discouraged, I can read an article or story about someone who made it work, and I'm right back in the game.
I'm of the belief that a true Idea Factory kind of person, who hasn't gone through the grueling creative processes, is way unlikely to exist. I think it's these processes that generate the truly great ideas. I can't remember hearing one single great idea from someone who hasn't been through the tortures. I've heard a lot of excited claims about great ideas that turn out to be ho-hum yawners that have been done a thousand times. Your experience may differ, but that's mine.
There is no more powerful concept for a writer than discipline. If you'll commit to writing XXXX words per day, no matter what, you'll be amazed at how much easier and naturally the process becomes day by day. Productivity really really accelerates for me when I do this.
Bob presses the muzzle of the gun to his temple. Freezes. Aeons pass.
Agree with Gil. Complying with established formatting issues, I have no problem with. Chasing fads? Not interested.
I believe Paula.
Benjamin, you're getting the comments you're getting because you've made multiple posts asking questions that suggest an over-concern with irrelevant technicalities. I've heard it said many times that any spec script coming in from an unknown writer should be written with a READER in mind, not a DIRECTOR, not ACTORS, not a PRODUCER. The READER. That's who you have to impress. And you do that with a killer story told/shown in killer fashion. Focus on the STORY. It's what matters.
I personally think THE SCREENWRITER'S BIBLE is a pretty good primer. I also strongly recommend FINAL DRAFT or the other popular screenwriting software package for anyone who's serious about screenwriting. It removes all these formatting issues from your workload by taking care of them for you, and therefore lets you concentrate on the STORY.
I've not done any agent/manager hunting for my screenwriting yet, but I'm certain it has plenty in common with agent hunting in the publishing world.
Don't get beat down by this process, Faith. The best thing you can do is this: Focus on the WRITING. When you're sure you have a piece that's ready to market, do your research, and put your work out there in the proper format and package. Then, IMMEDIATELY switch your focus back to becoming a better WRITER. Do NOT sit around waiting for the phone to ring. Do NOT sit around waiting for that special email to arrive. WRITE. WRITE. WRITE.
IF you've created a truly saleable product--that's one huge IF that covers a gazillion acres of discussion in and of itself--then much of this becomes a numbers game. You'll have to hit the right person on the right day in the right frame of mind for your particular piece of work. And if you ride the emotional rollercoaster of getting sky-high every time you get a script request and then plunging into depression every time you get a rejection, you'll kill your spirit. Don't do it. WRITE, Faith. WRITE!
I'm sharing this advice based on personal experience, BTW. I finally came to my senses, refused to be paralyzed any more by a waiting game that's outside my control, and vowed that 99% of my energy would be devoted to becoming a great WRITER. If I do that, everything else will eventually happen.
The dislike of "we see" makes perfect sense to me. Scripts are written in third person, present tense. Having a first-person passage dropped right in the middle of the show is a distraction that glitches the read. It's bad form to switch tenses or person mid-stream in almost any kind of writing.
LOL, Eric. Good example.
The natural next question: How often do/did you see that kind of story, Paula? :-)
I'm gonna make one (hopefully final) point here that I don't think has been made in this thread yet: You can't break the rules effectively until you know them and why they exist.
I saw and enjoyed DAWN OF THE DEAD last night. I think it's a good zombie movie. Of course, I went with the full expectation of seeing a zombie movie, not deep drama.
I agree with the sentiment, but POV and CONT'D are obsolete despite some of the main screenwriting programs still putting them in.
Wayne, what on Earth do you base such a statement on? Paula, whose statement you contradicted in such a factual manner, has been a pro reader for years. By contrast, IIRC, you've been screenwriting for what, a year or two? I'm confused.
Tracy, there's no reason you'd have to have both on the same computer. You're going to save it out as a file from your current program, then use FD to import from that file. You can probably fit several of your exported screenplay files on one floppy diskette, then insert that diskette in the computer that has FD.
Wayne, it's really rich that you, of all people, criticize someone for presenting something with certainty.
There are a few issues that are cut-and-dry enough to be stated factually. Example: Use Courier.
Aside from that kind of issue, there are virtually always differing opinions and differing preferences. And the vast majority of regular participants who discuss these issues make it perfectly clear that they are expressing their opinion or their preference. That includes the ones among us--not me--who have indeed been around this game long enough to IMO give their opinion a little more credibility. The real pros. They virtually always make it clear that they're expressing an opinion, a preference.
I posed the question to you in the other thread for one reason and one reason only: You have a demonstrated tendency--and not just on this particular issue--to present your opinion as fact, as if you're a seasoned insider who really knows the ropes, when you're not and you don't.
