Saturday, June 9, 2007

Sample Script Format and Week Three Preparation

So, to recap...

Week One was all about warming up to your story. Getting that hand working.
Week Two was about learning a formula to help you when you're stuck and more warming up to your story.

Week Three... we're diving in. We're beginning our scripts and writing from Start to Finish. No time like the present. We can do preparation exercises until the cows come home, but my preference is just to start writing.

The thing is, the first draft is poop. It sucks. Take it from me. I save all my drafts and I can barely read my first draft of Brigitta it's so embarrassing. So why not write it, get it over with, and see what you've got. For inspiration I recommend you read Stephen King's On Writing or Anne Lamont's Bird by Bird. They'll tell you the same thing I just did.

I'm not going to give you page number requirements because everyone writes at their own pace. It's all about moving forward and being committed to your writing time. Staying on track is crucial at this point so the story stays fresh in your mind.

Each week I will give you a list of warm-up exercises to help develop your plot and characters. After you complete the warm-ups your job is to write as many scenes as you can (starting with page 1). When you write the actual script, I don't care if you do it directly into your computer, AS LONG AS YOU DON'T START EDITING. If you find yourself going back and tweaking your work, stick to hand writing it out and transferring it later.

If you don't have Final Draft or a similar program here's my favourite screenplay format sample. It's from the Nicholl Fellowship page. It tells you how to format inside of an actual script. It's pretty amusing.

TIPS for preparing to write...

1) Read what you've written so far these past two weeks. Take that RED pen and mark the passages you like. Make notes in the margins.

2) Fill in blanks or gaps. Do some research if necessary. While you are writing your script if you don't know how fast a hummingbird travels and you need to know, just leave it blank and do the research later.

3) If you're happy with some of the scenes you came up with this past week, try putting each one on an index card. Just a sentence like: Howler's brother is taken by Eagles. Put the cards into order. If you think of any other scenes you'd like to include, put those on cards, too. It helps to organize your thoughts.

4) Recommit to the time. You can do this. No stories, no excuses (other than octopus bites, of course).

Oh, and if you need to, ask questions! I will answer them as soon as I can.


Tiger Tamer said...

This sounds great.....can we join later on? What if we want to write a few episodes of a tv show?

OpenChannel said...

Like I told more4dan in a recent comment, the exercises will stay up, so you can join us at any time. Get a buddy and do it together.

I'd say the exercise would lend itself more towards a one-hour "drama" than a sitcom. And more to a pilot, MOW, or an episodic (i.e. self-contained story rather than serial story). But who knows?

I think doing character development exercises would help any story. And writing the story from start to finish, well, you have to do that no matter what you're writing.