Storywriting course: follow along


#81

great going matsman :slight_smile:


#82

HI everybody… I got a PM from kadetkebab… and though I better post my reply here… since I think it is better I apologize in public for neclecting any of this…

Hi kadetkebab… jeah… sorry I think I have neglected you guys a bit. I had lots of stuff to do, not in the least the Dungeons and Dragons campaign I was running the last months. Last week I was in San Francisco at the GDC and since my laptop was being repaired I have not had the chance to even touch a computer all week, so that is why the late reply… the coming week(s) seem rather busy as well with about 38 pictures and 3 animations of about a minute or two that need finishing.
So that is why I hadn’t really had the time or juice to go and write stuff during my off time.
Once again sorry… I will continue, the d&d stuff is rather silent at the mo since one player is doing a project in Africa… so that means I have time and creativity to write other stuff.

Also I have asked Allwritey to write a guest appearance about his career until now and his thoughts about going pro with writing. I have already read the first draft so that will be appearing soon as well.
Also I have heard some great writers (bioshock, oblivion, morrowind) talk about storytelling for games at GDC so I will probably write something about that as well. So I am not dead yet! and read everything posted almost the same day it gets posted… so I will always try and be helpfull…

I hope you guys don’t take this to hard on me :stuck_out_tongue: I am just a normal guy happy to be working in the cg field… even if it is very busy at times!


#83

great to hear it matman! I am looking forward to it.


#84

Okay… you wanted it… and this is the screenwriting part of this forum…

so it took me a while and not in the least because there where lots of things happening but finally I am back and will definitely try to stay on top and update more frequent.

so here it is - start bombastic musical sequence with curtains and doors opening-

Lesson 12: The screenwriting lesson!

first lets go through the basic steps and then off with some very nice tips and pointers I saw while surfing the net and not in the least following some of ALLwritey’s links. Thanks mate!

Your first step is to go creative and think up those crucial points I started these lessons with. Write down a concept and theme and go from there to write a quick layout that holds most of the storyline.

Then and this is also quite useful when you are simply writing a short story take that layout and expand it… make a list of all scenes and characters that are in them and write a quick idea on what has to happen in that particular scene… basically you are breaking your story up in a lot of small stories. However do keep in mind that you have the beginning, end and climax curve that still has to be there otherwise the end product will seem like banter and will not hold the attention of an audience.
If you have these scenes all finished… you can even shake the order a bit, and see if the story gets better, something you can’t do when you omitted this step like I did -shame on me-

okay so now that you have your outline of the scenes and you have an idea what kind of characters are going to be in you movie or play ( I will from now on assume you are writing for moving pictures and not theatre, this because in movies you have a lot more possibilities then when you are constricted to only a few players and less then a handful of settings)… so lets sit back and think about the concept of a movie or actually moving picture.:

A movie is a very different medium then that of just text or even that of comics although that goes a long way to what a movie is… First and foremost a movie is a visual medium. I know this is obvious but most people forget what is actually possible with imagery. And I know that the director and art department has a lot to do with the finite look of the whole thing… but still you as the writer are the first in this making it visual and you have to come up with at least some idea of what is going on. So it is vital that you know what is possible and that can envision in your head what is going on in a specific scene. Since I am an artist myself and have drawn and painted my whole life it is quite easy for me to think in images… I even go as far as drawing storyboards before I start writing just to envision the setting, the characters, what’s going on in the background.

-detour

I am a huge fan of a bbc comedy series called “my family”. while most storylines follow a pattern quite fitted for this series, it has lots of interesting and unexpected scenes in it. Basically we follow a family, mom= a control freak, dad= sarcastic pessimist, a nerd son and a lazy idiotic son, and a shallow not to bright daughter. The power of this series is because it is really fantastically written, sure the actors are great and very well tuned in to one another, but the ideas and texts are really fantastic. The one scene I had to think about is in an episode in season 4 where the idiotic son has got it into his head he is going to be a professional movie-extra. Mom and dad have an argument on the couch and then the son walks in doing silent mime of what an extra would in the background, when in a park. At that moment you understand you have missed a sentence of the dialogue, and go back to paying attention… but after a word is muttered and you still try to get into the argument again a man with a suit and bowler hat comes and starts silently chatting with the son in the background… then a old lady joins the morning chat behind the couch… at this moment you are not paying attention but laughing. Then a police woman walks in and finds a imaginative car that needs a parking ticket. Since the newness is gone now you return to the argument which is about to go into climax… when the dad says: well yeah but that only happens in the background… and on "background"then both parents notice what has been going on in the background. This is a very nice piece of script that plays out really fantastic.

so now back to our main topic.

it is important that you already have a visual of what is going on… with the characters, but also with the setting and the environment… and don’t be afraid to be creative… because a scene of two people falling in love is nothing new… if you change the setting to an office supplies cabinet however… you get a completely different love story. So have it very clear in the back of your head that everything you write is going to be visual in the end.