There's not a thing wrong with being new. I'm a relative newcomer. Lots of people here are. Everybody is at some point. There is, however, a problem with someone new who throws out bad advice as fact. Advice that, if followed, would make a writer look like the rankest sort of amateur. (Again, I'm not talking about this issue, but a tendency over time.)
To put the book recommendations in context, they only came about because of a reasonable inference drawn from several different series of questions. If someone needs to get up to speed on the basics and they're starting from scratch, that's hard to handle one question at a time on a message board. A good reference book on the basics is infinitely more efficient, especially for the recommendee. (If that's not a word, it should be!:)
This was not a case of someone saying, "We don't have time for you, go to the library." It was a case of recognizing a situation and trying to offer the most practical advice.
I agree, Paula: Make use of the best learning resources one has available. And advise the same for those who are trying to learn.
IMHO, formatting draws a disproportionate amount of discussion relative to its importance in the big scheme of things. Yes, I understand that not knowing the basic conventions can get your script canned early because it shows at a glance that you haven't done the most basic research. And I do strive to present my work in industry-standard fashion, because that's how formatting disappears, leaving nothing behind but the all-important content. And hey, why would you NOT go to the trouble of perfecting this aspect, since we sure don't need any strike against us over trivial matters.
But, Ellum is right: It ain't brain surgery! Yet on just about any screenwriting-related message board, it's discussed over and over and over. It's way easier to find a discussion on formatting than a good discussion on characters, plot, structure, or pacing.
Why do you think that is? I have my opinion on why, but I'll keep it to myself at the moment. Why do you think formatting draws so much discussion?
I think it's highly unlikely that anyone can write great treatments without understanding through firsthand experience what it takes to write a great script. Sounds too much like a shortcut to success, and those shortcuts virtually never really exist.
I pretty much see it the same way, I think. I've noticed the same thing in the world of novel-writing: an inordinate fixation on fonts (at least they're not debated in screenwriting!) and margins and such, but if you want to start talking about building sympathetic characters, the crowd dwindles in a hurry.
It's my opinion that there are three vaguely defined groups among those who regularly participate in screenwriting discussions:
Group 1: Those who understand formatting's proper place--it's important in the sense that presentation is always important, but when it comes to the real craft of writing, formatting is more of an afterthought. This group will discuss formatting because they just love to talk about any aspect of writing, but they'd rather talk about the real craft of storytelling.
Group 2: Future members of Group 1. They understand full well where formatting fits into the writing universe, but they're new to screenwriting, they've noticed that the formatting is very different than what they've seen in other kinds of writing, and they want to get it right and move on.
Group 3: These folks either cannot grasp the meat of the craft, or they do have the talent but won't ever grasp the real craft because they don't have the dedication and never-say-die dogged persistence that it takes. But they can talk formatting, and they can crank out pages that at least look like scripts, and therefore feel like screenwriters. Their statistical chance of success is zero, but there's an entire industry out there that exists to convince them otherwise.
That's my take on it. YMMV.
Paula S., my point was not that formatting is an unnatural topic, merely that it receives far more attention than other topics that are infinitely more important. Just something I've been curious about lately as I pay attention to the topics most commonly discussed.
The Passion -- hard to call it enjoyable, but I found it VERY powerful and well-done.
Monster -- another powerful and well-done film, though I can't really say I "enjoyed" it in the traditional sense.
Secret Window -- I liked it, definitely enjoyable.
The Exorcist -- Not new, but I recently re-watched this masterpiece.
Paycheck -- I love "big story" high-tech thrillers like this and thought it was a fine example.
Gothika -- Could've been SO much better with a little work.
Return of the King -- Superb.
I've seen a lot more lately, but these are ones coming to mind.
Alyssa, it sounds like a fine plan on the surface. And since I have zero experience in Hollywood's inner workings, maybe it's feasible.
Common sense, however, along with a couple decades as a businessman, suggests that nothing that easy is gonna work. I can see it happening with an established and proven player, but the notion of an unknown writer getting paid for an idea and a few pages of fleshing it out, just strikes me as immensely unlikely. Maybe I'm wrong, but it would take some pretty strong evidence to convince me of that.
Hmmm, I've never seen or heard of a treatment several hundred pages long. Maybe that's an old or seldom-used definition? The term as used in everything I've seen on the topic certainly refers to something else. American Heritage dictionary defines it as...
A written sketch outlining the plot, characters, and action for a screenplay but not including certain elements of a finished screenplay, such as camera directions and dialogue.
We all think we have something new and earth shattering, but guess what- we don't.
Bingo, Steve. The vast majority of ideas are tired and worn out. Finding a truly fresh concept, or even a truly fresh angle on an old one, is TOUGH. I've come up with so many story ideas over the years--for both novels and screenplays--that sounded SO exciting when they first arrived, only to look so been-there-done-that a few days later.
