Well it’s the first week of the new year and we still have an abundance of holidays to get through but I appreciate this one’s existence. It deals with the creative industry and the most underrated aspect where you build the framework for everything that takes place in the movie, The Scripts!
A long time ago when I started J360 Productions, we were all about improving and working without using screenplays. It was an interesting first year sure we’ve made some funny hits but we’ve also made a lot of misses in terms of punchlines, blocking, structure, and after awhile things got formalistic and lost. Not too mention the craziest running times since the epic Ben-Hur but after awhile you learn to appreciate why scripts and the aspect of screenwriting is so essential. Ever since I was taught the foundations involved in screenwriting I loved it ever since. It takes a bit of time to pen the right script but the point is no one said you couldn’t have fun in trying to carve the story you want to tell and there is no right or wrong way to do such a thing (especially when it’s an outline or a first draft).
Don’t be afraid of Format and Structure
The most problem anyone has with screenwriting tends to be format and structure for the final aspect of the screenplay. You should look at it as a sandbox when you’re starting, outline your story as best you can if you’re about that aspect, look into writing the logline for what your story is entirely about as if you’re pitching it to an executive. Get yourself a stack of notecards, and pen the story’s main plot down and begin to expand by writing the same thing but adding more notecards on what your characters are up to in each scene. Even if the first idea is outlandish and a bit ridiculous stop looking at the screenwriting as just work and make it into something fun because you are building worlds. Even if no one understands it at first much like me preparing this blog right now, you need to just stay dedicated and focused upon your first screenplay and write it.
Format is important but right now you’re just carving out your ideas, and planning can actually save you time in the long run. Especially as you get well thought out characters designed and places into your new story. You’ll be well on your way in no time in creating Iconic characters for bloggers to talk about from years on in as you learn the process and then create your own style in making the magic. Right now you’ll need the right mindset and that is
- All Ideas are welcomed
- No such things as Bad Ideas
- What can I do differently?
- Always ask “What If?”
Stay on track for the finish line.
You must always think with the end in mind, that you have a story here with a beginning, middle and an end. Too many new writers stop in the middle of the story and do not finish the production which is horrendous. It can be either through distractions, hesitations, self-doubt, and probably other people who scoffed at the idea. Never fall into the pit, pull yourself from it by always knowing you’ll have to rewrite anyways especially if some characters just don’t fit with the tone of your story. Writing is Rewriting in this business and the business is built on results so if you can feel that urge to write in the beginning, your duty is to control it and always show up for work so you can finish the story.
Never think with the mind of a perfectionist
Perfection doesn’t have a place in screenwriting, that’s only when you pitch it to the producer, and that’s after you’ve done your revising and editing. A lot of perfectionists I’ve seen as I worked with them through college and so on are mostly applying pressure to themselves and tend to suffer the wildest breakdowns. Don’t torment yourself like this if your idea was perfect in your mind, that’s beautiful but in reality you will have to make compromises as it goes to being produced and it will never look the same way as it was in your mindset. So you’ll just need an accurate representation and it can only be made once you put your concept to paper. Plus a lot of perfectionists tend to make scripts that they never want anyone to read because it has to be “perfect.”
As a writer, You must remember that your script is to be read by someone and it could be anyone that’s working on the picture you’re penning. Especially if they don’t like it, you just have to have that faith in yourself in that you’re doing your best and carry yourself well. If you have a producer or a director that is interested in your screenplay stop being shy and share them the essence of your work. If they don’t like it or the script-reader doesn’t care for it, well hear them out on it, and if they’d like a few changes, see if you can go about doing them before they find a script doctor and the whole thing becomes a mess. Be open to what others have to say but never stop writing or putting your skills to the test in creating your masterpieces because for every “no” there is a “Yes” out there. The business is made of 99% rejection and really you’re strong enough to make the shot count, you don’t become the greatest by sheer luck, you become through daily training, and the willingness to show off your skills (Something Bloggers go though every day).
So throw the perfectionist thoughts out of the window, we’re all perfectly flawed creatures and if you want your movie or screenplay produced just focus on getting it done rather than being perfect. Renown celebrity status comes later but you need to make sure you’re putting in the work for people to read otherwise it’s just “talk” but if you have your written manuscript in hand and are presentable to task. You have action by your side and that’s a step in the right direction there. There’s plenty of people out there who do more talking instead of taking action and they are called “phonies” so don’t be one of them.
Now for those of who that were always interested in writing and have been writing your ideas with no idea of how to get started or layout your screenplay.
Here’s a few websites to help you with that.
- The Script Lab
- Stage 32 Happy Writers
- BlueCat Screenplay
All of these are great sources for me but you’re going to need some software to write the screenplay right?
In terms of Software for those of you starting out, you can use Celtx or Amazon Storywriter. They even have notecard and character outlines built in on them so it can also help with you outline as you prepare your stories. We’ll look into the industry standards: Final Draft 10 and Movie Magic Screenwriter 6 at another time.
Make time for your craft, and stop all distractions.
When you do write, please stop using social media, put the phone on vibrate, and put aside time for you and your craft. I know some of you use it for music but try to have a playlist that you can put on a CD or something so that it can get you away from the tweets and spend time in the world you’re trying to create. This is technically the age of distraction and every one says we’re so easily distracted by things when you don’t have the focus to tone them out. So create a block of time (if possible) for your writing, this dedication is something that you must build and flex just like the creative muscles and believe if I can finish several screenplays using this technique so can all of you. The social scene will just have to wait for a little while as you carve a masterpiece that filmmakers worldwide could be starving to film.
“I’m never home” and all traveling excuses.
If you are someone always on the go and can never stop for a minute but want to write something, buy yourself a pack of memo pads, along with a set of wired notecards to get your items outlined. There is the Celtx app for mobile phones and I think Amazon Storywriter has one as well. Considering the other apps on your phone however build your tolerance and focus for your craft first. You have stories to tell and fans awaiting them so Facebook and Twitter can wait. It’s up to you whether you want to make your mark as a screenwriter and since I’d love to see the future grow as much as possible (especially in the artist field) I hope I can set you on the right track in creating some great material. Have fun and take it easy in your adventure and here are some additional books that can help you in your process.
J’s Screenwriter Reading List
- Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
- The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler
- The Screenwriter’s Bible by David Trottler