1. Sang Hee
    Offline

    Sang Hee Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Sweden

    Writing a script

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Sang Hee, Aug 5, 2010.

    Hi,
    I've written a full feature film script and I'm quite happy with it but I have two questions.

    How often is it ok to describe the way character says something? Or should I omit it completely? For example:

    MIKE (whispers)
    This is useless.

    Also, is it necessary to keep the rich language even throughout describing what's going on in the picture? Cases like when two consecutive sentences begin with the same word. For example, if they would both begin with 'he looks'. Do I have to care about that or it doesn't really matter?
     
  2. Northern Phil
    Offline

    Northern Phil Active Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2009
    Messages:
    198
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    UK
    A script can be described as a set of instructions that the cast and crew have to follow. If you want someone to whisper, then you have to tell them that they have to whisper.

    Don't ever think that a script is set in stone as Producers, Directors, Editors and Actors will give you their opinions on what a character should be doing and this may lead to several re-write's.
     
  3. Sang Hee
    Offline

    Sang Hee Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Sweden
    Ok, so in other words those are not things I have to worry about?
     
  4. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,725
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    You're the scriptwriter. The director and the actor are going to decide whether or not the character whispers.

    Look at Shakespeare's plays. There are very, very few stage directions of any kind. Performance issues were left up to the performers.

    Just keep your focus on the actual dialogue. If you're intent on controlling how a person says something, you should probably be writing a novel instead of a screenplay.
     
  5. Mantha Hendrix
    Offline

    Mantha Hendrix Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2010
    Messages:
    268
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Northern Ireland... the place I've taken for grant
    Only put in directions like that if they're absolutely necessary. You can keep them in if you want, just be aware that the director can and will change them if he thinks differently.

    The first script written for a feature film is more of a guide. After the casting process and before the filming a lot more will be decided. It will become a lot more finite.

    That said you could be your own director. ;)
     
  6. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    keep wrylies [that's what they're called] down to an absolutely essential minimum... otherwise, you're stepping on the director's and the actors' toes...

    as for 'rich language' i'm not quite sure what you mean, but screenwriting style is, of necessity, 'lean and clean'... if you write the action/description element as you would a novel, it's not going to be taken seriously... plus, it'll artificially pad the page count, which if written properly, will equal the minutes of running time, as 1 page = 1 minute is the industry standard...

    i mentor many aspiring screenwriters, so if you want help, advice, or just an opinion on the quality of your script, feel free to email me any time... i can also send you tips from the pros on all aspects of the craft, including how to approach agents...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  7. Ron Aberdeen
    Offline

    Ron Aberdeen Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2010
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    W.Midlands - UK.
    Sang Hee

    From you post I think it is fair to assume this is your first attempt at a screenplay. When I first started a few years ago I had no idea where to begin.

    My first script seemed to contain all the elements necessary to attract but in reality nothing could have been further from the truth.

    It was written as a shooting script not a speculative one. That’s because I based my presentation on the only book I had read about scriptwriting, and unbeknown to me, that was about shooting scripts and I didn’t know what a spec was.

    I scoured the web and found TriggerStreet and InkTip and placed my screenplay on those sites. TriggerStreet provides reviews by other want-a-be writers and InkTip allows for accredited producers, directors and production companies to view your logline and if interested download your synopsis and script.

    Within days I was educated by the reviews I received from TriggerStreet members as to the difference between spec and non-spec writing.

    I quickly leant about the over use of wrylies, exposure through dialogue, not to include transitions or camera direction. The way to introduce characters, the importance of pacing and most of he other mistakes beginners make.

    I immediately re-wrote my script. I also joined Zoetrope a similar site.

    You might be saying so what’s so important about this, my story’s great, faultless, it is correctly structured in three acts, perfectly formatted and all of my descriptive text only shows the story and doesn’t tell it. I’ve no past tense or exposure.

    My descriptive text is limited to a maximum of four or five lines for action, scene settings and location imagery.

    All my main characters have an arc and I rarely exceed four lines of dialogue by any single character without dialogue from another character or descriptive text. Neither do I over use the same phrases or expressions.

    And if that’s so, that’s great, but you still have no one to show it to and if it hasn’t been reviewed, you’ve only got your opinion and maybe those of friends to base your assessment on, that it is any good.

    Get as much feed back as you can it is the only way to move forward.
     
  8. Sang Hee
    Offline

    Sang Hee Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Sweden
    But how am I supposed to have my script criticized if I intend to have it professionally realized as a feature movie? One can't just run around showing his script to anyone or the 'accident' would happen.
     
  9. Ron Aberdeen
    Offline

    Ron Aberdeen Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2010
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    W.Midlands - UK.
    The first thing you do is register it with a copyright agency before showing it to anybody.

    I presume you have finance, producer, director and crew in place and you know from your previous experience your screenplay will be made as it appears that must be the case if you are so sure it will professionally realized, and not just hoping like the other 80,000 plus scripts written this year.

    I see you from Sweden and maybe the script to screen process is easier but some how I doubt that.
     
  10. Northern Phil
    Offline

    Northern Phil Active Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2009
    Messages:
    198
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    UK
    You could put that one to one side and write another script, perhaps write a script in the form of a short film. You could use a similar style and have it criticised.