Age-old genre question: Working to get my entry ready. This script started out as a thriller and took a decidedly dramatic, character-driven turn. Is Dramatic Thriller a legitimate genre?
Also, for the sake of pure curiosity: What role does genre play? Is it part of the reader-assignment criteria, in that one group reads XXX genre and one reads YYY?
Billy, if that doesn't work out, I have a friend who lives in Tokyo and works in media. I can ask him if it's more accessible over there.
Thanks much, Greg. How many readers are there typically?
Thanks for the answers, Greg. Much appreciated.
I'll start the list: me.
I was shooting for the discount deadline too, but am not gonna make it. Got a couple more strengthening tweaks I want to make first.
Most welcome, Billy.
I excitedly bought the v7 upgrade yesterday. Sure wish I hadn't. Be warned.
Randy, everywhere I look in it, I find another bug. I love my Final Draft, and can't believe the company has released something that is IMO in a mid-level beta condition.
Can't go to a bookmark or specific page. You can bring up the dialog, click GO TO, and it jumps to the proper spot. Click to close the dialog, and it closes as the script jumps back to wherever it was originally.
Crazy layout changes. I've not yet figured out how to have both my script and index cards onscreen at the same time as before.
When loading in my v6 scripts, none of the hundreds of words I added to the spell-check dictionary are carried forward.
There are plenty of others, Randy, but I'm on my first cuppa. Need more joe. There's a discussion about it going on at WordPlayer too, if you want to see a longer list of bugs. As for me, I'm glad it at least installed into a totally new directory. I'm setting my shortcuts back to v6.
Really bummed. I love juicy upgrades on my favorite pieces of software. I was so excited yesterday when I got the e-mail that v7 was out. :-(
Most welcome, Randy. And yes, I'll make FD aware, though I suspect they're already getting a hefty earful.
OH, you know the bug v6 has where one line of text will be distorted/garbled, and you have to change zoom to clear it? It's WORSE in v7. There's also a strange "flicker" sometimes; looks like a Romulan Bird-of-Prey coming out of cloak.
Well, plenty of inspiration in that post, fellow writers. Thanks for all the info, Greg.
I think I saw the same silly post about the "lost credibility" and it in fact generated quite a bit of discussion.
Same here, Lisa. I thought I'd make the 4/1 deadline. On 3/31, one of my readers finished it and emailed a suggested improvement that was just too good to pass up. Tweaking now. :-)
Best of luck to you and all...
Agree 101% with Sue on getting ALL the details of any partnership in WRITING, up front. If you don't, you're begging for disaster later on. Vaguely defined partnerships often turn nasty.
Steve, I've seen it twice. Incredibly powerful, and I was moved both times. I was worried about the Aramaic and Latin going in, but the weird thing is that after the first couple of minutes, it never entered my mind again until the next day when someone else brought it up. Very very well done, and the experience of seeing it has brought a new element to my own faith as a Christian.
The cinematography was splendid, Alyssa.
THE PASSION is the most realistically violent film I've ever seen. Yes, it was uncomfortable to watch. Our nephew couldn't get in when we saw it opening night, and I had to take him to see it by myself because my wife couldn't handle it again.
But from my perspective, as a Christian who fully believes it happened in a fashion very close to that, I think that's the way the story needed to be told. My biggest, and only significant, complaint about the movie is the scant attention to the most important part of the story to me, the resurrection.
Sue, I actually went into the movie expecting parallels to the Middle East, since what's happening there is so rooted in biblical times, so very tied to biblical issues. Very quickly, though, the analogies that formed in my mind were ones of humanity as a whole, how we're divided into different camps regarding Christ.
I thought IDENTITY had the potential to be great, but missed and came up GOOD instead. This certainly doesn't mean the script wasn't great, of course.
I'm sorry to say I wouldn't currently pay $25 for FD v7. I paid $59 for the upgrade and it's so buggy I can't bear to use it. I've reverted completely back to v6.
Yeah, I know Gibson relied on extra-biblical material to come up with details. As to whether the scourging was really THAT bad, who knows. I believe, however, that it was indeed atrocious. Jesus is the only one of the three who was for some reason unable to carry his own cross all the way to Golgotha.
Laser toner cartridges, even in the smaller laser printers, last FAR FAR longer than inkject cartridges. Laser is no doubt the way to go.
If you're stuck with an inkjet, though, go to 123inkjets.com for cartridges. They sell 'em for a fraction of what the megastores charge, and they're great quality. Beware that there are a LOT of vendors out there selling pure junk cartridges. 123inkjets is a legitimate, major online vendor selling a great product. No, I have no affiliation whatsoever with them. It just took a while to find a reliable yet cheap supplier of this product and I thought I'd pass it along.
