#WW #screenwriting #screenplay #script CSSC Writer Wednesday | Blog the 34th: Unique Characters

Learned this from last weeks post.  The correct term to use when taking about material that has a copyright is to say “copyrighted material”.  Often this gets slurred into “copywritten material” however that would imply a root word of “copywrite” instead of “copyright”.

This week I have characters on the brain.  In particular a method of developing unique characters by giving them random characteristics.

With so many movies in existence it is difficult (in fact is it probably impossible) to create a truly unique character and yet every writer strives for it.  No writer wants to create a cliche. They want to make something memorable and something that is entirely their own.  So what often happens is a writer creates a character and to make them unique, they give them an unusual set of characteristics.  For the purposes of this post, I will present you with my example of a unique character:

Rosalind (Rosa) Macintosh is a narcoleptic, roller derby girl who believes facial tattoos are the greatest form of self-expression.

So what I have before me is a random character (because I picked all her traits at random) and this makes her pretty unique. But what sometimes gets missed in writing is that random or unusual characters don’t work in stories.  They are disjointed and irritating and obviously the product of a writer trying too hard to be unique.

The trick is, to prevent Rosa or any character from feeling random, the aspects that make them unique must impact the plot in some way.

Now you may be thinking that a characters personality should not affect the plot because the audience will think it is too coincidental, but that is not true.  The personality and activities of a character make them more likely to be in certain situations and thus the plot should always be related to the activities the character takes part in.

Take Rosa, she plays roller derby so any plot surrounding the roller derby rink is likely to affect her and vice versa.  It is not a coincidence that a roller derby player is at a roller derby rink, it is simply a normal situation.

To further highlight why your unique character needs to be tied into your plot, I will offer two generic plots that feature Rosa.

  1. A serial killer breaks into a home and holds a family hostage.  It is up to the youngest daughter, Rosa, to outwit the killer and save her family.
  2. The roller derby rink turns out to be a front for dealing drugs.  When a new player enters the drug business, Rosa is the only witness to the murder of the owner of the rink.  Now Rosa finds herself on the run, and in need of a place to hide.

In the first example Rosa can still be the character that I wrote, but it is unlikely the roller derby aspect is going to play a big role.  Perhaps the narcolepsy will show up and the facial tattoos will make her memorable, but they won’t influence the plot (at least not in any way I can think of).  In this situation Rosa is a unique character, but her traits can only be used as talking points.

In the second example the roller derby aspect will show up and if Rosa is seen by the villains the facial tattoos will make it exceptionally difficult for her to hide.  As well, narcolepsy will not help as she must stay vigilant and avoid those that want her dead.  In this situation Rosa’s unique characteristics have become action points in the plot.

Both examples feature the same character, but you should see that the second example incorporates the character into the plot, while the first example is simply a plot that features the character.  In example one Rosa seems to be a random character placed in the plot but in example two all of her random traits affect the plot just like how the personality and activities of a person affects their day to day life.

I would like to note that I don’t recommend you write random characters and then write plots around them, that was just an exercise I did to highlight my point.  But I do want you to remember that you should not just create random/unusual characters and place them in a plot.  Instead figure out how the plot can be adjusted to incorporate your character and all their traits.  Ultimately you do not want a character’s traits to simply be talking points, you want them to be action points.

Hope that helps.  Until next week, keep writing.

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#WW #screenwriting #screenplay #script CSSC Writer Wednesday | Blog the 33rd: Stolen Ideas

Have you noticed that this Blog has been posting twice on Wednesdays?  I’m not sure why there is a duplicate post a few hours after I post one, but I am working on fixing this.  I suspect I have messed up one of the settings on WordPress.

Hopefully I have it figured out by next week.

This week I want to discuss a topic that comes into the news every once and a while and that topic is stolen ideas.

A few weeks back a case was in the news in which someone wanted to sue Universal Studios and all those involved in the production of the movie Ted.  The plaintiff cites that they wrote a script called Acting School Academy in 2008 which features Charlie the teddy bear who, “…has a penchant for drinking, smoking, prostitutes, and is a generally vulgar yet humorous character.”

Acting School Academy was then made into a web series in 2009 and from there Charlie got his own spin off web series called Charlie the Abusive Teddy Bear.

