February 20, 2012

#29scenes Day 20

#29scenes writing challenge

DAY 20 scene idea: *A man avoids his fiancée who is ovulating and trying to fall pregnant*

Click clack click clack!

February 19, 2012

#29scenes Day 19

#29scenes writing challenge

DAY 19 scene idea: *A high school girl discovers one of her bullies crying in the toilets, and against her better judgement, asks what's wrong*

As usual, you could take this in a lot of different directions. But move the story along, and peel back the layers of characters a bit at a time.

February 18, 2012

#29scenes Day 18

#29scenes writing challenge

DAY 18 scene idea: *A young girl and her little brother discover their mother sleeping with a man who is not their father*

Try capturing the scene from the kids' point of view.

February 17, 2012

#29scenes Day 17

#29scenes writing challenge

DAY 17 scene idea: *A woman tries to escape a blind date with a needy man while he does everything he can to make her stay*

By reversing yesterday's situation, you will get a whole different dynamic. Have fun with this one and make those characters work hard to get their way!

February 16, 2012

#29scenes Day 16

#29scenes writing challenge

DAY 16 scene idea: *A man tries to escape a blind date with a hideous woman while she does everything within her power to make him stay*

You have dual character objectives to play with here, make them both work hard to get what they want!

February 15, 2012

#29scenes Day 15

#29scenes writing challenge

DAY 15 scene idea: *A teenage girl meets her father for the first time*

Haven't been participating in the challenge? Doesn't matter! Give this scene a go. You really have nothing to lose, and the results may surprise you.

February 14, 2012

#29scenes Day 14

#29scenes writing challenge

DAY 14 scene idea: *Two men arrive with flowers at the same woman's house on Valentine's Day*

Happy Venereal-disease Day!
As promised yesterday, here is the scene written by The Bourne Identity screenwriter which yesterday's challenge was based off:


Darkness. The sound of wind and spray.

The darkness is actually water. A searchlight arcs across heavy ocean swells. Half a dozen flashlights - weaker beams - racing along what we can see is the deck of an aging fishing trawler.

Fishermen struggling with a gaff - something in the water -

A human corpse.

So, how did your scene compare? Did you capture a similar poetic brevity, or did you take a different tact? Look back at the scene you wrote yesterday and see where you could improve it.

February 13, 2012

#29scenes Day 13

#29scenes writing challenge

DAY 13 scene idea: *A fishing trawler travelling at night discovers a dead body in the water*

Think brevity; you're almost sketching using light and shade without filling in all the lines.
Tomorrow I'll share with you how Tony Gilroy, the writer of The Bourne Identity, wrote this scene. You can compare your handiwork to his.

February 12, 2012

#29scenes Day 12

#29scenes writing challenge

DAY 12 scene idea: *A woman discovers she is dating her new best friend's husband*

You get to play with a big character arc in this scene. Think about how much the protagonist has to lose, and what she'll do to get what she wants. Does she want the husband? Is she lonely and desperate to hold onto her new friend? Does she not want to be caught out and have her reputation ruined? You decide!

February 11, 2012

#29scenes Day 11

#29scenes writing challenge

DAY 11 scene idea: *Character A tries to get Character B confess a secret without using words*

You can use dialogue, but not as a part of Character A's objective.

February 10, 2012

#29scenes Day 10

#29scenes writing challenge

DAY 10 scene idea: *Character A walks in on Character B sniffing Character A's shoe*

Remember: there may be more conflict to be had in this scene by not having the characters address the issue directly.

February 9, 2012

#29scenes Day 9

29#scenes writing challenge

DAY 9 scene idea: *Character A fantasises telling Character B a painful secret. Juxtapose with the reality of the confession*

Try to break the clich

February 8, 2012

#29scenes Day 8

#29scenes writing challenge

DAY 8 scene idea: *Character A confronts Character B about a letter they found*

February 7, 2012

#29scenes Day 7

Naughty me, forgot to post yesterday's challenge! Serves me right for being busy.
I hope you wrote a scene anyway!

#29scenes writing challenge

DAY 7 scene idea: *Your character realises they're at the wrong funeral*


I'd love to hear if any of you have tried your hand at one of these scene ideas and how you went!

February 6, 2012

Screenwriting teacher Richard Walter on Scriptchat

Do you go to UCLA? I didn't think so. But wouldn't it be nice to hear the thoughts and advice of a seasoned UCLA screenwriting teacher? One who is a screenwriter himself, and has also written books on the subject such as Screenwriting: The Art, Craft, and Business of Film and Television Writing and Essentials of Screenwriting: The Art, Craft, and Business of Film and Television Writing?
Well then you're in for a treat! Meet Richard Walter.