The second thing that is very important is the moving part of moving picture… characters that are all sitting in chairs while going through a dramatic scene isn’t going to cut it, while it might be novel and interesting to actually pull it off, it will be very boring for the audience… so think about what your characters might be doing in your scenes… again the love story in the cabinet is quite interesting… sure the cabinet is a small place so there is nothing much to do, but the larger setting is an office and the characters have to go from their desks to the cabinet and back, the have colleagues all around then that are active, or at least going to notice things. All stuff that works good in motion and when you have motion you have also something visual.

Now that you know this go back to your outline and think your scenes through once more… what would be interesting places and interesting activities that your characters could do while going through a scene? once again be creative try to fit stuff that would seem completely illogical but make it logical. It is fun to play with possibilities like that and the end product is much more interesting then when John Doe has a job on an office behind a computer, make him an exterminator or the guy that has to read the mail in a post-office that is unreadable for the machine or maybe even someone that works in a small bottling factory and has nothing to do all day then lift bottles from the machine into a crate… there are many opportunities here to make your everyday story interesting.

And that brings us to characters. I think it is important to know a character at least superficially before you start writing… sometimes it is not necessary but most of the times you are really happy that you did the work on background and outlook on life. I will go into characters more the coming lesson and also include some of the stuff I learned while at the GDC listening to one of the writers who worked on bioshock.

However important points I want to stress now is that it is usually a good idea to give a character a specific purpose… like doctor watson in sherlock holmes stories (he has actually more then one purpose) who serves as sherlocks emotional side, as a view into the mind of sherlock holmes (basically all sidekicks are just there for the hero to talk to, otherwise we’d only have action movies) and as a great way to set up the audience for unexpected turns.

And that your character should not take unnatural actions, while it might be interesting to write about a mother that has to kill her first-born (rumplestilesken doesn’t seem that nice now does it!!) you’ll have to come up with and very, very good reason why she not simpler just kills herself instead, since that is what mother instinct is all about. So keep in mind what your character is about and what he or she would naturally tend to do and try not to go to far away from that unless it s part of your climactic storyline or you know that there is no hole in the logic and emotional side of it.

That is some crowded text, are you still with me? if not feel free to read it again.

basically this would be the moment to go and write your scenes… you have written down ideas about characters and places and actions. You have a nice climax mapped out. And you have an idea about how it is going to look when finished. So you are all set out to go and write your screenplay.
All I want to say about the writing is while you can start with any scene in your outline you are probably best off with starting somewhere near the start, that way you can more easily make your characters have a natural growth towards the climax of the story. Although some writers jump all over the place, or tackle the most boring scenes first… that way they have something to look forward too.
Best advice is to go do it and see what works for you.

If you want to know where to put what information in your screenplay then I advise you to look at some of the pages AllWritey has linked to some posts back. And also go and read screenplays. The greatest advise possible is to see what is out there and try to get so much information about your subject that you start thinking in correct way (by which I mean like someone who is at intermediate level) that works great for me since I can hold on to my creativity and just put it in a different cage and push it along different lines while not losing my identity.

Lets finish this lesson with some tips I came across:

scrap-scrap-scrap… I know that writing is rewriting and omitting everything that is not crucial to the story. This is even more so in screenwriting since every extra scene has a very high price tag and also remember that even though the lord of the rings had three movies it they didn’t even come close to the overwhelming information that is in the books. So as John august states it… why not scrap before you have even invested the time and effort to write a first draft.
So after you have written your scene outline, go through it and think about every scene and every character and when the story is still clear without them… scrap those parts/character right now before they have even cost you energy.
And the good thing is while in writing books this step is usually at the end of the pipeline, this way makes the story better before you even wrote it. So take this crucial advise to have still time to lounge in front of the tv even with a deadline coming up :slight_smile:

Especially in writing scripts it is important that there is information about what it looks like and what sounds there are. So those are your main points when writing for screen, and the points you’ll likely see back when the movie is finished. However the pieces of text that set mood or explain personality in a little more depth are not completely wasted. believe me actors will be grateful if you have includes a little more background on their characters… and usually that leads to a more rounded character and better performance. So while most of your text is going to be spoken, sounded and viewed make sure you bring a little more to the table then absolutely necessary. It’ll bring your script to a higher level. Don’t overdo it though… it is still a screenplay and not a novel.

