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
Many thanks to the intriguingly-named Billy The Kidney who emailed me asking what type of preparation is “best” before diving into a draft head first. Before I begin, I should probably offer some kind of disclaimer, but you know the drill: writing is subjective, so preperation – and what constitutes preparation – is also subjective. I had a writer friend once who believed that preparation for a night’s writing included snorting four lines of coke, drinking innumerous bottles of Bud and smoking fifteen cigarettes. He would then write for approximately twenty hours solid and produce about three pages. He’s now… Read More »What Kind Of Writer Are You?
A writer writes. It’s the nature of the beast, the whole point. You write because you have to, because you have a need to communicate a story in some way, whether that’s because you want fame and fortune, respect and security or because you want to give the world a message. Whatever the case, I’m sure you are all aware of what I call THE URGE – that moment where an idea hits and you have no choice but to get it down on paper. You may be in bed, picking raisons off the carpet or going to the post… Read More »Your Vision
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
Many thanks to David, who asked I blog about Arena. Arena is a term I use with abandon, since until quite recently, I thought it was universal in that “everyone” knew what it was. I learnt it first at university and it was then reinforced for me through working for both literary agents and writing initiatives, where it often comes as part of the actual report templates: How does the writer reveal/use arena in this script? etc etc. So Arena is important. People are looking for how you use it in your script. But what is it? Well, the dictionary… Read More »Arena, Part 1
Genre. Defined by screenwriters’ salvation Answers.com as “a category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, marked by a distinctive style, form or content.” The operative words here then? 1. Category. 2. Style. 3. Form. 4. Content. Category is pretty self-explanatory; it’s the label we afford the types of film that we write. Sci Fi (sorry Good Dog, SF); horror; comedy; romance; drama; thriller; supernatural and countless others. Then there are the genre hybrids – favourites being romantic-comedy, supernatural thriller/horror, horror-comedy. In addition, there are what I call “splinter genres”: examples include the slasher-pic (loner kills everyone, preferably in… Read More »Genre Crisis
Two different people emailed me on Friday and asked me what a Deus Ex Machina was ‘cos apparently they’d both had feedback from course tutors saying they had one in their scripts and they were too embarrassed to say they hadn’t a fig what that tutor was talking about. Jinx or what! Now they are both under my power, *evil laugh*. However, because I am feeling charitable, before I make them dance down the street in their underwear, here is my article from the old blog* that I wrote last year. ——————————————————————————–I’ve said before that my lad is a chip… Read More »Deus Ex Machinas
Since there has been the second outing of the tri-annual scrap about grammar on Shooting People this week and since the lovely Lianne requested it, now seems an opportune time to revisit an article on grammar from the old blog. Enjoy.—————————————————————————— The two things I correct most in people’s drafts are grammar and spelling. That’s the nature of script reading as far as I’m concerned and I’m happy to do it (maybe I’m an anal retentive). However, in the past on various writing initiatives in particular (my private clients usually do not do this, thank goodness) I have had to… Read More »Grammar Revisited
I see a lot of scripts that are what I call, King Lear Drafts. King Lear drafts are screenplays with essentially two main plots: for those of you who have not read King Lear (shame on you!), we follow the fates of – unsurprisingly – a King called Lear whom is arrogant and proud and casts his good daughter Cordelia out of his kingdom for speaking her mind, keeping his evil daughters Goneril and Regan who plot to bring about his downfall. Pretty stern stuff one might think, but oh no: Shakespeare is a little worried perhaps we might not… Read More »The Main Plot and The Sub Plot
Another debate on grammar is raging on the Screenwriters’ Bulletin of Shooting People. It’s funny, but it seems nothing like the machinations of the English Language get us writers talking more: there have been so many interesting, controversial and bizarre questions regarding actual screenwriting posed on that list, yet the average poster is lucky if they get two replies… Unless they post about grammar. Then the floodgates open: insults, accusations and assertions fly with abandon. It’s extraordinary. Regular Readers know that I’m a bit of a Grammarian. I think when you send your work out it should be the best… Read More »Grammar – Again
Teachers this is just for you!!! Links to information, lesson plans and step-by-step guides about odes all in the same place! Don’t say I never give you anything! : )————————————————————-Since I get on average a whopping THIRTEEN people a day average coming by this blog in the hope that I tell them how to write an ode (I know, weird – I think I owe it to Crampon’s Nads if you recall), I’ve decided to take the bull by the horns and provide some links for you lovely surfing teachers: Fantastic lesson plan about the ode “To Autumn” by John… Read More »How To Write An Ode Google Style – links to info and lesson plans [updated 11/04/08]
Many thanks to Elly-Jane who asks this question: “You talk alot on your blog about coverage and feedback and taking on board what Readers, Producers, Execs, etc say: that they’re not out to “get” new writers and they want to help… But what if you get feedback like this? “(This script) has no subtext. Not one single character has anything interesting to say, they’re just going through the motions, so The Reader is treated to what amounts to a series of day-to-day conversations… yet not amounting to a real, holistic story.” I feel hurt and confused. This is so negative…… Read More »What Constitutes "Good" Feedback?