Writing for the screen

SheSaidSheSaidSheSaidSheSaid Washed Up
edited February 2013 in Less Rokk More Talk
I'm a writer. Not by profession, not yet, but it's what I'm meant to do. I know it. I love writing my blog (sig), but I love storytelling, too. And nothing has ever come so naturally to me as screenwriting. There are times when I really get going, when I'm really "in the zone" so to speak, and 8, 10, 12 hours have passed since the last time I did anything else. When I know it's good is actually when my role is largely passive. When it's less a sense of me proactively creating something and more a sense of something that exists being revealed to me. Maybe that sounds pretentious, but I'm telling you that's how it happens, when it happens the best.

Oftentimes I'll have story ideas that are borne out of a particularly vivid dream I had. I keep a dream journal, and I've gotten some really good ones. I also know that I've had an Inception-esque dream-within-a-dream. As sure as I remember anything in my life, there's a night I remember waking from a dream to write something that had just happened to me in the dream in my journal, before falling asleep again just as quickly. Woke up for real a few hours later, the next morning, only to find that there was nothing new in the dream journal.

The freaky part is that idea is probably still in my head somewhere. But I suppose I won't recognize it if it ever does surface again. Maybe it already has.

I wish I had caught on to screenwriting sooner. I spent almost 20 years trying in vain to write prose, and my god was it horrible. I had an idea for a novel my freshman year of college, and I had dreams of doing book-signings at the campus book store. By the time I got my degree five years later all I had written was four lousy chapters. And I do mean *lousy*. I had somewhat better luck with short stories, but those have just as easily been adapted to the screen as short scripts (all but one). Any new ideas these days are screenplays, no question.

--

Anyway, that meandering preamble is just to get around to asking if anyone would be interested in reading my stuff and providing feedback.

Half the time I'm my own biggest fan, half the time I'm my own harshest critic. And I'm never right. So I need new and fresh eyes to read my stuff. I do submit to a peer-review website, but they only accept completed feature-length drafts, so it's not very often that I have something new to submit there. I could really use feedback on some of my shorter scripts and some of my unfinished scripts.

It doesn't have to be anything more than "Here's what I liked.... ; Here's what I didn't like...." It would be helpful if you had some insights into storytelling structure and especially screenwriting, but even if you don't your feedback is still valuable. Everyone knows what a good story is, don't they?

Two caveats. These are screenplays, not prose. They are not literature - they are blueprints for making a film. Film is by its very nature a collaborative process. One person can't make a movie by themselves. So screenplays are best left leaving choices that belong to others (how lines are read, how characters are dressed, what shots are used) to the people whose job it is to make those choices. It may make for a slightly unfulfilling read. I would also ask that you bear it in mind when providing feedback.

Secondly, I don't write comedy. I'm not a terribly funny person, and I see comedy as a lazy, wholly derivative genre. And, well, it's even more than that, frankly. Many of my stories are quite dark in tone. So it's not bound to be a light-hearted laugh riot like Witticus' story thread. I don't mean to say I'm gonna tear your heart from your chest and stomp on it, just that nearly all of my stories would get R ratings if they were made as movies (there are a few exceptions). We're all adults here, and we all go to R-rated movies (or Netflix them), so I don't know why this should be a total roadblock, but it bears mentioning.

I'll use the next post to give a rundown of my stories and where they stand. Hopefully you'll see something you like and want to read. If you're interested, shoot me a PM with your email address and I'll send you a PDF of whatever you've picked out.

(and it goes without saying that I'm trusting you all not to steal from me...you wouldn't do that, would ya? :p )

All right, well, see if there's anything you like. This is also an exercise for me in writing what are called loglines. You could best think of them as movie synopses summed up in the span of a Twitter post.