Note that most texts will be longer when filmed. It might be true that “a picture says more then a thousand words” but I find that you can usually describe a picture within one sentence… and this is especially true for an action. If you write " he goes shopping" in my personal life that can be a real-time action that lasts from about 30 min to 6 hours depending what i need and with whom I am. Note that it is only 3 words. I find that to make a script for a comic of 5 pages usually 1 eighth of a page is more then enough text to draw the first layouts. So if you want to make a short movie (2-10 min) you’ll be looking at (on average) no more then 4 pages of text depending on how much is happening in that time. Be conscious of this when writing… while a new star wars sized movie series might be very cool… I don’t see it happen very quickly.

make sure characters have a distinct “voice”. when writing your dialogue (probably about 70 % of your script) hear the characters in your head. And make sure they have their own word choices, coughs and lisps. This is also true for storywriting. If your characters are discernible by how they speak you don’t have to remind the audience who he is and it makes for a far more comfortable read.

and something to really learn from is to know your enemy. Go and google “script reader check list”… they hold all the information a good script has to conform to before it even makes it past the first defence line of the production company. Even if you are writing the script to make your own short animation… those guidelines give you all the rules that make working with and from a script that much easier and enjoyable. And also remember when reading those check lists that the studios only want a script that is marketable, enjoyable, shootable, original, captivating and alluring to high profile actors… so while it might not be exact the things you as the writer find important, it gives the production a boost when you know these rules of the trade.

Well… it was nice to be writing once again. Next time I will cover more character stuff particularly introductions and first impressions of characters. Also feel free to ask anything you’ll want more information about… I have done quite some research on this topic so I know more then I actually wrote right here… this is just a nice introduction to good screenwriting. However I must include that I have not yet made the dive into screenwriting layouts… so I will probably know just as much as you about sound effects and first appearances in caps.

I hope this was helpful to you… it has opened up a lot of doors for me in any case… and seeing some pro’s telling us the same stuff I have also written about in this course is also good. Look forward to the guest appearance of AllWritey writing a piece on his journey from everyday grey suit to creative writer and now even having some paid commissions. I hope to be back within two weeks with another lesson. see you then!


#85

Thanks Matsman for this very good intro into screenwritng.

Kev


#86

okay so I was talking about a guest appearance… well here it is!

I asked ALLWritey to write a piece about getting form amateur story writing enthusiast to a professional level, not realising completely that he was a prolific writer and not a professional ons (which isn’t that true in my opinion but I let you judge for yourselves)

I got from him an autobiographical piece about how he went from everyday grey suit to creative writer. So here is some insight in one person’s struggle to live his dream and well I think we all have to do what we are good at and find enjoyable. Believe me I too have learned the hard way what that really is.

Anyway enough bantering from me… ALLWritey, or I should say Kevin, take it away!

Hi,

My name is Kevin Hill. I am a semi-professional prolific* writer.

  • Prolific = Productive, creative, fertile, fruitful (from many sources), abundant and so on. I am a prolific writer coz I write articles, short stories, books and screenplays (Movies!)

“GCTalkians, Animatorians and Readers, Lend me your ears!

One dark and stormy night the winds howled. Oh! You have heard that one! Then without ado let me share with you the epic saga of “K”. In his wistful youth, he began this noble quest of writing and was beginning to bloom. Then the attacks came fast and furious. They would poison K with all sorts of stuff that would paralyze his creativeness. Soon it had all been sucked out of him. No more writing, no more acting - nothing. Now he was “Normal Norman” boring, fearful, and totally non-creative, an empty shell.

Over the years a few people would glimpse those latent talents that had been buried deep with in him. He would argue that these talents weren’t there but in the solitude he would hear the deep groans of creativeness longing for freedom. K shrugged this off and tried to pretend that Normal Norman was the real persona and the other adventurer was a fake.

However these feelings kept gnawing away at his soul. It would not dissipate, would not leave him alone. Trapped and cornered one day and out of frustration of been nagged he agrees to free the prisoner to speak. This, K thinks is only a temporary situation.

Creative is loose for a moment. But oh those feelings, the words that drip, rich, powerful, flow from his fingers. Creative is locked away once again but the newly stirred emotions haunt K. Now creative cries out even louder coz the sweet taste of freedom is in her mouth.

Even with this K is still not convinced. Years pass with the cries of “creative” getting louder and louder pounding K’s whole being. Till a few years ago Creative was finally and fully released. Creative is doing her work through K but the barb’s - the cutting remarks keep coming. “You’re no good.” “No one will want to read your work.” “No one will publish you.” “No one will make your movies.” “No one cares about you.” “Who are you anyway?”

K presses forward because of the spark within him. The spark smoulders then bursts into a flame. That in turn ignites a raging fire. Soon this fire is an all engulfing inferno. He ignores these barbs because now he believes he can do it.

