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Thread: Starting out

  1. #1

    Starting out


    I'm having trouble starting out with my potential screen play. I mean, I know I need to write it, but the words just aren't forming on the page right now, and it's getting kinda frustrating.

    I seem to be good at writing the intro. sequence (the first few pages), as well as the ending sequence of screen plays. Everything in between just sorta fizzles out. I need to be able to flesh out the middle portion of the plot of my screen plays, so I'm asking for ideas and tips from you guys?



  2. #2

    Starting out

    Mac -

    Get a good book on screenwriting.

    I recommend The Screenwriter's Workbook by Syd Field.

    The book is really a condensation of his screenwriting class. It gives you exercises that walk you through the process of structuring your story as you write it. And it gets you to focus on small chunks of your script at a time so you don't get overwhelmed.

    It will help you structure the beats that you need to build the story and will help you pace it.

    Having a beginning and end is a good start, but it is the middle of the script where most screenplays fall apart.

    Good luck

  3. #3

    Re: Starting out


    holy cow. are you ever going about it wrong. this is the wrongest approach possible. no working writer does it this way

    start with an outline. make sure the concept is good, outline it, then make sure the underlying structure is good before starting first draft. don't kind of, sort of do it, make sure

    if you work from an excellent outline of a good concept, the draft will be very easy. writing off the top of your head will not work

    as far as act II (everything in the middle) is concerned - that's too broad a subject for now. you should read everything available concerning how to structure act II before you begin. i recommend 'story' by robert mckee - it's the best

    study for a few months before starting your 'potential' script


  4. #4
    Writing Again

    Re: Starting out

    Both Syd Field and McKee have things to say worth listening too. So do other writers both in and out of the screenplay writing field.

    Most of what they say is common sense once you understand more about writing screenplays and most of it is applicable to any type of story telling.

    Most of what they say has been said before and will be repeated by others in different ways.

    Read what they have to say. Think about what you have read. Re read them later when you have learned more.

    Don't listen to people who either worship them or hate them.

    Think for yourself.

  5. #5
    Writing Again

    Re: Starting out

    Come to think of it Syd Field has an advantage over McKee.

    Those books can be found in second hand stores very cheaply.

    There is something to be said for both books and women who are cheap and easy to find, especially when they have minds of their own and something to say worth listening to.

  6. #6

    Re: Starting out

    Read a lot -- it's a given for a writer. I must admit I don't read as much as I should (at least fiction). I am doing better now, averaging about two novels a month. Reading fiction helps you understand the art of storytelling. Reading scripts is even better, but scripts are harder to find.

    Watch a lot of movies -- this is your field, and you need to know what the guys and gals out there are doing. How the screenwriters write the dialogue and action sequences and how they string the whole thing together. Granted, a lot has gone on between script and final wheels and much is out of the hands of the writer (frex, the editor may even change the whole story if he wants to). Still, there's much to learn from watching. Good movies are great for learning new stuff. Bad movies also teach you "how NOT to write."

    Write a lot -- and I don't mean just scripts. It's a good idea to start writing a treatment when you have a good idea. That would help flesh out your ideas and storyboard the whole thing. A complete outline is not necessary, unless that's how you work best. But a treatment and storyboard are very helpful. The more you write (especially dialogue and action) the better you'll become.

    Get into a community. You need support.

  7. #7


    As a few have said - outline, read and learn. Then learn some more from the first screen play you write, and then write another. Im at the "Learn some more from the first screen play you write" stage. Its can be hard, but just stick with it and finish. Most of the time it is FUN.

  8. #8

    Re: thoughts

    "eading fiction helps you understand the art of storytelling. Reading scripts is even better, but scripts are harder to find."

    It's very easy to buy screenplays of produced movies. They're often published in book form. Try looking around You can also find screenplays online. The only thing is that some scripts online are poorly transcribed scripts, so be really careful of what you read.

  9. #9

  10. #10

    Re: Starting out

    I think whether or not you start with an outline or a treatment or scene cards or just nail down the main six or 7 plot points, is totally a matter of your personal creative process.

    You do need to have a grip on the beginning, end and major beats to tentpole your story, but an outline does not work for everyone. A treatment does not work for everybody.

    If it works for you, great - but some writers do not like to get bogged down in too many plot points, preferring to focus on the details in bite-size chunks.

    Robert Mckee's book is also an excellent choice.

  11. #11
    Sgt Spanky

    Re: Starting out

    zilla is right.

    I can't imagine starting to write a script without having the whole story mapped out in broadstrokes first. The details are missing but I have to know where it's going before I start writing it. I can change it along the way if I choose but there has to be even a rudimentary narrative path to follow in some form or another first.

    How can you write an opening scene if you don't know where it's going? That's why it fizzles out.

    *Edited to Add: I was gonna post the link to Drew's Script-o-Rama but I see DoubleIT has that covered already. You can read scripts of produced, unproduced, and amateur work there. Beware! A lot of the amateur work is baaaaad.

  12. #12
    Writing Again

    Re: Starting out

    I can't imagine starting to write a script without having the whole story mapped out in broadstrokes first.
    I can do most of this in my head. I loved it when I did meaningless grunt work like digging ditches. I'd write, edit, and compose an entire chapter in my head; then I'd go home at night and write it all out as a finished product.


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