Archive for April, 2008

Screenwriting – 12 Rules to Get Your Screenplay Rejected Right Away
By Ugur Akinci

There is an art to getting your screenplays rejected right away. Do the following if you’d like to see your months and perhaps years worth of efforts go to the trash bin within 15 seconds or less.

1) Write a “feature-length” screenplay that is 30 pages long.

2) Write a “feature-length” screenplay that is 300 pages long.

3) Use a great day-glo orange cover to get noticed.

4) Paste photos generously to illustrate your scenes. Your smiling photo with your favorite pet next to you and typing away on your laptop would really enhance the aesthetic value of the front cover.

5) Provide frequent detailed camera and directorial instruction like “WIDE-ANGLE SHOT, the actors should imagine they are at a FUNERAL,” etc.

6) Use crazy font on the cover and inside the script in order to grab the attention of the studio Reader. Never use Courier.

7) Include sidebar notes for the Reader like “Dear Reader, please pay attention to the the plot reversal in this scene!”

8) Use character names that all start with the same letter and are very similar to one another like Jane, Joe, Jim, Jake, Jimmy, June, Jess, Jessie, Jesse, Jo, Jon, and Jil.

9) Make sure nothing is happening within the first 5 pages. For example, you can describe the gorgeous scenery as your protagonist takes a train ride from New York to Boston.

10) Do not use the universally-accepted paragraph style formatting for screenplays. Be original. Make all text RIGHT adjusted.

11) There are only very few themes under the sun and it’s smart to imitate success. Take CASABLANCA. Change the names to Bob and Shamita. Change the city to Austin, Texas, And bingo! You’ve got yourself a 100% unacceptable script.

12) “Dramatic Structure” is for the pigeons. Create a Protagonist with no desire for anything in the world. After all, isn’t he a Buddhist Monk?

Ugur Akinci, Ph.D. is a Creative Copywriter, Editor, an experienced and award-winning Technical Communicator specializing in fundraising packages, direct sales copy, web content, press releases, movie reviews and hi-tech documentation. He has worked as a Technical Writer for Fortune 100 companies for the last 7 years.

In addition to being an Ezine Articles Expert Author, he is also a Senior Member of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), and a Member of American Writers and Artists Institute (AWAI).

You can reach him at  [mailto:writer111@gmail.com]writer111@gmail.com for a FREE consultation on all your copywriting needs.

You are most welcomed to visit his official web site http://www.writer111.com for more information on his multidisciplinary background, writing career, and client testimonials. While at it, you might also want to check the latest book he has edited: http://www.lulu.com/content/263630

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Screenwriting and Hero’s Journey: Building Great Characters
By Kal Bishop

The Hero’s Journey is the template upon which the vast majority of successful stories and Hollywood blockbusters are based upon – understanding this template is a priority for story or screenwriters.

The Hero’s Journey:

· Attempts to tap into unconscious expectations the audience has regarding what a story is and how it should be told.

· Gives the writer more structural elements than simply three or four acts, plot points, mid point and so on.

· Interpreted metaphorically, laterally and symbolically, allows an infinite number of varied stories to be created.

The Hero’s Journey is also a study of repeating patterns in successful stories and screenplays. It is compelling that screenwriters have a higher probability of producing quality work when they mirror the recurring patterns found in successful screenplays.

Great Characters

The first step to building great characters is to outline your story according to the Hero’s Journey. During the macro outline you will see characters emerge and during the micro outline they will develop.

Beyond the above, there are a few processes that successful screenwriters use. Specifically, these techniques are (more often than not) used during the initial Call to Adventure stage:

The Hero’s Ordinary World: In War of the Worlds (2005), we meet Ray Ferrier at work and at home.

The Hero’s Backstory: In Midnight Cowboy (1969), Joe Buck sets off for New York almost immediately – his inner challenges and back-story are revealed through flashbacks.

The Hero’s True Nature: In Gladiator (2000), Maximus takes time to feel the tall grass.

The Hero’s Motivations: In Goodfellas (1990), the first sequences explain why Henry wanted to be part of the gangster family.

The Hero’s Status: In Spiderman (2002), nobody wants to sit next to Peter Parker.

The Hero’s Inner Challenge: In Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), we learn that Indiana is afraid of snakes.

The Hero’s Outer Challenge: In Spiderman (2002), Peter must overcome the Green Goblin.

The Hero’s Romantic Challenge: In Spiderman (2002), Peter must win over Mary Jane.