It takes only a small spark to ignite and start a forest fire. If you have that spark within you then it will start a great fire. People, agents, publishers will try to control or even put out that spark but don’t let them.

When you are writing, that spark, flame or inferno is there pushing you, driving you. It is like a river of molten lava that breaks forth with nothing to stop it. Creativity is a living passionate entity that will not be trapped or controlled. It desires freedom and will never cease till it has been fully released to be expressed through you.

I was able to overcome fear, rejection, self consciousness, and many other things. I too am plagued with self doubt trying to tell me I am no good and will never make it. BUT I WILL NOT LISTEN TO THEM. I WILL MAKE IT AND I SAY TO YOU THAT YOU ARE ABLE TO MAKE IT TOO”.

I hoped you liked that story because that is how I began to write. Now for the “Nuts & Bolts” of how this writer is getting into the grove of my goal: to become a full-time professional writer.

I have a number of my articles published in a variety of publications. Most of these were unpaid.

With the short stories I’m given the idea or premise which is my blueprint. Other than this I have total freedom to write whatever I want within those guidelines. I have a strict word count to stick to, which is great for my writing. It basically stops me waffling on and on. This word count was given to me by the organizer and publisher. They have a limited amount of space and so it needs to be within the parameters set by them or else it won’t all get in the booklet.

I have published two books. That was such an awesome experience of holding your book in your own hands for the first time. I wrote this. This is my baby! WOW! I love that feeling. I have about 8 more ideas for books I will write. I am working on a book at the moment, which is a screenplay (not one of mine, but I was a script advisor on the screenplay.) converted into a novel. That is going well. It is about the end of the world.
As for my screenplays, I have written a number of screenplays including shorts and completed 2 features. Both of these are comedies but I am doing other genres; drama, thriller that will be written soon! One of my features is an animation script that has just had a full script request from a UK production company. Yeah! I hope and hope they like it. I am still trying to sell my scripts. I get numerous requests to read my scripts but as of yet still no sale. Boo Hoo!

However there is one script I wrote which is being produced as I write this. It was a “Writer for Hire” and I was asked to write a fun lively script about seals aimed at 8 -10 year olds. It is called “Superheroes of the Seas”. This was great but the lady kept changing her mind about what she wanted. I would write something then send it to her and what she liked last time she didn’t like this time. This was hard as she never seemed satisfied with it. Finally we got it sorted out and now it is being produced. Yeah! It will be given out to kids across Ireland and hopefully around the globe! Being a “Writer for Hire” is very different from writing your own ideas as you have someone who is telling you what to write and if they don’t like it you have to write it again and again and again, until it is done to THEIR satisfaction. When I write my ideas I can write it the way I want and write what I want. Being a writer for hire means they pay you but they also tell what and how to write.

I have several projects on the go at one time. This is if I get writer’s block for that particular piece I change and tackle another project. This usually does the trick to get my creative juices flowing again. However, sometimes even that isn’t enough as I sit there and maybe write one or two words, a sentence at the most. Other times words just flow out of me and my fingers have to try to keep up with my mind.

Well this is an inside look of one writer. If you have any questions you can PM me or post here. Coming soon: Matsman thought this wasn’t very practical so I will do a follow-up with a very practical session on screenwriting, with more insights on the stuff Matsman knows little about :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks for listening, well I should say reading!

Kev.


#87

thanks m and k! been very helpful, hope u continue on and on


#88

Lesson 13: More stuff on characters!

Hello again… And welcome at my follow-up lesson about characters. The original title was: Characters that stay true to their origins but that is just to much right? :slight_smile:

I’ll start right away by asking you some questions:

What is the greatest film you have ever seen?
What was the coolest character ever in a movie you have seen?
Why was he/she so great?
Does he/she remind you of someone?
How would you describe this character in one sentence?

One Again I urge you to think about these questions… and you don’t have to write it down… or post it in this thread, simply go back in your memory and pick an answer. There is no wrong or right here but there is the thinking process that these questions should start.

When you answer these questions you are basically doing a backward engineering type of thing with a story. The same what you had to do with reading and writing a report afterwards, back in school. And basically it is a simplification of the information the writer has given you. The report is possibly a somewhat larger outline in kind with what the writer used to write his story.
The same is true for characters. So by those last three questions we have basically an outline of that characters personality.

I already mentioned in the last lesson about characters that I am a huge fan of RPG’s and it will not surprise you that I use a similar system, akin to the character sheet, to flesh out my characters… I call it the profile sheet!

I will give away a version that you can use (see attachment, I’m currently not using office so there is only this text version no tables, no design, bare and basic), but I will first tell you in what kind of descriptions I fit my characters.

