misc Various questions about screenwriting

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
I have never used a storyboard. My personal method is to just write.
I have a vague notion in my head what the main beats are and I usually
know my ending. Everything else just happens as I write.

I always print out the first draft. That's the one that need the most work.
If I make any major changes I'll print out another draft.

I use just one monitor. I used to take my laptop with me and write but here
in Los Angeles that's the sure sign of a wannabe.

Having multiple pages visible at once would confuse the hell out of me.

I'm looking forward to hearing what you think about that book.
 

mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
I never use a storyboard either.

When I'm writing for myself, I do it much as @directorik does: just write with a vague idea of the ending.

When I'm hired to write for someone else, I make a detailed outline. That usually requires several rounds of revisions and I make sure we're in agreement before I start the first draft.

I too generally print out a draft and use it for reference as I revise.

I use my laptop even though I'm (usually) just moving between rooms.

I can't imagine having multiple pages open at once.
 
I don't storyboard either... I've created my own structure and within it? I feel like most of the main plot points of any overall story are IN THERE. I have the structure all printed out but I've memorized it long ago. I basically have 24 plot points I like to push my Protagonist TO and THROUGH and that's how I begin writing however, I'm also a strong believer in organic writing and letting the characters do whatever it is they NEED TO DO.

So my 24 plot points are really nothing more than a roadmap with all the site seeing dots pin-pointed along the way. Most of my writing takes place by DISCOVERY. I trust my instincts to deliver whatever it IS that needs to be delivered. So I have a pretty decent idea of what needs to take place in the beginning, middle, and end even though I may not necessarily know how these events are going to actually play out.

At some point? My characters always come alive and do what they want or need to do. They make their own decisions and they certainly do not adhere to the roadmap I created (the 24 plot points I've created and memorized). At this point? I just PUSH through the first draft. I call it the vomit draft. I KNOW the STORY will BE IN THERE SOMEWHERE.

All writing is rewriting as far as I'm concerned... So I try to get as much of that PASSION as I have in the first draft... I don't worry about how perfect it should be. I just write it and get it completely out of me.

Once the first draft is completed? I take about a week off from the script and try to do something completely different to clear my synapses. The more I can get AWAY from that first draft? I know the better off I'll be when I come back for the rewrite. I want it to be totally FRESH when I come back to it so all the story problems JUMP OUT AT ME.

So my first pass rewrite is to take care of any loose ends or story problems... Typos. Formatting problems. Yada yada.

My second pass rewrite is looking hard at structure. If something feels off or is NOT giving me the emotional impact I'd hoped it would have? I go back to my structure and start figuring out HOW I can hammer it back into place.

My third pass rewrite is CUTTING EVERYTHING that doesn't need to be there. When I write a first draft? I go whole hog. I do NOT try to start a scene late or as late as possible. I don't believe in doing that because often? I've found that if I write the scene linearly and like a flow chart? There will be something in that mess that I can use for other parts of the script to enhance it.

My first drafts are always 165 to 185 pages long... I never worry about this because in the back of my head? I know I may end up using that first draft as an outline for a book later on... So I want all the crap in there that cannot be in a screenplay. Having said that? I'm also a ruthless butcher when it comes to cutting the material down to size -- around 110 pages give or take.

After I cut the draft down to size? I then make a pass for character intros. After that? I make a pass for parentheticals. After that? I make a pass for description, cutting it down to size. After that? I make a pass for dialogue also cutting it down. My last pass is all about subtext... I go in HEAVY and analyze every bit of dialogue there is and figure out how to say it with subtext if I think subtext would be better. Sometimes however, you don't need subtext with some characters. All depends on the story and where/how the character fits INTO it.

So... That's the extremely short version of HOW I approach writing a script.
 
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I should be getting the screenwriting for neurotics book today and am excited to learn this process, I am interested to know anyone's personal methods they prefer when writing !
How do you storyboard? I currently have a wall wipe board that I intend to use instead of an easel with paper.
Does anyone prefer to print drafts of their script when editing? I do not like to waste paper, but I for some reason see everything so much clearer on paper...maybe because I am just old lol or perhaps it just feels more real to me.

