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MarkSnoswell
01-20-2005, 05:00 AM
I have noticed a lot of the same questions being asked about writing... and so I thought I'd start this resource thread.

Here is a short list of the most highly (and widely) recommended books on screenwriting and editing...

Making a Good Script Great (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0573699216/qid=1106192789/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/104-3811739-9722324?v=glance&s=books)by Linda Seger

Creating Unforgettable Characters (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0805011714/ref=pd_bxgy_text_1/104-3811739-9722324?v=glance&s=books&st=*) by Linda Seger.

Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0060391685/qid=1106192883/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-3811739-9722324?v=glance&s=books)
by Robert McKee.

Art of Creative Writing (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0806502002/qid=1106193202/sr=2-1/ref=pd_ka_b_2_1/104-3811739-9722324) by Lajos Egri

SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS: How to Edit Yourself into Print (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060545690/qid=1106193261/sr=2-1/ref=pd_ka_b_2_1/104-3811739-9722324) by Renni Browne, et al.


As someone who wrote (professionally) up to 15,000 words a month I could offer a lot of specific suggestions myself... but I wont. It's more fun to tease you, LOL. But honestly... If you are serious then get one or more of these books and study them first. First chance I get I will offer a longer list from my personal library, which are all top recommendations of professional writers and editors.

Hmmm... there’s one recommendation I will give. This is based on my personal experience with the plethora or on-line writing groups. Share your ideas as much as you like -- it's always good to share and hear other people’s opinions... but don't plan to learn a-lot from the opinions of people who may not know any more (and possibly a lot less) than you. Instead seek out, and take notice, of people proven to know more than you... successful writers and editors. People whose advice you will probably have to pay for in the form of buying their book or taking their course.

These forums are part of a much bigger plan for us. I can’t give details now... but one small part of those plans involves getting professional writers and editors involved. I have contacted my own fiction editor to see if she is still doing on-line writing courses -- which from first hand experience I can say are really good. I will let you know as soon as I hear back.


Mark
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From Mark Snoswell 23rd Jan 2005.



Here are some (certainly not all) of the essential elements in any good story.

1. Anticipation. From the opening frame or sentence there is an immediate anticipation of what will happen next. It is how you build, deliver, twist, and close that anticipation that is essential to any good story.

2. Family relationships. Shakespeare once said that all good stories are about families. Well. Everyone is familiar with families and interpersonal relationships. All you have to see is two people standing a little too close and looking at one another and you have an immediate anticipation of what will happen next.

3. Familiar but exotic. Your audience wants to see stories about things they are familiar with but in an exotic setting. Children love stories about school – but not normal schools – boarding schools, summer camps, even witchcraft schools.

4. Incredible but believable. This is the flip side of the previous point. People love stories that stretch their imaginations – but you must not break believability or the audience will feel betrayed or insulted.

5. Satisfying. At the end the audience want to be satisfied. They have invested time with your story and they want to feel that it was worthwhile. Today’s audience are very sophisticated and educated. Anything that you introduce in a story should have a point and be used somehow. Similarly you cant just go introducing impossible surprises and elements right at the end – you have to plant the seeds for everything.



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From AnotherHell 24th Jan 2005-02-02



Also I found this free online resource that has lots of good info, at least what I have read so far.
http://www.scriptwritingsecrets.com/ (http://www.scriptwritingsecrets.com/)



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From Manuel Ponce 26th Jan 2005.



http://screenwriters.meetup.com/68/...?thread=1179443 (http://screenwriters.meetup.com/68/boards/view/viewthread?thread=1179443)

These links contain Opensource and freeware templates for MSN word. Enjoy!

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durbdk
01-22-2005, 11:41 PM
Thanks for taking the time to offer this advice, I'll keep my eyes open for them. May I ask, what sort of writing have you done? I would be interested in reading some of it, if possible. I am currently in the midst of a life change, traumatic as it is. I will be attending some courses on creative/dramatic writing and story development both for print and screen. I am a voracious reader and inhale words like they were oxygen (I don't even own a TV), but my specialty over the last 20 years has been verse and short story (non-pro). Although I've written many screenplays (actually only 4) I am always interested in reading anothers work. It's Like sir Isaac Newton (attributed) said, "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." This is the root of any greatness.

Especially when you realize every man is a giant.

MarkSnoswell
01-23-2005, 11:37 AM
For those interested: I wrote as a journalist for a magazine for 10 years -- one week out of 4, averaging 12,000 words per month. I always wrote in a high-energy colloquial style -- a lot of second person text. I have always read a lot, SciFi mostly. About 8 years ago when hard SciFi was getting replaced with a deluge of fantasy (which I also read), I decided that I could write better than most of what I was reading… but rather then naively rush out and put finger to keyboard I researched fiction writing thoroughly. After 6 months or so I settled on a web-based course on fiction writing conducted by a published author and professional editor. It was meant to be a 7-week course. Ha… with one thing and another it took me a year to complete. I discovered that writing fiction well was about the hardest thing I had ever done. Oh, the journalistic writing did help, but to write fiction really well is not easy, and I wouldn't settle for anything less than the best. Fortunately for my instructor and me I was capable of writing very well. By the end of the course she wanted me to write up the story line I developed into a full blow novel. I flatly refused as it was a romance-based story and all I wanted to write was Cyberpunk – my favourite genre.