The lawsuit claims that Ted is an unauthorized copy of the character Charlie.

Of course this case will not go anywhere for a very simple reason.  You cannot copyright an idea.

And “foul mouthed teddy bear that does drugs and is funny” is an idea.

If you could copyright ideas then movies would not exist.  How many buddy cop movies are there?  How many bumbling sidekicks are there?  How many villains have secret lairs? How many movies have gangsters live by a code of respect? All of these are ideas and none of them are copyrighted.

This is the same reason why The Asylum can make American Warships (a rip off of Battleship), Battle of Los Angeles (ripoff of Battle: LA), Atlantic Rim (ripoff of Pacific Rim), Transmorphers (ripoff of Transformers) or any of it’s other ripoff movies.  The Asylum only gets in trouble for this if there are reasons to believe that the public will mix up the Hollywood blockbuster with The Asylum’s mockbuster.  This occurred in the case of American Warships which was originally entitled American Battleships and set to come out the same time as Battleship but Universal involved them in a copyright lawsuit and The Asylum decided to change the title (note that The Asylum wasn’t forced to change the title).

This also occurred with Age of the Hobbits which was set for release around the same time as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  Warner Brothers felt that The Asylum was piggy-backing on the promotional material of The Hobbit, while The Asylum claimed it’s hobbits were not based on Tolkein’s work but of the subspecies of humans discovered in 2003 and nicknamed hobbits.  A judge found that confusion could occur between the 2 films and temporarily blocked the release of Age of the Hobbits.

The lesson from these two examples is that you cannot trademark and idea, character traits or the basic arc of a story.  The Asylum only got in trouble because it was clear they were trying to boost their own revenue by misleading the public in a hope they see their movie instead.  The Asylum did not get in trouble for actually copying the story beats because a movie studio does not own the rights to the story, “battleships fight aliens” or “hobbits go on a fantasy journey”.  Just like how Charlie Abusive Teddy Bear does not own the rights to, “Foul mouthed, drug addled teddy bear”.

This is also why, as a writer, you can take solace in the fact that you can write any story you want. You can write a prison break movie (The Great Escape) or a movie in which the sun is dying (Sunshine) or where humans fight transforming robots (Transformers or Transmorphers) or where a bunch of superheros team up (The Avengers).  You will only get in trouble if your story IS the same story as another one or your character IS the same as a copyrighted one.  That is why Transmorphers can feature transforming robots but could not have a story in which Optimus Prime and the Autobots fight other robots because these names and likeness are copyrighted.

So though Ted and Charlie have similar appearances (how different can a teddy bear look anyway?) and personalities the case will only be found in Charlie’s favor only if they public was mislead and that Ted was piggybacking off of the success of Charlie.  And I doubt that was true.

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#WW #screenwriting #script CSSC Writer Wednesday | Blog the 32nd: Fantastical Elements

I recently completed a short script and entered it in a competition.  Along with the script, I had to send in some information and a logline.  I know that a writer is often advised to write the logline before they write the script, but I almost never follow this approach.  So with the script completed, I tried to write a logline.

Trouble was, there was a fantastical element in my script that was not logline friendly.

The story I submitted is about a boy surviving alone in a perpetual winter.  Or he would be alone if it were not for a talking face in the graffiti on the wall of his home.

This left my logline with two options:

1) Stick to the protagonist and his problems, thus avoiding any mention of his friend the talking wall.

2) Try to fit the phrase “Talking graffiti face on the wall of his home” into a logline because he is one of the two characters in the story.

Not an easy feat.

Ultimately I had to include the talking wall in the logline because the audience hates when fantasy elements are hidden away in movies.

As I mentioned back when I talked about Lucy, the audience goes into any story assuming that the world presented is the real world around them.  It is then up to the writer to show them when the story’s world and and the real world differ.

It’s why the opening of Lord of the Rings details the influence of the ring.  It’s why Carrie is shown to be telepathic at the start and not suddenly revealed at prom.  It’s why Lost sets up the Smoke Monster in the first episode.  And it’s why characters like Clay Face were not going to show up in the Christopher Nolan Batman movies.

It’s also why films like Knowing were not well received.  Knowing left subtle hints that aliens were involved in the plot, but much of the audience missed these hints and thus assumed the movie was set in the real, non-alien visited, world.

