Friday, March 30, 2007

She Fell Flat

Yesterday I was in the mood to read a great script. I chose Thelma and Louise because it is one of my favorites. I had been reading less than ten minutes when a giant light went off in my head. The woman in my script is flat. She goes through motions, but lacks character. It was like a knife in my heart. I knew more about Thelma and Louise in the first 5 pages than I knew about my character in the first 58.

I will go back and fix it, but first I have a lot of thinking to do. I know what my character does in the story. In order to correct the problem I need to go back to the why. Why does she do those things? What is her motivation? What is her passion? What is her greatest desire? fear?

I was very depressed about my discovery yesterday. I am still a bit bummed, but it is a lesson. I will correct it and my story will be better. Hopefully, I will be better.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Agents and Managers and Producers! Oh, my!

I have been toiling away at my most recent attempt at screenwriting. Some days I feel that I am beginning to get "it". That is not to say that I feel I am any good at writing screenplays, just that I think that I am starting to understand how to do it. Other days I sense I haven't a clue. What keeps me writing is a strong belief that practice really does eventually make perfect. And though I have a long road ahead of me, I do feel like I am walking in the right direction. It gives me hope to see that the script I am working on now is far better than the one I worked on before it.

Yesterday I read an interesting post at Alligators In a Helicopter. I am sure Scott has read an unimaginable number of bad scripts (including mine). I find it interesting that so many bad scripts make it into the hands of readers, because I assume that they were given to the studios by agents.

There are only two places I would dare send a script at this point - contests and readers. I sent part of my screenplay to a reader for evaluation. I think it is a great learning tool. I don't feel bad that my script isn't terrific because he knew it wouldn't be when he offered to take it and I was, after all, paying him to tell me how much it sucks. I also hope to enter a few screenplay contests this year. I think contests by nature are fun and exciting. I am paying them, so I don't feel bad if my screenplay isn't fantastic. Contests aren't perfect, but I think they can be a sort of litmus test to tell you when you might be ready to venture into deeper waters.

Why is Hollywood knee deep in bad scripts? My uneducated guess would be desperation. People so badly want to make it that they throw everything they have at it - the good, the bad, and the ugly. Amateur screenwriters are an interesting assortment. It is a dream for some. It is a hobby for others. One day you feel a sense of comradery within the group. Other days you feel like one rat among a million trapped in a sinking boat and all you want is out.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Venture

I pledged to submit to the Nicholl Fellowship screenwriting contest this year after not being prepared to enter by last year's deadline. I was already accepting defeat yet again this year and coming to terms with missing another deadline when I ran into IQCrash in the Artful Writer chat room last week. We started with a discussion that turned into a competition regarding our superior skills in the art of procrastination. Clearly, we needed motivation (among other things). He encouraged me to make the deadline. Ready or not - jump!

How could two first-rate procrastinators make a May 1st deadline? A bet, of course. How much wisdom there is in making bets with strangers you meet on the internet is a whole other story. For now, I have a bet to win! This isn't just any bet. This is a two tiered bet.

Will it work? Do you want to bet on it?

In the meantime, write on!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Million Miles Away

The big news is, of course, the Writers Co-Op. It is very interesting and I am curious to see where it leads. That said, I am not losing sleep over it. It is a million miles away from where I am standing. So, it is back to the old grindstone for me!

I have a new reason to push forward! More on that tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I am often reminded that this business requires networking. Yes, you must write brilliantly, but you also must know someone (who hopefully knows someone, who knows someone). This is a troublesome fact for me. I am not a networking kind of gal. I am not a people person. I am not outgoing and friendly.

Today, I missed a networking opportunity. I was at the beauty salon and a man walks in for his hair appointment. He begins talking to his stylist about the movie he is about to start working on. My ears perk up, because I am familiar with it. My brother-in-law is an extra on the film, which is about to start filming here.

If I were Mr. William Martell, I would have seized the moment and struck up a conversation with this man. He could have been someone of importance or he could have been a schlep. Either way, he is more connected than I am.

Ugh. This is a dirty business. There is nothing like stepping on the heads of others as you climb the towering ladder of success.

The person who gets the farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore. - Dale Carnegie

In my defence, I did have a head full of foils. I looked like a space creature from a 1960s space flick. So, maybe it wasn't the best time for networking after all!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Script Notes

Last week I send my budding script to Scott the Reader for feedback. I felt like I really had "something" this time around, but I wanted confirmation. Yeah, I know about the whole pay a professional reader vs. ask a friend argument. Due to turmoil in my personal life I lost touch with most of the screenwriting relationships I had made. More importantly, I have had Scott read for me before and I think he gives excellent notes.

Back to the story.

He sent me very good notes - clear, constructive, and detailed. There was good news and (of course) bad news. Shall I start with the good news?

He like the premise of my story. That is a great start! But, what made me really happy was discovering that I am self-aware to some degree. The things he said didn't work were the things I knew weren't working. The things he liked, I felt good about as well.

Now for the part where I was shredded. There were characters that weren't working. There were areas of the plot that didn't hang right. A bit of spot-on dialogue. Let me say, I was mortified about the on-the-nose dialogue. It is a something I hate, yet I have a horrible tendency to write that way. It makes me think of my 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Callan, who would constantly remind us to show the story and not tell it.

He made several suggestions. Some of his ideas were ones that I had previously considered. He also suggested things that had not occurred to me. I have been mauling them all over for days. I have weighed the options. I feel ready to chose my direction and head out boldly.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Into the Abyss

Blogs dedicated to screenwriting fall into two categories - blogs written by those few living the dream and those written by the many chasing the dream. There are more than enough screenwriting blogs out there. So, why am I adding yet another to the already congested information highway?

There are many screenwriting blogs I visit. With a few exceptions, my visits are sporadic. Yet, I keep coming back for more. I visit the pros for valuable information and advice. I visit the amateur (or as the optimists say "pre-pro") blogs for encouragement. Writing is generally a lonely undertaking, but it is nice to be able to connect with others that are on the same journey. I like to know that I am not the only one struggling with a scene, a character, an outline ... or fear.

I have nothing valuable to add to the screenwriting world, but I have decided to pour my musings into the abyss. If I alone read this, I hope it helps to push me along and keep me focused. If others happen to stumble upon my page, I hope it encourages them to keep plugging along.

"To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping." - Chinese proverb