Well the years passed. I collected and studied 10 or so of the leading texts on fiction writing. I wrote a little and I helped a few people with their screenplays. LOL, and I really pissed off my editor by not writing enough -- there is nothing worse then wasted talent! Admittedly I always had a good excuse not to write – Quite apart from anything else I co-founded a venture funded company which rapidly grew to 40 people and consumed 13 million $ or so in two rounds of financing, and then it died just after the dot com bust when the global economy crashed. Sigh… I should write an autobiography, it would read like SciFi/Thriller to most people – if I go back enough there is a PhD in Biotechnology/Biochemistry and designing growth hormones etc…

Anyway… back to the writing. I almost went into fiction writing full time after the venture company went arse up, but then another opportunity came along. I also discovered that, although convinced I could write for a living, my funds would probably run out 6 months before revenue from writing kicked in. The reality of actually making a living is ever present when you are supporting a family.

So they years went by. I broadened my reading specifically to study the styles of best selling authors – regardless of genre. I shifted my writing goal from Cyberpunk to the more mainstream Thriller/Future History… even more time went buy and my kids got to an age were they loved to hear me make up stories at bedtime. It was also about this time that we were doing pre-production work for Disney Animation for Gnomeo and Juliet (not currently in production). I would make up elaborate stories about The Real Gnomes. Harry Potter fever was rampant at this stage and not being immune to the greater economic prospect of the G rated family story I finally settled on writing for my kids and their peers.



So why bother telling you all of this. Mainly because I like to tell it, but also as a demonstration of the background that brings me to push Ballistic Media, and that includes CGTalk as well, into more creative arenas. There is a core of good storytelling that is universal. Time and time again I have found that the same principals can be applied to novels, films, commercials, short animation, sales negotiations, stings… even a single image!



Now as a reward for anyone that actually waded through all the forgoing here is the prize. Here are some (certainly not all) of the essential elements in any good story.



1. Anticipation. From the opening frame or sentence there is an immediate anticipation of what will happen next. It is how you build, deliver, twist, and close that anticipation that is essential to any good story.

2. Family relationships. Shakespeare once said that all good stories are about families. Well. Everyone is familiar with families and interpersonal relationships. All you have to see is two people standing a little too close and looking at one another and you have an immediate anticipation of what will happen next.

3. Familiar but exotic. Your audience wants to see stories about things they are familiar with but in an exotic setting. Children love stories about school – but not normal schools – boarding schools, summer camps, even witchcraft schools.

4. Incredible but believable. This is the flip side of the previous point. People love stories that stretch their imaginations – but you must not break believability or the audience will feel betrayed or insulted.

5. Satisfying. At the end the audience want to be satisfied. They have invested time with your story and they want to feel that it was worthwhile. Today’s audience are very sophisticated and educated. Anything that you introduce in a story should have a point and be used somehow. Similarly you cant just go introducing impossible surprises and elements right at the end – you have to plant the seeds for everything.



Now this is just a very short list and I have been biting my tongue and resisting elaborating further. Believe me, the above points are all essential in a good story, but so are a whole slew of other things. However, if every sentence, every sequence, every chapter or act you think about, and take care of the points above, they you will be most of the way to telling a great story.



Time for me to go watch the Sunday night movie with the family.



Mark



PS. If people really want to read some fiction I have written them let me know and I will dig up some samples.

Nudnik
01-23-2005, 01:57 PM
Thanks for the advice, Mark.

Iysun
01-24-2005, 02:16 AM
I was just about to post this exact question. How do you write a proper looking script?

So thanks for the info and resources!

Also I found this free online resource that has lots of good info, at least what I have read so far.
http://www.scriptwritingsecrets.com/

MarkSnoswell
01-24-2005, 03:33 AM
I will dig up some good references for this and post them tonight... but the more important thing to know is that there are different formats and you *have* to use the right format when you submt a script.

Let me explain... Anyone (a publisher for instance) you want to submit a script to for serious money is going the very busy. They probably recieve way more scripts than they can ever hope to look at. To be even considered you *must* submit material to them in the format they demand. Ask them what format they want -- many publishers have guidelines for submissions on their web site.

You have a little more leway with your cover letter -- but not a lot. Whatever you write the cover letter has to be the most gripping, awseomly effective piece of concice writing you have ever done. It's the first and last thing that most writers ever get even close to a publisher (junior editor first). If they get past the cover letter then your next best writing will be on the very next page... and then on the next page, and so on. You only get the luxury of a slow (or novel) start if you are already a known name.

