Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Forays in Fiction: Script Frenzy 2010 Final Bell

Big fat paycheck : a young person's guide to writing for the movies
by Colton Lawrence.
New York : Bantam Books, 2004.
269 p.

ScriptFrenzy 2010 ends at midnight. Which is about three hours away for me.

I would recommend Colton's book for any beginner in script writing even though his target audience is young adults (middle school - middle twenties) it is chockfull of helpful advice for every step of the process of bringing a story to the the attention of the 'Big Fancy Hollywood Readers' from concept to marketing. I only widh I had read it a couple of months before ScriptFrenzy began so I could have had the benefit of the advice. But my turn for the library copy came a week into April.

If I were to measure the success of my ScriptFrenzy participation in number of pages of script I'd have to give myself a big, fat zero. But if i measure it by what I have learned and by the difference in the developed state of the story then I have nothing to be ashamed of.

Maybe, if racking up page numbers was primary for me, I should have done as I did last year and adapted from one of my finished short stories. But then I wouldn't have the story I did work on as far along as it is now.

Next year, if I participate in Frenzy again and if I decide to go with a new story then I will begin work on the development of the story weeks before April 1st. I will already have my characters created, named and sketched out, the scenes outlined and if possible a complete treatment written. That way I can focus on the mechanics of the script format.

I came to this conclusion as I reached the part of Colton's book this week in which he stresses the need to write the treatment or at least a good portion of it before writing the script. He says that making an outline of the scenes and then writing the story as a treatment helps highlight the holes in the story's logic.

But as I was reading that I realized that it would also mean that the story would be fairly complete and thus writing the script would be more like translating--more like the adaptation from a short story which I did for last year's Frenzy and which garnered me over 30 pages with little difficulty.

My inability to be in creative composition mode or storytelling mode simultaneous to being in script-writing mode may be because I'm not yet proficient in the mechanics of script writing format. It doesn't come natural with little thought like the typing I am doing at this moment along with the spelling and the forming of the sentences in my thoughts--all seamlessly working together so that the words seem to flow from my thoughts onto the screen.

I can not yet do that with the script format. I am wondering if this is all to do with my unfamiliarity--as with a foreign language--or is it at least partly to do with the script format naturally needing the editor side engaged which tends to short-circuit the muse. I keep teetering back and forth on an answer to that.

Because after all, once upon a time, back in kindergarten and first grade, the editor had to be engaged at the level of spelling the words. And right up through middle-school and into high-school the same was true for sentence and paragraph construction. So theoretically it must be possible for one to become so proficient in the script formatting conventions that they could write a script from scratch with as little thought about the margins and the capitalization and the tense and so forth as I now have for the spelling of 90% of the words in this post and the positions of the keys on the keyboard.

I'm definitely not there yet and I'm not sure I ever will be because I'm not sure I'm willing to put in the time it would take to get to that point. I read somewhere long ago and again recently that it takes 10,000 hours of practice at something to become proficient. I'm not sure learning script writing at this late date is worth that to me for it would mean taking those hours from the novel and short story WIP of which I already have more than I can possibly finish in what I have left of a normal life-span.

But though I may not want to devote the time and energy to become proficient I would still like to learn how script are written. It would add to my comprehension and appreciation of what I am seeing on the screen when watching films and who knows, maybe I would be able to offer valuable (and not clueless) input if one of my stories was ever adapted to the screen. :)

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