SCRIPTCHAT Sunday 22nd Jan, 2012
Guest: Richard Walter
* The two biggest mistakes writers make: 1) We write too much. Too many scenes, too much dialogue, movies that are too, too long. 2) We show our scripts before they’re ready.
* Prematurely shown scripts get stale in a hurry.
* Every word of dialogue, and every other sight and sough in a script must MOVE THE STORY FORWARD.
* Trim, trim, trim. When in doubt (about any word of dialogue or anything else), throw it out.
* Ask yourself: If a particular bit was missing, would it be missed? Would the scaffolding of the plot/story fall down? If so, it was needed. If not, not.
* It’s okay to overwrite on early drafts, so long as you don’t show others until the script is pared and pruned.
* Have a writers group – pals you can show early drafts to. Notes are helpful!!
* Common mistakes: being too on-the-nose, too textual, and insufficiently subtextual. The idea is to imply rather than express.
* Raise the stakes as high as you can raise them.
* Don’t tell the reader/audience to feel – MAKE them feel! Make it come out of sight, sound, action, and dialogue, not the writer whispering clues and cues to the reader.
* People who get depressed are people who feel their feelings passionately, and that’s a good sign for writers.
* Make the audience laugh, cry, whatever – as long as you don’t make the audience BORED.
* The score shouldn’t stand out – it should support the story, not be the story.
* Don’t START with the theme when you’re writing. You’ll end up preaching. It should come after story and surprise you.
* Including coverage with your script can make your script look old.
* Film school is now the #1 way to break into the industry.
* If you want to get staffed on a TV show, move to LA. Write features? It’s actually an advantage to be from somewhere other than LA or New York.
* The three big rules of writing at UCLA: Don’t. Be. Boring.
* It’s important to outline, but once you start writing the script, throw away that outline. Stay open to surprise.
* If you’re not married to writing blockbusters, there’s never been a better time for writers. Production costs for indies are crashing, and there’s worldwide distribution at every internet port.

You can follow Richard on Twitter by clicking richardwalteruc.

Next time I invade your knowledge banks with the recent TVWriterChat about fellowships. Until then, don't go changing, but feel free to edit at will.

Screenwriters Anonymous - the first rule of Write Club is you talk to anyone who'll listen about Write Club.

February 5, 2012

#29scenes Day 5

#29scenes writing challenge

DAY 5 scene idea: *Your character walks into a job interview only to discover their arch nemesis going for the same job*

Would you take this the drama route or the way of comedy? Either way, have fun with it, build that tension!

February 4, 2012

#29scenes Day 4

#29scenes writing challenge

DAY 4 scene idea: *Character A tries to get Character B to admit they're lying*

Think subtext! You'd rarely tell someone to their face you know they're lying. You'd try to hint at it, or trick them, or make them think you're cool with what they did. Character A has made their bed and there they lie, and Character B wants to gently tear the sheets off and expose the truth and Character A for who they really are.

Get at it!

February 3, 2012

#29scenes Day 3

#29scenes writing challenge

DAY 3 scene idea:
*Character A divulges negative information about Character B to Character C, not realising C is in love with B*

Tappa tappa!

February 2, 2012

#29scenes Day 2

#29scenes writing challenge

DAY 2 scene idea: *Character A wants to ask a favour of Character B who is angry at them*

Get writing!

February 1, 2012

#29scenes Day 1

Hello February and hello screenwriters! How are your new year's resolutions going? If you're wavering, struggling to motivate yourself, or feeling overwhelmed trying to write a big script, I have a challenge for you.

I'm calling it #29scenes (Twitter hash).

The idea is simple: every day over the next 29 days of February, you write a scene. "That's not hard!" you proclaim. Then why haven't you been doing it?

It helps to have others in the same boat as you. I keep being intimidated by all the screenwriting learning I do (3actssubtextconflictbrevityincitingincidentpg15everywordmovesplotorrevealscharacterkillmekillme), so what I need is to just work on my scene-writing to get comfortable with it. You only really learn when you do, and there's far less pressure with a two-page scene than a 119 page feature that's meant to compete with every brilliant script ever written.

You don't have to write a scene for a project you're working on. This is like exercises in screenwriting class. And just like a screenwriting teacher, I'm going to suggest some scene ideas for you, based off a central conflict. One every day. 

DAY 1: *Character A tries to tactfully dump Character B, who is preparing to propose*

It can be any genre or style. My only suggestion to try writing outside your comfort zone, or flip a cliché on its head. Subvert the paradigm, man. Yeah, right on.

If you miss a day here or there, don't stress out or give up. You're doing this for you, 'cos you want to be a professional and proud writer. Baby steps, once scene at a time...

See you tomorrow with a new scene idea!