Advice Hunting

This week I have been working on going over the highlighted sections of screenplay writing books that I read, and also searching the “interwebs” for other sources of sound advice. In Screenplay by Syd Field, he emphasizes knowing the characters, and making sure the lead is active, as in causes things to happen rather than just lets things happen to them. Last night I read an article on a website called http://www.scriptmag.com which had some quality advice of its own for unknown writers; like me:

*comedies should be about 98 pages long….got it

*short narrative, dialogue, and description 4 lines or less….okay

*paint story with words….I have a pallet full of words!

*no “we see”, “we hear”, or “beat”…’kay, but I’ve seen that in screenplays that I’ve read….oh that’s just for “established” writers

*if the scene or piece of dialogue doesn’t move the story forward-get rid of it…right

*get The Screenwriters Bible…oh-kay

*be a secure writer…uh oh, I mean, of course secure writer, I can or might be able to do that….it’s not like I’m an insecure human or anything

*create a script that is fun for you to write, and easy for the reader (aka the “gate keeper”) to read and recommend…..I can do that

I also read an article in which the guy suggested that one should watch their 5 favorite movies while reading through the screenplay. Now this is tricky because finding the final, what the actor had in their hand, draft of a screenplay is quite difficult. It’s either an early draft or some guy/gal who watched the movie a bunch of times and just wrote down the dialogue; not in screenplay format, and not helpful. Plus my 5 favorite movies are…varied, in style, genre, and mood; and they are as follows:

*The Young Victoria

*Captain America: The Winter Solider

*Pride and Prejudice (2005)

*My Fellow Americans

*It Happened One Night (the granddaddy of romantic comedies, winner of 5 academy awards, it is movie perfection)

As my husband said, “Those are…different.” Yeah. Although last night I did watch Leap Year (I know its not awesome, but its not bad either) while reading through a revised draft of the screenplay, which was little different from what appeared on screen, but it did give me an idea of how a scene looks on paper. At this point it helps enormously that I have characters, a story line, and an ending for both “Cambridge” and “Brooklyn”, I just need to put them in the right format. So today I thought I would practice proper screenplay format using one of the scenes from “Cambridge”. Back in May, I think it was, I introduced Mae Forester, history major, from Kansas, and is attending Cambridge University over the summer. She meets Evan O’Brady, English guy, who leads tour groups around Cambridge over the summer. They first meet right after she gets off the bus, this scene is a couple of day later.

***********************************************

EXT. CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY-MORNING

Mae going for a jog, she stops to stretch a lot, dancing a little bit to the music that is coming through her head phones. Evan is with his friend Jeff, further up the street.

EVAN
(sees Mae jogging)
Jeff, there she is.

JEFF
There who is?

EVAN
You know the girl from 2 days ago. Remember I told she was dragging her suitcase.

JEFF
That’s “Jayhawks”?

Mae starts running their way, in the zone.

EVAN
Come on mate, she was cute. She was just tir-

Mae runs into him.

MAE
Oh…I’m so sorry.

EVAN
No no really Miss it was my fault.

Jeff rolls his eyes.

MAE
I guess I was in the “zone”. Music helps me when I run because, I don’t really like running. Just trying to get over some jet-lag. (smiles at Evan) I feel like I’ve seen you before… (realizes) You’re the guy…the one who helped me with my suitcase.

EVAN
Yes, yes that was me.

MAE
I’m sorry if I seemed rude or anything. I just don’t travel very well. Those couple days were just a blur.

EVAN
No its okay. You seem to be doing better.

MAE
Getting adjusted. I’m Mae by the way, Mae Forester.

Mae puts out her hand for a handshake.

EVAN
Evan O’Brady.

They share a really long handshake, Jeff’s eyes widen.

JEFF
Um, Evan..

EVAN
Right. So what brings you to Cambridge?

Jeff rolls his eyes again.

MAE
I got accepted into a 3 month program here at the university.

JEFF
That’s nice. Lovely to meet you Mae, but we must be going.

MAE
(looks at watch)
I have to get ready for class. I guess I’ll see y’all around.

EVAN
We’ll be around.

MAE
Bye.

EVAN
Bye.

Evan smiles as he watches Mae jog away, until Jeff comes into his line of vision.

EVAN
What?

JEFF
She just said she’s leaving in 3 months, get that look off your face.

*********************************************************

Okay the margins are trickier than I was expecting, I might need a screenplay formatting program…type thing. But still not too bad for my first time. By the way, today I got to physically do this…

sebastian2

…with my Bachelor of Arts degree, AND they sent me a cool alumni decal to put on my car! I know, awesome!

Until next time,

The Texan

Whoa that post went a little long, please accept this bit of humor as my way of saying…sorry the post was so long.

 

 

It’s Degree Day!!

The day has finally come friends! I can do this with my bachelors degree!

sebastian2

Yay!! Woohoo!! And alright!! I mean I can’t physically do that with my degree just yet because it hasn’t…uh…come in the mail yet. But! I can, and am, wearing my epic t-shirt of victory! To other people it just says, hey she must have gone to American Public University. To me however, it says, I wrote my butt off for this degree, and it was hard, I had my doubts, and I almost cried a few times; but I decided to overcome myself, and achieve something awesome. Now I can do historian type things, you know, should the screenplay writing plan not pan out. Because, you know, I need be realistic. I can’t get to far ahead of myself. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a part of me that is 115% confident that one fine day a movie written by me that will be coming to a theater near you, I just need to keep her in check; and stay focused on/respect the process. And wait for school to start so I can actually hear my own thoughts, and not be interrupted with questions about batteries, snacks, or the classic “what’s for dinner tonight?”.

Anyway. It has been quite the long road, an eleven year long road to be exact, and much has changed since I began my first class back in June of 2006. I have moved 4 times, gone from active duty Air Force member to veteran, had 2 babies, adopted 2 cats and 1 dog, traveled to 11 European countries, taken classes at 3 different schools, started 2 blogs, honed my cooking skills, gone from married for 1 month to married for 11 years, gotten into fitness, discovered and loved Once Upon a Time, The Young Victoria, and James Buchanan Barnes. The student me is no more. She is in the past like, Air Force me, and mom who changes diapers..uh me. This transition has been more difficult than I had expected, each phase becomes apart of ones identity, and moving to the next is more challenging than most people care to admit.

The next phase is screenplay writer me, and it won’t be easy, I know that. But I can use this time to build my confidence, branch out, and not give up on a dream; and of course meet this guy.

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I’m just kidding.

No I’m not.

For now, I can enjoy the fact that I am a member of the American Public University’s….

classof2018

Yippee!!

Until next time,

The Texan