Sunday, January 31, 2010

Draw From A Memory

I just got back from taking my twelve year old daughter to a Twilight Convention.

"Ugh!" some of you say.

"How nice of you," others may say.

Let me tell you how it went.

After getting tickets (yes, tickets needed to be purchased), we walked into a room full of Twilight merch vendors. My daughter and two of her friends made out like bandits. Three shirts, some buttons, pictures, a hoodie, and a purse later and we were ready to go. We entered the ballroom to finish a screening of Twilight the movie. Then, Michael Welch came on stage. (Michael Welch plays Mike Newton in the movie).

It was a simple Q&A. At one point, he bounded from the stage to give an impromptu hug to a girl. Another time he ran out to ask a girl a question. At this point, my daughter touched, yes TOUCHED his shirt. I thought she would faint. She and her friends were all a dither. (My southern roots are showing with that one!)

After that, we had a quick bite to eat at one of the many over-priced eating establishments in the hotel and got back in time to pay for another ticket to get a photo op with, guess who? Michael Welch. Well, the girls were flabbergasted and swooning, so we just HAD to go. When we arrived there were four people ahead of us, I think. Michael entered. The girls whispered, bounced up and down, and squealed with delight.

First up: Brianna. She was so nervous she was pale, as if she was about to throw up. She probably was! Michael looked at her and asked her if she was okay.

"Yeah. I love you," she squeaked.

He grinned and CLICK! The picture was made. Move along, Brianna.

My daughter creeps up to the platform. Michael turns and says hey. She throws and I mean THROWS herself ONTO him and latches on with a kung fu jedi deathgrip around his rib cage. She hugs him with her eyes closed, squeezing his breath from him.

"I love you,  I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you," she whispers.

The crowd bursts into a unified, "Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww."

Michael grins and hugs her back, almost just as tight. She opens her eyes. He smiles at her. They smile at the camera. CLICK! The photo op is over. Move along.

Samantha takes the platform. Perhaps a bit repulsed by Brianna and my daughter's polar opposite performances, she quietly takes her place next to Michael and flashes a beautiful smile for the camera. CLICK! And she's done.

The girls, for the next two hours, giggle and squeal about the ordeal. My daughter threatens to "laminate" her shirt so she could keep Michael's cologne. They were absolutely giddy. And happy.

So, why am I sharing this?

It was interesting to watch. I have a great memory now to go by should I write a screenplay that needs to capture the excitement of a trio of tweens. I have a great memory to go by should I write a screenplay that needs warm fuzzies of a parental heart. I had plenty of warm fuzzies for my daughter today. It was wonderful to see her smile, laugh, and carry excitement in her eyes.

To get an audience to believe what you've written, you have to capture a moment. Capture the feeling. The excitement.

I'm grateful for today. Did I have better things to do with my time than walk around a hotel filled with people dressed like Volturi wannabes? Sure, I did! But I am so glad I braved the ice (well, okay, my hubby braved the ice for us as a chauffeur) to bring her.

Watching the girls taught me a lot today. And now I get to incorporate it into my writing!

Do you have a warm fuzzy YOU can draw from? Any lifechanging events you can pull from? Of course you do! Take them and find your story! Now, the hard part is, which way will you go with it?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Wonderful Writing In A Short Film

This is a short film. Amazingly written.

What Is That?

Thanks, Will, for sharing it!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sometimes The Stories Find You!!!

I was sitting at my desk one day and a good friend of mine emailed me one of her forwards. You all have friends like these. They forward everything, and I mean EVERYTHING with the hopes of money, love, angel’s protection, winning the lottery in Nigeria, etc. Usually I peruse them and hit delete.

Something caught my eye in this one.

In a long LONG list of humorous TRUE story articles, check this out:

“After stopping for drinks at an illegal bar, a Zimbabwean bus driver found that the 20 mental patients he was supposed to be transporting from Harare to Bulawayo had escaped... Not wanting to admit his incompetence, the driver went to a nearby bus stop and offered everyone waiting there a free ride. He then delivered the passengers to the mental hospital, telling the staff that the patients were very excitable and prone to bizarre fantasies. The deception wasn't discovered for 3 days.”