The reason fantasy elements have to be set up at the start of the story is because you have to show the audience the world is not the real world while they are still willing to listen.

If the audience has invested an hour or 2 into believing they are watching the real world, they will be really annoyed to learn they were lied to.  But at the start of the story, the audience understands that they will be introduced to the characters, the plot and the world of the story and thus they are willing to accept whatever may be true of the story’s world.

So if you have a fantasy element in your movie, make sure it is set up as early as possible in your story.  The more you delay it, the more the audience will resist its introduction.

And if you were wondering what ultimately happened with the logline of my 7 page script “A Boy in the Snow”, here it is:

A young boy and an anthropomorphic wall struggle to hold up their crumbling home under the weight of a perpetual winter.

It’s a not flashy, but it informs the audience of what to expect.

So until next week, keep writing.

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#WW #screenwriting #script CSSC Writer Wednesday | Blog the 31st: Ellipsis and Beat

Back on Blog the 28th I talked about the misuse of the phrase “we see”, this week I want to go back to those ideas and talk about why you shouldn’t use ellipses or the word beat.

Ellipsis…
Ellipsis or dot dot dot as they are sometimes read are making their way into writing more and more.  Ellipsis are used when a writer is quoting an individual but is omitting information.  This can either be in the middle of a sentence or at the end.  In either case the ellipsis signifies that more was said, but the quote has been shortened to make it easier to read.

Extending from this idea that ellipsis shows where words were removed, the ellipsis is also used to show hesitation or when a person does not finish a thought.

The ellipsis has become popular because when a typical person talks they do not speak in perfectly choreographed speeches, but instead they hesitate and search for the right words.

So it just seems natural to write ellipsis into the dialog of your script, because it displays the natural speech patterns of normal human beings.

Wrong.

Like the words “we see” ellipses are never needed in a script.

Here’s why.

  1. 1) Dialog will be read and performed by an actor who more than likely have a better sense of performance and naturalism than you do (since it’s their job).  Now instead of an actor finding the natural places for pauses and hesitation, they are now stuck with the ones you wrote.
  2. But you say, “I am the writer, I know where the hesitation should go because I understand how the lines should flow.”  To this I say, sorry, you are wrong.  Take out those ellipses and you will see, the lines flow better.
  3. “But I really need to put hesitation in my dialog!”  Well then write it in your action lines.  Describe how your character is nervous, or stammers or whatever it is they are doing that cause them to hesitate.  Again, you will see that this reads better than ellipses.
  4. “Ahh,” you say, “but in my description I need to show down the pace to provide a reveal.” To which I would tell that this is a bad idea.  Ellipsis in description look like this:

Mike looks around the corner and sees…

Nothing.

He opens his bag and pulls out…

The Detonator!

The above example reads much smoother with some better writing and without the ellipsis.

Mike peers around the corner, searching.

But finds nothing.

He opens his bag, clasping at what he needs.  The Detonator.

Beat
A beat is a trick unique to scripts.  A beat is a momentary pause when nothing is happening and no one is speaking.  It is used to create tension or to designate when there should be a dramatic pause in the dialog.

But once again, you should not use “beat” in your script.

Here’s why.

  1. Just like how the ellipsis dictates to an actor how to read a line, a beat dictates when an actor should pause.  Instead the actor (who is better trained to read lines than you are) should find their own way to deliver the lines in a natural way.
  2. A beat tells the reader that there is a dramatic pause instead of the writing telling the reader this is a dramatic pause.  What I mean by this is that “beat” is a crutch and the easy way out for a writer.  If the reader cannot realize that there should be a dramatic pause in your story at that moment, then your writing needs to be better.  Don’t rely on “beat” to fix your writing.
  3. The word is irritating because it is not a natural phrase.  The definition of “beat” to mean a pause is unique to screenwriting and thus is not a natural phrase used in every day life.  Since you want your writing to feel like the real world, using a word like “beat” is not the right approach
  4. There is no need for the word “beat” in a script.  If you want a pause, then write in a pause.  Since a script follows approximately a 1 minute per page format, the longer a description the more time it is on film.  Thus if you want to spend more time on a moment, such as a pause, then write about it.  Have your character perform an action, or make a moment or something.  Anything is more interesting than “beat”.

