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I think it's important, when someone offers criticism, to reflect upon it even if if we feel attacked--it may have some merit, after all.
"The Chinese do not have the morals that most North Americans and many Europeans have."
Most North Americans have good morals? Many Europeans, too, but apparently not most, in your view.
I realize that the Chinese government has a poor record in regard to human rights. But why do the Chinese people fight against that? Because it's morally objectionable to them.
What started this flood of poor quality goods coming to us from China? Could it be that your average American cares less about quality and more about paying the least possible price?
I have to go. I'm on my way to Wal-Mart, where my dollar goes further and I can buy twice as much crap as I need. Then I'll come home and try to figure out what I'm going to do with the crap it replaces. Then I'll read the Bible, and congratulate myself on my high morals.
I thought Terry showed tremendous restraint, in an effort to teach rather than to piss off. I'm in a hurry.
"If God didn't want them sheared, he would not have made them sheep." That's a good point! Also, if He didn't want us to make asses of ourselves, he wouldn't have given us fingers to type with.
I gave up two years ago trying to figure out who is real and who's playing a game. It was making me crazy.
I didn't think I'd ever post here, again. I've been lurking for about a month, because I have a new story percolating that I think can make a good screenplay. My new Movie Magic Screenwriter should arrive tomorrow, and I can hardly wait.
I guess I don't mind if people want to come here and use a fake name--hell, it might even be prudent, considering all the crazies out there. I do wish the fakers would all use obviously made up names, though, like Mr. Lanyc, named after two towns he will probably never work in.
My favorite was Hugh Jardon. What was his mama thinkin'?
I don't even mind, anymore, if one person wants to come here and be several people, all slapping each other on the back and pointing out each others' accomplishments, real and imagined. I have missed all of you.
All I can hope for is that nobody comes here, again, and pretends to be dying of cancer when he is not, or feigns living out of a cardboard box next to a coffee shop with wireless access.
The rest of you, welcome. Entertain me.
Could you let me know when you'll be driving past my house? I mean, if you decide to go with the money-throwing.
I had a script that was a finalist in the Nicholl a few years ago. I improved it with professional help--because someone here told me I needed professional help and it wasn't the first time I'd heard that.
The next year my "improved" script tanked out of the Nicholl. I tell myself that my improvements were not.
But I have a sneaking suspicion that if I hadn't changed a word it would have tanked also. Just the luck of the draw, when it comes to readers. Some people get you, and some people don't.
The writers I most admire are those who do well in contest after contest. They must have some kind of mojo that can't be ignored. And they have the greatest chance of getting their movie made--because there has to be a consensus among everyone involved that this will be a worthwhile project.
I wouldn't want to see a screenplay that involved this topic, no. But then, I haven't seen a horror movie since 1981. Much less would I want to see real horror, as this video apparently shows.
But certainly it IS the job of the writer to make people feel something, to help them understand what is true and real, to spur people to action, and to help people think more deeply about the real costs of everyday things.
I agree that, most of the time, each side preaches to the choir, and doesn't realize that they're just annoying the hell out of the very people they'd like to reach.
I'm fascinated by this very phenomenon--two sides of an issue believing first and collecting facts second--and THAT'S the screenplay I'm writing.
I don't agree that truth is for the priests to parse out. I don't believe they've got the corner on any more truth than anyone else. We desperately want to believe they do, and some of us stake our lives on what they tell us that is, but that doesn't make it truth. That makes it hope.
But to get back to the point of this thread, a writer here learned something that shocked and saddened her, and she wrote eloquently about it, and I would not be surprised if more than one person was moved by what she said.
That's what writers do.
You quoted me, and that makes my day. No one ever quotes me. I take it personally.
Let me assure you that my little rant about people using fake names was not about you. I have no reason to believe you are using a fake name, and couldn’t care less if you are. That post was a response to the one previously above it. I realize I should have started off with the salutation, “Dear Randy,” and then you would have known that.
I used to care about such things. It infuriated me. It was a puzzle I couldn’t solve. I didn’t want to be made a fool of, and so I made a fool of myself quickly, before anyone else could do it for me.
I accused Terri Dickey and Ellum McCurdy-Devins of being one and the same. Since “Ellum” died quite publicly a couple of years ago, and Terri is still posting, I can reasonably ascertain that they were, at least, two people.
You know, when Ellum died, he took a lot of people with him. It's tragic, really.
I’m sorry, Terri, that I accused you of deceiving us, and I’m sorry I haven’t apologized before this. Please accept my apology.
If someone is using a fake name, there may be a good reason. Anyone who lurks here a while will see that things can get hot, fast. Maybe people want to remain anonymous while testing the waters. Can anyone blame them?
Certainly, there are fakers on the board who are here simply to light fires and run. Arsonists, I call them. But if we get too vigilant about trying to unmask them, we run the risk of hurting people who have no intention to harm, only a desire for privacy.
Gary, I certainly do not think you are inhumane for hunting. Hunting is necessary to keep things in balance. The hunters I know, personally, are kind-hearted and decent people. I don’t think I said otherwise; maybe you have me confused with another poster.
Also, I do eat meat. It would be ridiculous for me to condemn hunting, in between bites of my Quarter-Pounder. If God didn’t want us to eat animals, He wouldn’t have made them so juicy and delicious.
Mmmm . . . yummy. So what was it I said that pissed you off?
“Also, if [God] didn’t want us to make asses of ourselves, He wouldn’t have given us fingers to type with.”
Okay. First of all, you know that’s true. I mean, using your logic. I didn’t know you were quoting from the movies. I don’t care for movies. Two hours is an awful long time to sit and watch something. So, forgive me that.
But getting back to your logic. Here’s your quote:
“If God didn’t want them sheared, He would not have made them sheep.” Cripe, I could use that sort of argument on anything! Let me try.
“If God didn’t want me to pick my nose in public, he wouldn’t have given me fingers. And a nose. And public.” That’s my latest quote. You can pick it apart, if you wish. Go ahead, nobody’s watching.
Listen, Gary. When you hunt, you don’t dive onto the deer--once you’ve rendered him defenseless--and rip off his hide while he’s alive and tear him apart with your teeth. You abide by certain rules of conduct, which are meant to cause the least amount of fear and suffering to your prey.
Slaughterhouses should be, at least, as humane. You and I agree on that, so let’s call it a day.
No, wait! One more thing. No one has called me Mr. Hackman since the surgery. Except Grandma. I’ll always be her little man, and nothing can change that.
I knew someone would try to bring this board back to screenplays. But sorry, Terry. Writem Cowboy as a vegan? Can belief be suspended that far? The man eats buffalo and rattlesnakes. For breakfast.
I thought pemican was beef jerky! Or some sort of beef by-product of unmentionable origin.
Yeah, I like Randy, too. Because he's a character. You could write dialogue for him, and you'd probably not be far off.
But that idea of him also makes it easy to think I know what makes him tick, and that's not fair when you're dealing with human beings.
I imagine him driving a four-by-four with a gun rack and a WWJD? bumper sticker, on the way to the Baptist Church, nursing a Jack Daniels hangover and listening to Country Western music. The Dixie Chicks come on, and he turns the radio off with a snap.
He votes Republican. He thinks the way you support the troops is by sending more troops. He doesn't think there's anything wrong with spanking, as long as you do it with love. He thinks God keeps a hot coal-fire going to roast people who aren't smart enough to avoid it.
I don't know if he reads this and thinks, "Damn. How does she know this shit?" Or if he reads this and thinks, "How judgmental. She doesn't know me at all."
Anyway, I like Randy, too. Randy is like a box of pemican. You don't want to think about it too much.
Never kid about the group hug. We bleeding-heart liberals are suckers for the group hug.
I certainly did not call you a vegan, Randy Roberts! I called you a Baptist. And a Republican.
Somebody get me the transcript. As I recall, Terry wrote that bit of fiction.
This reminds me of my daughter's suite mate in college. She and my daughter were standing in front of a still life of a half-eaten breakfast: most of a hard-boiled egg, orange peels, remnants of toast.
They gazed upon it for a few moments and the girl says, in all seriousness, "You know, I actually like this, even if it isn't vegan."
Been a long time since I was this impatient for a movie to get here. I saw HARD CANDY four times--definitely not my kind of movie--because of Ellen Page. What an amazing talent. And she has this way of saying anything, that makes it seem like nothing and everything all at the same time.
