Posts tagged ‘Hal Croasmun’

August 29, 2011

Creating Drama in a Talking Head Scene

This article by Hal Croasmun of ScreenwritingU gives insight into how to create drama in a scene that is primarily or even entirely composed of dialogue:

I’d like to take a look at how a talking heads scene might work by creating deeper meaning in the dialogue.

I’ll give you the punchline in advance. The key to your success when writing a talking heads scene is to deliver meaning, emotion, and entertainment — not exposition.

Keep reminding yourself that every scene in a script MUST entertain the audience in some way. So, if 95% of the scene consists of dialogue, that dialogue has to be entertaining, emotional, and deliver some powerful meaning.

To illustrate this, I’d like to use the famous “You had me at hello” scene from the movie JERRY MAGUIRE. In it, you’ll see that many different skills have been used to turn a talking heads scene into a total tear jerker.

To set this scene up…

We’re at the very end of the movie. Jerry has achieved his external goal of having his only client succeed. But there is an internal question about whether he can love anyone or not.

Read more here.

July 6, 2011

Finding Your Screenwriting Process

Everyone has different writing habits. For me, the hardest part is getting myself to start writing — usually if I can get a sentence down, I can write ten pages. The trick is finding the will power to write that first sentence. Here’s an article from ScreenwritingU to help you master your creative process:

Part of being a great screenwriter is finding your   optimal creative process — the set of rituals that will have your  creativity  blossom and your life be happy at the same time.

Can you imagine that?

As you write each screenplay, you can start identifying  what works    for you and what doesn’t.   Many times, just recognizing a negative         pattern will change it or recognizing a positive pattern  will assist you to make it a habit.

Over the years, I’ve noticed a specific pattern that disables a writer’s creative process and often causes “writer’s block.”

See if this feels familiar.

A writer will torture themselves on a first  draft,  rewriting lines over and over again, trying to make sure it is  perfect — but much of that perfection is on the surface; the words.   They’ll spend three or four drafts editing the script to get that “perfect feel.”   But often, the script has problems with structure or plot holes or main characters that need work.  By the sixth draft (or 10th or whatever), they tire  of the process, do a polish and  send the script into a contest or producer —  knowing there are problems.

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May 24, 2011

Why Do Bad Movies Get Made???

As writers, we’ve all asked it. Hal Croasmun of ScreenwritingU weighs in on this most frustrating of topics in the following article:

Have you ever wondered why bad movies get made? I mean, it is hard to believe that some movies ever made it past the first reader, let alone making it to the screen.

Here, I’m not talking about movies like “Jackass,” because liking a movie like that is just a matter of taste (or no taste). I’m talking about movies that should have been good, but were either boring, illogical, and had flawed stories.

With the huge budgets, these movies have all the resources to be amazing entertainment experiences, right?

So how could they fall short like that?

Before I answer that question, let me clarify one thing. Even with bad movies, there are hundreds of people behind the scenes who have worked their hearts out AND have done a great job on their part of the project. I respect their talent, creativity, and hard work.

This isn’t about blaming anyone or even putting down the process. It is just about understanding the cause and what it might mean to you as an up-and-coming screenwriter.

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May 17, 2011

ScreenwritingU ProSeries: Is It Worth It?

I’ve been thinking about trying the ProSeries, a six month online screenwriting course offered by ScreenwritingU. From what the website has to say, it sounds like the best possible investment in a serious screenwriters future. But the course costs a whopping $1100. So I’m left asking, is it worth it?

Of course, there are discounts to be found throughout the site that bring the cost down to $700. But this makes me leery — if they make it so easy to get the course at a discount, why not just offer it at the discounted price all the time? I realize many of us only like to buy things on sale, but it still aggravates me when companies up their regular prices to make their discounted prices look better.

All in all, the course sounds like a worthwhile experience, but I’d like to hear from those of you who have taken it and don’t have testimonials on the site.

So tell us, ProSeries-ers — is it worth it??

Please leave your comments below. In the meantime, I’ll try some of their free courses and see what I think. I’ll let you all know how things go.

May 12, 2011

The Top 5 Screenwriting Mistakes to Avoid

This list comes from Hal Croasmun of ScreenwritingU. Here’s what Hal had to say:

Mistake #5: On-the-nose writing.

When characters consistently say exactly what they think and feel, an audience quickly gets bored. They are being spoon fed and that doesn’t require their attention or entertain them in any way.

Instead, you need deeper meanings that adds interest, intrigue, and causes an audience to have to interpret, thus giving the audience an internal experience of the story.

BTW, on-the-nose writing is fine for early drafts of your screenplay. It serves as a place holder, but before you turn in the script, you need to make sure that each line delivers as much meaning as it can.

Solutions include pouring character into the lines, delivering subtext, creating anticipation, setting up or paying off, and others. Take the time and effort to become an expert in OFF-the-nose writing and every reader will respect you for it.

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