Posts tagged ‘list’

September 17, 2013

35 Reasons to Write (or, Why We Do What We Do)

Every day I post a new quote about writing. The quotes come from famous screenwriters, novelists, poets, and each writer has different ideas about the craft of writing. But there’s one thing that they all agree upon: Writing is hard work.

No one gets into this gig because they think it will be an easy way to turn a quick buck (or if they do think that, they’re quickly corrected.) So why do we write? What could possibly possess us to sit down in front of our laptops or notepads and suffer day after day?

There’s no single reason, and your reason might change from project to project. Whatever you’re working on today, if you’re having trouble getting motivated, here are just a few reasons to push forward.

Reasons to Write

  1. Because someone’s paying you to
  2. Because no one has paid you to yet, and you’d like that to change
  3. To get better at it
  4. To share your story
  5. To exorcise your demons
  6. To express an opinion
  7. To prove something to yourself
  8. To explore a new idea
  9. To see what you’re capable of
    read more »

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August 2, 2013

Stanley Kubrick’s 10 Favorite Movies

In honor of what would have been Stanley Kubrick‘s 85th birthday, the British Film Institute has published an excellent article on the groundbreaking writer/director, as well as a little-known list of his ten favorite films.

Nick Wrigley of the BFI writes:

I count myself among the many admirers of Kubrick’s films and his remarkable aptitude for problem solving in all areas of life. I would argue that the only remaining unexplored area of Stanley’s life in film is his relationship with, and love of, other people’s films. In his later life he chose not to talk publicly about such things, giving only a couple of interviews to large publications when each new film was ready – but through his associates, friends, and fellow filmmakers it’s now possible to piece together a revealing jigsaw.

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June 5, 2013

John Cleese on 5 Things to Make Yourself More Creative

This advice applies to all sorts of professionals, not just screenwriters. It applies to all people, for that matter. Take a look at the whole talk below, but if you don’t have time, here are the main takeaways (pulled out by BrainPickings.)

  1. Space (“You can’t become playful, and therefore creative, if you’re under your usual pressures.”)

  2. Time (“It’s not enough to create space; you have to create your space for a specific period of time.”)

  3. Time (“Giving your mind as long as possible to come up with something original,” and learning to tolerate the discomfort of pondering time and indecision.)

  4. Confidence (“Nothing will stop you being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake.”)

  5. Humor (“The main evolutionary significance of humor is that it gets us from the closed mode to the open mode quicker than anything else.”)

March 21, 2013

50 Best Opening Scenes of All Time

Film.com has put together a wonderful list complete with video clips of the fifty best opening film scenes of all time. This list is Not America-centric, so you’re sure to come across several foreign films you haven’t seen. Look over the clips and Film.com’s review of each and get inspired to write a groundbreaking opening scene of your own.

Here are the top five films on the list:

5.) “Touch of Evil” (Orson Welles) 1958

The nearly wordless opening shot of Orson Welles’ other other *other* masterpiece is arguably more famous than the film it portends, a 200-second tracking shot that begins with an adorably old-fashioned bomb being planted in the trunk of a car, and ends with a bang (and a kiss). A self-contained (but not self-serving) masterpiece of cinematic suspense, the elaborately choreographed tracking shot is made all the more impressive by how firmly it anchors the nihilistic noir that follows. It may not be the cinema’s most impressive long shot anymore (thanks, “Russian Ark”), but it’s still the most perfect (except for that whole Charlton Heston in brownface thing). – DE

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February 8, 2013

12 Things Spec Readers Look For

There are no hard and fast rules of screenwriting (formatting rules aside), but there are a number of key factors that readers look at to determine whether or not your script will be worth the full read within minutes of picking it up. Ray Morton of Script Mag has listed out the 12 key signs of a promising script:

Professional script readers will often claim that they can tell if a screenplay is going to be good or not after reading just a few pages. This is true – for me, anyway.

Granted, I can’t assess every single nuance of a script’s story in just five or ten or pages, but by assessing twelve specific elements, I can tell if the story, characters, and dialogue have potential and if the writer has the ability to pull off whatever it is she/he is attempting. Here are those twelve elements – those twelve signs of a promising spec:

1. The script is short – between 90 and 110 pages: The average length of a feature film is between 100 and 120 minutes (yes, I know that a lot of modern movies run longer than two hours, but those films are usually the result of self-indulgent directors abusing their right to final cut and does not reflect a desire on the part of the industry at large to make longer movies – studios and theater owners still prefer pictures to be two hours or less so that they can screen them as many times a day as possible and so want screenplays sized accordingly.

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December 6, 2012

15 Types of Inciting Incidents

Erik Bork has written an excellent article in which he discusses his creative process and lists 15 types of inciting incidents, including films that they occur in. The list is very much like Blake Snyder’s ten film genres and can be used similarly to help you brainstorm your next brilliant script.

Here’s the list:

  1. The thing that has defined you and/or supported you (key to your identity, mission, sense of self, well being, etc.) is suddenly taken away or threatened…   Jerry Maguire, Toy Story, Bridesmaids, About a Boy, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Legally Blonde, Elf, Enchanted, The Godfather  
  2. A new mission emerges to help someone,which seems like the necessary and right thing to do, but will clearly come with some major challenges…   Clueless, The Sound of Music, Erin Brockovich, The Sixth Sense, Schindler’s List, The Hangover, Dave
  3. You get an opportunity to possibly do the thing you’ve always wanted to do – which may seem too good to be true, and will be really difficult to succeed at…   Almost Famous, Boogie Nights, Working Girl, Tootsie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
    read more »

October 4, 2012

10 Rom Com Truisms

Billy Mernit of Living the Romantic Comedy recently compiled a list of 10 romantic comedy truisms with links to his articles supporting and providing advice for each point. If you’re working on a rom com, this list is essential reading:

A few readers have asked me to put all of these “truism” posts, scattered over the past 18 months, in one convenient place for persual.  So be it (just click on the numbers to get to the corresponding links).

