T-to-the-A

Posts Tagged ‘story’

Story Scaffold

In Essays, Screenwriting, The Daily Drool on May 13, 2010 at 10:33 pm

I just decided that “Scaffold” is a cArAzy looking word.

But to the point… I’m finally FINALLY into pages on my latest project.  It’s been a difficult progression, a lot of hair-pulling and jaw-dropping “WHAT?”s going on in the course of it’s development, BUT, at long last… to script.

And I’m thrilled.

Because now it gets fun.

Because all that agonizing pre-work… the story-tooling and treatment-writing (and RE-re-RE-writing)… is where you get to hash out your problems, swear off writing altogether, come to your senses and re-swear your undying loyalty to the written word, only to run head-on (again) into the problem that nearly sent you over the edge in the first place… all in the hopes of building for yourself a stable and exciting story scaffold into which you can breathe new life via dialogue.   The only reason to torture yourself with front-loading the pain like that is so that you can enjoy (until you start re-writing again, of course) telling the story in pages.

I think about it like a coloring book: outlining the image can be tedious and frustrating, but once you start using all those magical crayons?  It makes the blood, sweat, and panic worthwhile… or at least, most of it 😉

So I’m in the fun part now.  I can breathe a little.   And I can be happy I was so hell bent to make sense of the thing before I dove into this stage, or else I’d be in for more hair-pulling, more cursing, more panic… with no sight of the joy!

And that’s why we write, after all – for the Joy of the thing.

Ahhhh, what a relief it is.

“I am looking for a very good screenwriter”

In Screenwriting, The Daily Drool on May 8, 2010 at 8:41 am

I got this email the other day: (You have to click on the screenshots to actually read them- I didn’t know how to make ’em fit correctly)

To which my initial response was (mentally speaking) Yeah, get in line sister.  Ain’t everyone in LA got some kind of “Life changing” story idea?  EVERYONE?!  But I wrote back- you never know what people are all about…

Her response:  (by the way, it doesn’t look like it’s here, but click on it and it will open up to read)

Wow!  Talk about a hard sell!  But there is just nothing here that makes me want to get involved.  Sounds like a lot of work for no pay, and in all honesty, if I wanted to work for free, I’ve got plenty of my own ideas that I believe in, that I can develop free from the restraints of adhering to someone else’s “Vision” and, with less drama.  Because let’s face it, doesn’t this whole letter just scream “DRAMAAAA-(tongue hanging out)-AAAAH”?

Now, is the producer I’m working with buying me yachts?  No.  But he’s taught me a lot (as did the ghostwriting job before him!) A lot about what you have to be willing to put up with and bend to when working on someone else’s material.  Most lay-people have an idea without any notion of the amount of work it takes to actually develop that idea into a workable, compelling story.  Most lay-people lack the skills necessary to ride the wave from idea (seed) to full blown dramatization (tree) – and instead you wind up trying to make something akin to a story out of a hard lump of unwieldy potential (stunted log-bush thing that needs to just be put out of its misery)  Most lay-people fail to recognize that asking me to devote months or years even, of my time to a project, for free, is like asking an architect to draw up plans for a house, a super-awesome mansion that will be the envy of the world, for free – You wouldn’t do that, would you?  And here I’ve spent my whole life amassing the skills necessary to be able to create something that (most of the time) stands tall, strong, and dramatic – how about a little respect?  (And if you’ve got a few minutes, check out this hilarious post by veeery successful screenwriter, Josh Olsen A History of Violence, on what it is like to be asked to read material all the time by people like Little Miss Email here.)

Which is to say, in all likelihood, were there pay attached, I could scuttle my own projects to the side and at least take a crack at listening to her further.  I fgured my response would either elicit a real offer of some sort, a confirmation of budget, or silence.  Instead I got this:

Now, didn’t she just validate all my concerns?

High risk… HIGH RISK?  I am living HIGH RISK of my own, why on earth would I want to absorb hers?  I moved home to live in my parents’ house so I could focus on my own writing sans LA pressures… I poured my Sallie Mae loans into a high-risk, big-dreams education with no gaurantee of return.  I handed my twenties over to a city that eats people for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.  I have risked everything to get where I am now… all in the hopes that tomorrow it will all begin to work, to make sense, to fill up the coffers as it does my heart and soul, and she wants to talk to me about risk?

But no, she doesn’t want to talk to me about anything… she’s just looking for a really good screenwriter.

And really, I think it’s a pretty amusing exchange.  She’s got some guts, some determination, and she sounds like a godamned saleswoman – maybe she will find someone to help her get her project off the ground.

But it ain’t me.

Anyone want her number 😉