Well to make a personality I mostly start with being that character. I already know what he/she is supposed to be doing in the story… So I put myself in that position and try to fit a nice archetype. The good cop, my friend Rick (don’t have one) but then evil, a cleric with love issues… those are the kind of things I am looking for… this happens usually very quickly and easy. The character reminds you of another character, someone you know, something you can use as a ground floor.

With that I fill in the form I have made that is designed to capture the personality traits in an easy to use system. Basically it is a character trait then four bullets and the trait that is the very opposite.
Like Good 0 0 0 0 Bad. This lets me rate a personality in enough detail for me to be able to act the character out. The full list has about 10 pairs of traits and is of course constantly updated and refined (I think I once had 15 pairs and at one time 4)

So now I know what the basic state of this character is and how he/she will react by finding the corresponding personality traits. However we still need more info for a fully usable character.

Usually it is now that I can go and search for a suitable name (see last character lesson) and also give a suitable age to the character.

I have already mentioned my view on the human psyche, that everybody carries with them a mindset of previous engagements and situations that brings back memories and feelings… and lets us understand some stuff and some not. We need this for our newly made character as well.
So we need to do a back story, and the best way to do this is to start in the now, the current story, and work your way back in time. Usually this is the time I add some quirkiness to my archetype… and I will also try to get as far away as possible from that grounding archetype We had written down in the beginning.

I start by writing down (all very quickly and without any notice to drama, climax or even spelling) a quick situation in which the character is now, then I go back and think of a way this situation came to be. Sometimes that is enough, sometimes I need more because the story directs it, sometimes I need more to explain weirdness. Especially the more psychologically unbalanced characters need more depth to finally explain how that came into being. I rarely have to go all the way back to childhood… but that is also because I don’t really write that much about characters that overcome a childhood fear or break loose from their parents. If you need the childhood, you have to have a more or less complete life story. (this part of the sheet is very long however I have only put down a small amount of space on my sheet to force myself to stay short… the same time I have a clock that is always 15 min ahead… early in morning I don’t realize that and have therefore 15 min more time then usual and the rest of the day I immediately deduct 15 min to now the exact time)

All this in one sentence: I try to give an explanation for myself as to how a certain character became that way.

With that I start more practical and try to address the things I need… If there is a part I need to see the inside of the house, what kind of look would that have (no more then 2 sentences) what kind of clothing would the character wear (again 2 sentences is more then enough) what kind of women what that guy prefers… basically the story dictates this information… and how far I go in thinking up this kind of stuff beforehand.

And during all this I try to find a feature for this character. Be it a lisp, an intimate affection for his parrot, a rejection of everything denim, a fondness to be a very broad speaker (but not quite succeeding) a wish to actually being born in Italy… everything, anything, something that makes this character memorable… Because that is very important. Not all characters can have a face like Jack Nicholson, a chin like Jay Leno or a fighting style like Bruce Lee. But be sure to make Damn sure they have something. And even if they have nothing be sure to make them do something that is memorable… Even if no-one remembers your names they still know that guy with the gun who made everybody wave their hands while turning on the spot.

All this fits more or less one 1 page (A4) size and will give me a base to build upon when I am in the middle of the writing process. I have to admit that most of the time things change around somewhat so no everything might be important or I just found a better type of personality that makes everything even more dramatic. And that is why all that is stated above should be quick and dirty, it serves me only as a beginning, a way to deal with creativity\writers block, since I already have a direction I am nearly never held up when choosing what way I want to take the descriptions or dialogues.

It is even so quick and dirty that I write it with pen on paper… yes, the white stuff! I have found that I think better with pen and paper then when I am behind my monitor with a keyboard for some reason…I cross things out, write in corners and across, I draw if necessary… everything goes. And I have not found a way to do that on the pc.

So that is how I do it… In my prep work for D&D it is even more important to have all this because the characters my character talks to are played by someone else, which makes, that I have no control over what gets asked and what not… so a good understanding of the character is a must there.

Finally it rests me to say that I have already finished most of the next lesson so I will post a new one before the weekend… with a new Idea I got and am quite excited about… so keep tuned in… until then!

Bye!


#89

First! Thanks chrchaves for your reply… that’s what keeps me going, knowing people read this and think about and learn from it.

I am also a little surprised no-one commented on the profile sheet. But then again it isn’t in the best possible form style… I would be interested on what your thoughts are on this people! Do you think it is necessary and helpful in any way or do you have a better idea for keeping in touch with your characters… or can you simply do it? without help from design documents.

Anyways… thanks for reading everyone. And up to the next lesson, a quick case study and introductions to dialogue. Also I am introducing an Idea and expect some reply’s to hear your thoughts about this.