Yeah, that was a cool addition, Steve. I also thought the presentation of Satan was impressive: walking deception, looked beautiful in a way, ugly in a way, looked like a woman in a way, a man in a way, then the glimpse of the worm. Masterfully presented IMO.
Of course, not anyone can just bop over to Zoetrope and read your script, Sun. Until someone has already done four of their assigned scripts, those assigned scripts are all they can see.
I too had a joke of an experience from one of the very visible online coverage factories. Utterly worthless. That doesn't mean, however, that ALL paid help is off the table.
As has been mentioned many times here, Barb Doyon for $50 will provide an excellent, professional review. Gil has had some great experiences with a lady whose name I can't recall. Someone has used and been happy with the Flaxman service.
Proceed carefully? You bet. Write off the entire notion? Nope.
Peter, lots of good deals out there on lasers, but it's hard to go wrong with the little HPs if you're wanting a compact laser. Easy to find, well supported, and the supplies will be easy to come by.
I used to be a big Lexmark fan, but I've had to put them on my AVOID list now.
Do note that the Christians on this thread--in respect of the fact that this is a movie-related board and not a political or religious debate forum--have made no attempt to evangelize, and have stuck to a discussion of this FILM and its effect on them. It would be very nice if those with anti-Christian or political viewpoints from the other side could show the same restraint and respect.
I don't have any advice, but I can say I find the first one rather intriguing, while the second one leaves me ho-hum.
I think he's full of it.
I don't believe any major agency signed any unknown after reading four pages.
Following his suggestions would get your script trashed approximately 100% of the time, said trashing procedure often accompanied by raucous belly-laughter.
Like I said, I think he's WAY full of it. Is this an online acquaintance or brick-and-mortar?
Never mind; I see he's online.
My response to him would've been:
Greg, I'm curious: How does the logline (the app actually calls it a synopsis) factor into the process? Do readers look through a list of them and choose what they'll read? Or are the reading assignments more random?
The core of my question: Does the quality of the logline/synopsis on the app have any bearing on the script's chances?
Hope this makes sense. Thanks...
Robbie, are you and jessie jamie the same person?
Inquiring minds are curious.
I have faith that Mel will work a deal. :-)
...the guy was a psychopath.
Of course. Any pro-Christian statements made by Hitler, whether in MK or later, were nothing more than calculated strategic moves on his part, attempts to curry favor with the population, the church administration, or both.
Thanks, Greg. Good to hear.
Steve H: Thanks for the level-headed, intelligent commments, sincerely.
I'm curious about the 'shallow' comment. From a straight movie perspective, what would've made the storyline more interesting to you as an unbeliever?
Steve, I'll say this: Some Christians (including me, at times) in general do have a habit of "preaching to the choir" instead of reaching outside. I honestly hadn't thought of POTC in those terms, but I do see where you're coming from.
To veer away for a moment from POTC, I'd LOVE to see some quality mainstream/Christian moviemaking come into play. It's a sharply delineated market right now on the source end. Hollywood makes secular movies, and if Christianity is addressed at all, it's likely to ridicule it. The Christian movie industry makes Christian movies, and to be painfully honest, there's not much chance of anyone other than Christians watching them because most of them are awful.
The two sides are TOTALLY out of touch with each other, and that's a real shame. The Christian establishment misses the opportunity to reach others with a Christian message. The Hollywood establishment misses the opportunity to tap into a vast untapped market.
As a Christian and as a movie lover, I can think of nothing more exciting than some collaborative efforts between the two. I doubt it's gonna happen, but I can dream. Look at the possibilities:
NOAH'S ARK -- Think of a big budget rendition. It's a fabulous STORY in and of itself.
THE RAPTURE -- With the staggering market that the Left Behind series has proven for this storyline, imagine what a quality production would be like. And again, it's a fabulous STORY in and of itself. So what if not everyone believes it. Is that to say that everyone who saw INDEPENDENCE DAY believes it could happen? Of course not.
THE NEPHILIM -- Wow, what a cool movie this could be.
We see movies ALL the time that aren't "realistic" to a large percentage of the viewership. It just has to be realistic within the story world. Despite this commonly accepted knowledge, lots of great STORIES go untold because they're from the Bible. For every one of my topics listed above, there's a corresponding blockbuster for a similar story that just happened not to come from the Bible. Again, it's a shame to me, both as a Christian and as a moviegoer.
Thanks for the dialog, Steve. We're in much agreement.
"Religion" holds no special affection for me. Religion is a system created by man. Being a Christian is about a personal one-on-one relationship with Christ. This is certainly NOT to say that I'm anti-church, for nothing could be further from the truth. I just think it's crucial to remember where the focus should truly lie.
