Journal

Okay, I am finally beginning my Unfamiliar Genre Project so here it goes!

 

The first article I am looking at for unfamiliar genre, which is a screenplay script, is How to Write a Screenplay: The 5 Step Process. This is actually an excellent article to look at first because it breaks down something that is very intimidating into five easy steps, and I can do five steps!

Step number one is to “Craft Your Logline”. My first question was definitely “what the heeeeeeeck is a logline” well luckily, my friend Joe (the writer of the article) has my back! A logline is basically the one sentence that describes the plot. I remember there was a trend on Twitter a while ago that was “#ExplainaMoviePlotBadly and this is basically what it is (except they were bad). Here are some examples because they were just too funny to not document:

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If coming up with a logline is difficult, Joe once again has myback! He says that there are generally three main components to a logline: a protagonist, an antagonist, and a goal.

Step one, not too hard!

Step number two is “Write a Treatment: Your First Sketch”. A treatment is another one of those words that I did not know what it was. A treatment is typically a two-six page description of the story broken into three acts. The treatment can include dialogue but it is supposed to mainly be the synopsis. The three main elements of a treatment are: title, logline, synopsis.

Also, not that hard!

Step number three, “Structure Your Screenplays Outline”, is when you structure your screenplays outline. This is something that is just for the writer(s), so “structure” can be whatever it you want it to be. But, Joe does suggest that the job for the outline is to map out the setting and major events of each scene, maybe include major dialogue as well. This is where the creation starts to happen.

Step number four, FINALLY, “Write a Flash Draft”. It is finally time to start writing. A “Flash Draft” is not like just any old draft, Joe explains that this should be written quickly so to get out ideas and there are three ways to do it: write quickly, don’t think too hard, don’t edit. This is purely for speed and because the structure and major dialogue is already mapped out, this shouldn’t be too hard.

Step number five is to edit. So all the hard parts like drafting and structuring are over, now all you have to do is edit; which can be equally as difficult. Joe recommends having three drafts:

Draft #1: read through the flash draft, do not edit but take notes.

Draft #2: Focus on major structural changes, include filling gaping holes, deepening and developing characters, and rewrite scenes from scratch if needed

Draft #3: Focus on polishing and making the dialogue pop

Thanks to Joe, writing an intimidating screenplay script is no longer to intimidating. Each step in the five step plan is broken into three tiny steps, which is even easier than five steps. I am really happy I started with this article because it did really belittle the idea of a massive screenplay script.

 

The next article I found is “How to Write a Screenplay: Script Example & Screenwriting Tips” and it is exactly that. So basically, there is a pretty strict format for a screenplay and here is the photo from this site: sample-screenplay-page.gif

The format for a screenplay is taken so seriously, there are books written and software developed to perfect this art of formation.

A screenplay is typically 90-120 pages, depending on the genre; comedies are typically on the shorter side while dramas are much longer. There are also two different kinds of screenplays: spec and shooting. A spec screenplay is when a writer makes basically a mock script with intention of just showing producers and writers your ideas and dialogue while a shooting screenplay has directions for directing. For the purpose of this assignment, I will mainly focus on spec screenplays.

 

The next article I found is, “How to Write a Screenplay: Introduction to Screenwriting” and it describes writing a screenplay to be like a Formula, you must have all five of the following parts in order to achieve a fine screenplay: character, story, structure, voice, and form.

First off, character, is the most important part, if the script has well developed and interesting characters, that will become a domino effect of an excellent story. So, to begin with a character, you have to get to know them; develop where they came from, where they are now, where they going, who their friends are, what was their family like, what schools did they go, occupation, dreams, aspirations, relationship to other characters, etc. The writer must know everything about their character so that when it comes time to give them dialogue and actions, the writer won’t even have to think about “what will they do next” because they will know exactly what the character would do.

Next is story. Now that we have exciting characters, we have to create an exciting world for them to live in, the writers of this article describe five essential elements that create an exciting story,  “the story is about somebody with whom we have some empathy, this somebody wants something very badly, this goal is difficult, but possible to do, get, or achieve, the story accomplishes maximum emotional impact and audience connection, and the story comes to a satisfactory ending, not necessarily a happy one” or to be put in more simpler terms, here is a easy formula to remember:

(Character + Want) x Obstacles = Story

While creating the story, “you will also explore the three major areas of story: location, population, and situation. You will learn to create original, believable worlds with a clearly defined populace and a well developed, plausible situation”.