---->>> lets go!


#90

Lesson 14: Dialogue!

So we have our characters ready to go and now we want to write some dialogue. Okay… I will try to give some pointers while giving some ideas on how to use you characters background so that you know what is going to happen.

The setting: A slightly dark bar and two guys (Jim & Bill) sit at the bar… there is a woman in a red dress on the other side of the bar, she is obviously waiting for someone and she is completely fixated on the main doors. We enjoy the conversation between the two guys.

Our outline states what has to happen: Bill and Jim need to get into a fight and the woman in the red dress reveals herself as a nurse.

This can be played completely different but first set some basic rules for writing conversation:

start on a new line every time a different character speaks

Use quotes to state someone is talking

Give every character his/her own voice… which means make sure every character talks his or her own way so we as the reader won’t be confused as who is actually speaking.

While stating who is speaking is very helpful try to minimise it as much as possible, especially if the above rule is followed this is almost unnecessary

Try to be as non descriptive as possible to indicate that something is being said in a certain way. This should be apparent from the rest of the dialogue and the things that are actually said. For instance: “But I am afraid” he whispered…could also be written as: “But I am afraid”, “Sssstt, they’ll hear us” Most people, and writers most, get annoyed at that kind of “he whispered” statements… and believe me if I say that some people cannot write one line of dialogue without stating how it is being said.

talking and writing is something different so even though certain characters will talk very unlike the written word… keep in mind that writing to much “talk” will make a text harder to read and sometimes even very hard to understand. Not everybody is at home in slang, metaphors and allegories. So be sure that while it is okay to give your character some personality by using a few specific words from the slang that character would be using. Do not go overboard and use it more like a feature (this character knows a few words of slang but speaks good English, rather then this dude comes from the hood and slags all for being rules on language (was that still very clear, hope so!))

Okay I think that is it… as basic rules go.

The best way to find out, even better then describing a facial expression, what a character thinks and feels is to let him talk about it. This is why Batman has a Butler, Sherlock has Dr Watson, and inspector Morse has Lewis. Without those characters the stories would be boring because we would have no clue as to what the main character thinks and feels. The cool exception on this rule is spiderman, who actually monologues a lot to overcome this problem but who also has very intimate conversations with his enemies during fights… just to show us the characters emotions.

So let start with our scene or here is an Idea… lets open a micro screen writing challenge. At the work in progress: Game art part of this forum there is a Micro game art challenge which basically sets the limitations and theme and then everybody has a week to make the best possible interpretation, which is judged by last weeks winner. And the winner has to define what has to be done next week, and be the judge and moderator of the thread that week.

So how about starting that right here? But then with writing instead of modelling? Every week a new scene description, a few characters and a size limit (since scripts are measured in pages)… best written scene gets to set the next assignment and gets to judge. Are there people who want to participate? its quick, dirty and very good practice, since everyone involved will read your piece and give their opinions. You don’t have to be original, its just about writing. Practice makes perfect and why not have some fun with some of the other people interested in writing.
(actually Frankenstein was written within such a setting, 4 writers where on holiday and started a contest among themselves, writing the best horror story.)
Also keep in mind I really want to start with something very small since everybody should be able to finish it without stress within a week so it is going to be less then 5 pages, using screen writing layout. (I have had a talk with Kev (AllWritey) about this and he thinks it a great Idea and will help guiding this and clear up any points on starting… as will I, of course)

Okay back on track. Bill and Jim! Bill is a college student, Jim is his father they are both in the bar because Jim was throw out of his house and Bill was thrown out of college.

  • the dialogue would go along these lines

Well dad… could you just not be happy with the woman you are married with
Oh easy for you to say… you don’t know how it is.
Yes I do know how it is, this is the 3rd time since my mother that you are in a breakup!
hmmm… must you remind me. Jim swallows another glass full
Yes I think I have to. Because you got thrown out with nothing…Again! And because of that I got thrown out too… college costs money dad… more then I can bring up myself.
Yeah you are right but I wasn’t going to ask if I could sleep at your dorm anyway.
Oh very good… Where were you going to sleep then? I should have known you
had a new chick somewhere. Any chance I can stay too?
Yeah… yeah… I got it easy right… I can’t help it son. I fall in love to easily. I love all women.
Hell! If you only loved me half as much… If you only thought about me once in a while!
But I do you are my son.
Were are you looking at? See you don’t even pay attention to me when we are 2 of three people in a bar! Dad look at me!
Hey! keep your hands off… can a man not enjoy the image of a beautiful woman?
Not while he is in deep conversation with his son. What are you doing?
I am going to ask if I can sleep with her tonight.
I won’t let you dad… you have obviously drunken to much.
Hey! Keep off Bill. I am old enough to know what is good for me.