I may seem critical but I do feel that “we see” “…” and “beat” are not welcomed in scripts.  They offer distractions from the writing and try to dictate the job of others working on the film.  They are also unnecessary as then can be easily fixed with better writing.

Still don’t believe me?  Just imagine if my sign off was this?

So until next week…
(beat)
Keep writing.

Ugg.

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#WW #screenwriting #script CSSC Writer Wednesday | Blog the 30th: Vague yet Specific

Well the box office numbers are in and it looks like Lucy was a hit.  Guess my prediction was wrong.  It seems that the draw of a kick-ass female action star like Scarlett Johansson overshadows a nonsensical premise.  That or much of the audience doesn’t realize that “10% brain use” is completely wrong.

Recently I have been doing a little experiment with my own writing.  I have been trying to shorten my description.  By this I mean, I am trying to say more with less words.

Description is a tricky part of a script.  The writer has to describe the world and actions of the characters, but a writer does not need to write in every detail of every object and person in a location.  When a script becomes a film the art director, costume department, make up department, cinematographer, etc. will fill in all those details.

Instead a writer must present description that is vague yet specific.

Vague in the sense that they can’t describe every detail of a room or a person’s appearance, yet specific in the sense that the reader must still be able to envision what is described.

For example, if a script contains this description:

EXT: FRONTIER TOWN – DAY

Windswept road.  Empty.

Two horses hitched in front of the saloon.

A man smokes, eyes following Bill as he approaches.

With his description I am both vague and specific.  The reader should be able to picture an old west frontier town, the streets are empty, the town is quiet.  Though the smoking man is not described, his actions make the reader feel suspicion toward him.  The two horses implies that someone has stopped off at the saloon, possibly someone that Bill is looking for.

Did I describe every place in the town?  Did I tell you what breed or color horses were hitched up?  Did I describe what saddles were on the horses?  Did I describe the man’s features? Did I say what he was smoking?  Did I describe everyone in town?

No.

Because I don’t need to.  I only described what is important for the reader to know.  If someone is going to pull a gun out of a saddlebag, then I should indicate the saddle bags.  If Bill is looking for a specific horse, then I should describe these horses in order to indicate they are or are not the horses he is looking for.  But since that was not part of the plot, I didn’t describe them.

I only wrote what was important to the plot.

To sum it all up, description needs to do one of two things:

1) Reveal character
2) Set up/continue the plot

It’s simple, if you are describing objects that do not give an insight into the mind of a character, or are not objects that will/do propel the plot forward, then don’t describe them.

This will lead you to be vague in your description, yet specific because you only describe what is necessary.

That’s all from me this week.  Next week I will be talking about the use of ellipses and beats.  Until then, keep writing.

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#WW #screenwriting #script CSSC Writer Wednesday | Blog the 29th: Movie Myths

Did you see the CSSC is on Tumblr now?  Now you can follow The Blog on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or right here on a good old fashioned website.

In honour of the upcoming movie Lucy and the fact that I am a science teacher, I want to talk about myths that appear in film, in particular the myth that is used in the trailers for Lucy.

Humans only use 10% of their brain.

If you really think about it, this can’t possibly be true.  Why would humans have the other 90% if it wasn’t used?  The reason, of course, is that the other 90% contains all our superhuman telepathy powers!  Or that is what movies like the aforementioned Lucy would have you believe.

The reality is that humans use their entire brain, although some areas are less active at certain times.  And although humans have the potential to increase the abilities of their brain through education and training, it is not to the extent that the 10% myth would have you believe.

Think about it.  If humans only used 10% of their brain then large portions of the brain could be removed without any harm.

Now you may think that science takes all the fun out of movies because it says things like, “The X-Men’s Angel would have to have horrific looking musculature in order to have wings that could support his weight.”

But did you know lawyers can also ruin movies? They sure can because Batman is guilty of embezzling corporate funds for personal gains (which probably also leads to falsifying corporate documents).

The point is not that science and lawyers ruin movies, the point is that movies are not the same as the real world.  Films exist in their own world with their own rules. But when your entire movie is based on a myth, such as Lucy, it is not the fault of science for saying it’s wrong, it’s the fault of the movie for lying.