Long time ago, I had this stuffed toy rabbit that made me stare at its face too much. I called him Hypno-bunny. I had forgotten about him until I saw the trailer for Juno.
Has anyone seen it?
I saw an interview the other night with Jennifer Garner, who has a role in the film. She raved about the screenplay, by a former stripper, Diablo Cody.
(Diablo was apparently her real middle name, and she grew up on Cody Street. My porn name is Ann Quail. Yes, I'm every bit as sexy as my porn name suggests.)
Pay attention, people! This is how you bag a career in screenwriting.
"Enter Mason Novick of the management firm Benderspink. 'I don't know exactly what I was doing on the Internet, but ... we'll call it what it is,' he says. 'I mean, yes. I was reading her dirty, dirty blog, and it was funny.' Novick eventually cold-contacted her, discovered that she had a memoir lying around and got it to a literary agent, who sold 'Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper' for six figures a few weeks later.
"Novick then asked for some movie ideas, and by Valentine's Day 2004 Cody, who had since abandoned sex work for a job at a local newspaper, sent him a completed screenplay called 'Juno' that burned with the same incredibly original voice that had made her blog such a unique read."
So here's my advice:
1. Learn to strip.
2. Write a blog.
3. Get accidentally discovered by a horn dog who also happens to be in the biz and only wants you for your amazing writing ability.
4. Have amazing writing ability.
Okay, these steps get progressively harder. But, be assured, every journey begins with a single step.
I suggest we all take our clothes off, immediately. Please thank me, by name, whoever wins the Best Screenply Oscar.
P.S. You can find the rest of the article here:
That's the cheapest toilet paper you can buy. It's a little rough for the ladies. I cannot recommend it.
Note to self:
1. Invent time machine. 2. Choose hotter parents. 3. Never buy the screen-ply toilet paper.
Chuckle chuckle chuckle.
Seriously, it's a shame I'm so drab on the outside, because in my heart of hearts I'm one of the beautiful people. I'm shallow, conceited, and can't be bothered with your bullshit problems. Why can't my outside match my inside? Why, God, why??
I don't mind if the hero dies, if he has sacrificed himself so others can live. That's a theme as old as time, but some themes are satisfying even if they've been done a million times before.
So, what I'm thinking is, writers are now desperately trying to do something unpredictable with the ending. Audiences expect a twist, and they will anticipate several different outcomes, so they're not surprised enough to be impressed. What's more unpredictable than everyone killing each other off at the end of the movie?
I read a script, recently, in which all the good guys die, taking most of the bad guys with them, but one evil bastard was left alive . . . and for what other purpose than to come back in a sequel.
Not satisfying to me in any way. Whatever you do, and whomever you kill off in your script, for God's sake, let hope live. Don't send your audience out into the cruel world without it.
Is Steven Karels your real name? You may already be in danger.
I agree with Paula. Not only would the studio and actors face reprisals, but distribution would be limited. This sounds like a big budget picture, and they'd need a global audience to recoup production costs and make a profit.
I would hate to even imagine the anguish that would result from the loss of any ancient holy site, be it Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or any other. Ask yourself who would want to see that.
I'm not saying your script would be anti-Muslim, but it would definitely be a film that Muslims couldn't go to see. My grandson's father is Muslim, and I just love it that his favorite films are big American blockbusters. These are films that unite the world for two hours at a time.
Also, if and when you do sell a script, you will want to be able to discuss it with anyone who asks, and be proud of your contribution to a great film.
These are people who want to stone a woman because she allowed the kids in her class to name a Teddy bear Mohammed. You can't reason with them.
Of course, these extremists make up a small percentage of Muslims. But a Hollywood blockbuster which shows five major Islamic holy sites exploding into rubble would not only enrage extremists, it would galvanize more negative opinion against us from moderates.
I know it's tempting, when you have what you think is a great movie idea, to just write what you want and let the chips fall where they may. But we all have to self-censor.
I'm still wrestling with this issue myself, in my own writing.
Terry, what the hell are you talking about?
Did you miss the next paragraph?
"Of course, these extremists make up a small percentage of Muslims. But a Hollywood blockbuster which shows five major Islamic holy sites exploding into rubble would not only enrage extremists, it would galvanize more negative opinion against us from moderates."
Honestly, Terry. Please scratch "Go off meds" off the top of your New Year's Resolutions. It wasn't a good idea, from the get-go.
What happened to Kumbaya? I liked the Kumbaya.
But, but, but--why did you call me a bigot? We're on the same side. Did you even read what I've been saying this whole thread? We're quite decidedly on the same side!
Apology accepted, Frazier. Please forgive my hackneyed pharmaceutical reference, and we'll call it even.
You know, I've thought about that three and a half times since I said it. I'm hardly ever wrong, you know. Except when I am.
I still think this should be the rule--that even a movie that is rather grim and meant to shake the viewer out of complacency should end on a hopeful note--since your goal should not be to send your audience home to stick their heads in the oven, but to spur them to animated discussion late into the night.
I'm sure there are exceptions, where you just want to shock the hell out of people and leave them numb and twitching for a few days, but I just don't have the heart for that.
I didn't see MIST, and can't speak to that, specifically, but I rewrite endings in my head all the time.
We had a discussion, here, a few years ago when MYSTIC RIVER came out. Several of us found the ending unsatisfying.
I hated the ending, in which Sean Penn's wife gave a little speech to him, about how she's glad he's the kind of man he is, because now they will be safe, and nothing like the murder of their daughter can ever happen to them again, or something like that.
Here's how I said, at the time, that I thought it should have ended:
"When was the last time you saw Dave?"
He turns around and points to the back window of the car, as it drives away, down the street.
"You know. Twenty-five years ago."
Fade to black. The right ending was already in the movie, and they hung around five more minutes to give us some sort of hope that, because of Sean Penn's character's cold-bloodedness, his family would now be safe.
But here's the problem with that--Sean's character hadn't really changed from the beginning of the story. He became an outwardly more violent character, because he was tested by his daughter's murder, but really we were just seeing his true nature.
He always was a tough guy, a cop. And that had not stopped someone from randomly picking his daughter as his victim. It is not a hopeful ending, as I think it was intended to be.
It was hollow, because we just didn't buy it.
One more example is I AM LEGEND. Sorry if you haven't seen it--SPOILER ALERT!
The ending of this film was meant to be hopeful. It's an incredibly depressing premise and someone thought we couldn't handle that. So it ends with a literal deus ex machina, a woman who--inspired by God--shows up in her vehicle to rescue Will Smith, so that all of mankind will be saved.
If you are a Christian, this is very comforting. If you are not, and/or if you are one of the people who already worries that the destroy-the-earth-god-will-make-it-new-anyway crowd will someday bring us to the brink of annihilation--it is laughable and sad, all at the same time.
It seems to be saying that people who believe in gene therapy (we all know that's a slippery slope that will lead to fetus-mining to harvest stem cells for unnatural purposes) will cause the near-destruction of all mankind, but if we return to God, we'll be saved.
But a much more likely end-of-the world scenario--at least in my mind--is that we, a Christian nation, will continue to wage war like there's no tomorrow, until there really isn't one. For the very reason that we believe that God will step in and vacuum up believers off the earth before it gets unbearable, and whisk us off to a new paradise.
Does the earth need an alternative ending? Okay, it's just as likely that we, a Christian nation, will continue to pollute the earth with impunity, because God can always make more. Hell, if you care too much about it, it means you don't trust God to take care of it.
Hasten the end of the world, because after we get shed of this old rock, we get a new, perfect one. Even so, come Lord Jesus.
Okay, that was more like preaching than rambling. But my point is that you can't write a depressing-ass film and then think you'll redeem it by tacking on a phony hopeful ending.
MYSTIC RIVER would have been better if what you took home was "Violence isn't the answer." And, I think, I AM LEGEND would have been better if the message was "Perseverance can defeat the strongest of enemies."
I would count either of those as a "hopeful" ending.
You don't remember her little speech to him about God? About how did she just happen to know where and when to show up to save him, so that he could save humanity? And then he yells at her that there is no God?
Anyway, I thought it was about as much of a Christian allegory as TALES OF NARNIA. It's got a scourge brought about by a woman, a Devil and his legions, a true believer who risks everything because she can hear the still, small voice of God, and a Christ figure who sacrifices himself to save all of mankind.