Sue, I agree wholeheartedly. We're not to be silent. And again, I'm ANYTHING but anti-church. I'm VERY pro church. I guess what it boils down to is a personal problem with the word "religion" and the way it has come to be used.
TANGENTIALLY RELATED: Why would anybody in 2004 want a script returned? Or a manuscript? Or a short story? I don't get it. It makes NO sense to send out anything other than a pristine, freshly printed copy of your work, so that reason for wanting it back doesn't compute. If it's not wanting your work "out there" that's in play, who's to say they didn't make a hundred copies before returning it? Knocks that one out. So, why would anyone want anything returned? I always mark my title page neatly at the bottom: RETURN NOT NECESSARY, PLEASE RECYCLE.
I use blank card stock front and back, unless instructed otherwise by the recipient.
Ha, it's nice to have my conciseness appreciated for a change, Shell! My wife is always complaining about my VERBAL conciseness. ;-|
Yup, wholly different thing there, Ron. You didn't want the script back; you just didn't want to peeve the recipient. :-)
As others have said, Patrick, you've listed no evidence of that company or person being someone for writers to avoid. This is the way the writing business works.
Do you think you could out-talk her?
You're funny, Shell.
Another consideration: Patrick, if you're expending this much energy on a submission to one place, fretting over it enough to send multiple emails and start a thread like this, reality is you're wasting time you should be using to write a better script, to become a better writer.
Making a submission and then sitting around waiting to hear back is a killer path to choose. I've been down that path, but thankfully woke up one day. Now I make (hopefully) intelligent choices about where to sub, I sub, and then it's out of my mind and on to the next project. I will spend my energy becoming a great writer. I can control that. I can't control what happens once it leaves my hand.
I was 99% certain Grey Line was the company I was thinking of, but I researched it first, to be sure. It's no longer the case, but back in '02 when I was researching agents and such, I ran across their site and there was something that gave me a sense of deja vu, though I was certain I'd never been there before. I started checking, and discovered that they had content that was identical to content on AEIonline.com, Ken Atchity's site. I emailed both outfits asking what the affiliation was. I don't think I got any answer.
I later signed with Atchity. (Have since terminated him; I decided I'd rather be unrepresented than continue that arrangement.) And I'm pretty sure I even asked him if there was some affiliation. I think he said no, but can't be sure.
That just always stuck in my craw, though. Was there some secret affiliation? Or did Grey Line build a website by copying and pasting from other sites? Of all industries to be in, seems like an entity that represents writers should have some qualms about that, wouldn't you say?
Click here, then check this page. These are both pages from 2002, cached at the Wayback Machine, an Internet archival site.
Trivial perhaps, but it always weirded me.
ADDENDUM: When you click the first link in my above post, the one to the archived Atchity site, you then have to click the SUBMISSIONS link up top to be taken to the relevant page. Sorry about that.
Contests aren't nearly as big a thing in novels as in screenwriting. You might check writers.net as a board; pretty good bunch of folks over there.
I'm quite sure WP 5.1 will save out to RTF, which you can import into any of the major screenwriting packages. As others have already mentioned, you'll have some cleanup work to do, but shouldn't be bad.
You need to talk to the agents and find out exactly what they're wanting to rep you for. A publishing agent just offered me representation. I told him I was doing some screenplays, too, and he told me that the only film angle he was interested in selling were the film rights to my book-length work. He told me I'd need to get a west coast agent for my screenplays.
Congrats upon thee, Sir Gil the Christner!
I submit that the timbre of Patrick's original post is what caused shoulders not to be there that normally would've been. Yes, we'd all love to get responses. But if you've done a few submissions of any kind, you quickly come to realize that it doesn't work that way. And when Patrick showed up with the ultra-strong condemnation, I suspect more than one writer who would've normally responded sympathetically chose not to.
Didn't catch that, but I loved TROY. First movie I've given 5 stars (out of 5) in a looooooonnng time.
I can't even remember which one I used, but I did use one of 'em. Blasted producers only. Got 5-6 requests. A couple of 'em seemed worth sending. I honestly wasn't too excited about sending it, because I'd just gotten back a "review" from one of the name-brand coverage factories that I paid $150 for, the guy trashed it front to back, and I wasn't feeling too good about the script at all. But I sent 'em.
Much to my surprise, the first guy emailed me two days after I mailed it, quite excited. He has a lot of credits, the guy is definitely actively making theatrical features. He talked about the possibilities, shared some good tips with me, etc. Nothing has happened yet, but what's really weird is that he answers my emails, LOL. I'm just SO not used to that as a writer. He even wrote to explain that he had just gotten another picture greenlit, and that was why he hadn't been able to actively work at putting something together on mine.