The lesson in all of this, is that stories have to be based on the workings of the real world in order for them to be believable.  Many times movies create their own version of the real world and therefore are not a reflection of reality yet they are perfectly believable (for example, swords make loud metallic sounds when drawn, guns make cocking sounds when drawn, cars explode whenever they crash, a stab wound always kills people).

So when you are writing a story recognize that you can push the boundaries of believability to an extent, but do not base the man plot of your story on lies or a myth.  Batman works because it is about a man seeking justice for his parent’s death, the embezzling funds is a small potion most people ignore, X-men works because the audience recognizes that these are mutants, not humans so the rules that govern their bodies are different. If I wrote a script about a man being murdered by a gun that shoots around corners I’d be told that my story is not believable because the rules that govern guns say they fire in a straight line (or an arc if you get technical).

Remember that the audience comes in with certain expectations of how the world operates and you must respect that.  If you want to change the rules, make sure it is a detail they will overlook, or explain why the rules are of your film are different from the real world.

I will have to wait till Lucy comes out to see how the audience reacts, but I suspect many will find it “unbelievable”.

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#WW #screenwriting CSSC Writer Wednesday | Blog the 28th: We See

Did you notice the title is a little strange today?  I am told that if I put a hashtag in the title it puts the hashtag in in the twitter post.  Convenient?  Of course! Turns my titles into a complete mess.  You know it does!

Another thought for you this week.  Have you realized the lingering problem caused by the missing WW post 2 weeks ago?  It’s that the blog number no longer reflects how far into the 2014 year we are.  My first post was on the first day of January so this blog served as a tally of the years passing.  Now it’s a week off.

Maybe I’m the only one that finds this annoying.

This week I have been thinking about the little details of scripts that annoy me.  In particular the use of “we see”.

A script is written to be a template for a film, and although the script does not contain any actual visuals, it does contain the blueprints to what visuals will appear in the film.  Therefore, it can be argued that the reader can “see” the film whilst reading the script.

And this leads to the use of the phrase, “we see”.

“We” in this case, are the audience, a collective group of people watching this movie (or reading a blueprint of a movie).  “We see” tells this audience what they see, or what they would see in this movie.  It is often used to highlight important information, to describe a person or object or as part of a reveal.

But despite the rationale behind it, a writer should NEVER use this phrase.

And here’s why.

1) It breaks the 4th wall.  This phrase speaks directly to the audience which can take the audience out of the story and remind them that it is just a story.  But, you say, “they are reading a page of paper, they clearly know it is not real.” To which I respond, “stop making it even harder to get absorbed in the material!”

2) It’s confusing.  “We” is not a person within the script, so “we” cannot interact with the script.  Yet here is “we” clearly within the script “seeing” things.

3) It is unnecessary.  At no time is the phrase “We see” ever the only option in a script.  “We see an eviction sign posted on the door.”  “She lies asleep, we see a shadow creep across the walls.”  In both of these sentences (and every sentence) if you drop the “we see” the sentence has the same meaning, but now it reads better.    Give it a try.

Since I am trying to be fair in my assessment of his phrase, I should probably offer you the pros as well.  But I am also trying to make a point, so I will then immediately show why these pros don’t exist.

1) It reflects the fact that the script will become a movie.  Except that is already known so the audience doesn’t need a reminder.

2) The director can now visualize what they will see.  Except it is the director’s job to visualize the script and they may not like you doing their job for them.

3) It slightly boosts your word count and makes the script seem slightly longer.  In case you need to stretch it to a specific length (which you should never do).

To sum this all up, don’t write “we see” in your script.  Just don’t do it.  It is never necessary and it is always annoying.

And don’t write this dreaded line:

The camera pans up, we see the silhouette of a man dart across the rooftop.

Don’t write “we see” and defiantly don’t write “camera”.  Your job isn’t to write in the camera movements or to direct the visuals.  Your job is to write the best story possible, so stick to that.

And if you have written the best story possible or are just looking for some feedback on your script, then why not check out the CSSC Short Screenplay Review?  Just send in your script (scriptreview.cssc@gmail.com and include the Title, Genre, Logline and Number of Pages) and it will be reviews on this site!

