My blog has moved!

You will be automatically redirected to the new address. If that does not occur, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Be Excellent!

So the other evening, my dear friend and Silver Screenwriting Competition reader - we'll call her "E" - and I were sitting on my front porch comparing notes from the scripts we have read for the first round of the SSC. Certain scripts really stuck out in our memory, enough such that we shared and swapped excellent loglines and moments of dialogue that really struck us as great. As we talked, we tried to boil down what it is about scripts that we chose to advance. What is that ineffable something that makes one script stand out from another? And the word we came up with was "delightful". Some scripts are just delightful reads. Regardless of genre. I have read two horror scripts that were deliciously, scarily delightful to read. We thought - gosh, this is something to share with writers but how do we come up with something more specific and articulate than "delightful"? What do we mean when we use that word?

Scripts that read cinematically, for one. That is to say, scripts with strong imagery and tone. Scripts that move along at a clip. No long action lines, no meandering narrative, no dull moments. Scripts that have a strong voice. In other words, the writer's point of view and personality are distinct. The script has a flavor, if you will. Scripts with personality.

By comparison, a script that is pedantic, plodding, colorless and ultimately dull is just no fun to read. It comes back to that effing entertain me expression that I am fond of using. A script should take the reader on a journey of discovery, with the delights of laughter, scares, surprises, tears, poignancy and suspense. Just like - wait for it - a movie. You know that feeling, when you start a new book and you get through several pages and your anticipation slowly morphs into boredom and disappointment? And you think - well, maybe in another 20 pages it will pick up? Or maybe next chapter? But it doesn't and your enthusiasm wanes until you close the book with a thud and move on to something else? I never want to feel that way when I read your script. I want to delight in each page. I want to love your writing. I want to be entertained.

But that's self-evident. You'd want the same thing. But how do you know if your darling baby, your beautiful script, which entertains YOU greatly will have the same effect on someone else? Get feedback from friends, colleagues, peers or The Script Department. Sometimes you can spend so much time with your script that you lose all sense of perspective. You can't see the forest for the trees. If you aren't sure anymore - get another opinion. Ideally, a relatively educated opinion. Not your mom, not your best friend or spouse. Get constructive feedback from someone who is familiar with reading scripts and someone who will be honest with you. If nobody is as entertained by your script as you are - you might just have a problem. Don't write in a vacuum; enlist the help of trusted peers or professionals.

I hope Wavers are trying to read a lot more scripts, as Scott Myers suggested in his wonderful blog. Many Wavers did indeed take me up on my offer to send some scripts their way. The offer still stands.

Be excellent, Wavers. Be unafraid to be you on your script pages. Have fun with it and the reader will have fun too.

If you enjoyed this post, follow me on Twitter or subscribe via RSS.


Luzid said...

You know, of course, that these little teases are *killing* us!

C'mon, share some of those moments you love, so we can anonymously thrill to realizing it might be our script you're reading!

Or not. I fully support not biasing the results in any way, even in a "wow, I loved the script where ____ happens" way.

(Can you tell this is my first contest? LOL!)

PJ McIlvaine said...

Dull scripts equala dull read. No two ways about it. And when I read a script and by page 20 I'm reaching for the TV remote...yeah, that's a dull script. Some scripts you need Visine and Red Bull to get through.