So, even if nothing ever happens on this, I will still have made a good connection; it's nice to have an industry insider who will dialog and answer questions.
Ron, yes, it's way nice to encounter some courtesy and professionalism.
Touching on what you said, it's my belief that after a writer has created a saleable product (and yes, I realize this covers countless hectares of ground itself), marketing is a numbers game:it becomes a matter of hitting the right person at the right time in the right mood at the right whatever. Like you said, if we keep putting it out there, we never know when the right combo will fall in place.
What's key for me is not fretting over it. My mental energy is directed at becoming a better writer, not pacing and waiting for an email or phone call that in all likelihood will never come. I drop it in the mail, and my mind is on the next project.
Despite what many in the biz claim, it's not a simple matter of "if it's good enough, someone will snatch it up and you up right away." That's just not so. Tons of great stuff languishes for years before being picked up. But I do fervently believe that cream will rise to the top, that talent and tireless commitment to craft will be rewarded, eventually.
READ A LOT and WRITE A LOT. Those are a couple of things I think are almost universally required in order to be a good writer, with the caveat that some people can probably exchange WATCH A LOT for READ A LOT in the case of screenplays.
I don't think there's any exception for the WRITE A LOT instruction. Sure, someone who doesn't write a lot may crank out a flukish piece of quality work every now and again, but I don't think it's possible to become a really good or great writer without tons of practice.
I believe we all have to WRITE our way through the beginner-quality work, through the mediocrity, in order to excel. If you've been writing for a while, pull out a piece of your earliest work and see what it looks like to you now.
Another thing I believe to be extremely helpful is disciplined writing. This doesn't mean you have to write at the same time or in the same place or anything of the sort. But there does need to be a commitment to writing XX pages or XXX words every X time period. When you force yourself to write, even when you don't feel like it, the next day will come that much easier.
I personally think the notion that "I can't write unless I'm in the right mood" must be set aside if someone aspires to be a professional writer. What if truck drivers only drove when they were in a "driving mood?" Or what if doctors only worked when they were in a "doctoring mood." Name any other profession and see if that concept doesn't sound as silly. It will. It's fine if you want to write as a hobby, but if you aspire to be a professional, I think you need to act like a professional and do the job.
There's my .02...
I saw the producer/star of it on HIGHER DEFINITION. First time I'd heard of it. My reaction was "HUH?" Still is.
Thanks to all for the nice comments and additions. Unlike many such threads, this one contains a number of concrete, specific things to help a writer.
If I were an agent, I'd craft a macro that would let me respond instantly to any such situation with an appropriate and fairly personal email. It'd only take about two hours to set it all up, and would be so much better for the writers to get an accurate response.
But, I'm not.
Terri, the unopened mail to yourself is utterly worthless in legal proceedings. I know this methodology has been out there forever for inventors and songwriters and writers, but it's definitely not something you'd want to depend on.
Exactly right, Michele. In the legal world, good lawyers tear down things like patents and well-executed contracts on a daily basis. Something with the inherent flaws of the PMC would be laughed at. If you want to protect your work, then do it properly, period. And BTW, since titles aren't protected anyway, there'd be no need to re-register due to a title change. It's the body of the work that's protected. I personally think writers spend way too much time worrying about being ripped off, when they should be concentrating on creating something good enough TO rip off.
Boy, you're all so quick to jump on Michele, when all she did was speak the candid truth. IMO, if someone wants to post a script search here, they should post it and be done with it, instead of positioning themselves as some kind of gatekeeper.
And Terri, when someone says something negative to you, why the "I'm gonna pick up my marbles and go home" routine? I don't believe for one moment that you're leaving. Is it just so you can hear the "Oh Terri, please don't go!" chorus, and then show back up X days or X weeks later to express your gratitude for the voluminous support you received via email? I'm assuming you thanked these people via email, no? So why the public posting? If you want to leave, leave. If you want to stay, then discuss the issue with the person who posted the comment, and stay. It's really simple.
It's all getting way old. As for Michele's ego, you poor people are utterly delusional. Given the stage to which she advanced in the biggest competition in existence, you couldn't have possibly asked for anyone to be any more humble than she was. I think she's one of the most genuine people on here, a trait I appreciate far more than unending visibility. I also have a hunch she's one of the best writers here by about a mile.
Flame away; I don't give a rip. (Wayne, save your fingers; your rants don't warrant response.)
I'm totally puzzled on how a story or character arc could ever be equated with formulaic writing.
Formula = how GM puts out three cars in three brands that look just alike even though they have different brands and names.
Story without arc = car without engine. May look great, but it ain't going anywhere.
This phenomenon is common to just about every creative industry in existence. It happens not only in screenwriting, but on the publishing side of the fence, as well.