Comments

  • SheSaidSheSaidSheSaidSheSaid Washed Up
    edited December 2012
    working titles all

    Feature-length, completed drafts

    Colors - Two women's journeys through worlds apart to find each other and be together again after unseen forces separate them. (romance/fantasy)

    Three Sides - Three interconnecting stories explore themes of love, loyalty, moral ambiguity, and whether people truly are what they seem. (drama)

    Feature-length, first acts drafted

    Nicholas - After a childhood friend dies in a car accident, Jeff starts to see him again, making him question his sanity. (psychological thriller)

    Riding Free - Star cyclist Joey Chambers wrecks himself at a big race. He and a disgraced ex-pro form a new team to fight their way back to the top. (sports)

    Three Children - George and Annie, parents of six girls, decide to have one more child. They soon find out two of their daughters are also expecting. (drama)

    Bump, Set, Spike! - An eclectic ensemble work their way to the world club volleyball championships, but not without a few bumps in the road. (sports...this one is somewhat lighter in tone than the others....would probably be PG-13)

    Alienation - A young woman returns to her hometown after an absence of several years to find that nothing is like what it was before. (drama)

    Here and Now - Freshly paroled but still not quite straight and narrow, Kate meets someone at a grief and loss support group who changes her life. (crime drama/romance)

    One-acts

    The House Call - A doctor is called to a troubled old friend's home, while the friend is in crisis. (drama)

    The Last Ride - Adam Carroll ends up alone on a cold, deserted stretch of road. So he hitches a ride with the first person who will stop. (drama)

    Pascal's Wager - After his bank is stormed by robbers, Doug gets offered the chance at freedom if he kills one of his coworkers. (action/drama....I am also planning to write this as a feature, but I'm thinking a less cliche location than a bank might help)

    I also have two that I'm not listing here, one under the "feature length, first act drafted" heading and the other will probably be a one-act (though it could end up feature-length as well). The subject matter of these two isn't really something that should be discussed openly on the forums, but if I've piqued your curiosity sufficiently, I'll tell you more about them via email or PM.
  • GandWuserGandWuser Road Warrior
    edited December 2012
    You know, I think I have this problem too. I've been trying to write this story that I planned for a few months, and at first I was going to try to make it a screenplay. But being that I didn't have the resources for actually making it into something visual, I started writing it as a book. Then I started getting infuriated because I was dissatisfied with my writing. I think I might just restart it as a script.
  • SheSaidSheSaidSheSaidSheSaid Washed Up
    edited December 2012
    Yeah, you always need to think visually when writing for the screen, because as I said, screenplays are not literature. It's kind of two sides of the same coin, though. People who don't have much experience with screenplays might think that they're all just dialogue and movement, or even that a dialogue-light movie such as 2001 A Space Odyssey would have been simple to write. I'm telling you, though, Stanley Kubrick wrote the **** out of that movie.

    It also somewhat restricts the sorts of stories you're able to tell. One of my short stories that I'm actually most pleased with is an exploration of a soldier's last moments before a hopeless battle. The soldier is the only physical character in the story, and there's no dialogue until the very end (so as to convey that the soldier in question is General Travis at the Alamo). There's just no way to convey that in a screenplay. Internal conflicts can only be explored in prose. External conflicts work best in screenplay, but they can also be written as prose.

    And maybe I should have said this in the OP, but I'm more than willing to provide reciprocity. If you've got some stuff on which you want feedback, I'd be happy to read it and tell you what I think.

    If you need script writing software, I cannot recommend Celtx highly enough. It's free and it's basically anything you would ever need. There's lots of other programs that go above and beyond what Celtx offers, for a huge price, but you can't possibly ask more of freeware than Celtx. It's what I use.
  • SheSaidSheSaidSheSaidSheSaid Washed Up
    edited December 2012
    So I guess no one's interested =(
  • LiveHomeVideoLiveHomeVideo Trying too hard
    edited December 2012
    I guess I could give it a try. I love trying new things, and though I don't have any real experience with film scripts (I have written one for a short film for school, but that's about as far as it goes) I know film script language enough to understand stage direction and overall how a film should look.