Yeah, I peed my pants several times during the movie, too.
What we need around here is a thread that advises us when to take bathroom breaks during current movies. That would be really helpful.
Deluxe seating with a cupholder and a toilet paper holder.
As you say, tack on a formulaic "hopeful" ending and all is well.
Hey! Just because a person uses an initial, that doesn't mean she's a guy! It could be that she's a Sheila!
You're right, Mr. Swan. That was hardly the point, so I'll weigh in, too.
I don't see the point of remaking any movie, unless the premise was damn fine, but the execution was flawed, and you think you can do better.
I know a lot of movies are the same dang movie as some other movie, even though they're not actual remakes. But that's sad, too. And not enough reason to just throw up our hands and say, "There's nothing new under the sun."
You're certainly welcome, S.!
I wouldn't worry about this contest result. Just because you weren't able to find an Estella Ransom, that doesn't mean she doesn't exist. A lot of people who enter contests use a pseudonym or their maiden name.
Personally, I wouldn't enter this contest. Half the people who've entered it have given it a ''terrible'' rating. You're better off forgetting about this one and moving on.
Also, there's something wrong when the logline of the winning screenplay contains a serious typo that makes the script sound silly. Even if the typo was due to the carelessness of the screenwriter, you would think that the contest coordinator would have proofread it, and caught it, if only to make the contest look more professional.
Unless Janice, in an homage to THE GOONIES, has a run-in with a blender . . . or am I the only one old enough to remember what those mean Fratellis tried to do to Chunk?
I love my Movie Magic 6, too.
Chuckle chuckle. Go Joseph! Go Joseph!
I finally got to see JUNO the other night--it takes a while for indie movies to get to my little corner of Iowa.
And I LOVED it.
Very witty dialogue. I about choked on my popcorn at one point, though, because Juno almost used a line from the script I'm writing right now. Almost, but then she didn't go there, so I still get to use it.
Which is good. Because it's a decent line.
I hate that, too!
Is there some special law in NYC whereby cops are required to give the perp a headstart? Whenever I see something like that, it pulls me right out of the movie. Or the one-hour crime drama.
I had never seen FEELING MINNESOTA, so I decided to watch it, the other night. I didn't see the beginning, so I don't know how stupid these characters were meant to be. But Keanu Reeves and Cameron Diaz just split town, leaving blood and destruction behind them, and Cameron turns to Keanu and say something like, "You know, in all the excitement back there, we forgot to steal my husband's money. We need to go back."
Yeah. Okay. I don't care how much I get distracted while I'm committing a crime. I always remember to steal the money. Were they not paying attention in school?
Amy Winehouse makes good music, but the only thing I want to hear about her personal life is that she's gotten clean or that she's had her tubes tied.
Ditto, Britney, except for the "makes good music" part.
I really like KNOCKED UP, too. I think it showed that you can write for a young audience, and still address a serious issue.
I would never recommend getting pregnant--or getting someone else pregnant--as a strategy for maturing yourself the hell up, but it has a tendency to do that. It had better do that!
I'm not saying that KNOCKED UP was a great film. I liked it because, although it was obviously written for the college crowd, there was enough for me, a woman in my forties, to enjoy.
Honestly, women out there, how many times have you listened to a guy with bad hygeine and a beer gut go on and on about how the hottest girl at the bar last night couldn't take her eyes off him?
We all know these guys. They think they are God's gift to women. So what's the worst scenario you can think of? That you, a beautiful young woman with a lot going for you, would have too many drinks and you're lonely and your judgment is WAY off, and you sleep with one of these guys.
Bad enough. But then an even worse thing happens--you are pregnant and it has to be his. Your biological clock is ticking and you're seriously considering having the baby, and just not including him at all.
But that would be wrong. The scene where she tells him she's pregnant is just so true. That's exactly how it would go. That's what I liked about it. I could relate to it.
I certainly wouldn't put it in the same category as Porkies.
I know a lot of people hated Napolean Dynamite, and I really liked that. Once again, so much of it was true--the way I remember high school.
Just something as simple as the way the boy runs--suddenly turning and putting his head down and pumping his arms like that--I knew kids like that.
If I had been born a boy, I might have been a kid like that. He wants to be exceptional in some way, and fails miserably at so many things.
But then, explicably, he can dance. I was just mesmerized by that dance.
I don't write for that demographic. I had a manager for a while that kept telling me to dumb it down for teenage boys, and I couldn't do it. I didn't want to do it. It felt like a waste of life.
All aspiring screenwriters have to decide if they want to write what they love, or what has the best chance to sell. Since the chances of anything I write ever making it to the screen are slim, I choose to write what makes me happy while I'm writing it, and I'll admit I use my screenwriting as therapy, to work through things I'm coping with in real life.
Trust me, I am with you. I think it's ridiculous to write "entertainment" for overgrown boys who should get off their asses and live in the real world.
Some people say you have to do it, if you aim to sell a screenplay. I say there are already thousands of these floating around Hollywood on any given day. They are all pretty much the same screenplay.
Write something you'd like to see. Write something ahead of its time. Write something you can be proud of.
Write something that--if it never sells--was worth the time and energy you put into it.
Writers who leave meaningful stories unwritten so that they can write "more commercial" scripts remind me of gamblers who buy TWO Powerball tickets instead of one, because it doubles their chances of winning.
You can't stop "disposable entertainment," any more than you can stop Wal-Mart, or McDonald's, or the Kool-Aid Man. I understand your frustration, Thomas, but I don't think this is a recent trend.
The customer is always right. He may be dumber than a box of rocks, and he's still always right. The market is what it is.
Find your place in it.
Go and write something so good it can't be ignored. It'll be really, really hard. You may find you don't have time to rant and rave and insult people who have taken the time to humor you along.
I know, Thomas. I'm a bitch, today. Winter has lasted for eight months, now, I'm pretty sure. And that's my excuse for that.
I thought you made some really good points. And there wouldn't be 57 comments ahead of this one if people weren't interested in discussing the topic.
I just don't see how insulting Paula is going to help your case. Didn't you listen to her at all? She said she watches LOTS of movies, and probably more than anyone here, she doesn't pre-judge a movie, but gives it a fighting chance.
She's a skilled writer, and has directed her own films. I'm looking forward to seeing THE DONOR, which she wrote, directed, and produced. The script won the Rod Serling Twilight Zone Award.
There's so much talent on this little board. We can learn so much from each other. But, too often, people come here with their minds made up about everything, and get pissed off when someone else has another point of view.
When I get really worked up about the unfairness of life, the stupidity of the industry (Don't say "industry," Donald) and/or the decline of civilization, it's usually because I'm procrastinating my ass off.
I'm hoping you're writing the best screenplay ever written. I will go see it when it comes out on DVD.
Just how high are you?
Eat a large pie, and sleep it off.
Best of luck,
My example would be James Spader's character in SECRETARY.
I'm pretty sure Paula was hinting at all of the above.
We are often reminded to create "likeable characters." But this doesn't necessarily mean level-headed, easy-going, well-rounded people.
That's how you choose a best bud, but not the way to write an interesting character. I'm writing a story now, with a "nice" protagonist, and it's hard work making her likeable.
It's quite a trick, I'm finding out, to write a "save the cat" moment for a woman who hoards cats.
The audience will need to see that she's capable of normal human wickedness, I do believe. I'm not saying she'll "kick the cat," but she may have to steal office supplies or spit in her boss's coffee or rob a bank.
And no, James Spader's character in SECRETARY would not be sustainable over the course of a television series. I would not want to watch that. But I liked the movie.
Paula, Paula, Paula. You're going about it all wrong.
First, you need a better title for your topic. Something like this:
Sitting Alone In The Dark, Twiddling That Thing I Twiddle In The Dark, Trying To Piss Off Someone, Anyone, Enough To The Point Where He, Or She, Will Talk To Me.
Next, you have a lot of work to do on your first paragraph. This is just an idea--you'll have to write your own. But something like:
I was born at the ass-end of the Baby Boom, very near the tail, but I managed to stay clean. I spent my youth in a cloying fog of hash-smoke, while Custer's Sioux barber was mailing off a long, yellow ponytail to "Locks of Love." By this time, I was working for the Carter Administration, boiling the daily possum and shucking peanuts. Will someone throw me a bone? For I am boneless.