Several years ago, I invented a hairstyling product that solved a centuries-old problem. There had never been anything remotely like it on the market. Within weeks of it being licensed by a manufacturer, another product showed up addressing the exact same problem.
I think the bottom line is that creative people in every field are in tune with certain aspects of the world around them, perhaps even on a subconscious level; that world presents a need for something, and those in tune with that need, act on it. I believe that to be the core of this issue.
I want to see it, but my Hanks expectations were forever lowered with LADYKILLERS, the first movie I've walked out of in over 20 years.
Sure what it sounds like to me, Paula.
I did the $145 ScriptPimp coverage thing once. Waste of money. I got a review that was five times more useful from Barb Doyon for $50.
She's also made a really good move from a business perspective. Instead of marketing and hype, which create costs that must be passed on to the customer, she's simply built what is probably a pretty steady business built on great service, an ultra-fair price, and word of mouth.
Paula, the brackets you used in your italic attempt work on certain board software. This board uses standard HTML. Do exactly what you did, except you want to use < and > for brackets instead of [ and ].
Eric, maybe they meant the QF letters aren't going out until next week?
Thanks for the thorough explanation, Greg. Much appreciated.
Wouldn't you know I'm away from the office this week, and thus away from the mail. Gotta wait til Monday. ARGH!
The difference in the two is very simple:
... signifies speech that trails off.
-- signifies interrupted speech.
Just got back. 4.75 stars out of 5 for me, and everyone with me and around me loved it, as well.
Ron and I disagree on this one; I think the guy is a brilliant screenwriter, and in the interviews and such I've seen him in, he doesn't come across as arrogant in the least. Quite the contrary considering the clout he now enjoys as a screenwriter.
Most excellent congrats upon you, Paula!
I got a blank email from the Austin Film Festival about a week ago. I replied and told them about it; haven't gotten a reply.
Thanks, Lilly. I figured it wasn't anything important or they would've surely corrected the error.
Same here, Richard. I got a little commentary on my entry.
Hey! Psychos gotta have rooms too!
And hey, Jill? CONGRATS!
BUMMER, but take heart in advancing as far as you did.
Just got a packet from AFF and really don't know what it means. It starts off, I wanted to take the time to congratulate you once again on making it to the second round and offer you a discount to our upcoming...
This is the first anything I've gotten from AFF, so the "again" reference is lost on me. I entered two scripts, but there's no reference to either within this letter. The rest of the packet is about getting a discounted registration as a second rounder, blah blah blah.
I know it's better to have advanced than not, but I'm also assuming that I'm done. After all, I assume moving forward from here qualifies one for even cheaper (or free) access to the festival. Thus if I had any chance at that, I suspect they wouldn't be encouraging me to register now as a second rounder.
This is the only logical conclusion I can draw, though it'd be nice to know something more certain. Anyone else gotten anything like this?
Thx, Z. Makes sense, other than the backward order of letters.
Wonder if there's any hope in the fact that I entered two scripts and got one of these letters.
Thanks much, Jill.
Hmmm, it's never occurred to me that quartering would be worth a mention in marketing, but it makes sense when you think about it. It at least makes a stamp of seriousness on one's work, especially in the prestigious competitions.
He's just being DG.
Well, bless his heart.
Send the query and go back to work on something you can control: your writing. Some people will make a follow-up call after a few months, but I think even that's a waste. If the recipient is interested, they'll contact you. If not, they may or may not contact you. Forget about it. Write.
As I've said many times, AFTER you've created a genuinely saleable product (something the vast majority of writers never do), this becomes a numbers game. It's all about getting your material in front of the right eyes in the right mood at the right time on the right day. How do you do that? First, you let the vast bulk of your time deal with becoming a great, saleable writer. Then, you put it out there intelligently and MOVE ON. You do NOT sit around wondering if this'll be the day that you hear back on that query, if this'll be the day you hear back from that guy who requested your script. Too many people let themselves become utterly paralyzed by this process. That's dumb. WRITE, put it out there intelligently, MOVE ON. WRITE, PUT IT OUT THERE INTELLIGENTLY, MOVE ON. Repeat the above steps as needed, which will likely be for years.
To the original poster who's wondering if they should follow up on their query after a week, NO. If you're asking that question, you're almost certainly in the Paralysis by Waiting phase. Get yourself out of it right now! WRITE! :-)
S.J., the reason your request for synopsis help has drawn so few responses, IMHO, is that everyone hates writing them. I know I do, and I don't consider myself particularly good at it.
When forced to write them, I try to follow these guidelines:
* Unless something more detailed is specifically requested, keep it to one page or less.
* A synopsis is told in present tense. "John Does finds himself in a bind when..."