    I'm still deciding which one of these I want to take a look at at the moment.
  • GandWuserGandWuser Road Warrior
    edited December 2012
    I actually have an old script I wrote for something, anyone want me to post it up here? And if I do, should I link to it or post it all here?
  • GreatJedi7GreatJedi7 Road Warrior
    edited December 2012
    I'll trade screenplays with you, lemme fire off a PM.
  • SheSaidSheSaidSheSaidSheSaid Washed Up
    edited January 2013
  • GreatJedi7GreatJedi7 Road Warrior
    edited January 2013
    Could've sword I sent it. I'll try again.
  • McTenzingtonMcTenzington Opening Act
    edited January 2013
    I'm a filmmaker, so naturally I write. I've written and directed 2 shorts so far and I'm going to be filming a third that I didn't write (but helped with the story in the writing stages), and I'm currently developing a western and doing research for a holocaust film that I'll likely make in the distant future.
  • SheSaidSheSaidSheSaidSheSaid Washed Up
    edited January 2013
    Coolies. I'm keen to produce The House Call, since it would cost almost nothing to make, but I don't so much as own a video camera right now. I tried begging on to the local university's film program, but they never got back to me.
  • horsepastriesahorsepastriesa Rising Star
    edited January 2013
    Hmmm...I needed something to read. Thank you. I'll offer some constructive criticism if I have the patience to read all the way through (I usually don't, but I'll press on!)
  • SheSaidSheSaidSheSaidSheSaid Washed Up
    edited January 2013
    Who...are you talking to? Me? If so, you need to tell me which one(s) you want and where to send them.

    And honestly, Jedi, you picked the worst possible one. Lockdown is in such crap shape, I probably shouldn't have even listed it.
  • horsepastriesahorsepastriesa Rising Star
    edited January 2013
    Oh, oops. I'd love to see Three Children
  • SheSaidSheSaidSheSaidSheSaid Washed Up
    edited January 2013
    Still need an email addy to send it to. That'd probably be best shared via PM (unless you have a public box).

    That one's just a first act. It's 25, 30 pages, thereabouts. Probably wouldn't take you 15 minutes to read. It's also pretty early in the revision process, so it'll be nice to get feedback on it.
  • GreatJedi7GreatJedi7 Road Warrior
    edited January 2013
    SheSaidSheSaid;4957874 said:
    Who...are you talking to? Me? If so, you need to tell me which one(s) you want and where to send them.

    And honestly, Jedi, you picked the worst possible one. Lockdown is in such crap shape, I probably shouldn't have even listed it.

    Alrighty. Well I love a good psychological thriller, and Nicholas seems to be just that by the description, so I suppose I'll have that instead.
  • SheSaidSheSaidSheSaidSheSaid Washed Up
    edited January 2013
    That one is in much better shape. Very close to ready for feedback.
  • GreatJedi7GreatJedi7 Road Warrior
    edited January 2013
  • SheSaidSheSaidSheSaidSheSaid Washed Up
    edited January 2013
    Kerr-aazzy busy last week at work, so I'm quite late sending these to you two. Sorry about that. I did make a few edits in the once-(more-)over just now, so I feel good about waiting a little. Specific remarks for each accompany the emails. Enjoy!
  • SheSaidSheSaidSheSaidSheSaid Washed Up
    edited February 2013
    I updated the list. I'm punting on Lockdown...it's not gonna work. I've also punted on one I never even listed that I drafted to feature-length that I keep falling less and less in love with. It sucks to have work go to waste (I worked on it for months), but it's my understanding that that part of the process is fairly common. Everyone's first few scripts are **** (though that one wasn't actually the very first I ever wrote...one of those still on the list is! #teaser).

    I've also added a new one to the list, and, well....there's another in the conceptual stages that is probably not something that should be openly discussed here. If that whets your whistle, gimme a shout ;) I'd still love more readers for any of my other stuff, too.
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