Friday, March 20, 2009

Don't get discouraged...

Hello all...

I was just sitting here thinking back over the last few years and all the contests that I've entered. MANY! I've had some success, but mostly its a lot of waiting, checking the web page, crossing my fingers, and going over the script I submitted with a finer tooth comb groaning at jokes that could have been funnier, and not seeing the difference between Hairy and Harry... Yup... "two harry feet..." I wrote that gem, and it was caught by a contest judge. But missed, by a dozen others... Just goes to show you that no matter how polished you think your script is, check it again! Anyway, I just wanted to say something about rejection...

Ok, so you know how you go to a movie and absolutely love it, while the other two people you went with hated it! Same thing happens when you're submitting to a contest. You'll find a reader in the first round that loves it! And get one that hates it in the next. It's so subjective. There's a painter named Mark Rothko. I HATE his work. I think its absolutely pointless. Despite a 4 yr argument with my Art History teacher about the importance of his work and a trip to the Albright-Knox museum in Buffalo, she still could not convince me it was good. The Jackson Pollock paintings in the next room mezmerized me... but Rothko... I painted a Rothko like picture one day when I accidentally knocked over my water colour pallette and wipe it up with a paper towel. ANYWAY... the point I'm getting at is this. For every Jerk who thinks he can write a better screenplay than you by simply mashing his hands on the keyboard, there are two people who appreciate the effort you put in, and enjoy the story you have brought to them. Got it? Don't get discouraged by the silence you hear from Contests, or the harsh remarks from a judge. Here's some comments I received from one Judge.

"...You're a good enough writer to really run with the theme, especially since the plot and characters are so good. What is the essential theme of the script? Every single scene in the film should be, at its heart, about that. It raises the stakes and increases the cohesion even more. I hate to turn this piece back, but it's mostly because I know you can be even better."

Same contest different Judge...

"...This script doesn’t have enough action to keep the audience in their seat. The dialogue is straight out of the 80’s except for the mention of modern electronic devices. The reader was left wondering if this was written years ago, then updated by changing the words 8 track player for Ipod. “Work it! Hit it like you own it!” Please."

Ouch! Right?

Well no... It was written about 5 years ago... So no, I'm not using the current slang for things, but I'm using dialog appropriate to the age of the characters. My AGE! And yes, I'm a little bit of a dino (I'm over 30! - I'm straight out of the 80's).

You just need to take it in stride, and keep on writing. AND RE-WRITING!!!!

At the end of the day, if you're doing something that you love... Keep doing it.

Now go write something!


- G

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Screenwriting Software?


So the other day a co-worker popped into my office to tell me that the printer in his Department wasn't working. No big deal... I pressed the "online" button and presto! My work was done. However, on our way out the door he said "Oh, I meant to tell you that my son likes to screenwrite plays...". I guess he had seen the Website but had no idea I was a hobby writer. I always have time to chat about writing, so I asked the question "What does he like to write?"... I had a moment, I saw Bill Engvall in my minds eye, and the words Here's your sign" echoed through my head... "Movies!?!?" he replied.

He went on to tell me that his son had just finished writing a script for a feature length film, about 53 pages he said. "It's really good!" He exclaimed. Excited, I asked what it was about, and he said Pirates. Ask any of my friends... I LOVE PIRATES! I enquired about the plot, and how long it took him. That's when things got interesting. He said it took him a little over a year to get it all done. I wasn't going to comment about how long it takes to write a script since I'm still working on one I started nearly a year ago... But I did say it sounded a little short for a feature. Lowering his head, my coworker said. "Well, he got pretty frustrated because he was doing it in a word processor and was struggling with it". OMG! I couldn't imagine trying to write a script without some sort of program specifically for formatting and editing. What a nightmare! Now, don't get me wrong, it can be done. I'm sure it was in the days before Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter, but geeze! Why would you do that to yourself????!?!?!?!?!?!?

Go and buy some software! Buy it right away! Don't spend hours bashing your face on your keyboard because "for your convenience" your word processor is guessing what you are trying to do and changing all you tab stops and options. Don't do it! Just go... If you can't go directly to a store, eStore, or other retailer... Look on eBay for a used license... BUT buy the software. As an indicator of how prolific the use of these programs are, I would say that 95% of the contests I've entered accept .fdr documents. For that matter... So does the Writer Guild online script registry!

No wonder the poor guy got frustrated. Probably cut his script short to get away from it. Anyway, I suggested to my Co-worker that if he wanted to encourage his son, he should invest in some of the software for him. I gave him a list of the products and websites he could visit for some demo software. To be honest though... it's what you're comfortable with. If you are comfortable bumbling around in a word processor then by all means, do what you do, and don't give me a second thought. My experience has been that I spend more time being anal about the formatting of a script when I'm not using a particular package that the writing suffers. And it doesn't always need help to suck! So, I'll take one less headache, and a ounce of additional focus any day.