Now, would that not make a great movie? Comedy OR drama? I shared this some friends. Their input: What if it was set in Vegas? Or New York? What if it was aliens?

The point is, I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. This was given to me. Stories are everywhere. Waiting to be told.

Are you up to it?

Monday, January 25, 2010

See? I'm not crazy!

In a follow up to my rant from yesterday, I found another blog that expresses the same sentiment. I've attached the link in case you want to see if I'm just making all of this up.

Writing On Spec: How Come Fish Travel in Schools, But They're Not Learning?

See? I'm not the only one who thinks this way!!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Listen, Listen, Listen!!!

So, someone gave me their script over the weekend.

“Read this, you’ll love it!” they said.

I come to the table with a clean slate and moderate expectations. This was not David Mamet, so you know, I give room for error. But his script was so incredibly sloppy and confusing I wanted smack him…especially since he hadn’t even written FADE IN: at the top of the page! What the heck is THAT!?!?!

No fade in; your script goes in the trash, tossed by the reader who has moved on to another piece of work that doesn’t reek of unprofessionalism.

There were few slug lines, and the ones that were there had no DAY or NIGHT or LUNCHTIME or whatever you want. So, it was unclear when the scenes were actually taking place. Confusion.

Also, in reference to a crowd of people, an animal name was used. That is fine and dandy when introducing them, but from that point on, you would need to refer to the crowd simply as that: CROWD. To keep referring to them as dogs, dingoes, whatever, will confuse the reader.

Do you see a theme here? You must not; I repeat MUST NOT EVER confuse your reader. It’s the READER that moves your script along to the producer. And they don’t have the time to decipher what you MEANT. They have no problems chunking your script and moving on. None at all.

There were a few other mistakes that I found…clich├ęs, repeating words…all of which I brought to his attention in a polite but objective way. I thought (silly me!) that he would be happy to get the help. But you know what I got?

Summary: “Thanks for your help, but I don’t need to write any slug lines because I know what’s going on, besides, it’s a form of art. I interpret it as I see fit. As for the names for the pack of people, readers are smart and they’ll know what I mean. Thanks for checking it out, but you know, I’m gonna do it my way.” He snatches back the script that’s bathed in a red pen and storms out.

Learn from this, prospective screenwriter. Learn.

Ask yourself, how high do you want to go with this screenwriting idea? If you ask someone for help, and they give it, before discarding their advice, I suggest you listen. Not because it’s me. Always give an ear to anyone that gives criticism to your work. And for God’s sake, be polite and thank them when they’re done. Your script may have given them the worse migraine of their life, and what they say may help you win an Academy Award one day. Be gracious to those who take the time to help you.

It’s painful to have your script gutted when you’ve worked so hard on it. Trust me, I know. But do you want to sell it? Do you want it optioned? Do you want to see it up on the silver screen with Morgan Freeman playing a role YOU created? If it’s too hard to admit that maybe something you wrote didn’t work, if it’s too hard to admit that maybe you need to write a few more drafts for what you “see” to actually make it to the page, how can you grow? How can you stretch your talent? It’s a craft, this writing screenplays.

Ask yourself: How good do you want to be?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Have A Dream? Find A Will!!!

This posting is for all aspiring screenwriters.

Okay, so you have a story rolling around in that noodle of yours. What do you do? If you're like me, you go to a library or amazon.com and start borrowing/buying all the books you can on the subject. And then..you feel overwhelmed. And lost. The books do not compliment each other at all.

In fact, they contradict one another.

As you gaze in frustration down the road you suddenly realize that the tumbleweed gently bobbing across your path is actually tufts of your own hair you've pulled out.

Not a good sign.

I have a few suggestions, of them being Rogaine.

Beside getting more books on the matter (I highly and will always recommend Save The Cat! by Blake Snyder), I would like to suggest this:

See if any universities or colleges in your area have screenwriting classes and see if you can audit.

