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7 On Structure # 5: Reel Writing

Many thanks to the marvellous Chris Soth who agreed to play a part in my series on structure by allowing me to reproduce one of his articles on his famed Mini Movie Method of film structure on this blog. Enjoy!——————————————————————————THE LOST LANGUAGE OF STORY: BE A “REEL” WRITER Don’t you love movies about the movies? I’m not talking remakes of movies that were far better the first time around, or even worse, creatively bankrupt works that don’t purport to be remakes but ARE, inferior, watered-down versions of stories have already been done well. I mean movies like SINGING IN THE… Read More »7 On Structure # 5: Reel Writing

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Dialogue Is The Least Of My Problems

Writing a spec screenplay is difficult. Writing a spec screenplay that someone will say, “Bloody hell! This is brilliant! I’m going to pay this scribe well and not change this concept beyond recognition!” is akin to making it up Mount Everest on rollerskates. You may make some headway, but chances are you’ll slide all the way back down and collapse in a bloodied heap. Any movies that are made of your script will be changed drastically from what you first conceive. That’s the fate alloted to all scribes. Why fight the inevitable? With a bit of luck, the movie made… Read More »Dialogue Is The Least Of My Problems

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7 On Structure #1: Preference

Structure. We all know it, we all do it… Don’t we? Well actually, structure is probably the most talked-about element of screenwriting since it’s probably the element that is most maligned, misunderstood and misused. Certainly it’s the element that I write most about in my coverage for private clients in particular, but also in reports for writing initiatives, funding cos and indies in terms of whether a script is “ready” or not for development (the usual assertion being that, if a structure is bad – or as my favourite non-technical term goes, “lumpy” – it isn’t). So, here are the… Read More »7 On Structure #1: Preference

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Top 5 Scripts We Can Learn From

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, since one of the most often asked questions I get is “What script can I read that will help me improve as a writer?” My answer? There is NO one script that will help you improve as a writer, for no script is perfect. Also, our ability to obtain scripts – whether it’s a transcript, the “right” draft (ie. the one that made it to the screen), etc – is limited largely to the internet. Then there’s your personal preferences, from genre right through to whether you like/dislike certain elements… Read More »Top 5 Scripts We Can Learn From

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Please Leave A Message And I’ll Get Right Back To You

Many thanks to the peeps that emailed to wish me a happy birthday yesterday… 28. Yuk. I was supposed to be a squillionaire by now and have my own TV series like Lynda La Plante. But let’s brush over that bit and concentrate on the good bits – successful reading business, kids, husband, yeah that works for me. But I better be a squillionaire by next year else I’ll have to release said husband and kids back into the wild since they’re obviously the ones distracting me from greatness. Right, I’m off to sunny Bournemouth tomorrow… FOREVER! That’s right, the… Read More »Please Leave A Message And I’ll Get Right Back To You

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Don’t Waste My Mutha*$%*^* Time!

Love that line. Al Pacino in HEAT. I forget the mechanics of the scene exactly – I think he was questioning-stroke-threatening an informant – but that’s what good movie moments are made of in my book: you may not remember the whys, you remember the how. And Al Pacino was so manically exhuberant here, repeating the line just enough without becoming irritating, that it stuck in my head and undoubtedly countless other viewers’. We all want these moments in our screenplays – those lines and moments people repeat to each other, out of context. It’s those little bits of movie… Read More »Don’t Waste My Mutha*$%*^* Time!

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Structure and Pace

Yesterday I talked about Story and Plot, how they were ultimately married yet lead very different lives: I’m reminded here of me and my husband, for although we are married (durr) and have some stuff in common like the kids and cats, we couldn’t be more different: I like to write. He likes to run wild on the moors like a savage. Really. So it comes as no surprise then that Story and Plot’s kids, twins Structure and Pace, are also very different. Structure is male and ego-centric; why wouldn’t he be, when people talk about him all the time?… Read More »Structure and Pace

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Story Vs Plot

So Phill Barron has this post about character vs story, with a hilarious (not to mention foul-mouthed) paraphrasing of Tony Jordan’s assertion that it’s character, not story, you should start with when coming up with your ideas for scripts. Yet should you start with character? This is an interesting point. Certainly when I was at university I had a lecturer who was absolutely positive it was character. He would bang on about the fact we had to know EVERYTHING about our characters, even what they “had for breakfast”. We would get character sheets where we would have to write character… Read More »Story Vs Plot

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A Dream Within A Dream

Hello to Script Pete, who emailed me the other day with this question: “Character is institutionalized…..deluded into imagining she is a singing star! Do you consider, beginning @ page 49 the next 26 pages are mixed over 60 pages…..too many in dream? Dream scenes I was told is difficult to put on film? 109 pages total ie: 26 dream 83 real…” I find the difference between dream sequence and “reality” in film a bit of a contradiction in terms; whenever people talk about reality or realism in film, I wonder if there is any such thing, philosophically-speaking? Edgar Allen Poe… Read More »A Dream Within A Dream

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Arena, Part 2: Resonance

Some interesting comments and questions were raised yesterday, proving that what constitutes an Arena is not only a little controversial, but touched with a soupcon of subjectivity. I made Shell’s brain melt yesterday (Hi Shell) by suggesting that Arena goes beyond the “world in which your story operates”. To recap, I suggested that Arena can not only go beyond your actual story and become a reflection of the theme and/or message behind it, it can also become a character in its own right, suitably freaking our Jason out to boot. Before I begin, I should point out that perhaps I… Read More »Arena, Part 2: Resonance

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Your Script Is A House

So the vendors didn’t accept our offer. I thought I would be disappointed, but the vendors were such 24 carat WANKERS that I’m just mad as hell. The price they wanted for a house that needed that much work was totally unrealistic; I went off it in seconds. I don’t watch Kirsty and Phil and Sarah Beeny for nowt you know, you can’t pull the wool over my eyes punks! They’re the ones that lost out, not us: we can find something a hell of a lot better than that with more potential and less work. It had salt and… Read More »Your Script Is A House

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