Something like that. Otherwise, I just don't see how you're going to get any attention.
Best of luck,
P.S. I agree with Randy, though. You are very cool.
Really? "Don't be a pussy?" I'm surprised you'd want to piss off half your intended audience, right from the git go.
Don't get me wrong--when we play cards here at the house, we call each other "titty baby" and "skanky ho," and the like. But you have to know your audience pretty well before you can call them pussies and they like it.
Even so, I hope it's a good book. Has anyone here read it?
Oh, for crying out loud.
Do you really think I read that line and thought you meant "Don't be a vagina?"
No, my "dirty little mind" knew exactly what you were (accidentally, I hope) implying--that if you'd rather read Save the Cat instead of your book then you're not a real man.
Roughly half of your audience is not male, and roughly half of that number is quite offended by the word "pussy," no matter how you mean it.
I blurt out offensive things all the time, when I'm trying to be clever. Ask anyone here.
I'm just trying to be helpful. If this is the way you're marketing your book, perhaps you might want to lose that expression.
I wish you all the best.
Please, people! Paula did NOT just call Mr. Tobin a penis! Get your minds out of the gutter! It's simply a play on words!
"Fencing for the mind."
Exactly. I like that.
Correction. It used to be fencing with words. Now it's a shit-throwing contest at the monkey house.
"If you can't tell the difference between words and shit you shouldn't be writing."
Paula Smith should be writing screenwriting how-to books.
Okay, if Terry won't "give the man credited," I will. He's got a movie in pre-production. You've gotta respect that, at least.
If I ever have a movie in pre-production, you monkeys had better give me some goddamn respect.
Sorry, Terry, I didn't mean you. I don't consider you one of the monkeys.
Notice the other recent thread, in which aspiring screenwriters are being discussed in an MBA program as a potential revenue source. If there were only a few dollars to be made off of us, we wouldn't be mentioned.
Soon there will be as many screenwriting how-to books on the market as there are unsold scripts. But the books will find buyers.
Oh, trust me. Terry is waaayyyy to busy to review this book.
So, I will. I just ordered the f*cking thing. I found it for $6.62, used, at Amazon.
I will soon return with a fair assessment of the book. And unless I can't bear to part with the f*cking thing, I will be happy to pass it along to someone else, here, when I'm finished with it.
So, hold on to your ten bucks, people--unless Rob's magical description of the f*cking thing is too much for you, and you are powerless to resist.
Ahh . . . he just came back to show us his new and improved pitch. Much better!
As for the book in question, 'twas shipped this morning, according to an e-mail I received. I will report my findings, shortly.
HA! And where will I do that? Right here in this squeaky clean thread, rather than that nasty old thing over yonder.
And THAT's why he came back and started over. He might just be smart enough to write a decent book, after all.
Dammit, Terry. That's just what I was going to say, but with a few subtle changes. Now I have to start all over. Thanks a lot.
This really IS a book about "formula." You'll have to decide for yourself if you think that's a good thing or a bad thing.
Personally, I don't think you should let the word "formula" scare you away. We all know there's a basic framework necessary to make a script read like a script. Call it a framework, a blueprint, or a formula, it's still just the bones of a good story.
Mr. Tobin gets right to the point. He suggests you skip the Introduction if you're in a hurry to get to the good stuff. I also skipped the forty pages that dealt with the hypothetical "Our Story" that he develops for us, step by step.
But I always zip through (or past) those, whenever I read a screenwriting book. Honestly, when is that EVER a good story? No one ever puts his best idea out there like that--he saves it for his next script.
So, the entire "book" that I read was about 140 pages long. A lot of it was similar to other screenwriting books I've read--but then, if there really is a "right way" to write a screenplay, you would expect some agreement among them, wouldn't you?
Anyway, I underlined a lot in those 140 pages, so now I have to keep it. It was certainly worth the money and the time it took to read it, and it'll make a good reference.
I really do wish Mr. Tobin had answered your question about "formula." That is a strong word, and one that will turn off a lot of creative people. We certainly don't need a book that tells you to plug in a variable here, and a variable there, and--presto!--it's a blockbuster.
But this is better than that. I always feel that if I get even one really good idea from a book, then it was worth the time I spent reading it. Well, I probably highlighted six really good ideas in this book.
Like I said, a lot of it was a rehash of things I'd read before. But if there's a right way to write a script, I would hope more than one insider has figured out what that is.
It started off slowly, and I thought it was written for the complete newbie. But suddenly, on page 61, there's a list of "structural elements" that I found very useful.
For the hell of it, I compared it to the outline of my current script, and was amazed at how it matched up. I found that very encouraging.
Hey, if you're going to read it, you should come back here and give your opinion of it.
One thing that I thought would be helpful to people working on their first script: Which elements to begin with so that the rest falls into place.
I could have used that about six years ago . . .
Sorry, I asked my son and my husband--both sci-fi buffs--and they haven't a clue.
But maybe you could go to scifi.com and ask for help on their bulletin board. Geeks can be very helpful, and reluctant to give up when given a puzzle to solve.
When you find out, be sure to come back and tell us!
I'm sure Linda has plugged every possible word and combination of words from her description into a multitude of searchbars.
I did, and it's not even my quest. I just love a good procrastination. I mean puzzle.
"Last, another sin you commit that would give my screenwriting teachers fits is you end scenes with dialogue. You can do this sometimes but you really need to end your scene with an action line."
Is this really a rule?
I do this often, because it makes for a faster read. And, in the same way that a joke is better if you don't explain after the punchline, I just like to slam that last line of dialogue and move to the next scene.
Sometimes, I think my last line of dialogue sets up a neat transition to the next scene.
I'm not sure if I ever read about ending on dialogue, one way or the other. But I just sampled three scripts, from Drew's Script-O-Rama. All three ended often on dialogue.
I know that the three scripts (Adaptation, American Beauty, As Good As It Gets) were written by professionals and they can do what they want. But it doesn't make sense to me to have a rule to end, almost all of the time, on description.
Just as an example, As Good As It Gets.
Simon is looking for his dog, and Melvin has just played dumb as to his whereabouts. Melvin says, wistfully, "I love that little dog."
Simon says, "You don't love anything, Mr. Udall," and goes back into his apartment.
Melvin says, to the closed door, "I love throwing your dog down the garbage chute."
Now, isn't that the right place to cut to the next scene? I don't know what "action" you could describe there that wouldn't take something back away from that line.
Maybe you're talking about genres in which there is less dialogue and more action, altogether.
Well, I certainly don't end on dialog "all the time." But I also don't feel the need to add an extra line of description to make it look all nice and square.
I'm more concerned with how the script reads, and I do think an extra line of description--usually telling the reader how one character reacts to what another character has just said--is superfluous. Sometimes, even irritating.
For example, I can't tell you how many (unproduced) scripts I've read, where someone says something reasonably clever, and the next line is "Ronaldo laughs, hysterically."
Well, the line isn't so clever, anymore. I feel like the writer is telling me what MY reaction to his line is supposed to be. It's a cheat.
If you want me to think it's an hysterically funny thing to say, then you've got to make it laugh-out-loud funny, and while I'm peeing my pants, it'll occur to me what the other character's reaction would be.
Also, I just gotta say, "description" and "action" are not the same thing. It may sound good to say, "end with a line of action," because we're all told to "show, don't tell."
Which some may read to mean, "give me a picture, not dialogue." But the extra line of description I'm talking about does just the opposite. You've just "shown" how someone feels, or thinks, or justifies his actions, by what comes out of his mouth.
It's a punch. It's "active." And hopefully, you've set up a nice, satisfying transition. I like Walter's example: "Nobody could be that stupid." Followed immediately by someone being that stupid. It loses so much if you describe anyone's reaction to that line, or--for no other reason than to end on "action"--have the character walk out the door and down the steps.
As for not leaving anything up to anyone else's vision, I'm attempting to create a blueprint. I accept that I can't call all the shots.
All I know is, I've read a lot of unproduced scripts in the past six years. And I've read lots and lots of produced scripts. I try to make my scripts read more like the latter.
Since I've been using your thread as a nice place to rant, Alexis, courtesy would suggest that I critique your first ten pages, at some point.
First of all, you are a brave girl to expose yourself to these monkeys. I don't do that anymore. I want to, believe me, but the medication is helping.
But this word of caution: Expose yourself to monkeys, and they will try to ream you a new one.