Everything okay here?
Yes… miss… just a little argument with my dad.
Hello there… might I say you look stunning in that dress… brings out your hair very much!
Sure you okay… maybe let me look at you for a moment I am a nurse
Well I think I am okay…
Here it is all swollen… I’ll go and get an ice pack.
Excuse me I am Jim… Hi… can I get you something to drink?

Autjs… why did she do that
Because you are an ignorant and stupid drunk dad!

-the end-

Okay so even though the actions are completely committed you can still follow what is going on, who says what and more importantly you can see that the characters make the scene.
But I needed more information then I gave up front about the characters can you see what I added? And also can you see what the personalities are, if you don’t know who is what?

I added the fact that the dad has had multiple marriages gone horribly wrong, but especially this one since the son got throw out of school because dad didn’t pay the bill. And why was this important? I needed a reason for one character to hit another and the best way to find one is in the flaws of the other character. That way the actions are completely based upon the personalities while still in check with the outline.
Also because I though it fun the son behaves like the parent and the dad like a teenager… so while all the above is reason for the son to hit the dad, the opposite happens because the dad is reckless and his son not so much :slight_smile:

As a final tip… I find writing dialogue tedious work. I am blessed/cursed (depends) with a mind that spits out ideas almost all the time and this is really troublesome when I am writing two people talking to each other. I want things to happen and introduce plot-twists but really have to keep myself from doing so because dialogue is important for the story and a necessity for characters to become realistic. So when writing your dialogue the best tip I can give is know where you go, why is the conversation here and how does it end.
Also we have conversations all day everyday, there are very few exceptions… SO I gather you talk a lot. Try talking to yourself as two different characters, it might seem somewhat weird but, if you can keep up with typing… I find that can really produce some natural dialogue really quickly.

As an addendum I can also really recommend that as a writer you learn to type quickly and faultless… I’ve done a typing-course in high school and to me it was 100 percent worth it, since I still can not exactly keep up with my thoughts but I come at least quite close… close enough that my brain reconsiders some thoughts before they land on the paper :slight_smile:

I hope you have learned from this small case study. And also hope that people will be exited about starting a micro screen writing challenge… If at least 3 people are willing to compete I shall start a thread with a first challenge. So if you want to learn writing and also enjoy letting creativity go wild and reply with exceptional excitement and we will get this under way!
BTW if you have fears and anxiety about this plan please feel free to express those thoughts maybe we can build in something to make you enjoy this and compete with us.

Next time I have hopefully finally finished writing my report on the GDC which means I have some info from the game writers that were there. Thanks for your support. Micro Screen Writing Challenge (MSWC) hopefully coming up!


#91

Totally in for the writing challenge! Even though I personally think it should last longer, 15 days maybe instead of a week, since it´s probable than even though people might want to write they also might not get the time to do it, and with 15 or more days it could be easier to think about it at least once at lunch and then somehow at the other week find at least a night to make the translation to the computer, and 2 think about the next challenge also.

About the character profile sheet. Looks preeeeetty helpful, but it´s probably more difficult to test and that´s maybe the reason why no one has talked about, but as for myself I think it might be quite useful for trying 2 build up a character next time I write. The wordpad format wasn´t uncomfortable either so thanks again 4 taking the time, believe me, the time u r spending writing this lessons r very worthwhile


#92

Hi once again… thanks for your enthousiasm! chrchaves.

The thing with two weeks is (at least in the GameArtChallenge) that people think cool I want to do this but then forget… which is a pity. Or they start and figure they have lots of time and won’t finish because they couldn’t catch up once the date creeped scary close…

So while two weeks seems a good idea it doesn’t have to be. I think it best for starting this to have a very low threshold so anyone can join… nothing is expected just that you have fun and get almost immediate feedback from anyone who is also active within this challenge environment.

this kind of stuff is crucial for actually learning to write… you gotta put in the time, have to train to think about anything for cool angles you can explore and every writer shouldn’t have to cope with a writersblock… which is usually something you just need to get through.

Thanks for sharing your idea about this… I hope there will be some more people actually interested in starting this up. If there are more people wanting a two week timeframe… Who am I to not acknowledge that. :slight_smile:

Cheers!


#93

I am in but can you give a couple of weeks notice as i am not getting on the computer much at the moment.
To me one week or two are both OK. I work better when i have a deadline to hit.

I will be waiting for the news of when it begins and the topic.

Kev.