I also sent him back to for a look at the download section where I have posted my story outline worksheets, character development sheets, and a few other things that could help.

You should check them out too!!!!


- G

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Writers Block - Setting the stage


So I've been sitting on my hands for the past month. My excuse... HUGE PROJECT at work that is sucking the life out of me, and draining me of any urge to sit in front of my laptop for another second at the end of the day... Good excuse? Yep... A famous poet once said "If poetry comes not as naturally as leaves to a tree, it had better not come at all". Now some of the big writing books will SCREAM from the mountain tops - Writers write... so write something everyday. OK! I have written 36 emails, 3 sets of descriptive instructions on how to open a particular file type, and a grocery list... I'm done.

BUT at the same time, I haven't won any Oscars yet... and I'm dragging my ass through my 3rd script in 7 years...

Bob Moresco on Writers Block

Soooo where's the middle ground? Is there any? Can you write something you wouldn't send to school with your 6 year old and re-write it later? Absolutely. Can you write something you would be embarassed to show your mother it's so bad... Yup! Is that the answer... Write something shitty and clean it up later... Maybe...

I would suggest sticking to the plan. Lay out your script. Plan it from FADE IN: to FADE OUT:. Use the sheets on downloads section. Blake Snyder also has some good tools on his page. Including a software program called Save The Cat! Blake Snyder - Homepage

Ok... so you've got the story outlined... you're at your desk (as Mr. Moresco encourages) Now what?

Well, write something...


A young man in his thirties sits at his keyboard. Time seems to be moving in slow motion and every glance at the clock causes his eye to twitch.

Just as the digital number flips to 5:00pm on the wall clock he launches himself to his feet. PENS and PAPER fly into the air as he dashes from the room.

Oh, thank God. It's over! I
can go home and get away from
my laptop!

Maybe not... But here's a thought. If you're really stuck. Your brain is far away from the world you've created. Take a few minutes to think about what type of music you see playing in the background of your movie. Build a playlist in your favourite media player and just listen. Set the stage for yourself, and as the music relaxes you, and brings you back into the environment and mood of your script, I'm sure something will start stirring. Words will magicaly flow from your finger tips and out over the keyboard and soon you'll discover that those 5 pages you wanted to write today were written 20 pages ago and you're on a roll. Just give yourself the tools you need to get it done. My thing is music. Yours might be something else, but the key to beating writers block is to find a way to submerge yourself back into the world you're creating. Find your key to that door and you are set.

Anyway, the clocks a ticking and I am out of here...

Peace & good writing...

- G

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

No time...

I think one of the most difficult things to do is find time to write. Sure, I say to friends and anyone who asks that I write to unwind and relax... BUT to be honest sometimes its a real chore.

After eight to nine hours in front of a computer screen at work, twenty minutes in a car staring blanky at the road and the buttholes in front of me who got their licenses out of a Cracker Jack Box, and another 20 minutes of feeding animals and general tidying. There's really no motivation to sit down and be witty and creative. Even less after you throw in a forty five minute workout.

So that leaves your weekend... Does it? Does it really? For me the only time I have any time to do anything is on the weekend... Soooo, I get up at nine am, feed the herd, clean the litter boxes, feed myself, run out for some groceries, do any other shopping I need to do, go home, CLEAN the apartment 'cause the tornado has left her stuff all over the house, and then go and pick her up at work... Don't get me wrong, I enjoy all of those things for the most part, but it’s another full day. Then it time to cook dinner, clean the litters again, and spend an hour with my girlfriend AKA Tornado before curling up on the couch with a DVD (One of the four hundred or so in the collection). Throw in another workout and I'm sitting on the couch doing the head bob by ten thirty.

So when do you find time to write. Anytime... Anytime you have a minute and a moment of inspiration. I wrote an entire scene from a screenplay, I haven't officially started writing, in my head on the way into the office last week. I took some quick notes when I got in and punched it into Final Draft when I had a second.

Don't pressure yourself to consistently turn out pages. Chances are the pages your turning out won't be your best, and certainly won't make you feel like you've accomplished anything other than putting pen to paper, finger tip to keyboard. I found myself typing away in the quietness of my sleepy home one Saturday night. Not a soul was awake, the dull drone of the TV flickering the in background. The sound of Claudia (my 16 year old Maine Coon) snoring beside me on the couch. It was a good moment, and some good writing.


- G