I think you have a good start. I believe it was Terry Rossio who said, "Please, for godsakes, no more scripts with a pan of the junk in the main character's bedroom." But I understand why you need it for this story.
You need to invest in some commas. They're very reasonably priced, for what they do.
I agree that there needs to be more motivation for Jonathan to move in with Charlie. Would you move in with an asshole if you didn't have to? I mean, if you weren't marrying him for his money, or something?
The only reason I can think of is that Jonathan is flat broke, or maybe he needs a place to hide.
If I were an agent, and that's not gonna happen, but if I were, and I had a writer like this who needed a fire lit under him, and hopefully, it would be a bonfire comprised of all the junk in his room at the beginning of the script, I would have to believe he was an absolute genius, and would undoubtably make me an assload of money, if only I could keep him on the strait and narrow.
See how helpful commas can be?
I don't see the living arrangement as "organic." It seems very contrived. It can't be explained later. It has to feel like the only solution, when it happens.
I loved the fact that Charlie cannot seem to fire anyone. No one listens to him, apparently. He's that guy that's nearly impossible to associate with, but for some reason it's worth sticking around, and you know you deserve whatever you get.
I also noticed that you did not have him save a cat on page 3.
You're, in fact, A MAN!? Am I the last to know?
And I thought I knew all there was to know about the crying game . . .
I sure didn't see that coming. Brava! Er, Bravo!
"I was taught you cannot sufficiently transition to the next scene with dialogue and it is what I would advise anyone who asks me."
Sounds like a rule to me, Thomas, albeit one you did say can occasionally be broken.
I have to agree with everything Walter has said on the subject, and since I can't say it better, myself, I won't try.
But I will say that if you go to Drew's Script-O-Rama and sample a few of your favorite scripts, you'll see that the trend is to end often on dialogue. Much more often than occasionally.
These are professional writers. They are writing to professional standards. I can't imagine that anyone in the business, then, would think ending a scene that way was the mark of an amatuer.
But we've all read unproduced scripts that try to direct too much, and are far too wordy, or state the obvious.
Randy, I don't understand why you get so angry when anyone disagrees with you.
Thomas, your screenwriting teacher is not God. He could possibly be wrong about this one thing.
I think my example, above, is a good one, from As Good As It Gets. I don't think it would make the scene better if the writer described Melvin turning and walking back into his apartment.
And if you thought you needed to say that he smiled, he'd smile when he said it, not after.
There are other scenes, of course, where we need to know what happens after someone says their last line in a scene. But, in this case, it makes sense to end it right after Melvin says, "I love throwing your dog down the garbage chute."
I think a good read is very important. Most of us, here, are writing spec scripts that need to get past a reader before they ever see the light of production.
Getting into a scene at the last possible moment and getting out as soon as you've got the job done well is a hallmark of good screenwriting.
I agree, though, that you should not START a scene on dialogue. Only David Mamet gets away with that!
"Many others wait until someone makes a simple statement like 'I was taught to never end a scene on dialog' and try to make it a case to personally attack someone else who agrees."
Randy, it was not a personal attack. When I posted my question, I seriously wondered if I had missed something in the screenwriting books I'd read.
That's why I asked if anyone else had thoughts on the subject. But then I did a little homework, and could find no advice anywhere else that matched Thomas' "rule." (Sorry to use the r-word, again, Thomas.)
And so, I went to Drew's Script-O-Rama to get a sense of how professional scripts addressed the issue. I didn't have my mind made up until I did a little research.
When Thomas said, "I have never ended with dialogue and if you were to ask me, I would say end with some sort of action," I felt it was necessary to speak to that, since we're all trying to learn, here, and we should all try to keep misinformation to a minimum.
I think that the reason you get angry is that you feel superior to many of us, here. You look down on those of us who choose to write screenplays, but not produce or direct them, ourselves.
So then, when any of us disagrees with you, you take it as a personal affront. We are supposed to know our place.
Film transcripts are grouped separately from film scripts at Drew's.
The film scripts are clearly labelled as a rough draft or a shooting script, or whatever. They are not transcripts made by someone from a finished movie.
Are you saying you think that someone would go to the trouble of removing the ending lines of description, over and over, to make it look like the script was that way to begin with? For what purpose?
You say you won't comment on any examples we can give from a produced script. But any examples we'd give from our own work would not satisfy you, because then you would say, "What do YOU know? You've never had anything produced."
You refuse to learn from screenwriting books, produced scripts, and other writers who are willing to take the time to help you. You berate the author of a screenwriting book because he refuses to give you personalized free advice, which I doubt you would have taken, anyway.
You don't want to learn, you want to argue. I want to write. You're on your own.
Sorry, Thomas. That was another poster that I sometimes confuse with you.
But I do believe you said that you never read screenwriting books. If you're willing to take a class and listen to a teacher's advice, then why should advice in written form be suspect?
What would it cost to go to a seminar and be taught by Robert McKee, or Christopher Vogler, or Blake Snyder? I couldn't afford that, but for a few bucks I can read the best advice they're willing to share.
Just as there are good teachers and poor teachers, there are good screenwriting books and bad ones. But, dang, there are some good ones, and I can't imagine what my screenplays would look like if I hadn't read them.
I do wish you the best of luck.
While notes from another writer can be helpful, they are generally no match for a critique by a paid professional. You will never SEE them roll their eyes, and that might be worth the money, right there.
Now, unless we're actually going to discuss Alexis von Blumenthal's piece, I think we should head home. He's getting sick of opening this thread, for nothing.
I did read your excerpt. You said you'd like some feedback, and I'll take you at your word.
Normally, you'd expect there to be a comma before the word "Inc." in the title, and before "Jr." in your name.
Nothing else goes in the line with the character name. Nothing else.
Don't capitalize characters' names in description, except for the first time you mention a character, when you introduce him or her.
Don't say something in the description and repeat it in dialogue. For example, you don't need to say, "It's barely past eight o'clock in the evening and she has her nightgown on and is settled in for the evening."
Justin's line, "What are you doing in bed, already?" is enough.
There are a lot of things in your description that are unfilmable. If an idea is something the audience needs to know, then you have to put that into action or dialogue in a way that can be seen and heard.
Examples--Don't say "the layout has changed since she's been there last," or "she wants to object but no sound comes out," or "he tries to think on his feet but Theodora's presence distracts him."
There are elements which don't ring true to me, which seem tacked-on for effect, and the effect is not good.
The lawyer shows up for only a few seconds, apparently so you can show that Theodora is contemplating divorce.
The sex scene, within an hour or two after the shit hits the fan and the couple is suddenly penniless, doesn't work for me.
Why do you need hand-cuffs AND a Japanese schoolgirl uniform? Who's going to wear the hand-cuffs? You don't dress like a schoolgirl to dominate a man, so I'm assuming they're for her. It creeped me out.
There's nothing wrong with getting a little kinky, but I'm disgusted by the thought of them role-playing that she's a hand-cuffed young girl.
Also, I could be wrong--I'm a woman, so what do I know about how men's brains work--but if I were a man who had just lost his fortune and couldn't go home again, I wouldn't be in the mood for "two hours of fantasy indulgence." (However, I probably wouldn't turn down a good blow-job.)
I would avoid using phrases that remind your audience that this is all a fiction. Such as, "My life has become a cheap, cliche'-Hollywood plotline."
I thought Walter's comments were very kind and true. Maybe I should take a page from his book, but I'll be the bad cop, here.
Theodora is a spoiled brat, with a powerful father. She gets her way with successful men by being cute, being childish, playing at being helpless, aiming to please. I think you're quite right to paint her as overly sexual.
But this is how she manipulates powerful men to take care of her. Earlier in the day, she was ready to divorce Justin, and now he's penniless and powerless. So, the sex scene does seem out of character to me.
Nothing should be thrown into a script just because it's fun, or interesting to you. Much of your backstory will never show up in the script, but if you know your characters inside and out, it will pay off in a script that reads "true."
That's a good question. Do you find Theodora likeable? What do you like about her?
You are basically trying to write a "heist" script--an elaborate plan to separate someone from a huge sum of money.
Who is your intended audience? Obviously, they are male. Are they going to root for four spoiled daughters who have already been given far too much and it still isn't enough? Or are they going to root for the father?
