Sunday, August 8, 2010

New Venture

Okay, so I’m going to write a screenplay. It’s my first one. I’ve read a small pile of books: SAVE THE CAT (and At The Movies) by the wonderful Blake Snyder: approachable, insightful, generous; HOW NOT TO WRITE A SCREENPLAY by Denny Flinn: amazing, direct, speaks to our good intelligence; SCREENWRITING FOR DUMMIES, which was a happy surprise. Laura Schellhardt covered a wide range of practical material, comprehensive on the ground floor stuff. Read Syd Field’s SCREENPLAY, aka: the Bible. There are a couple more I can’t see from here, and I also have Final Draft, the software I’ll need to use to write the screenplay when that time comes. I’ve done a full two hour tutorial so I know some of the finer details, fleshing in the physical context of the work.

Further, I’ve erected a couple huge bulletin boards in my hallway, across from my book shelves, that have been modified to resemble The Golden Keys: the three act structure (in four equal rows), page numbered, and noted with structural needs for pacing and proportion. I have a handful of index cards and I'm not afraid to use them.

My first job from here is to find (discover) my title and logline. Both elements should tell the whole story. The former in a few words, the latter in a few or fewer sentences. I’m starting here because it’s smart, and the best practical advice from minds far wiser than mine.

The title and the logline have to do a lot of heavy lifting. Together and apart they need to convey a lot of information to different types of people who need to know certain things about this story.

It should

  • Provide a well described lead player, with a unique problem (act one),
  • Carry a strong indication of the opposition with an implied struggle (a strong act two)
  • Create a questionable outcome (act three) in the viewers mind
  • Have potential for a full picture
  • Suggest an interesting underlying question
  • Imply the scope of materials and budget
  • Suggest the genre/category and audience
  • There must be irony

I have two titles and partial, rough loglines so far.


Tightly wound wife needs a second bathroom for her son’s backyard wedding but she’s married to the adorable, non-pulsed D.I.Y guy, who hoards and slides backwards…. (I don't know the bigger conflict yet)


In 2151, a MILF mom and home-schooled 12-year-old son kill bad guys to maintain world peace. Until one dashing bad guy fails to die, and steals the kid to boot. Mom will have to kill him or marry him to get the boy back.

From here I'm going to go through my 24 notebooks and files and collections of writing and bits and pieces and see if I can't come up with more ideas. I want one to just sing. I want it to be funny and daring and smart and

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