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OK, folks. I need some help here.
I am having the WORST case of writer's block everytime I sit at the computer to write a one page synopsis of my completed script!
It's like my mind and body won't allow me to butcher my complex story into a one-pager. But as you all know, it's part of the Biz and has to get done.
Any suggestions as to how I can get the ball rolling?
A producer once told me NOT to tell what it's about BUT to tell the story.
The best advice I got was to write it as if you were telling the story to a captive audience, you know, like "Imagine that . . ." Make sure to include what your main character wants and the obstacles to that goal. You do not necessarily have to reveal if they succeed or not; in fact, if you leave it a little unclear, you just might make them want to read the script. And I wouldn't restrict it to one page at first, just start writing. If you go too long you can always edit down.
If the writing block really has you all tied up, try this. Take a tape recorder and a friend, significant other, spouse, etc and tell him/her the story or what your script is about. Don't worry about time. Tell it three times to get a relaxed version out. Take the tape recording of the third time and transcribe it on the computer.
Now boil the transcribed text into shorter and shorter versions until you have squeezed it down to a synopsis. First get rid of all the hems and haws. The cut out all that is not essential to understanding the basic story. Don't give Back Story, just the fact. I've found this technique useful in bypassing the dreaded Writer's Block Beast within me.
I suggest you throw your script away, write a newer version of The Goonies or some action piece of crap like Speed, and then just say exactly that. Some asshole manager or agent who makes a living out of pushing shit scripts into million dollar deals will jump at it, cream on it, and then muster up an unequaled amount of moronic passion for it. Bam! You’re a screenwriter.
High concept = commercial shit
Dealing with fools is making me insane!
If you're forcing it to come out, expect hemorhoids!!!
If you just sit and wait, naturally it'll all come out okay!!!
YOU are making yourself crazy with a variable twist of your creative juices! Too many do that and it's pretty boring!!
GOTTA TRY SUMPIN GNU!!!D.G.
A percentage of these posts were constructive and helpful.
I keep rewriting the synopsis until I now have enough paper to ignite logs in a fireplace.
When is it finished?
Write the logline. Then write the stuff that you wish you could have squeezed into the logline but it would have made it too long.
Highlight the important stuff that the logline doesn't do justice to. Don't tell the end, leave some reason for them to have to read the script.
And, on another topic, fools did not make SPEED. Speed is a great Hollywood action film. All action films should be as good as SPEED. But not all Hollywood films should try to be SPEED, which, I guess, is what they are trying to do.
Mylo, Steve and dist,
Speaking of " Speed " and writing a synopsis - Glenn Plummer(Black Guy in the Jag) just read a synopsis of mine, loved it and got it to Don Cheadle -who liked it, asked for the script, which was hand delivered to him by Glenn last Fri. The synopsis was a heafty 3 pages long. The length didn't seem to bother anybody.
A good synopsis can open doors as long as it reflects a good story..
Best of luck
Speed sucked. I tried to watch Speed so many times, and I couldn't stay awake, not once.
YOU GUYS ROCK! (Ahhh... I feel loved).
Thanks for the advice,
The Logline-- one sentence for high concept and no more than 60 words.
The Synopsis-- 400 to 600 words and on one page.
The Treatment-- sometimes up to 50 pages and very indepth details.
Just come up with some absolutely crazy and outrageous lines. I am coming to the realization that if you want to be noticed in La La Land that you better be screwing someone that knows someone.
Go after the Indies, much more receptive for real true writing.
I saw E.T for the first time today at the theatres Wow. Who did that writer bend over the office desk to get that one on the screen.
To answer your question about ET:
The screenwriter, Melissa Mathison, was screwing Harrison Ford at the time (I kid you not). They were married a very long time but recently divorced.
Got any sexy movie star friends?
Here's how you do a synopsis:
You know how you have a three-act structure? Same goes for your one page synopsis.
Three paragraphs. First paragraph summarizes the first act, second the second, and third the third. Each should be of equal length.
Simple, easy to read, and shows you know how to write a script.
To paraphrase the poet:
"Brevity is beauty, beauty brevity -- that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know"
There are more people than ever writing screenplays, and less and less good movies coming out. It's the dark ages of Hollywood, I tell ya. They even turned Woody Allen into a hack. Dreamworks got their hands on him, and he can't seem to make a movie worth a crap anymore.
I'd like to say that the problem is that Hollywood has shut its eyes, but really, the movie going public has shut its mind. It's all supply and demand. They don't have to make great films to make great money, so they don't.
Take Blackhawk Down for instance. I haven't seen it, but I served with some of the guys who were there -- different units -- and they are all appalled at the result. Lance Twambly, who was depicted in the movie, is a really nice guy, a forest ranger now, and he was so disgusted that he called the actor who played him, Ethen something, and bitched him out. I met almost all the guys depicted in the film, only know a couple of them well, and when I saw the trailer, I was just sickened. They made a corny film about American soldiers, made them just like any other Hollywood war heroes, and the real people, even the real nature, of Rangers is so much more interesting than the same old crapola do-gooders they made them out to be. Doesn't it make a story more interesting to show a coward as a coward and not exalt everyone involved to the status of hero? I don't know; I heard the action was good; maybe I'll rent it.