Which, I suppose brings me to another question! When you write, do you use multi-monitors? Or a laptop? A single tablet? Does having multiple pages visible at once help you structure your story?

Thanks for answering these!
Instead of using your white board for a storyboard? You may want to use it for your structure... I'd also try to create a good logline ahead of time that you can ALWAYS look at to help keep you on track with WHERE the STORY GOES. Can't tell you how many times I've gotten a first script from someone where I asked for the logline FIRST and when I read the script? The two simply didn't match. I'm sure the script began on track but somewhere down the line? The writer got OFF TRACK and never went back.

I do all this from memory now because I've been doing it for so long... But in the beginning? I found it immensely helpful to have NOT an actual story outline of the actual events I needed to write but just a list of structural events (I now call them plot points) that I KNEW needed to be IN THE STORY NO MATTER WHAT.

The reason I now call these events plot points is because in the beginning when I was learning all this structural stuff? Everyone seemed to be using different language. Pinch points. Mid points. Yada yada. And? There were quite a lot of different definitions of these depending on who's definition you were reading at the time. LOL.

I knew the only way I could keep moving forward was to fall in love with STRUCTURE, which I have. Many people TRY to tell me my simple little 24 plot points is a formula but it's not. It's just a roadmap. It's no different than if you had a roadmap with all the places you wanted to stop at along the way to your final destination. Unless you're obssessive-compulsive, you'll find along the way of your roadmap that there are OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST to take detours and enjoy. The same goes for writing as far as I'm concerned. When your characters eventually have a mind of their own? They should literally COME ALIVE and take those detours from the roadmap.

And when you get lost? No worries... Go back to the roadmap.

So with your first screenplay? I would do some research on structure... Decide what can work for you and then throw up some story events or plot points -- whatever you want to call them -- and hit the ground running.

If you don't have any structure to utilize? I'd be more than happy to share mine with you... Just let me know.

GOOD LUCK! I'm EXCITED FOR YOU.

*EDIT: I also wanted to say... Some writers are OUTLINERS. SOME ARE NOT. The ones that are NOT are called PANTSERS. LOL. i.e., they write by the seat of their pants but I do NOT believe that happens at all. Some of us are simply blessed with not having to write shit down all the time. I believe we all have SOME idea of our story in our minds and to me? That is no different than an outline of sorts.

The reason for this edit? I know professionals who outline EVERY DAMN THING in their screenplays ahead of time. In fact? I know enough pros who outline everything ahead of time so that the screenplay is MORE or LESS moot. It becomes an occupational hazzard of sorts... LOL. Why? Because NOW? Now they have to FORCE everything in that precious outline to come true in the screenplay and again... I've been doing this for a long time. I can usually tell from the writing that the writer did this -- forced the story based on something they created ahead of time.

When the story doesn't flow... When the characters seem to do things that are NOT consistent with their personalities? I have found -- nine times out of ten that the culprit is the outline. When you look at someone's outline on paper or in a document? It seems harmless enough. Seems to have most of everything the story needs but make no mistake... Having a well thought out outline does NOT a great screenplay MAKE. You still have to be able to EXECUTE i.e., TRANSCRIBE what's in your outline to the screenplay so that it FLOWS and FEELS LIKE IT WAS DONE EFFORTLESSLY.

I'm not saying NOT to outline... You have to do what's RIGHT for YOU. What's right for me or @mlesemann or @directorik ain't gonna necessarily be what's right for YOU. All I'm saying HERE is that if you do intend to outline? Always remember that forcing your characters to do things that aren't organic can turn a screenplay or any story into a mess. Always go back to your characters... They always have the answer. If you get stuck? Learn MORE about your characters. The more you learn about them? The less stuck you'll be.
 
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Instead of using your white board for a storyboard? You may want to use it for your structure... I'd also try to create a good logline ahead of time that you can ALWAYS look at to help keep you on track with WHERE the STORY GOES. Can't tell you how many times I've gotten a first script from someone where I asked for the logline FIRST and when I read the script? The two simply didn't match. I'm sure the script began on track but somewhere down the line? The writer got OFF TRACK and never went back.