    You could also look at scripts that have been used in films and use them as examples to guide you, some are sold online whilst others can be found on internet sites, they are easy enough to find.
     
  11. Sang Hee
    Offline

    Sang Hee Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Sweden
    Well, I registered the synopsis with the Writers Guild of America, West. Is that good enough?
     
  12. Ron Aberdeen
    Offline

    Ron Aberdeen Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2010
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    W.Midlands - UK.
    No !
     
  13. Mantha Hendrix
    Offline

    Mantha Hendrix Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2010
    Messages:
    268
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Northern Ireland... the place I've taken for grant
    Ron is right, the chances of your first script being produced are extremely slim. Don't let it discourage you, it's the fact of life. So you have two options.

    1)You could make the film yourself, if it's too "Hollywood", then write a simpler script. A lot of writers and directors have made a name for themselves by making private films to start with. Just get some friends together and do it.

    2)Save it. Write something else. Often you find that some screenwriters earlier material will get produced later in their career. Something makes me think you'll take this option.
     
  14. Sang Hee
    Offline

    Sang Hee Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Sweden
    I'm not worried if the script will be produced or not. I know it will.
    I was just having some questions about details of writing it. I'm also writing some other scripts for smaller projects.
    And I'll try to register the script too.
     
  15. Mantha Hendrix
    Offline

    Mantha Hendrix Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2010
    Messages:
    268
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Northern Ireland... the place I've taken for grant
    How can you be so sure?
     
  16. Ron Aberdeen
    Offline

    Ron Aberdeen Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2010
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    W.Midlands - UK.
    Sang

    I don’t want to piss on your parade but unless you have contacts within the industry, and have already established yourself as a writer or are producing your screenplay yourself, the odds of succeeding with your first screenplay are enormous.

    Last year over 80,000 screenplays were registered and entered the market place of some 750,000 screenplays currently in circulation.

    In that period Hollywood made less then 300 movies and less than ten of them were from spec screenplays and only two or three were by new writers to the film industry but I think all but one had at least been writing for television .

    Most successful scripts are written as a commission by established writers already within the system and often spec scripts are seen as calling cards to get you a writing job.

    The majority of Indy films are co-written by the producer or director and again the number produced was minuscule compared to the number of scripts sitting in an “In Tray” where the producer has said, “I’ll get back to you”.

    Interestingly I understand the average number of scripts written by successful writers before some small suggest is nine.

    I’ve written 17 spec screenplays and received several options but the screenplays I’ve written and are going into production were all as assignments.

    I wish you luck and admire your confidence, I’m sure every writer starts the same way but the sooner you recognised the reality of the market place the quicker you are able to make real progress.
     
  17. Sang Hee
    Offline

    Sang Hee Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Sweden
    Well, because I work in the movies industry. True, it's not so big in here but I'm getting to know more and more people and I'm also making smaller projects and helping other people with theirs. It's only a matter of time until I get enough people interested in backing me up with it. It might take years to achieve that but I have patience for as long as the possibility of reaching my goal is real.
    Also, being skeptic won't get anyone anywhere.
     
  18. Ron Aberdeen
    Offline

    Ron Aberdeen Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2010
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    W.Midlands - UK.
    It’s not about being a sceptic, more about be a realist.
     
  19. Mantha Hendrix
    Offline

    Mantha Hendrix Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2010
    Messages:
    268
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Northern Ireland... the place I've taken for grant
    Agreed. If prey didn't adapt to it's environment,well, it would be screwed.
     
  20. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    I have a Turkish friend who has written and produced several short and full length feature films in Sweden, in Swedish and in Turkish. It is possible, especially if you have contacts. And some students I know have won competitions with films they have made which have led to work on larger projects.

    It's one thing being a realist, quite another paralysing yourself with a sense of failure before you've even got started.
     
  21. Sang Hee
    Offline

    Sang Hee Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Sweden
    Yeah, I know. But this isn't what this thread is about.
    I'm rather worried about having a quality product to make. A good script is easier to produce than a bad script, aye?
     
  22. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    For some, producing a bad script is effortlessly easy!
    Back to your original question, check out as many scripts as you can on the Net and in the library, or, if you have contacts, try and beg a few screenplays to read. You'll see how much description is used--very little, and how the good ones are able to depict everything with dialogue. You can also ask for help, as I did, from a university that offers Film and TV studies (or whatever the department calls itself). They were the most help of all.
     
  23. Sang Hee
    Offline

    Sang Hee Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Sweden
    No, I meant that good scripts are more likely to be selected for production than bad ones.
     
  24. Shinn
    Offline

    Shinn Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    925
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    New Zealand
    And that basically relates to how well you write your script; they will select one that has a fresh style, an engaging storyline and believable characters.
     
  25. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    unless you've had knowledgeable people read your script and tell you it's a 'good' [= marketable] one, you can't 'know' it is... you can only hope/wish so... and that's not being realistic...

    if you haven't had such feedback from pros yet and want an assessment of it's commercial quality level, i'll be glad to give it a look and provide a mini-'coverage'...

    as for registering it, scripts that will be produced in the us are registered with wga, the writer's union... see details here: www.wga.org
     

Share This Page