Ask yourself, what are Theodora's redeeming qualities? So far, correct me if I'm wrong, the only thing she has going for her is that she sincerely does love her husband, even when he's broke.
Can we see that? I don't. She's so manipulative, and so overtly sexual that everything she does is suspect.
Why does she ask the lawyer to make a special trip to shake Justin up? Because she's bored. She's got nothing better to do than wait for her daddy and her husband to provide the lifestyle she has grown accustomed to--and then she pouts because all that money-earning her husband's doing is cutting into kinky-sex time.
Your intended audience has to have some respect for Theodora, in order to give a shit what happens to her. You don't seem to grasp the idea that men don't respect a woman because she's kinky in bed. They will likely enjoy her company for a while, but that's another thing.
Obviously, movies can be written that make us care enough about the central character, to make us want him to score a huge amount of money that legally doesn't belong to him. Or her, as the case may be. Heist movies do it all the time.
But it takes a tremendous amount of skill. I sure as hell couldn't do it, at this point.
I think "Write what you know" is the best advice. Write a screenplay that means something to you personally, that you feel strongly about, whether you see commercial potential in that endeavor or not.
Once you have the mechanics of that down, then concern yourself with demographics and marketability.
Of course, a female character "using her sex" makes her less appealing to me.
I have no idea why I'm taking the time to explain this, because from what I've seen of the way you write, you won't get it. And you won't care that you won't get it.
You seem to confuse two separate entities: overtly sexual women and strong women. A strong woman, one who is confident and capable and in control of her life, is not likely to say things to a man like, "I could sure go for a gang-bang from a well-hung football team, just now." (Paraphrasing, here, from one of your other script exerpts.)
A woman who says such things is going for a reaction from a man she admires, a man stronger than herself whom she is trying to impress. She hopes that what he thinks about her is, "Oh, my God! How hot is she? What an amazing woman!"
What he will more likely think is, "What a cheap slut. How can I hit that, myself, and get away without an STD?"
She is the opposite of strong, and capable, and a force to be reckoned with. She is something to be used. She can't get what she wants out of life directly, and works to get on the good side of someone who can. And she trades too much away for what she gets in return.
I scrolled through several of your scripts, and all of your women seem the same. You say, "I like battle of the sexes relationships and how they play out in different ways."
No, you don't. You want the same sexual relationships played out, over and over, in different settings. But it's still the same scene pretty much every time, isn't it?
Paula did not call Connie an idiot. Connie doesn't believe that the contest bothered to read her script. Paula is saying she wouldn't be surprised.
Kyle doesn't know Connie, yet, and he blurted something out that he regretted. He tried to apologize, but you can't expect mercy around here.
I read words like "idiot" and "retarded" and immediately assume that the writer is disgusted or frustrated. I don't think "This person needs a beat-down."
Don't take this board so seriously. It's a great place to practice arguing about stuff, without getting our little feelings hurt.
Gene, you're one of the good guys.
I would take the first of the four, polish the hell out of it, make sure it had a beginning, middle and end. I'd enter that one, and see what happens.
Contests are an attempt to compare apples to apples. They won't know what to do with your buncha grapes.
Why should Connie make any mention, whatsoever, about her disability when entering a contest? The scripts must stand on their own, no matter what obstacles she has overcome to get them into the readers' hands.
Some contest coordinators may feel that she's trying to gain sympathy and an unfair advantage. To avoid that, she should send her entries without any comment or explanation.
Connie, your husband sounds very supportive. Perhaps you could ask him to help you fill out the applications for the contests, so that you can feel confident that everything is done as it should be. Then you wouldn't need to explain to the contest that they should be understanding, due to your disability.
You could also enlist his help if the contest contacts you for some reason, or if you have questions about your standing.
You must remember that the contest has no way of knowing if you truly have a disability. If they Google you to find out, they will only be left with many more questions.
No, they shouldn't treat you badly. They should be professional, even if their response needs to convey something negative. If I were running a contest, I would hope I'd err on the side of compassion.
Good luck to you, Connie, and congratulations for your placements.
Well said, Bobbette.
Answer them all correctly, Cadillac Eldorado. All but one, set of steak knives. Any less than that, you're fired.
I'm sorry, I have no credentials from which to answer your questions. But quoting Glengarry Glen Ross made me think I should answer this way:
Don't get into "Always Be Closing" mode too soon.
Do you have any idea how many craptastic scripts are pitched every day in Hollywood? Hell, people pay hard-earned money to pitch crap to Hollywood.
Here's my plan:
1. Write something that means something to you, on a gut level.
2. Pay no attention to the market while you're learning to write well.
3. Get criticized often.
5. Improve more.
6. Write for the market.
I have no idea if this really works. I am only on number 5, and that one takes the longest.
I'll get back to you.
Thank you for returning and explaining your comment. I wouldn't want anyone to think you were saying something like "How do I explain the white truffle to someone whose palate has not known her charms?"
I mean, it's always better to try.
I'm sure twelve people are going to jump on you and pummel you to within an inch of your life for not realizing that Connie is disabled, and has difficulty understanding the written word.
How can I explain to you what that will be like? There's no way to describe it. You'll have to experience it for yourself.
I take that back. It's like being pecked to death by chickens.
You would throw that up at me, Robert. I haven't been able to crack that one. Yet.
The cost of your ass in a rollie chair and your fingers on a keyboard long enough to finish a screenplay--thirty bucks.
Walking with a little more spring in your step from the first of May until the last week of July--the same thirty bucks.
Placing--and having your name up on the Academy's website forever, and having producers, agents, and managers requesting your script--priceless.
No, it doesn't guarantee you a damn thing beyond that. If you didn't polish the hell out of your script before you mailed it, and if you don't have several more polished scripts waiting to show to those who like your writing and want to see what else you've got, you will kick your own ass so hard you will have to use one of those donut cushions just to use your rollie chair.
And you will still think it was worth the thirty bucks.
My two pennies are not as flat as yours, but I had to put them in there, anyway.
The Music Man is still the TRUEST picture of Iowa, ever put to film.
With a capital T, which rhymes with P, which stands for POOL.
We do. Sometimes they get caught in the corn-picker. They're a bitch to get out--you know they're in there, but what can you do?
And I do mean ghosts of dead baseball players. Not people like Gene Langlais the Third. I hope I didn't confuse anyone.
I've got to say it, again. It's an addiction.
This is like telling your drinking buddy that he doesn't have a problem. How would you even know?
He seems to feel that he's given it enough of a chance. He probably has other goals, ones that offer a more certain return on his investment.
Let him go.
Mom sometimes DOES know best.
They're out there. For example, Terry Rossio has tried to be just that sort of mentor. If you haven't read "Throw in the Towel," yet, here's an excerpt: "I tried to be different. I tried to leave the door cracked open a bit. I politely asked you to send me only good stuff, your best stuff. And for years now I've been deluged by a storm of crappy query letters and mind-numbing script submissions. So many I can't keep up, can't even respond to them all. And not one of them has been any damn good."
I believe there still are professional screenwriters out there who would be willing to take fledglings under their wings and mentor them, if they glimpsed a spark of genius.
But that sort of relationship is probably like finding Mr. Right--it usually only happens when you're not looking for him. There's a "cute meet" and the rest is history.
My mom always said, "Become the person you are looking for," and I think that's still good advice.
In the meantime, paying for services is only shameful if there's a pimp involved.
I know it's frustrating, Bob.
I also know Virginia is not the hub of the movie biz. I'm in rural Iowa, and I haven't met one other person who writes screenplays, here.
Maybe if you took a screenwriting class through the UCLA Writer's Extension, that would give you a mentor--your instructor--that could last longer than the class.
Another thought I have is Two Adverbs. Have you been there, yet?
Congratulations, John! I'm so happy for you!
Cinestory has a solid reputation. It's not likely that they've overlooked your scripts.
Sometimes we're lucky, and our scripts are handed to a reader who digs us, and sometimes we're not so fortunate.
I wish you the best of luck, next time.
Well, I was kinda busy learning to write real good, so that wouldn't happen to me anymore, but I think you may be onto something.
There must be thousands and thousands of amateur screenwriters out here. We should team up, like you say, and attack!
Here's what I'm thinking, and don't say no right away. Sleep on it, and get back to me.
Here's what we do. We stop trying to improve, immediately. That would just be playing into their hands.