You can read more information about the review in Blog the 25th.

Until next week, keep writing.

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#WW CSSC Writer Wednesday | Blog the 27th: Who Writes Short Shorts?

You may have noticed there was no WW post last week.  That is because there were some website problems and I couldn’t it.  But never fear, the website is back and so is last weeks post.

It is often said that the first feature any writer writes will be terrible.  I believe this little tidbit of information is meant to keep the writer from being discouraged when they discover their first feature is not very good, but I have always found it to be disheartening.  Perhaps because I learned this before I had ever written a feature and thus I was left wondering, “So this feature I am writing is going to be terrible?  But I have worked so hard on it!”

Again, I believe this is suppose to keep you motivated and press on to write a second feature because, “every writer’s first feature is terrible.” It is just one step along the path to success so don’t get discouraged.

I think another reason the “every first feature is terrible” idea exists is because too many people rush into writing features before they gain a full understanding of screenwriting.  As I mentioned in my last post, many people see screenwriting as being an easy writing exercise because there are so few words on the page.  But screenwriting is actually very difficult to get right due to it’s inherent structure.

If you haven’t mastered this structure yet, then of course, your first feature is not going to be up to the standards you had once envisioned.

This is where shorts come into the equation.

Shorts follow a very similar structure to features and so offer a great place to practice your craft.  Sure they are more condensed and do not always feature subplots (unless you are writing a longer short) but they still follow a typical 3 act structure that follow an active protagonist who is on a quest to reach a specific goal.

By writing shorts you can start to master the structure of a screenplay before you move onto longer projects like features.

Another reason to practice your craft by writing shorts is because fixing mistakes in shorts is also much easier than features.  This is for the simple reason that they are shorter.  In a feature mistakes tend to have a domino effect wherein any change that is made will require changes later in the script, which in turn will cause more changes and so on.  These domino problems can often discourage writers from ever making these edits.  Thus the first “terrible” feature they write, stays that way.

But in a short script the domino effect is much less.  It is easier to fix mistakes and thus easier to fix those mistakes and understand how to avoid making them in the future.  You can then create powerful and creative shorts without the worry that it is simply going to end up terrible.

Once you feel you have mastered the art of writing a short and have developed the organizational and perceptive skills to limit the mistakes you make, you can begin writing that feature you have been dreaming up.  And who knows, maybe all that practice will let you break the mold and create a worthwhile and compelling feature?

And while you are at it, why not submit your short script to the CSSC Short Screenplay Review and get some high quality feedback for free.  Simply submit your script in a .pdf form to scriptreview.cssc@gmail.com and include the Title, Genre, Logline and Number of Pages.

You can read more information about the review in Blog the 25th.

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#WW CSSC Writer Wednesday | Blog the 26th: Screenplays are Hard to Write

This weeks tip comes courtesy of UCLA screenwriting professor Richard Walter, from his appearance on the ScriptCast podcast back in 2012.

To paraphrase the professor he says that screenplays are harder to write than novels.

At first this shocking claim seems to defy logic because novels are much longer and contain many more words, so clearly they are harder to write then the short and sparse screenplay.

Not true, as Richard Walter explains.  A screenplay is very rigid.  In fact it is so rigid that a writer can only write two things,  what a character sees or what they hear.  That is it.

As well all scenes in a screenplay also must be written in real time and a screenplay forces a writer to place all their brilliant ideas within only a small number of pages.

Then we have the novel.  Novels don’t have the constraints of a screenplay, in a novel a writer can do anything! They can go into any character’s mind and know what they are thinking, they can speed or slow time to fit the required narrative and they can write the novel to be just about any page length they wish.

Novels don’t need all of the structure and plot points that are required in a screenplay because a novel can fill the narrative with more than just what can be seen or heard, it can fill it with ideas, philosophies and observations.

Not convinced, let’s take a look at an example: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

The book is written by Ken Kesey and is told from the perspective of the mute mental patient, Chief Bromden.  The story follows the new arrival R.P. McMurphy as he causes problems for the staff at the mental institution.  The book is a great read because the reader can enter the mind of Chief Bromden and experience what it is like to be him and to witness the injustices that he witnesses.

But as a screenplay it would never work.