True story:

I had written a script which ,of course I felt was a sure winner. I didn't have any Final Draft software so I attempted to do it all on Word. (NOT recommended at all).  When I was done and had rewritten it a few times, I decided I was ready for the plunge. I began querying around and a producer actually wanted to read my script! I was elated. I sent it to her and she got back to me in a month's time.  She said she loved my story, but it wasn't formatted correctly, and gave me some feedback. I still have her email. It was a very gracious thing for her to do. Because now, the classes I've taken, I realize what a piece of crap and how amateurish it was. I bang my head on the computer when I think about it. She did leave me an open door, however. When I rewrite it, she wants to see it. Like I said, she was extremely gracious. Finding this kind of "niceness" is rare in these waters.

So, since I work at a prestigious university at the moment, I decided to see what classes I could audit. Lo and behold, there WAS a screenwriting class I could take! And, HOLY SMUDGEMUFFINS! The teacher was Will Akers...the author of the book I was currently reading! I contacted him and he gave me permission for the class. I was on Cloud 9.

I can't tell you the wealth of information I've gotten from his class. It's WAY different from reading a book. You can ask questions, bounce ideas off the teacher, etc. I wouldn't change my attending his classes for anything. In classes, you can not only find out about the craft, but also the intricacies of the business. WHEN my screenplay is being considered, I can tell you right now the first person I'm going to call for guidance is Will. You can't call a book for advice. If it's written, it's written. Anything else that you need that's not in that book, tough tiddlywinks, kid!

So, find a mentor. Find a Will Akers. And when you do, for God's sake, LISTEN to them!!! If he/she is in a position to teach a class, there is probably good reason. If you're willing to listen, shift plots, ideas, dialogue now, it won't be such a shock to you when a producer asks you to do it later.

Keep dreaming! Keep writing!

PS I DO  highly recommend Will's book: Your Screenplay Sucks! 100 Ways To Make It Better. I've also added some other links of his.

Book - Your Screenplay Suck! 100 Ways To Make It Great
Blog by Will Akers
Website - Will Akers

Greetings to all!

Hello to my family, friends, and fans!

As I embark on my journey of getting my scripts optioned and sold (and prayerfully made!) I've been thinking of what I wanted my first post to be. True, this will be about my exploits, advice, and personal anectdotes. There are thousands of blogs like that.

I don't want mine to be the same.

So, my first post will be about GRATITUDE.

Thank you's are in order. To my family who puts up with my incessant bouncing ideas off of them, the long hours of typing, the dragging the laptop with me even to Chuck E. Cheese's...I thank you. You let me experience every stage of the writing process: creation, dissection, rewrites...you let me be me. Gold. It's gold. Thank you. And a special thank you to my husband, Craig. He got me a laptop just for my writing and just so I could put Final Draft on it. My laptop is my seventh child. (Yes, I have a tribe of children). My family: wonderful. I love you all.

To my friends. You all are wonderful. Thank you for reading rough drafts, for editing, for throwing ideas out there. I'm grateful that you invest your precious time in my dreams. I'm especially grateful that you don't candy coat anything for me, you're are not "yes men". If you're confused you say you're confused. You don't let me whine; you tell me to fix it. You keep me pushing the envelope with stories, layers, and content. You help me with my ideas and let me hold think tank sessions with you. Some of you aid me in my research. All of you are incredible. I'm so thankful for each of you. WHEN my screenplays sell, I'm indebited to each of you. Not only do you help with my work, but you always cheer me up, always build me up. How can I not succeed when I'm surrounded by people who are cheering for my talent? Each of you help keep my dreams alive. I love each of you dearly.

To my fans. I know you're my family and friends. I love you.

As I conclude my first post, I would like to encourage you. It's cliche, but it's true: Your attitude will determine your altitude.

As you pursue your own dreams, remember to thank the people you come in contact with. Always give credit where credit is due. Even if you don't like them, find something to be grateful for. An attitude of gratitude can open doors long shut.

Follow your dreams and keep writing!

Screenwriter Chic