No. Here's what we do. Acting as one, we deluge Hollywood with I'm talkin' TONS of half-baked crap, forcing them out of sheer frustration to send back an occasional mean personal attack. Along the lines of "Do us all a favor and quit writing."
But then we DON'T. We just keep writing. And then somebody gets really mad, and says something like, "I mean it! Quit writing, you skinny-assed man-whore."
Wait. What? We've already tried that? Okay, Plan B! We learn to write real good, and we send THAT in!
Who's with me?!
Thanks for your support, Paula, but it doesn't count. You already write real good.
Without seeing the actual script and the actual coverage, I don't know how to answer. You say you were lectured on how to be politically correct, which makes me think you were not.
Don't ask me why I know this, but a lot of "lesbian sex" that's written about is offensive to actual lesbians. It's written from a male viewpoint, about what a man would want to see two women doing to each other. That's not quite the same thing, is it?
So, maybe that was the problem. I don't know. A lot depends on your audience; I wouldn't send girl-on-girl action to the Kairos Prize.
Once, I read a screenplay, which happened to be written by a man, that did very well in a big contest. In the script, a son witnesses his mother being raped.
If I were writing coverage, I wouldn't criticize that scene, though I was disgusted by it. However, I would have blasted the writer for what came later in the script--a scene in which the woman claims that, since the rape, she's had no interest in her boring sex life with her husband, because in comparison, it just wasn't as exciting, ya know, as the thrill of being raped.
If I were writing the coverage, I would have brought it to the guy's house and bitch-slapped him with it, and told him to quit writing, and then I would have called him a skinny-assed man-whore.
No, I don't believe a coverage provider should insult you, or get personal and mean. There's no call for it. They should strive to remain professional and objective.
But they're just people, after all. I think you should realize that this coverage is a gift. Many times, we are told that "the script just doesn't resonate with us," or some other generic blurb to let us down easy, and then we really have no idea what to fix.
Now you know that this may be a problem area. I'm not saying, "Cut out whatever anyone doesn't like." But I would ask a few people to read it and see if you get that same criticism.
Wait. Are you saying I'm laughable? Because that's unprofessional.
Since your reviews are such polar opposites, the big mistake would be to water it down and end up with some kind of non-descript mush that no one would bother to comment upon.
You're obviously going to keep writing, and you love it, and I would never try to dissuade you from it.
Which contest did you win? Do you write under your own name? Or do you write under Ben Lanyc?
I've read plenty of soft porn in screenplays, and if the writing is good, I think, "Hmmm . . . intriguing."
But describe the same action poorly, and surround it with a screenplay that reeks of being a first draft, and I'll think, "These people are pigs."
It's not so much what you say, as how you say it. Write it so well that if someone finds it objectionable, they'll want to rethink their own position.
But also, remember that writing to please ONLY yourself is the true definition of masturbation.
The model railroad IS cool. And there are things about that script (Flat Pennies, people) that come back to haunt the reader, long after it's put down.
I loved the "diminutive sumo wrestler" of a landlady, with her cigarette dangling from plum-colored lipstick. But the line that really kicks ass is "Sadly, there are curlers."
Yes, Steve. Do tell.
If Randy were here, he'd be telling us we're being taken for a ride.
The JEALOUSLY bit was a little over-the-top. Yes, I have known writers this delusional, but when you combine that with his refusal to tell us his real name, you come up with a guy who's yanking our chain.
Ben, there are people who write very well here, and they are continually striving to improve, but they haven't had the good fortune to place in a contest, yet.
You claim to have won a contest, placed as a semi-finalist in another, and quartered in several more. And yet, your name doesn't appear anywhere in connection with a contest.
I asked you which contest you won, and you won't answer me. I have no problem with people posting under a pseudonym, but when they start claiming contest wins, it's insulting to those of us who post under our real names, and are willing to win or lose in the light of day.
You seem like a person who craves good conversation with intelligent, honest people. That's what we're looking for, too.
I don't care if Ben has ever won a contest. There are a lot of great people here who've yet to place in a contest--some who have no interest in entering contests at all, but come here to converse with fellow writers.
You want to remain a little anonymous, fine with me. You want to pretend success you haven't earned, that's a different story.
If you can't understand why that bothers people, I don't think I can explain it to you. Maybe someone else will.
I do believe you're right, Todd.
You're right, or you're just jealous. Yes! Admit it, Todd. JEALOUSY is a MOVEMENT. It has come to MovieBytes to rear its ugly turtle-head.
Here's the portion of the ass-kicking party in which I quote myself, from last November:
"I do wish the fakers would all use obviously made up names, though, like Mr. Lanyc, named after two towns he will probably never work in."
Yes. I'm kicking my own ass. I like to argue so much that I will do so with anyone, real or imaginary.
I don't think anyone asked "Ben" to go away and never come back. I think we informed him that if he wants to be welcome at the party, he needs to clean up his act.
We're frustrated, because we're a group of adults trying to have grown-up conversation, and here's this kid who keeps interrupting us, craving attention.
Fine. Act like a grown-up and you're welcome to join the party.
Here's the kind of stuff that irritates me:
"Answer this question why would a reader insult me and then at the end tell me that I'm a talented writer. That's because the reader is human and sometimes they made mistakes and they get jealous and angry."
Now, most people would answer the question this way. "The reader said something insulting to you, and could have erased it. Instead, she let it stand, because she really thought you needed to hear it. She ended the letter telling you that you're a talented writer, because that's how these letters usually end. So maybe she thinks you are talented, in spite of this script's problems, and maybe she does not."
That would be a normal adult response. But Ben looks at the same situation, and concludes that, because the reader said he was talented, that can only mean that the writing was so unbelievably good that it aroused her jealousy to the point where it caused her to insult him.
No, he hasn't "hurt" anyone here. But I think we have a right to ask him to follow simple rules of common courtesy if he wants to join in.
He could start by answering the question, "If you've really placed in contests, as you've claimed, then which contests were they?"
It doesn't seem like much to ask.
Ah, yes! The good old days. I remember 'em well, Steve.
Used to have to trudge two miles through waist-deep snow, every morning, just to see what the people was up to at the MovieBytes.
Oh, folks kept themselves busy, back then, not like nowadays. Hell, everybody was six, seven people back then! Now, nobody's interested in being themselves, let alone anybody else.
I recollect I had me an HP Coal-Burner. Set me back twenty-five dollars. That was a pretty penny, in those days. Took up a whole room. Had to add onto the house just to keep it.
(Okay, I know I said I had to walk two miles to get to it, but that was the winter I lived in Bud Hinkey's corncrib. It's a long story.)
By howdy, it took two an a half hours to download porn. By the time you'd get your naughty pitchers, you didn't need them, anymore.
Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
Please, Junior. Do not pretend you haven't tasted my wrath.
And I'm still waiting for someone else to read Rob Tobin's book and tell me what they think of it. I liked it, but feel quilty for liking it, since it has the word "Formula" in the title. But that's another thread.
I can't see a problem, either, with sending the electronic copy, as long as you've converted it to a .pdf.
And congratulations to Robert Ward, finalist for the drama, FLAT PENNIES!
"Sadly, there were curlers."
Good luck to all finalists from MovieBytes.
Yes, by all means, Ben, go to Uncle Gene's and jump on his couch for a while.
Just for the record:
Pretentious means "claiming or demanding a position of distinction or merit, especially when unjustified."
Sound like anyone you know?
I didn't realize it was "pretentious" to ask for honesty and humility. Those seem like pretty "down to earth" concepts, to me.
Ben, I'd take Gene up on his "deal." It's the only deal I've ever heard of, in which you don't have to put up anything on your end.
But, if you want to make a man out of yourself, I'd suggest you set your standards a little higher.
I suppose it would be "elitist" of me to point out that there's no such thing as a "guilty conscious."
It was a joke, Gene.
Jeez. So, now I'm supposed to feel sorry I teased a guy too roughly while he was insulting me.
You're right, Paula. It's getting too hard to keep all the characters straight. I'm glad there's a party over at Steve's, know 'm' sayin'?
Sniff! You won, you people. You won't have little Michele to kick around anymore. I'm leaving! Hey, what's the rush? I said I was leaving!
Gene, you and I have more in common than you realize. I was never one of the "cool kids," either.
And I'm still not. I'm a skinny middle-aged woman with fifteen extra pounds around the middle, who shops at Goodwill. And, most days out here, I wear a battered old straw hat that embarrasses the hell out of my children.