# 1:  The primary challenge lies not in creating obstacles to keep the couple apart, but in convincing the audience that these two people truly do belong together.

# 2:  A star can open a romantic comedy, but a protagonist who doesn’t make sense will piss off the movie’s audience forever.

#3:  The depth of your audience’s emotional investment in the central romance is directly proportionate to the size of the story’s stakes.

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#4:  Solve the Woman Problem and you will get rich.

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August 2, 2012

50 Dead Giveaways That You’re an Amateur Writer

Danny Manus of No BullScript Consulting has written a new list, 50 signs of an amateur screenwriter. As he puts it,

There are probably hundreds of signs that the writer of that script I’m screaming at is an amateur. But today, I’d like to give a mere 50. Most of these may seem like common sense, yet you’d be amazed at the sheer number of projects plagued with these issues. Some of them may make you worry about your own work. But hey, at least you’ll know for next time and you’ll be one step closer to making sure your work is at the highest of professional standards.

The following is in NO particular order and covers a broad range of script issues.

  1. Writing CUT TOs, FADE TOs, FADE OUTs, or any other Transition between every scene.
  2. Telling us instead of Showing us.
  3. Description is in past tense instead of present tense and does not use the active form of the verb. For example, John drives – not John is driving. Danny stands – not is standing. No -ING verbs.
  4. Not using pronouns or articles in your sentences. THE room, HIS dog, HER chair. You don’t walk into room – you walk into THE room or A room.
  5. Having wordy description paragraphs longer than 4 lines on a page without a line break.
  6. Not CAPITALIZING your characters names the first time we meet them in your description. Or capitalizing characters names every time they’re seen or mentioned.
  7. Capitalizing every noun and/or verb in your description.
  8. Not having a new scene heading for every new location or writing things in your scene heading other than the location, time of day and relation to the previous scene
  9. Your description tells us exactly what your characters are thinking or are about to discuss in dialogue, or tells us backstory the audience cannot see.
  10. The script is written in Microsoft Word, Notepad or Celtx.
  11. Not knowing the difference between a Montage and a Series of Shots. A Montage condenses numerous scenes, locations and the passage of time while progressing the plot and character arcs. A series of shots is a visual style to show many different actions or specific visuals all from one scene or a short time span.
  12. Having Camera Direction in your description (“we see”, “shot of”, “camera pans” etc)
  13. Writing parentheses before dialogue on every page explaining the emotion or how the line should be said.
  14. You are not using “Intercut With” when going back and forth between two scenes instead of restating the scene heading each time.
  15. Lengthy location descriptions or too much production design – we don’t care what color the couch is.
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July 16, 2012

Joss Whedon’s Ten Rules of Screenwriting

Joss Whedon is one of my screenwriting idols. The creative mastermind behind such cult classics as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, Whedon has also written and/or directed such hits as The Avengers, Cabin in the Woods, Toy Story and Serenity.

Several years ago Joss listed his top ten writing tips:

1. FINISH IT
Actually finishing it is what I’m gonna put in as step one. You may laugh at this, but it’s true. I have so many friends who have written two-thirds of a screenplay, and then re-written it for about three years. Finishing a screenplay is first of all truly difficult, and secondly really liberating. Even if it’s not perfect, even if you know you’re gonna have to go back into it, type to the end. You have to have a little closure.

2. STRUCTURE
Structure means knowing where you’re going; making sure you don’t meander about. Some great films have been made by meandering people, like Terrence Malick and Robert Altman, but it’s not as well done today and I don’t recommend it. I’m a structure nut. I actually make charts. Where are the jokes? The thrills? The romance? Who knows what, and when? You need these things to happen at the right times, and that’s what you build your structure around: the way you want your audience to feel. Charts, graphs, coloured pens, anything that means you don’t go in blind is useful.

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July 10, 2012

Fix Your Writing Mindset

Danny Manus of No BullScript Consulting recently shared this list of advice for getting in the right mindset about your writing and your career:

Two weeks ago, I attended a very special 4-day seminar given by Brendan Burchard, the NY Times #1 best-selling author, motivational speaker, and the expert’s expert. It wasn’t about screenwriting per se, but instead was about being a high performer – in life and in business. Whatever business you might be in.

Much of what I took from the seminar was about making sure you are in the right mindset for success and that you are looking at your daily routine and plans for the future in terms of productivity, energy, clarity and courage.

I realized how many things I was doing that were sabotaging me, and took away some great soundbytes that have helped me get back into the correct mindset. So  I thought I’d share them with you…

First… Delete these sayings from your vocabulary:

-I know how to do that already, I read a book about it.

– I know enough about how to structure a script and write a logline.

– I don’t need to know spelling or grammar, I’ll just have someone edit it.

– I don’t need professional feedback, I know it’s ready.

– The only reason I’m not an A-List screenwriter is because I don’t have an agent or manager.

– I can’t do that, because I don’t have ______.

– I know it’s just a first draft, but I can make it good enough by this weekend to enter it into this contest.

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