Posted From: 126.96.36.199
|Posted on Monday, July 05, 2010 - 06:06 pm: |
Mate, can you give me the ten best do's and don't's for a screenplay?
I mean what should or shouldn't, the latter in particular, form the basis of any decent screenplay?
I'm not referring to theme, or layout, but the actual need for, or not, of description.
What should be seen and or not seen when writing?
Posted From: 188.8.131.52
|Posted on Monday, July 05, 2010 - 09:11 pm: |
Interesting question, Frank. I'll be happy to provide my opinions - just my ops, but nevertheless... find 9 other guys, and 8 would disagree I'm sure...
But, for the moment: coming soon.
Posted From: 184.108.40.206
|Posted on Wednesday, July 07, 2010 - 07:42 am: |
Okay, Frank, here's my anecdotal opinions on scripts - me judging from the tons of scripts I've read, but again, I don't claim to know anything (no one knows nothing, after all), or that I'm right and others are wrong, or etc. - just one man's opinion.
1) shorter the script the better - this is hurdle #1 to getting anyone to read anything, and a short page count will often tip readers to not only reading yours first, but reading it at all. Never ever above 120 pages if you can help it. 110-119 wearies the reader realizing this. 100-109 feels doable, a sigh of relief. 90-99 brings a surge of joy. That used to be the low limit, but now the trend is altering, and it's okay to have scripts be even shorter, if it's justified. 80-90 pages is a "Hey! Alright!" I know, this all sees so trivial... but it's all church, from what I've seen....
2) I'd keep everything with simple type, and standard prose paragraphs. Like this very post. No CAPITALS or italics or underlines or
One line separating
Other lines, from
Other lines, because
after a while, this becomes - counterintuitive to what you'd think - actually more difficult to read. But easy flowing lines, like these very paragraphs?... Good.
But avoid when you can even doing what I just did there - the "weird" punctuation marks. The ; and the : and the - and the ... and the ". Keep it all like Vonnegut said, if you can, commas and periods, commas and periods. It makes for the easiest of writing. It's all about making it oh so easy to the reader... like a stroll in the park on a summer's day.... (Oh: the current style is one space after a period. Like that. We don't have a choice here either way, at the stylistically-incorrect RCMB anyway, but... just saying.)
3) I believe you can, however, get away with ANYTHING on the first page of your script. A reader will forgive pretty much anything on page 1 - so pull all the crazy shit, if you simply must, there. Sometimes creating that flash-bang opening hook requires weird directorial asides and visuals and types and such... use a couple more if you must, of course... it's about a reader forgiving initial annoyances, as he moves along, if he sees they were necessary, or simply not repeating themselves....
4) which I'd also do: avoid directorial asides and such. PAN and C.U. ON and ANGLE ON and so on... use the basics that are most important, the V.O.'s for dialogue, and the O.S.'s when necessary... CUT TO's are often wastes of time, but sure, if you must.... Again, regular old prose... as if Hemingway had written it....
5) I'd also keep descriptions to a minimum. It is my opinion, a reader can always direct a movie better than the writer can write it. Meaning: A reader is always creating anyway with his imagination, one perfectly suited to your story. A reader strives for the best possible spin, in mind - hell, the reader's gotta live this story, so he's gonna make it as nice as he can on himself! So why muck it up by getting too much in the way? Leave descriptions to a minimum if you at all can - then the reader is unhindered in painting the scene.
Note, for example, how Ramsey Campbell often "describes" things - they are rarely "The desk was white with a round edge and a smooth top with drawers to the left, two total, and sat on four legs, with three chips to one leg and...", etc. Description, mostly, from what I've gleaned from RC's work, is almost always tied in with emotion, theme, atmosphere, a character's mental state, something ominous, a linking device, etc. Everything works to aid the story along. I find this is best for scripts too... everything should aid the storyline, and the emotional throughline... though necessarily, descriptions in scripts are going to be needed far less than they will in prose....
That Hemingway-esque description above, for example, need only be: "The chipped desk sat on four legs," say. If it's going to go on and ON and on, if it must, then it must add to story somehow, I think....
I guess I've only 5 right now... but then, again, these are flexible. I've seen them all violated, and it didn't matter, the script in question still worked... and I've seen perfectly appearing scripts, that sucked... story's always the final master, it's going to rule the day... I can keep going in that department, if you ever want me to....
Posted From: 220.127.116.11
|Posted on Wednesday, July 07, 2010 - 11:21 am: |
That was great. And, nicely, what I tried to do with the one I attempted.
(it sucked in all other areas, I hasten to add)
Posted From: 18.104.22.168
|Posted on Wednesday, July 07, 2010 - 11:37 am: |
Craig - I love you. I want to have children with you.
Many many thanks, pal. That is exactly what I needed to hear.
I'm not branching out into the world of screenplays, but putting together a couple of short films with some friends in London. The films will be based on screenplays I've written adapted from my own work.
I have had some experience doing it before, BUT, it was all stuff I threw in a drawer and never went back to.
But the people I will be working with are all professionals, all of them make money either acting, producing, or directing. So, I thought it best that I make sure my screenplay is the dog bollocks, so to speak.
Many thanks, pal. Hopefully with your guidance in screenplay 101, I won't come off looking like such a tosser.
Thanks, Craig. I really appreciate it.
Posted From: 22.214.171.124
|Posted on Wednesday, July 07, 2010 - 04:29 pm: |
No problem - like I said, one man's op, and not gospel by any means. Hope it works out, Frank!
And thanks, Tony....
Posted From: 126.96.36.199
|Posted on Wednesday, July 07, 2010 - 10:19 pm: |
Craig - are you a scriptwriter? I hadn't realised. Nice one!
Posted From: 188.8.131.52
|Posted on Wednesday, July 07, 2010 - 11:53 pm: |
I write scripts, Caroline. But alas, not yet a scriptwriter... not the kind I want to be to call myself that with pride....
But there are others where who ARE scriptwriters. They should chime in with their opinions.
Posted From: 184.108.40.206
|Posted on Thursday, July 08, 2010 - 12:27 am: |
Pity. I was just about to ask you for your autograph.