I, also, was the kid who stuck up for those who were bullied, even if that got me in trouble. And it did. And it does.
Where we differ is that you think "Ben" is the underdog. I think the writers here who have worked hard for their contest placements, and those who have yet to placethey are the underdogs. When I felt that "Ben" was trying to brag up credentials he didn't have, I thought he needed to be called on that.
I know that you've got a lot of contest wins and placements under your belt, but a lot of people come here who are just starting. I admire those who are willing to come right out and say, "I dinked out." They're looking for an open, honest relationship with us. I just don't think it's fair to them, to claim contest wins that you haven't earned.
None of you who are incensed with me have addressed that, yet.
"Ben" mused that he could understand why readers would pan himhis writing was so brilliant that the reader must have become inflamed with jealousy and anger. Now, that's an ego. Hardly sounds like an underdog to me.
If you want to use a different name, I can understand that. I use my maiden name, just to be a little anonymous. But I use it all the time, whenever I write. I'm not trying to hide from what I say, only from crazy people who could find out too easily where I live, by having my married name.
But if you're going to say you're placing in contests, to give yourself some "chops," then you should be willing to tell us the names and dates, if you're asked. Otherwise, don't bring it up.
You've decided that I'm a bully; therefore, anyone I confront must be the underdog. If you'll scroll through "all messages by this author," you'll find that I've confronted the following:
A writer who stated, "The Chinese do not have the morals that most North Americans and many Europeans have."
An author of a screenwriting how-to who used the word "pussy" in his promotional message to us.
A writer whose sex scenes, I felt, degraded women.
And a writer who said that when you get bad coverage, you should "get a team together and attack" them, instead of learning from it.
I'll admit that I'm especially sharp-tongued when I have evidence that someone's a "poser." I think that's because I tend to not think of him or her as a real person, but more of a character in a story. That's one of the dangers of playing a character on the boardpeople don't see you as real. People also tend to lump you into a composite with all the other posers who have come and gone, because you could easily be any of them.
I'll also admit that I get especially argumentative, here at MovieBytes. I'm not like this out in the real world. And I would never debate like this on, say, a prairie restoration board. I believe Thomas is right, in that, as writers we should be able to match wits with those who criticize us. It's part of being a writerto put together a well-formed response that makes people think. And one that is, hopefully, entertaining to read.
Geoff, I'm sorry I didn't give you a :o) after I pointed out your typo. Ask anyone who's been here a long timeI'm always on the other side of that fight. But I was exasperated by your statement that "somebody must have a guilty conscience."
Of course, I should be the one to respond to Gene's charges! I was obviously the ring leader. So I thought it was silly to "hint" that I must realize I'm guilty, since I'm the one who responded.
Jean, what I was trying to do to was to build a consensus that we were not going to make it easy for posers. In the past, we've tried ignoring them, but often we'd feel they had no real interest in screenwriting, only in stirring up trouble. Sometimes, whole threads were devoted to one person signing on as three, arguing, essentially, with himself. A screenwriter would start a thread to get an answer, the thread would get hijacked, and the initial question was never really answered. It's just not as easy as it sounds to ignore it.
Once in a while, someone would ask a poser a direct question about his claims, or catch him in a lie and confront him. But he'd side-step it and we'd drop it, because it seemed futile.
For a change, I thought we could make it clearer, that no, we weren't going to just forget about it. And it was working, I thought, because more people were sick of the charades, than were sick of the confrontation. Obviously, the experiment was doomed from the start, but it was worth a try.
The people we all miss here did not leave because it "got so ugly." They left because they were disappointed that MovieBytes is not a place where serious writers gather. It's a place where good conversation is so often interrupted by pointless drivel that it becomes not worth the trouble, anymore.
Thomas, you impress the hell out of me. If anyone could take issue with the way I've spoken to him, it would be you. Thank you for understanding. A couple of years ago, I was given the gift of straight talk from a coverage provider, who used to post on this very board. It has made me a much better writer, I believe, though it stung at the time. I still have a long way to go, but anything worth having is worth working hard for.
I do realize that I like to spank people too much. I'm sure it's from being on the receiving end of that, too many times, during my formative years. :o)
Thank you, Paula, Heather, Steve, Robert, Walter, Thomas, Terry, Todd, Bob, Patrick, James, and even "Ben," whoever you are, for your kind words. You know I've got to get out of Dodge for a while, so things can cool off, and everyone can get back to work, including me.
Thanks, Walter. Your post came in while I was composing my epic.
I won't be able to stay away forever. There are such amazing people here. And maybe I can learn to quit stirring the shit, as Steve would say.
Anyway, I'm off to Missouri in the morning, and when I come back, I'm moving back into Bud Hinkey's corncrib for the summer. It's real quiet in there.
Oh, goody! Walter's back. Maybe I'll come back, too.
I don't watch a lot of musicals, but from what I've seen, the logline of most of them would be "A womanizer/playboy/riverboat gambler/misogynist falls in love with an innocent young thing. Will he be true? Can love conquer all?"
Something like that, with a lot of singing and dancing. There's only so many characters and locations and dance styles that can be plugged into that formula, before someone hits on "cowboy" and "state dance competition" and "salsa dancing."
And yours is not salsa dancing. I know that the loglines sound similar, but, as you said, there's a lot more to yours than just a logline. Same is true of theirs.
Loglines can be very similar, but the movies turn out to be nothing alike. So wait and see.
I know it's hard to hear this, but the people who will sell a screenplay are those who are willing to make it a career. They always have another idea for a screenplay, and they come back again and again when they're knocked down.
Something like this happens to one of them, and they say, "Ha! Do you think that was my one good idea? Not even close."
Sorry, but I'm pretty sure that's what it takes.
Thank you, Jean. It's good to be back.
I'm glad you came to your senses, Walter. This IS the best party in town.
Even so, I've learned to arrive fashionably late. I've also learned to duck out early, before the cops need to be called.
Janet, I would love to see your dance musical filmed as written, right here in Iowa. I remain hopeful, right along with you.
I just saw this year's Nicholl Finalist list, and I'm so happy to see your name up there, Marleine!
You're a gifted writer, and you've deserved the honor for a long time. I wish I could take you out to Hamburger Hamlet to celebrate.
I don't know if you visit Moviebytes, anymore, but just in case you do . . . Good luck in the rest of the competition!
Connie did have a terrible accident a few years ago, resulting in a traumatic brain injury.
While I understand that extreme personality changes can be caused by head injury, and that Connie cannot be held responsible for the hateful messages contained in these videos, I can't just pretend that I'm happy she's making them.
I'm appealing to Connie's family, here. I don't know if you ever go online to see where her hobby is taking her, but if you read this, please go to Youtube, and watch every minute of the videos before deciding whether this is harmless or dangerous.
I'm particularly distressed by the photos of Connie aiming a handgun, while saying hateful things about the president. I'm worried about her extreme hatred for black people, in general, and her access to firearms.
I'm concerned when she says that Jesus told her to make these hate-filled videos. What else will Jesus tell her to do?
Even if you think she would not harm anyone, do you realize that while she's spewing these hateful messages, she's showing her home address to the world?
I almost didn't write this warning. Then I remembered that every time there's a terrible tragedy, people look back and see all the signs, and ignore them.
Connie, you're very talented. I don't think you should stop making videos. I just think you should ask your husband or daughters, "Is this appropriate?" before uploading them to Youtube.
It grieves me that there are people who can say such things, and have so much contempt for their fellow human beings.
I'm giving Connie the benefit of the doubt, that she wouldn't have said those things had it not been for her brain injury.
And that's what "pissed off" looks like.
Connie, there's a Proverb that I remember, and I'm sure you know it. "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly."
You call us friends. You don't want anyone to be mad at you, but you call our attention to the videos you've made, in which you say shocking, hateful things.
Not every voice that speaks to you is of God. God isn't about hate. Don't you remember 1 John 20? "If a man says, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar."
Oh, well . . . I realize that there's nothing I can say that will make you think differently. No one's going to change your beliefs, but I encourage you to change your actions. If you want to have friends, you have to be friendly.
Dumping those videos would be a good first step.
I came back here, this weekend, to scroll through Steve's old posts and reminisce. Man, that guy was funny and talented and kind-hearted and naughty.
Thank you, Steve. We miss you, already.
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