For your own personal use -- anything goes, although there are some guidelines that I will grab and post tonight also.

got to dash now -- we have 8,000 books ariving within the hour and I am the one that drives the forklift.

Mark

FUG1T1VE
01-25-2005, 08:47 AM
So they years went by. I broadened my reading specifically to study the styles of best selling authors – regardless of genre. I shifted my writing goal from Cyberpunk to the more mainstream Thriller/Future History…



Hey Mark those are some good tips. I recently visited my local library and reread some of the stories that sparked my imagination as a child. My question is, how do you go about studying peoples writing, in terms of theme, character development, style, etc. I've often asked myself how all these element are mixed up to create best selling novels.

-----

I just found this site http://www.screenwriting.info it looks interesting. Havent read most of it but it seems to be very helpful.

Manuel Ponce
01-25-2005, 03:39 PM
Here's a link that might be useful to someone, I posted this on screenwriting forum at the meetup group.

http://screenwriters.meetup.com/68/boards/view/viewthread?thread=1179443

These links contain Opensource and freeware templates for MSN word. Enjoy!

Reality3D
01-26-2005, 01:08 AM
Good history Mark :). Yes, put some of your work, if you can

jmBoekestein
02-01-2005, 06:55 PM
I have not a tip, but a question.

When I write stories, I tend to think them up visually. And sooner or later everything changes into a format outlining every event with frame:dude walks this way and we see, Is there a way for me to condition my brain to think in different lines or should I stick to this and see what screenplay writers can make of it afterwards? I think this question might apply to a lot of people here on cgtalk, if they are trying to write a short cg film or similar.

fwtep
02-01-2005, 07:11 PM
I have not a tip, but a question.

When I write stories, I tend to think them up visually. And sooner or later everything changes into a format outlining every event with frame:dude walks this way and we see, Is there a way for me to condition my brain to think in different lines or should I stick to this and see what screenplay writers can make of it afterwards? I think this question might apply to a lot of people here on cgtalk, if they are trying to write a short cg film or similar.Just think of it from the audience's point of view-- you're sitting there in the theater and the scene fades in. What do you see? What's happening? Or just imagine you're telling the story to someone. Give just enough information to set the mood and let the reader know what's going on. Start with image before sound. For example: Fade in on a dark creepy forest. Thick vines hang from the trees all the way to the ground, which is carpeted in moss and dead leaves. Strange screeching crow-like sounds fill the air.


The same goes for action within the scene: Sue throws her drink to the floor and dashes out the door. The detail that she throws her drink indicates that it's important. For some reason in the story it matters that she threw it as opposed to dropped it or that it wasn't mentioned at all. "Dashing" to the door is also indicative of her mood. But there was no need to mention which hand she opened the door with, or whether she slammed the door.

I often see scripts that go into WAY too much detail. My idea of "the right amount of detail" is "enough to get the idea across without bogging down the reader."

Fred

dobermunk
02-01-2005, 07:35 PM
Good description, Fred!

MarkSnoswell
02-02-2005, 12:16 AM
Uh. I have been so busy runing the rest of the company... I am going to gather peoples suggestions and add them to the inital post. As time goes by this will become an awesome resource.

MarkSnoswell
02-02-2005, 12:34 AM
<snip>... My question is, how do you go about studying peoples writing, in terms of theme, character development, style, etc. I've often asked myself how all these element are mixed up to create best selling novels.

Not easy. Skill development in a creative areas tends to be ranked like this:
1. You have a discerning apreciation and can tell the good from the bad.
2. You have some ability to do your own stuff.
3. You learn what makes something work and something bad.
4. You learn how to fix something bad and how to make something good even better.
5. You learn to see what is good and bad in your own work and can improve it!

You need to learn how to write before you can disect others writing. That doesnt mean you will be a good writer at that stage -- just a good critic.

I would strongly reccommend SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS: How to Edit Yourself into Print (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060545690/qid=1106193261/sr=2-1/ref=pd_ka_b_2_1/104-3811739-9722324) by Renni Browne, et al. If you know how to edit your own work to improve it then you know what to look for in others writing.

Mark

jmBoekestein
02-16-2005, 01:51 AM
Thanks fwtep,

especially the detail thing is something I should look into. When I start writing I often find myself writing more of a book or comic type script than a scenario.
So it's necessary actions, and necessary descriptions, and no more. Thinking in images is what I meant by fram:blah blah, I even write it down like that, this probably illustrates my lack of ability to put things into words though. I think I should practice a lot more.:blush:

scotttygett
02-20-2005, 04:20 AM
"Nobody ever wins the Super Bowl."

(paraphrasing my sentiment and someone else's quote at www.deviantart.com (http://www.deviantart.com))


Truth is somewhere between catharsis and teleportation.

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