For starters the story doesn’t revolve around Chief Bromden.  Sure he is the protagonist of the book, but the story is about McMurphy and all the things he does.  But McMurphy is the active character, the one that takes action and who pushes the plot forward.  The Chief simply observes and when it comes to a screenplay a protagonist cannot simple by an observer.

So the movie changes McMurphy to the main character and rightfully so.  The reason they did this is because a screenplay has a number of rules that have to be followed or they don’t work.

The reason I want to highlight the difference between a screenplay and a novel is because there is a mentality that screenplays are easier to write than novels.  This leads to a number of writers approaching screenwriting as something that anyone can do, something that doesn’t require discipline and something that they can do as they work their way up to being a novelist (or a true writer).  Such a mentality devalues the craft of screenwriting and the talent that screenwriters possess.  It also leads to a lot of people getting discouraged because the thing they thought was easy to write is not in fact easy to write.

Look at the last movie you watched that underwhelmed you.  Were you disappointed?  Did you think you could do better?  Did you notice that no matter how big the budget you still found problems with the story?  Well that script was written by a professional and they made all of those mistakes BECAUSE WRITING A SCREENPLAY IS HARD and even the professionals have trouble writing them.

So if you are new to screenwriting make sure you take the time to learn how to write a screenplay, because it does have a number of rules and structural elements that you need to understand.  And if you are a seasoned veteran of screenwriting, then be proud of your abilities and talents.

Because not everyone can write a screenplay.  They are hard to write.

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#WW CSSC Writer Wednesday | Blog the 25th: CSSC Short Screenplay Review

Have a short screenplay that you are working on?  Are you looking for some feedback to help make that script the best it can be?  Then the CSSC Short Screenplay Review is the place for you.

The CSSC Short Screenplay Review will take in submissions of short screenplays, which will be read by an experienced screenwriter who will then post a review/feedback in the form of a blog post about your script.  The goal is to help you create the best screenplay you can while also helping readers understand the inner workings of a screenplay.

In other words, this review is a service in which you will receive quality feedback on your screenplay from an experienced screenwriter.  And it’s FREE so what have you got to loose?

The CSSC Short Screenplay Review will work as follows:

  • Submissions of short screenplays (between 1-15 pages) in a .pdf format can be sent to scriptreview.cssc@gmail.com.  In your submission please include the Title, Genre, Logline and Number of Pages.
  • An appropriate screenplay will be selected for review.
  • The selected script will be available to other readers to read and comment on via a Google drive link.
  • The following week a review which highlights the strong parts of the script and offers suggestions to improve other areas will be posted to The Blog.
  • Discussion can then continue in the comments sections among all the readers of the screenplay.

Questions you may have about the CSSC Short Screenplay Review?
Why does the screenplay have to be posted online?
This is to help the readers of The Blog learn about the inner workings of a screenplay.  More can be learned from reading a short screenplay and the review, then just from reading the review. As well other readers can offer their own input, thus providing even more of a benefit to the writer of the screenplay.

Will the screenplay be posted indefinitely?
No, I will post it for 1 month, just enough time for the readers to read it and the review.

Will someone try to steal my ideas?
Hopefully not, though, when posting anything online it is a worry someone will try to take your idea.  However if you don’t show your screenplay to anyone, then you can never receive feedback.  It is simple a risk, but I guarantee that the payoff is worth it.
As well, all of the .pdf’s will be locked before they are posted.  This will prevent them from being copied or printed.

What if my screenplay is over 15 pages long?  Can I still submit?
The 1-15 pages is a reflection of the rules of the CSSC, however, this is just a guideline.  If the page length is reasonably close to 15 pages then it will still be considered for review.

What if my screenplay doesn’t get selected for review?
There could be a number of reasons why a screenplay will not get a review, but the most likely one will be that something else was already selected.  You are free to resubmit your screenplay if it hasn’t been selected for review.

That’s it.  And if you don’t have a screenplay that is ready for feedback, then you can just follow this Blog, read the screenplays and give your own feedback.  But if you do have a screenplay that your are stuck on, or want to share with the world, send in your screenplay to scriptreview.cssc@gmail.com and get some high quality feedback for free!

Posted in #scriptchat, #writerwednesday Laureate, #ww, Canadian Short Screenplay Competition | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment