January 18, 2010

Define Your Story In One Line

After much trial and error (stress on the much), I have found that the best way for me to nail down any story I'm working on is to come up with one sentence that describe the over-arching idea of my book/play/movie/whatever.

Yes, I strongly suggest figuring this logline (as screenwriters and other movie peeps call it) before you sart writing your first draft (of course, to help you do this you'll probably have concocted a bunch of ideas or done some research already).

Why do I feel that way? Because it forces my over-imaginative (active?) mind to FOCUS (or, as the French would say, Fohk-Us. Sorry, inside joke. It's... never mind). This is definitely a crucial word for me as I have found that without this backbone, I have a tendency to wonder all over the place. Which makes for very boring, unnecessary (doesn't one imply the other?) @$#% that I later need to cut.

Pile of my previous drafts (not including the current one nor, yes I know, the one that's probably coming after).

Ah, if only I'd known this at the very beginning, I'd have been able to skip drafts 1-6, at least (yes, currently working ondraft 14--hey, I'm learning!).

Note: yes, I do recycle.

And no, I don't feel having this one-liner at the beginning is in any way constraining. I mean, it keeps me focused on the topic I want to explore, yes, but that's it. Apart from that, I can let my imagination run wild, and often times it actually helps me be even MORE creative as I find other ways to string my scenes together.

Finally, it's not because I already have a logline (or a plotline) of what I want to happen that it can't change here and there (though making changes can be quite complicated as then you have to go back all over the place to make sure it all holds together still).

Here's a great post if you want to read more about the One Sentence Stress Test.

--The Writing Apprentice

January 5, 2010

To Cut or Not To Cut

I'm keeping this one short and sweet. I know, shocker.

But here's what I read in one of the Writer's Digest articles:

"Scenes don’t have to be highly dramatic in order to perform valuable work. Yet it’s important that you examine them one by one, satisfying yourself that each will deepen your readers’ connection to the story and urge them to turn the page.

Failing that test, scenes need to be cut—or reworked until they pass."

So I guess after this draft's done, I'll have to go through everything again. At least once more. Hmmm, maybe I should instead go find another article on how to let go...

Ah, what's a parent to do?

--The Writing Apprentice

Pointers When Writing A Movie Script

June 5, 2010. Oops, I meant January. Wow, what a way to start the year...

Well, it's been a short while (OK, OK, I won't lie, a LONG while) since I've last written anything interesting on this blog (or anything at all), but I've been busy. Very Busy.

Still, I have a WHOLE bunch of things to do this year on my resolutions list, most of which involves writing. Yep, nothing to surprising there. And of course, one of those writing projects is my movie script.

So here are some pointers I got off the Screenwriting Goldmine, but which I still feel would be good to keep in mind for Any Kind of Story:

1. Make the audience care about the protagonist(s). Which means that, even if (s)he is an a$$hole/(enter other expletive) or does reprehensible things, (s)he needs to have at least 1 redeeming quality that makes us still like her/him. If we don't care about the hero(ine), we won't care about the story.

2. Make sure you are writing a genre. This has more to do with marketing. More valid, I think (but don't necessarily quote me on this since I have yet to be published and sell a movie script), in the movie industry, where marketing involves HUGE figures (subject to budget constraints, of course)!

3. Happy Ending. Capitalized. Turns out that the happier the audience = bigger word of mouth = bigger box office figure. And movie producers (or anyone involved in the movie industry) likes $. Who doesn't, really? Now I understand why Hollywood's known for cornyness :)

4. Love your hero(ine): give them great barriers to overcome, tough choices to make. They will shine all the more because of them.

5. Love your villain(s) too. Ties in with no. 4.

6. Get your story right before you write a word of dialogue. So write out a prose statement of your story and have it analyzed (by yourself and some brutally honest friends) to see what works and what doesn't. Don't worry, this is a REALLY good step to undertake, and will (generally) help you write your story faster afterwards.

7. Pick out the first paragraph of your treatment and ponder it. That's right, PONDER. Until you know the scene in and out, and can visualize it better than any of your favorite scenes of your favorite movies.

8. Sit your a$$ down and WRITE. Don't worry about typos or format or other such secondary things now. Just get your story down, let it flow out of your gray cells, through your fingers and onto the screen/paper.

9. Repeat steps 7 and 8.

NOTE: Please be aware that true writing IS rewriting, which means that though you have a finished draft, there's probably more work to be done -- you gotta love the editing!

On that note, I've gotta go back to my own editing.

Good day!
--The Writing Apprentice