June 28


SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (Classic Post)

QUESTION

I’m writing a movie musical and am using sort of a jury-rigged version of the standard stage musical format: songs stand on their own as one uninterrupted stream of lyrics. Is there a better way to do this, to include action? A standard way for films? I can’t find online versions of scripts for films with musical numbers in them (except Moulin Rouge, which seemed like a bad scenario, very cutty).
Any advice?
thanks!
Erik from Seattle

I have no experience writing musicals. However, after making a number of inquiries, I have concluded that there is probably no longer a standard format for musicals. I received two important suggestions which may help:

1. Since the thirties, songs in movie musicals have not been uninterrupted events. Rather, the songs themselves advance the action of the story. As such, it is unlikely that the songs will be represented in the script by an uninterrupted block of lyrics. You will likely have action interwoven with the songs.

2. Some of the animated musicals (e.g. Lion King or The Little Mermaid) might be written in an acceptable format. I could not find any of them downloadable on line, but you might check with script companies like Script City to see if you can order a hard copy.

If someone reading this has more experience in this area, help….

May 27


LONELY WRITERS. . . . (Classic Post)

Squirreled away in your apartment, typing all night, sleeping all day. Go out once in a while to stock up on groceries, then back to the grind. You are creating genius work. You are the stoic writer, alone in your world of insight and creativity. Who needs friends? When you are done, your work will shine above all others.

In your dreams….

In the real world, successful writers are part of a community. They meet other writers, develop support networks to help them through the struggle that is each screenplay, maintain healthy relationships to provide balance and perspective on their work. As their careers begin to develop, they befriend development execs and other professionals. In short, they are part of the world of writers.

Why?

Because you can’t create a writing career in a vacuum.

Even in the writing process, professional writers rely on substantial support networks they have developed over the years – trusted friends with whom they can discuss ideas, trusted readers to critique work as it is being developed, other trusted colleagues. This is a huge advantage over you, writing alone in your apartment.

Once the script is completed, these same writers have still more people to rely on – fans they have made around town, executives they have befriended, producers, managers, agents, and on and on. Another huge advantage they have over you.

They also live in the real world – friends to hang out with, interests outside writing, some writers even have spouses and children – yes, just like real people. Yet another advantage over you.

Developing a community that supports you as a writer is not just a lifestyle choice. It is necessary to the work. It makes you a stronger writer, substantially increases the chance of any script you write actually meeting the needs of the motion picture industry, and helps you through the many low points every writer faces.

To develop your own network, you must reach out, hold yourself out openly as a writer, celebrate your chosen path, and draw to you people who support that part of who you are. You must align your universe to your goal of advancing your writing career. Nothing less will get you there.

It can take a long time to develop your network. But it doesn’t happen alone, in your apartment, with a bag of groceries rotting on the counter, while you create genius inside your head. Tomorrow, why not write in the coffee shop? And take a break to introduce yourself to the person writing on the laptop next to you.

March 14


WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HEAR HERE? (Classic Post)

Jerry MacGuire GifFor those of you who follow screenwriting blogs on a regular basis, you have a pretty good sense of what each blogger brings to the table. On this blog, I don’t do much gossip. I don’t give out names of producers or agents. I don’t have a magic answer for how to make it in the industry. I don’t have a strong enough career to justify the sorts of high-level insights found at Artful Writer or Josh Friedman’s blog.

On the other hand, I do have extensive experience with agents, managers, production executives, producers and working writers. And, I’ve written a lot. All of my scripts, whether they have sold or not, have been championed by strong agents and producers and, on occassion, A-level talent. I do have extensive training in the craft of writing. I do know, more or less, how the industry as a whole functions and how that affects the emerging writer. I do have the experience that comes with regularly submitting scripts and pitches to the mainstream Hollywood motion picture industry. I do have the background of having worked on the producing side of the business, both as a producer and in legal affairs for a studio.

I do love the craft of writing and enjoy its highs and lows: the awful feeling of putting everything I have into a draft and realizing it lies their, flat on the page, no movement, no character, nothing (what the hell was I struggling for?) followed by the incredible high of seeing that awful draft turn into something incredible through deep, hard work. It is the kind of high that is earned and, therefore, lasts. I love the feeling of reading an old script I haven’ looked at in a couple years and saying, “Wow, I did that?”

And, while nobody really knows what the hell they’re doing, I like to write about whatever orts of insight I’ve gleened over the years. In the future, I plan to continue my main focus here, namely posts that assist emerging writers in understanding what is expected of them in the industry and how to deliver it.

With all of that in mind, I throw it out to you. What would you like to see more of on this blog? What would you like to see different? This is your opportunity for feedback.

Don’t be cruel….

June 12


SCREENWRITING NEWS (Classic Post)

Here’s something new for the Thinking Writer: new feature, new category. A survey of news of interest to screenwriters.

Scary Story For Screenwriters – before you decide never to circulate a script again, my opinion is, this is still the exception.

Fear Strikes Out – passing of a screenwriter. We are part of a tradition. It’s good to see who comes and goes.

Richard Walters – on why he loves America…. (Hint: it’s the screenwriters.)

Akiva Goldsman on DiVinci Code – about adapting novels.