Gerald Hanks Filmography

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Screenplay Reading: I WILL Read Your F*&^ing Script, But...

In 2009, Josh Olson, the screenwriter of A History of Violence, posted an article titled "I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script".

The article describes how Olson's reading of a two-page synopsis from an aspiring screenwriter turned into weeks of torture. Olson discusses how the writer had no clue about the requirements of basic sentence structure and grammar, never mind story arcs and character development.

What I was handed was, essentially, a barely coherent list of events, some connected, some not so much. Characters wander around aimlessly, do things for no reason, vanish, reappear, get arrested for unnamed crimes, and make wild, life-altering decisions for no reason. Half a paragraph is devoted to describing the smell and texture of a piece of food, but the climactic central event of the film is glossed over in a sentence. The death of the hero is not even mentioned. One sentence describes a scene he's in, the next describes people showing up at his funeral. I could go on, but I won't. This is the sort of thing that would earn you a D minus in any Freshman Comp class.
As I mentioned in my first post on this site, people often who believe they have a "great idea" for a movie, but don't take the time and effort to develop that idea into a cohesive and intelligible story. They see the end product of so many bad Hollywood movies that they're convinced that they can do better.

The truth is, with all the elements that go into the creation of a film, audiences should be more surprised when the process creates a wondrous experience and less upset when it results in a turkey. The script, while essential, is only a part of that process.

My business cards carry the slogan, "Turn Your Story Into A Screenplay." Everybody has ideas, concepts and stories, but very few know how to turn them into screenplays.

That's where I come in. Unlike Olson, I will read (and have read) some incoherent, unorganized scrawlings that attempt to pass themselves off as scripts. Also, unlike Olson, I am willing to help those poor, misguided souls who believe that writing a screenplay takes no more effort than ordering a mochaccino and sitting in front of a laptop for an hour or two.'ll cost you.

Granted, not as much as some professional consultants with extensive IMDB credits or walls full of awards, but it will cost you.

Two complete read-throughs of a full-length script can take two hours or more, with another two to four hours required for notes, edits and analysis. That's four to six hours just to read the script and assemble the notes before the real work begins.

Proper grammar, spelling and formatting are absolute requirements, as most readers won't even touch a script without these elements. This goes for scripts, synopses, treatments and even loglines. If you can't show the basic writing and communication skills, your "million-dollar ideas" are essentially worthless.

If you have a dream of selling one script and making big bucks in Hollywood, regardless of your writing skill, read Olson's article and allow him to burst your bubble.

If you aspire to tell meaningful stories and want to share them with others as those stories play out on a screen, I can help.

If you've never written a screenplay, but you believe in your story, I can help.

If you want to create memorable characters that audiences will want to see and actors will want to portray, I can help.

When you're ready to turn your next story idea into a screenplay, get in touch with us at StoryIntoScreenplayBlog [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

6 Screenwriting Tips on Writing Effective Dialogue

A major issue most beginning screenwriters encounter revolves around writing dialogue. Too many beginners hope to write memorable lines and funny quips that viewers can quote to their friends or that will stick in the mind of producers. 

These writers miss the entire point of a character's words: to move that character closer to his or her goal. Any words serve to block or detour characters from accomplishing the goals they set out to accomplish interfere with telling the story.

Here are some tips to help your characters sound both believable and memorable.