#94

A quick reply concerning my idea of starting an MSWC (MicroScreenWritingChallenge)…

So with chrchaves and, because I am still somewhat enthusiastic about this, I will count Kevin (AllWritey) as a second reply in favour of actually starting this off (however I already knew he liked it cause I pitched the idea to him first)

This means there seems to be not enough people actually willing to play this challenge thing. I had a three replies in mind because I gather for everyone who replies there would be at least one who didn’t read this but was up for some writing, making six, which is enough for some competition and well thought out criticism on each others work.

So while I have already done some of the work to make a first go ahead of this thing, I still need to include a list/tutorial on how to layout your work for this challenge, which should mimic real world script layout, some basic parameters in how to set a challenge, flesh out some rules regarding judging and entering your script…

…But as of now I lay down all my tools and notes because I will not make the effort with only chrchaves as a non previous informed contestant.

Bottomline:

If you have a night off in the week and want to learn to write, and write on assignment, plus gaining the benefit of real world feedback on what you write, reply!

If you want to see if you can do a screen writing job and wrestle the other members of this forum for domination rights until next MSWC, Reply!

If you want a challenge, now and again, but not always and are waiting to see if the theme or concept gets you, REPLY!

Because you are not in any way comitted, this is just a small poll to see if there is enough interests to actually start this up.
So please, if only for me, since I think this is a good way towards the future, Reply!

Thank you for your time and your interest!


#95

Hey Dude

I’m in
I’M IN

Just let me know when it is coz I’m IN.

Kev


#96

Hey dude

I´m in
I´M IN!

…too

No, really, how much does it costs to take screenwriting lessons, this one´s free, and no one´s willing to sign in!, maybe some people is scared because of the contest idea, for me, more than a contest, this is a golden opportunity in which we can learn step by step from each other and refine each lesson to perfection without risking anything at all !

In the end, if u think about it, the real winner is the one who is able to slowly refine each method and learn from the help recieved at it. Personally, I´m just extremely excited to see what is the reaction of my ideas from people all around the world! (netherlands?, taiwan? I´ll be the happiest person if I could visit them sometime, if I could have the chance to tell a story at a café, at least, bt I guess I´ll never will:(, would people react the same at those countries from my ideas having such different lifestyles? what particular interesting concepts could appear if we could merge them all?)

so again, as I see it, it´s not much of a contest, right, matsman? :wink:


#97

ALLWritety and chrchaves… thanks mates! But I knew you people where interested already Go tell your friends and relations on this forum! :slight_smile:

And as chrchaves says… It isn’t that much of a contest really… Actually it is a learning game, where the competition part keeps you fresh, on your toes and agile while trying to be the best. I have always found that some healthy competition works real good for me… so why shouldn’t it work for others?

Actually I did this in high school during my dutch language course, where we learned to write more useful texts based upon journalism skills… But it was almost always on assignment… maybe you could choose from three different topics but you had to work in a set frame, and with only a limited space… and when the texts where returned there was the running in the class towards all those who were about as good as you and seeing who won that day with the highest mark. So yes it was study, but the end of seeing what your text lacked over the guy with the higher mark learned me stuff quicker then actual classes and within no time we three (there where three of us yes) where bickering about what made the difference between the 9.5/10, 10-/10 or 10/10… yes we where that good :stuck_out_tongue:

But I am digressing… the point being that I need more people for this to actually fly, since not everyone will be doing every assignment. Shall I maybe post a poll on this? then more people will see and probably also more people? I think I will…

Link—>> http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?t=614547

I did… so lets wait for this and then I will try to start after next weekend.


#98

I’m here too, and in. Very busy but will do my utmost to keep pressing along!

Oh by the way, the smaller the group the better! :wink:


#99

Hi
Just a quick note.

If you don’t know (and for those that do, i am sorry!)
A page of screenwriting script is not very long at all. I will try to post a few samples so you can see just how much it is. So doing 2, 3 -5 pages is not a lot and can be done fairly quickly.

We are wanting something that is FUN and EASY to do. We understand that you all have a million things to do but as Matsman said it is a fun learning nothing to get too stressed out over.

So come on and join as often as you can.

kev


#100

:slight_smile: Thanks FurnaceFace… you are my number three… I think there is a song in that line :smiley:

But that means to me I can keep churning on this. I thought about posting some ideas for concepts in the poll thread… care to join me there brainstorming? I had jotted down some quick ideas already. Will post them once I get home.

And don’t worry about lots of people I don’t think well be getting 20 people involved in this… would be great but that is indeed very hard and timeconsuming to judge.

Thanks for replying… any others wanting to join you are very welcome to show your compassion by voting or leaving a message here or in the poll thread.

I thought about starting this up the second week of april (one week from now) and this week is for getting the rules and concepts worked out for the first installment.

Thanks guys I was seriously doubting it could come of the floor. Cheers!