Anyway, I have hope. There are still people out there looking for what they consider to be great, and every one of them can't have bad taste, can they?
One man's bad taste is another man's
Thanks two Steves and Craig.
On this synopsis, I'm trying to write it with an HB pencil, then blue ball point pen then black ink pen and then on the celebrated computer.
Result: Still incomplete. An agent has been waiting for a long time. Why can't they be satisfied with a logline and the script?
After having to write a number of synopses after the fact, I swore I was never going to write another script until I had the logline and a written synopsis.
I just finished a synopsis for my next script, and I'm happy. Okay, I have 30 pages of the script written, but I still have a finished synopsis and logline before the script is finished.
There are a lot of examples on different sites, some for produced movies, that are helpful. And a book which I've found okay but not fantastic.
My suggestion is just write - everything you can think of. You can always clean it up after.
If Woody Allen can't write a good movie that's his fault, not the studio. The Curse of Jade Scorpion was practically unwatchable - not because it was a horrible script, it was a fun "little" script - but because Woody Allen was in it. Woody Allen is NOT a good actor; he was a great comic performer, but now that he's older, the same schtick just doesn't work anymore. It's like watching Abbott and Costello movies when they were older. Scary.
Curse of the Jade Scorpion was unrehearsed or something. Every performance in it was like from a reading or something, except for Helen Hunt's. I think the movie was rushed, and I don't think Allen put much into it. He's made some serious stinkers before, but this one was really bad. Also, I liked him in the one before that, the one with Tracy whatever her name is. Dreamworks said they are out to specifically make Allen's movies more mainstream, and I think we've seen the result.
I struggled for a long time trying to write a good synopsis. Last week I paid scriptmag.com $100 to do one for me. I'm putting my own polish on it but they did a good job for me. I probably wouldn't have hired them if this thread had started a week earlier though--there's great advice here. One question though: They advise me that when sending a script out to an agent or producer, it should have no front or back cover, but just the title page attached and nothing else. Is this a new standard? Thanks
I wish they would just read the FREAKIN script.
Yes to covers. Acually use a larger back cover and do a double fold to cover the brad tips. I have been praised for this step. Buy the FREAKIN script.
My system is this and in this order
Ping--- the idea/title
the treatment/outline scene by scene
the dialogue and description
the finishing touches
Professional analysis-- the script not me you wise asses.
finally turning down all the hundreds of requests because you can't keep up with all activity.
go find a synopsis on the net that fits your ideal, copy and paste, and change a some words. I think everything has been written about anyway.
(or else start with: it was a dark, stormy night)
What the hell is a double fold? If you fold the back cover over, then it will be exposing that much of the innards, right? You have to explain that one, ming.
just give us your theme and most of us will try to help you, I wouldn't worry about any of us trying to take your story.
best to you
Oh sure Brandon my friend, it is like Origami.
The script size is 8&a half x 11
The front cover is the same.
The back cover is 9&a half x 11
If you are looking down on a table at your script, the script is all stacked in a pile but the back cover is put through the brads but facing to the left. Like you would bend the back of a book open.
Bend the brads closed as normal then fold the back cover over the brads and into the normal position a back cover should be in and voula... covered brads!
I hope this makes sense. No shit, I have had 6 passes that told me nice touch with the covered brads and send me your next project.
You should forget about writing because YOU have a million-dollar idea on your hands!!! You should start a seminar that shows writers how to do this brad/cover folding deal. Sounds like the suits really like it...
People get their panties in a wad about brads, don't they? It's interesting that they even comment about it!
It reminds me of a wannabe producer who recently read my script, told me that he loved it but was looking for a romantic comedy instead, then said, "By the way, your picture on your website is fabulous. Have you ever thought about acting?"
I thought, no, I'm a writer. If I was an actress I wouldn't be wasting my time with you... Bizzzzanche.
I hate getting dumped by people who are just in love with my brads.
I think you should be an actress and a screenwriter. Do you know how to Riverdance also? I think you would make a marvelous performer and would offer much creativity to the world.
Okay, I went overboard. Keep on writing, baby!!
I didn't forget about you, baby. I was just busy writing... (what a concept!?)
I can't Riverdance but I am one hell of a Fluff Girl (gotta eat while I'm writing, right? No pun intended).
By the way, I finally finished the damn synopsis. Thank you all for your wonderful advice.
Mylo... aren't you going to share it with us?
You mean the synopsis? I wouldn't want to bore you all with it here. But just in case you're dying of curiosity, my script is an erotic thriller about a high-priced PR man who fears that the woman he raped years ago has killed his old college roommates and is after him next. It's in the vein of FATAL ATTRACTION and THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE but very Gen X...