I do all this from memory now because I've been doing it for so long... But in the beginning? I found it immensely helpful to have NOT an actual story outline of the actual events I needed to write but just a list of structural events (I now call them plot points) that I KNEW needed to be IN THE STORY NO MATTER WHAT.

The reason I now call these events plot points is because in the beginning when I was learning all this structural stuff? Everyone seemed to be using different language. Pinch points. Mid points. Yada yada. And? There were quite a lot of different definitions of these depending on who's definition you were reading at the time. LOL.

I knew the only way I could keep moving forward was to fall in love with STRUCTURE, which I have. Many people TRY to tell me my simple little 24 plot points is a formula but it's not. It's just a roadmap. It's no different than if you had a roadmap with all the places you wanted to stop at along the way to your final destination. Unless you're obssessive-compulsive, you'll find along the way of your roadmap that there are OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST to take detours and enjoy. The same goes for writing as far as I'm concerned. When your characters eventually have a mind of their own? They should literally COME ALIVE and take those detours from the roadmap.

And when you get lost? No worries... Go back to the roadmap.

So with your first screenplay? I would do some research on structure... Decide what can work for you and then throw up some story events or plot points -- whatever you want to call them -- and hit the ground running.

If you don't have any structure to utilize? I'd be more than happy to share mine with you... Just let me know.

GOOD LUCK! I'm EXCITED FOR YOU.

*EDIT: I also wanted to say... Some writers are OUTLINERS. SOME ARE NOT. The ones that are NOT are called PANTSERS. LOL. i.e., they write by the seat of their pants but I do NOT believe that happens at all. Some of us are simply blessed with not having to write shit down all the time. I believe we all have SOME idea of our story in our minds and to me? That is no different than an outline of sorts.

The reason for this edit? I know professionals who outline EVERY DAMN THING in their screenplays ahead of time. In fact? I know enough pros who outline everything ahead of time so that the screenplay is MORE or LESS moot. It becomes an occupational hazzard of sorts... LOL. Why? Because NOW? Now they have to FORCE everything in that precious outline to come true in the screenplay and again... I've been doing this for a long time. I can usually tell from the writing that the writer did this -- forced the story based on something they created ahead of time.

When the story doesn't flow... When the characters seem to do things that are NOT consistent with their personalities? I have found -- nine times out of ten that the culprit is the outline. When you look at someone's outline on paper or in a document? It seems harmless enough. Seems to have most of everything the story needs but make no mistake... Having a well thought out outline does NOT a great screenplay MAKE. You still have to be able to EXECUTE i.e., TRANSCRIBE what's in your outline to the screenplay so that it FLOWS and FEELS LIKE IT WAS DONE EFFORTLESSLY.

I'm not saying NOT to outline... You have to do what's RIGHT for YOU. What's right for me or @mlesemann or @directorik ain't gonna necessarily be what's right for YOU. All I'm saying HERE is that if you do intend to outline? Always remember that forcing your characters to do things that aren't organic can turn a screenplay or any story into a mess. Always go back to your characters... They always have the answer. If you get stuck? Learn MORE about your characters. The more you learn about them? The less stuck you'll be.
I appreciate the awesome reply! I have given it a lot of thought, and perhaps my mind just is not in the right place for writing a screenplay, I am writing this (idea) not from passion, but from notes, trying to create a ...comedy, which, is not at all how I am used to writing, lol but I feel it has potential for a movie. In a sense, I feel this is the perfect idea for me to have an understanding for screenwriting so I can actually write something with passion down the line. A lot to think about :) I still have not received the book, USPS is slow, but do plan on turning off phone and giving full attention once it arrives! Thanks again for replies and advice!

My basis: Nothing is more interesting in the universe than people lol, people just being themselves..and when you can capture that element of people just being themselves, people love it. Perfect examples are Office Space (Mike Judge), The Office, Seinfeld..you get the idea. Many notes taken from situations that people just would love to see lol - More of a documentary than a movie, but trying to find the structure to put into a film.
 
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This should not have 2k views, if it has 2k, views than at least 400 people should comment ...damn. Is this the twilight zone or something?

WTF am I missing here?
 
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