Simply filling the above boxes provides the screenwriter with enough material to easily fulfil the Call to Adventure stage [and then develop these elements further at later stages].

The detailed, complete deconstruction and the Complete 188 stage Hero’s Journey and FREE 17 stage sample and other story structure templates can be found at http://managing-creativity.com/

You can also receive a regular, free newsletter by entering your email address at this site.

Kal Bishop, MBA

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You are free to reproduce this article as long as no changes are made and the author’s name and site URL are retained.

Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. His specialities include Knowledge Management and Creativity and Innovation Management. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached at http://managing-creativity.com/

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Screenwriting, Screenplay, Screenwriter Tips, Tricks and Secrets
By Kal Bishop

USE STRUCTURE. Structure is all too often dismissed as a hindrance to creativity and, taken to the level of conformity it is, but up to a critical threshold it enhances creative output – both in terms of the quality and size of the idea pool.

•  Short term goals (incremental productivity) produce more output than a “do your best” approach. With specific regard to creative writing, writing four pages a day completes a words-on-paper first draft screenplay in one month. A “do your best” or “waiting for inspiration” approach can take months or years. Witness the untold number of people with unfinished manuscripts under their beds.

•  Simply being prolific improves performance and quality. The single best creative product tends to appear at that point in the career when the creator is being most prolific.

•  Techniques such as separating creative from critical thinking increase the quality and quantity of the idea pool: they allow the production of a large number of ideas and a large number of diverse and novel ideas.

•  Sustained engagement in the endeavour increases the incidence and frequency of problem identification and thus the incidence and frequency of insight. The frequency of inspiration increases when engaged in the task.

USE THE HERO’S JOURNEY. This is another form of structure. While it is useful to know about plot points, three act structure, mid point (thus four act structure) and so on, this is (virtually) useless for screenwriting. You need to know WHAT to write and the Hero’s Journey is the template that the vast number of successful screenplays and stories are based upon. By using the Hero’s Journey, your plot points etc will naturally fall into place. Consider this:

a) Titanic (1997) grossed over $600,000,000 – uses the Hero’s Journey as a template.

b) Star Wars (1977) grossed over $460,000,000 – uses the Hero’s Journey as a template.

c) Shrek 2 (2004) grossed over $436,000,000 – uses the Hero’s Journey as a template.

d) ET (1982) grossed over $434,000,000 – uses the Hero’s Journey as a template.

e) Spiderman (2002) grossed over $432,000,000 – uses the Hero’s Journey as a template.

f) Out of Africa (1985), Terms of Endearment (1983), Dances with Wolves (1990), Gladiator (2000) – All Academy Award Winners Best Film are based on the Hero’s Journey.

g) Anti-hero stories (Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990) etc are all based on the Hero’s Journey).

DON’T BE AFRAID TO USE DESCRIPTION TO A DEGREE. It is true that cinema is a visual medium and the screenwriter must perfect the art of putting visual imagery on paper. But the screenplay is a word document and the decision maker’s imagination has to be fired up by the words. What the eye sees and instantly understands sometimes has to be described. You have two choices:

FADE IN: Old Man waits at a traffic light.

FADE IN: A frail old man, with a face that has lived, wary of others, hesitantly waits at the…

The Complete 188 stage Hero’s Journey and FREE 17 stage sample and other story structure templates can be found at http://www.managing-creativity.com/

You can also receive a regular, free newsletter by entering your email address at this site.

Kal Bishop, MBA

**********************************

You are free to reproduce this article as long as no changes are made and the author’s name and site URL are retained.

Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. His specialities include Knowledge Management and Creativity and Innovation Management. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached at http://www.managing-creativity.com

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Screenwriting Structure

Screenwriting – The Value of Structure
By Kal Bishop

Structure in the form of frameworks, work processes and goals enhances creative output:

a) Short term goals (incremental productivity) produce more output than a “do your best” approach. Writing four pages a day completes a words-on-paper first draft screenplay in one month. A “do your best” or “waiting for inspiration” approach can take months or years. Witness the untold number of people with unfinished manuscripts under their beds.

b) Work processes such as separating creative from critical thinking and other techniques help to a) unblock the mind, b) tap into tacit knowledge, c) trigger the mind into working at various cognitive levels and d) apply a) and b) and c) to the areas of problem identification and idea generation and evaluation.

c) Frameworks reduce complex problems into their component intellectual parts. For example, story structure can be reduced to three or four acts or The Hero With A Thousand Faces (Campbell, 1973). Frameworks increase output by reducing complex problems into smaller, more manageable problem solving exercises. Frameworks tell the screenwriter where to start, where to finish, what to write and what should be happening at a particular stage of the story.