* It should clearly lay out the story, identify the major characters and their conflicts, etc.
* A synopsis includes full disclosure of beginning, middle, AND END. If you're writing a pitch and you want to tease, that's fine. A synopsis is NOT a pitch, NOT a sales blurb. It's more like a roadmap of the script. It's intended to show the reader your skill at creating a fresh story with fresh characters and constructing it in a fresh manner. This includes showing that you can wrap up a story. I'm stressing this point because there are a lot of writers who for some reason equate pitches and blurbs with synopses, and proceed under the notion that if they don't "give away" the ending, the pro is more likely to want to read it to find out what happens. Serious research will reveal that when pros ask for a synopsis and get clever teasing and pitching, the word that comes to their mind is AMATEUR.
Hope this helps somewhat. If I run across any good examples, I'll come back and post a link for you.
I loved FD until I bought the 7.0 upgrade on the first day it was offered, and wound up with a piece of junk so buggy that it was literally useless tome. I went back to 6.0. On top of all that, a new issue arose that caused both versions to lose their "activation." (You can activate FD on two different hard drives at a time.) It took literally weeks to get that issue straightened out so I could use the software AT ALL, and in the midst of it I encountered a rude tech support guy who seemed unconcerned.
So, if I were starting out, I'd go with either MovieMagic or Sophocles. I haven't tinkered extensively with MM, but I have with Sophocles and it has some features I positively LOVE.
Finally, you won't need "the winter" to learn how to use any of this software. Screenwriting software is VERY easy to use. You can literally be writing productively in minutes.
Welcome, S.J. Don't worry about the number of paragraphs.
Congrats, April. Here's one key point that no one has mentioned yet: Reaching semi-finals in major contests is important in the sense that it establishes you as someone who can actually write. Just that fact puts you in a very high percentile and thus makes the semis worth mentioning in any marketing you do.
Remember, the vast majority of writers out there--I suspect it's over 90% of the pool as a whole--CAN'T WRITE. They have no chance of ever selling anything because they don't have the required talent, but no one ever bothers to tell them so. Having something that credibly sets you apart from that group is important.
And BTW, I'm not mean. Just candid. It's a shame that so many people waste years or even decades chasing something they have NO chance of ever catching, when they could be exploring and finding and utilizing the gifts God DID give them. It's also a large part of why good material has such a hard time being seen. Finding genuinely saleable writing talent among the whole of writerdom is bound to be like busting tons of coal with a sledgehammer, hoping to find a diamond.
DISCLAIMER: Never been to one of these affairs, nor have any firsthand knowledge about them.
I assume you're talking about a "pitchfest" where you pay your money and get X minutes to deliver your pitch? Common sense tells me the chance of anything coming from these things is between slim and none, and closer to the latter. Can you imagine being the pitchEE after about an hour? Sheesh.
Even worse IMO are the public ones where you stand up and make your pitch in front of a room full of other writers doing the same thing. No way I'd ever stand up in public and give away my concepts.
That's just me.
Some employers do furnish life insurance. Some don't. Some furnish health. Some don't. While I'm not familiar with California law, in the U.S. in general, any benefits like this are pretty much up to the employer.
I've tried the Z-experience several times. Last time, I spent two or three hours reading and reviewing an atrocious script, only to have my review yanked because the writer complained that it was "too negative." I got no warning, no comment from management, nothing. And the review was nothing more than honest. Not my kinda place.
Really sharp, Deb. Here we have a message board already hurting for traffic, and you decide to post a divisive political message that has NOTHING to do with screenwriting, guaranteed to offend around half those who see it.
I've tried to get into the Z-scene on a coupla different occasions. Last time, I spent three hours downloading, reading, and writing a review for a script. The script was terrible, and my review was nothing more than candid and straightforward. The writer whined to management and they deleted my review without ever saying a word to me. Then writer sent me a pouty z-mail basically saying a meanie like me, who refused to say positive things, just didn't fit at Zoetrope.
That's my experience with the place.
I like FD but the software is buggy (when I upgraded to v7, I actually had to go back to using v6 in order to be able to work at all), their activation scheme is annoying, and their support system is clunky. I tried MM and it didn't seem significantly different fro FD in how it works, though I have no idea as to the quality of their support.
The one I've tried that DOES impress me is Sophocles. It's cheaper and I LOVE the intuitive navigation features; strongly considering a change.
ERRATA: fro = from
WOW! This is *so* exciting. How much does it *cost?*
Thank *you* in advance for this *remarkable* opportunity!
MOS is a shot without synched sound. There's an (inaccurate) legend that it came from a German director ordering a shot "mit out sound," but the actual meaning is Minus Optical System or Minus Optical Sound.
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