Nice idea, Steven, but ditch the covers.
I am now of the opinion that covers are a waste of time: just make the title page the cover.
It's all about speed, and getting noticed. It's easier to not deal with covers. It's easy to read a script's title by just looking at it, instead of having to open it.
Use two brads, and washers, so it will hold together.
Let's never talk about this again.
The problem is that there is differences with every prodco and agency.
Is it 2 brads or 3?
Covers or no covers?
It's all about what is in the fuckin script. You know the content. Why should I have to be concerned with some schmuck tossing my script because I like to use my cover and 3 brads.
But you know I have to, I have to freakin conform.
So far, I have had praises about the way I make script submissions so I will keep it that way.
I think I know why everyone obsesses over the look of the script -- binding, the number of brads, covers, all that.
And that is because nineteen out of twenty scripts are a s*** sandwich.
When you already know what's inside, only the bread is ever interesting anymore.
(evil, cynical) Craig
Some people enjoy a nice shit sandwich, so I'd like to take this opportunity to stand up in defense of the shit eaters of the world and say, "hey, to each his own".
Go slaughter a cow or turkey and slap some mayo on it, you barbarian. But, if we all ate shit, the world would be a cleaner place.
Save the environment; eat a shit sandwich...and have a bowl of piss soup while you're at it.
Such a delightful visualization you've given all of us. My compliments on the elegant choice of words, so powerful, so visual. Keep up the excellent writing.
Brandon and The Other Steve
Is it my imagination or did Craig just tell us that 19 out of 20 scripts will be shit. Well fuck me, I guess I should just blow my head off. No use writing anymore, Hollywood is just too cynical and I hear they like sandwiches.
Too bad I know better. Until some of the "greater" powers that be, tell me different, I will give them the tastiest shit they will ever sink their taste buds on.
As for the synics and the negative asswipes maybe it is time that you used your talent for something else. Oh, I know, a PLUMBER. The shit will look goo on you!
Typos, bad spelling and nasty language.
Sorry about that.
Take a negative and make it positive.
I think 19 of 20 scripts are crapola too, which is why I'm determained to write 20. I'll beat the odds one way or the other, even if 19 of my 20 scripts are only 1/2 a page long and look like this: "iugiresgisarb giusabhg
iuwre_*&&ahi uew4rhb iuerwaiew uarng^%$#eirj gneiug"
By the way, I'm looking for some feedback on my new script entitled "jdfks^%$^% fdbdsfg edrguy". Here's the logline: ierhiuerhgiewurhirewg3u wrouheriuh39ur wrgheriug rwiuhrewg9iuer 9iuwer ewriu rewiuohewrg ergoiuegiuergiu gr eriuge.
If anyone would give it a read for me, I'd be most appreciative.
You know, Brandon, when you are up there... giving your Academy Award speech (all smiles and kiss ass)... we will all remember what a loveable fucked up son of a bitch you were.
I'd like to thank the academy, not only for this award, and not only for letting me live in the basement of this theatre, and not only for the scraps of food provided me by the esteemed members, and not only for getting me out of jail after that terrible misunderstanding involving that 13 year old girl, and not only for funding my stay at Betty Ford and helping me finally put away the base pipe forever, and not only for their generous contribution to my newly founded charity helping to combat the compulsion to publicly masturbate, but for this award as well.
Also, I don't think I'd be where I am today, if it weren't for my manager Ass Face, my agent Scummy Liar, my attorney Cheating Gutter-slut, and all those people at MovieBytes who supported me through all my efforts, no matter how many times I showed up at their homes.
I'll see you all at the parties! Rock on! Good luck Jean Claude Van Damn; I'm pulling for you, baby.
Sorry... or maybe not... but indeed, most scripts are s***. I wish it weren't so, but I've read WAY TOO MANY of them to deny myself the truth.
I didn't say YOUR script was s***, or that any of our scripts here were s***. We should always be striving to write the best shit we can (do not confuse the best shit, with plain old s***). I try to!
And that's why it's not so bad: because it means less competition for us.
Craig, either write the word "shit" or don't. Thank you.
I did BETTY FORD once, literally.
OOOOOOOh those grey hairs on her legs.
Gerald, you are a lucky man!
Craigy--- I'm an ass but it's a cute one
s***, f###, D#&#, p~~~, b##%#^, this is the title of my next film. Wait till you see the logline.
Marcel... I think you misspelled even some of those words.
My, has this thread degenerated.
You know, next it'll be a question about character arc, that will end in an orgy of golden showers and fecophilia.
With such noble efforts to keep this thread on the up and up, efforts like this:
"I think I know why everyone obsesses over the look of the script -- binding, the number of brads, covers, all that. And that is because nineteen out of twenty scripts are a s*** sandwich."
...it's a wonder we've degenerated to a level beneath you.
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