After story is structure. In step two of the first article, Joe described that during the process of creating the “first sketch”, one should divide the story into three acts. Well this article suggests that the division of the three acts should be done during the creation of the structure, which only enhances the writers process. In order to create a well developed blueprint of the story, the first act should be an introduction to the characters and situation of the story, the second act is the build up of the story that causes tension and conflicts,  and the third act is where the conflict and story is resolved. Some “necessary tools to flesh out your acts and sequences and pin point your major plot points: the inciting incident, the lock-in, the first culmination, the resolution, etc”.

Next up is voice. The voice is what comes directly from the writer. It is not to be confused to merged in with the dialogue; that is owned by the characters. The voice of the story is what sells, makes it interesting, and connects to the audience The voice of every script should unique to the writer because it comes directly from the writers brain down through their finger tips.

Finally, the last part of the Formula is form. This is definitely an important part because the form of a screenplay is what separates it from other genres, like novels. In novels, the writer is supposed to vividly describe everything but the strict form of a screenplay allows for just strict dialogue without being tied down by movement and description because there is the “visual storytelling” aspect to it already. Two very important thing to keep in mind while writing the visual story is to always keep it in present tense and the three C’s; “CLEAR and CONCISE, yet still CREATIVE”.

 

Since this last article described characters as arguably the most vital part of a story, I decided to find an article that discussed how to create the best character arcs; “WENDY’S LA4HIRE: Great Screenplay Writing Part 5 – Character Arc“. The character arc is simply their transformation. Typically, we see movies where the main character was just broken up with or lost their job but each character is given their own structure or form that the audience is shown the beginning of their journey, then where conflict starts rising, and then the resolution where the character finishes their journey and is emotionally transformed. I think there is a reason this is such a prevalent form because we want to see a quick fix, so we go and watch movies we can relate to and see these characters lives changed and transformed for the better and that is something everyone wants! I think creating the character arc is perhaps an easy step because if you are looking to sell your idea or even just relate it to people, do what you know people want to see!

 

The last article I found, “Creating Dynamic Dialogue” is to help fix “flat” dialogue and the author gives several tips to do this:

COME IN LATE, LEAVE EARLY
Begin on a conflict and end on a question, cliffhanger or strong out line.

REDUCE MONOLOGUES
Screenwriting isn’t speech writing. Can you cut down your dialogue to one line that encapsulates its meaning?

PLAY VERBAL GAMES
Be sarcastic, joking, playful or condescending. Modulate tone and volume to alter the meaning. Talk in code, lingo or riddles. Change the subject, add flattery, answer a question with another question, delete key or cliched words or wholly embrace or avoid the truth.

TRADE LINES
They include catch phrases, expressions and idioms.

SUBTEXT
Replace dialogue that state feelings with subtle actions that show them.

USE THE LANGUAGE OF THE CHARACTER
Based on their profession, stage of life,  age speech patterns and speech impediments.

REDUCE CHATTER
Cut greetings, small talk and verbal introductions unless they serve the agenda of the scene.

ELIMINATE STATIC PHONE CALL SCENES
Create activity that keeps the camera and plot moving.”

I really like these suggestions because I feel like they can be used for more than screenplay script writing. I do think that a lot of them cut out the reality of a situation though, but no one wants to watch a movie where half of it simply two characters engaging in pointless small talk when it has no prevalence to the plot or story.

 

I am actually super satisfied with all the research I found because I fee like I have a really good idea about what a screenplay script is and how to write one. I also did learn some valuable ideas that I can use for my more preferred genres in the future. This is definitely a “pose” for me. When describing myself as a teacher as writer, I want to be able to say there is something to be learned from every genre. Even though, my unfamiliar genre and familiar genre and kind of similar, there are still things I would love to use from this project in my personal writing in the future while using my prior knowledge I have now for this project. I know there is something useful in every genre that can be beneficial for all the other genres, in some way or another, no matter how minuscule it may or may not be. But I think the biggest thing I am “wobbling” with is still the unfamiliarity of this genre and not wanting to fail. In a way, I hope I do fail because then I have all the more times to try and try again and there is experience to be learned from that that can be shared with my students in the future. I can’t wait to be able to tell them that when I was a sophomore in college, I tried writing a screenplay script and it was absolutely horrible but I kept trying and now I am really happy with my writing as screenplay writer! Everyone has to make their own mistakes so I would like to do a project like this for my students sometime in the future so that they can try to write something totally different than what they are used to and fail but I am able to tell them that it will get easier and easier with every try and that someday, you could get really, really good at it.

 

 

 

 

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