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Keep It Simple: What Writers Can Learn About Plot From Music Videos

The scripts that pass through my door or desktop often share one thing in common: they’re not simple enough. As I’ve said here, here, here and here, so often stories have so many threads it’s hard to know exactly what is going on as it is difficult to see which is the “main” one. It’s not something that features suffer from exclusively either; often TV pilots have a similar issue and I’ve even seen short films with it too on the page and on-screen. So how can we prevent ourselves from overloading a script with too much plot? By keeping… Read More »Keep It Simple: What Writers Can Learn About Plot From Music Videos

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SPECIAL OFFER: 20% Off for Blog Readers on Script Reading

Need some feedback on your feature, TV Pilot or similar? DEVELOPMENT NOTES – normally £45, to my lovely Blog Readers £36. For this you’ll get a logline and about 6 pages of notes, tackling any issues your draft may have in-depth, like structure, character, exposition, with suggestions for development in further drafts. Useful for those drafts where the writer is still developing the story and/or certain elements, or those pieces where the writer is unsure what to do re: conflicting feedback or similar. OVERVIEW REPORTS – normally £35, to my lovely Blog Readers £28. For this you get a logline… Read More »SPECIAL OFFER: 20% Off for Blog Readers on Script Reading

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Define and Differentiate

My private stalker Jon Peacey (yes I did get the horse’s head in the mail, thanks) asks this in the comments section of the previous post: Would you say that, certainly at early stages of a potential career, it comes down to trying to display absolute genius brilliance while minimizing risk idiocy? Tempering idiosyncrasy/deranged outlandish foibles with reality? This is a difficult one. Should a writer early on in their career fold to “expectations” and produce a spec that follows the “rules” no matter what? Is it possible to produce a spec that shines with “genius brilliance” if it is… Read More »Define and Differentiate

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S/D: Whiter Than White

“Too much black” is something that script readers get used to. You get your scripts, on paper or electronically, and the first thing you do is open it, look at the first page and either a) groan or b) emit some sort of “surprised sound”. In other words, the density of black is something readers check for. The groaning is because a script with a lot of black means, right from the first page, this is a script that’s going to take longer. Given that readers are not paid on the basis of page count and/or black by anyone other… Read More »S/D: Whiter Than White

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A Little Less Description, A Little More Action Please

I’m not fond of those “scriptwriting sayings” that gurus, websites, seminars and books bark at writers, since so many need much more clarification (“Show It Don’t Tell It” anyone?), especially for the new writer. There is one however that I do make an exception for and that’s @wcmartell’s: Scene description is scene action. I love this one. It sums up exactly what it means. It’s the Ronseal method of writing here in that it does exactly what it says on the tin, no further clarification required. Even the complete writing novice can look at that and say: “Ah, yes. In… Read More »A Little Less Description, A Little More Action Please

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7 On Structure #7: The Point Is There Is No Point

SPOILERS: Lost Highway I had a boyfriend once who liked arthouse films. He would regale me, sometimes for hours at a time, about the various plotlines he loved so much. Yet whenever I would ask, “What’s the point?” of a particular narrative, he’d say, as if I had clearly lost my mind, “This is arthouse, Luce. There isn’t one.” Is there no point to arthouse film? I would argue there absolutely, categorically, is a point. All arthouse films have something to say, even if you haven’t got the foggiest what it is. If you consider a film like LOST HIGHWAY… Read More »7 On Structure #7: The Point Is There Is No Point

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7 On Structure: Top Heavy

SPOILER ALERT: 28 Days Later / Resident Evil/ 28 Weeks Later Forgive me Bloggers, for I have sinned… It has been FIVE days since my last post on structure… How can you ever forgive me, especially you Dublin Dave?! 😛 So– Have I mentioned this screenwriting malarkey is like a house of cards? Oh yeah, I have. And also one of those tile puzzles where you move ’em around to get the pic. Oh, I’ve likened it to a jigsaw too, right right. I could say it’s also like a dress: get your measurements wrong and you aren’t going to… Read More »7 On Structure: Top Heavy

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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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Who You Gonna Call?

So, since the treacherous Andrew called me The Dragon Lady on the SP Screenwriters’ Bulletin this week, I thought it best to dispel this myth that I will scorch your script into ash. I won’t. But I will chop it into little pieces. Why? ‘Cos a script is the sum of its parts. It has to be. I might always bang on about stuff like structure (much to the chagrin of the mysterious DD it appears! Loving your work darling btw, MWAH), but a good script is bomb-proof. A reader should slice and dice your script, stick it back together… Read More »Who You Gonna Call?

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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 # 4: Narrative Logic

SPOILERS: SPIDERMAN and ALIEN I’ve suspected for some time now that my nine year old lad is really an impostor. Approximately three weeks ago (around the time we moved, in fact) my all-rocking, Hells Angel son (he’d have a mullet if I let him – when he grows up I’m sure he will look just like the boyfriend in ERIN BROCKOVICH, or at least I thought he would, *sob*), suddenly started listening to The Prodigy instead of Tool and Nine Inch Nails and even started chastising ME for swearing. Like all good mothers however I told myself it was just… Read More »7 On Structure # 4: Narrative Logic

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7 on Structure # 3: Keeping It Up

Some writers are getting better at presenting themselves: they are realising that first impressions count. They’ve noticed that, to get taken seriously in some of the bigger circles (or even medium-sized ones), they need to start well in order to have a good stab at overcoming the sizeable competition they are up against. So they’re stating their intent; they’re setting up their protagonist and his/her goals; they’re formatting well and their script sails past page ten and into a full read. In short, their Act One rocks. Nice one. So what’s the problem? They can’t keep it up. I’m seeing… Read More »7 on Structure # 3: Keeping It Up

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