Monday, June 28, 2010

Confused? Me too ...

In my highly honed state of procrastination I've been reading blogs and tweets about the so-called "do's and don'ts of screenwriting" ... and following the advice to read lots of scripts. But guess what - there's a disconnect here somewhere. I was reading a script last night of a big budget film about to be released - an early draft I suspect as the trailer had scenes that only vaguely resemble what I read - and it's full of don'ts. WE see and WE hear. Slug lines that went from 'Dawn' to 'Morning' to 'Day'. Description of someone's brand and make of car whereas every other single car was just that - CAR. I've read other (produced) scripts with unfilmable character descriptions and emotions or thoughts, of specific music cues, of cut to's up the wazoo. Good scripts too ... for the most part.

You query this and the answer inevitably is - "don't try this at home kids, they're professionals". So what, they did everything textbook perfect until they got their big break THEN decided to be sloppy?

Or maybe they're good storytellers with a great premise and the (sometimes) fanatical commentary on format and 'rules' is missing that one very salient point - it's the execution of the story that is paramount.

Yes, I understand the vagaries of readers and things that may "pull them out of the story" and "you want to put your best foot forward". I just find it amusing is all that the reality of what gets 'through' these threshold guardians is sometimes very different.

Talk to me of structure and character, not so much the formating rules du jour.

Or am I wrong not to pay heed to the rules committee?

ps I'm not really procrastinating, more so thinking which, as many of you will know, is perhaps the hardest part of writing ("look mum, no hands!") ...


  1. 生存乃是不斷地在內心與靈魂交戰;寫作是坐著審判自己。......................................................................

  2. I think it's all up to personal preference. If it works, it works. Some scripts are so prosey, some are so bare bones. But what it comes down to is the storytelling, characters and dialogue and if those are on par, the rest is whatever.

    Formatting, however... I'm a stickler. Show me something in Times New Roman or in a play format and I will probably cry. Tears. Of hate.

  3. Sorry Richard, but I am unimpressed with "we see". I think it's a perfectly good phrase that will work in a spoken presentation, but I think when written it is clumsy. I do think all that 'invisible' writing we learn is a skill.

    Let other writers do what they do. I like those rules - call me naive - bur I think they do serve the story.