Additionally, a structured approach improves performance in a number of ways, including:

a) Structure triggers prolific production and simply being prolific improves performance and quality. The single best creative product tends to appear at that point in the career when creator is being most prolific. Experience refines knowledge and methodology towards optimal levels.

b) Structure triggers engagement and simply engaging in the tasks results in problem identification and stimulates the mind into working on those problems at various cognitive levels, resulting in inspiration. Screenwriters often find that their best ideas come to them when they are in the middle of writing a screenplay.

c) Structure triggers problem identification which in turn triggers incubation. Problems incubate until answers become apparent. Increasing the incidence and frequency of problem identification increases the incidence and frequency of insight.

d) Increased problem identification (coupled with motivation) increases the incidence of solution seeking, through active search for stimuli and intellectual cross pollination through networks and collaboration.

e) Radical shifts (originality) occur through sustained incremental change. By incrementally modifying output, the distance between the original and final versions increases. Radical shifts sometimes result from dramatic events or conditions but the vast number of gains accrue from continuous incremental improvement.

f) Quality gains, measured on many levels, are result of sustained incremental changes.

The Hero’s Journey and various story structure templates can be found at http://www.managing-creativity.com.

You can also receive a regular, free newsletter by entering your email address at this site.

Kal Bishop, MBA

**********************************

You are free to reproduce this article as long as no changes are made and the author’s name and site URL are retained.

Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached on http://www.managing-creativity.com.

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Building Your Screenwriting Career – The Missing Pieces
By Gordon Meyer

Once upon a time, there was a young man who very much wanted to be in show business, or more specifically, making movies. He attended one of the best film schools in the world, while there discovered the joys of writing and producing and everyone around him had high expectations about his career. Yet for more years than he cares to admit, that career was stalled.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that young man was me. And this article is for everyone who, like me, has visions of having their name up on the big screen as a writer. It’s all about the importance of getting a balance of what I call “macro training.”

Over the years, I’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars in classes, seminars, books and retreats all intended to teach me to be a better writer. Don’t get me wrong. Many of these classes were well worth the money when it came to teaching me about the CRAFT of screenwriting. I absolutely learned a lot. But talent and craft by themselves are not enough to make you a regularly working professional screenwriter.

I learned through painful experience that if you want to succeed as a professional artist in show business, whether it’s as a writer, actor, director or any other craft that’s employed by the networks and studios, you have to treat your career as a small business with yourself as the CEO. As countless people have said to me over the years, it’s called Show “Business” for a reason.

Eureka! This was the missing piece. When it finally registered with me the importance of treating my artistic endeavors like an entrepreneurial small business, I began to see things in an entirely different light. I call myself a writer and producer – and those are accurate titles – but the business I’m in is really manufacturing, sales and distribution. Huh?

Think about it. As a professional writer, you’re manufacturing a product – the things you write. In order to get paid for that product, you also have to have a sales, marketing and distribution mechanism in place so that the scripts you write can generate money for you.

Of course you have to have the talent and skills to consistently deliver quality scripts and do so on time. But talent and skill alone don’t hack it. If you want to be a successful, consistently and steadily working writer, you have to understand that you’re in the business of creating and selling products. Your products are your scripts.

Like any manufacturer, in addition to dedicating part of your business to developing and creating products, you also need to address the sales, marketing and distribution of those products (scripts) along with the business affairs aspect (contracts, accounting, etc.) of working with your customers (studios, production companies and/or networks). You don’t have to do it all by yourself, but you do need to make sure these aspects of your business as a professional writer are handled. Just by making that shift in the way you see yourself and your career, you’ll immediately transform from would-be writer to an entrepreneurial professional well on the road to success.

About the Author: Gordon Meyer created, produced and hosted the long-running series, “Hollywood’s Master Storytellers” which enabled audiences the opportunity to see and hear some of the most successful and celebrated filmmakers in the world talk about the movies they’re best known for, including Academy Award® winners Oliver Stone, James Cameron and Paul Haggis. His book “The Screenwriter’s Manifesto” explores the concept of the writer as an entrepreneur in detail and can be downloaded for free at http://www.stiylagency.com/screenwriter/index.asp

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