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Tips and Advice?

Printed From: NYC Midnight : Creative Writing & Screenwriting
Category: GENERAL DISCUSSION
Forum Name: Screenwriting Bar & Lounge
Forum Description: Discuss NYC Midnight Screenwriting Competitions or Screenwriting in general.
URL: https://forums.nycmidnight.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=43
Printed Date: 18 Jan 2021 at 11:47am
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 12.03 - http://www.webwizforums.com


Topic: Tips and Advice?
Posted By: joeld42
Subject: Tips and Advice?
Date Posted: 19 Jul 2006 at 11:16am
Anyone who has done this before have any tips and advice for us newbies about what to do and what to avoid? Do you write one short and revise it over the week or write a few and go with the best? How do you deal with a uninspiring genre/topic? What do you wish you had done differently?
 
Thanks!
Joel



Replies:
Posted By: Chris Messineo
Date Posted: 19 Jul 2006 at 1:10pm
Originally posted by joeld42 joeld42 wrote:

Do you write one short and revise it over the week or write a few and go with the best?
Writing more than one short is beyond my ability.  I rewrite endlessly instead.
 
Originally posted by joeld42 joeld42 wrote:

How do you deal with a uninspiring genre/topic?
Complain bitterly and then do the best that I can.
 
Chris


Posted By: wenonah
Date Posted: 19 Jul 2006 at 3:45pm
The first year I wrote two right away and then picked one to focus my rewrites on (made first runner up) Last year I made a critical mistake and that was to not follow my genre like I should have. It's essential to stay within the boundaries of the genre you are assigned ... I wandered. I think my script was pretty good too. My "method" is to just let everything simmer in my head for a full day - I don't write a word, I just do my thing and somehow, someway the idea comes. It's best not to worry about it too much and just rise to the challenge and do your best. The time between getting the genre/subject and the time when the idea actually starts forming is absolutely my favortie part in this contest ... just waiting for an idea to arrive like sitting at a bus stop is so delicious! Smile

Good luck!

wenonah


Posted By: jadeph
Date Posted: 19 Jul 2006 at 4:48pm

Wenonah that is very good advice! I think everybody has their own different style. Write one, scrap it, write another, or write one and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. This competition is a great way to find your style when you're down in the trenches. Remember "don't be boring". I have this written as a sign on my wall and everything I write I look at through the "don't be boring" lens.  As far as genre even if it something that is totally not your thing, hey, this is a gift, a chance to really pull it out, you know? Go for it! Good luck to you, Joel.

Joan 



Posted By: Rainy Night
Date Posted: 19 Jul 2006 at 6:18pm

I write with a partner, we each wrote a script over the weekend and then picked the one we thought was best and spent the rest of the week re-working it.



Posted By: ABEAR111
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2006 at 6:06am
Originally posted by wenonah wenonah wrote:

The first year I wrote two right away and then picked one to focus my rewrites on (made first runner up) Last year I made a critical mistake and that was to not follow my genre like I should have. It's essential to stay within the boundaries of the genre you are assigned ... I wandered. I think my script was pretty good too. My "method" is to just let everything simmer in my head for a full day - I don't write a word, I just do my thing and somehow, someway the idea comes. It's best not to worry about it too much and just rise to the challenge and do your best. The time between getting the genre/subject and the time when the idea actually starts forming is absolutely my favortie part in this contest ... just waiting for an idea to arrive like sitting at a bus stop is so delicious! Smile

Good luck!

wenonah
 
That "not writing for a full day" could be problematic in the finals...


Posted By: Scott McKenzie
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2006 at 6:12am
Last year I waited a couple of days before even starting to write anything and I'm planning on doing the same again this year.  I usually find that my first ideas are pretty lame but after thinking about them for a while, something half decent emerges.

I think a week is plenty of time to put together a screenplay of <20 pages when you've got an idea you believe in but never enough if you're forcing yourself to write something you don't like.


-------------
Scott McKenzie
www.dvdactive.com - www.DVDactive.com

Read my blognovel Rebirth at http://rebirthnovel.blogspot.com/ - http://rebirthnovel.blogspot.com/


Posted By: Chris Messineo
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2006 at 7:42am
Last year, I spent the first 5 days desperately trying to compe up with an idea for a script.  Then with 2 days to go, it finally came to me.  I wrote the first draft in a day and then spent the last day tweaking it.
 
Chris


Posted By: gmercer
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2006 at 7:45am
Last year, I spent days cursing the heat I was in and then days trying to convince myself to even participate and then about 5 hours writing the thing. I like to think I was practicing for the finals.


Posted By: Chris Messineo
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2006 at 7:48am
Originally posted by gmercer gmercer wrote:

I like to think I was practicing for the finals.
Smile  The finals are crazy.  That whole day was a blur.
 
Chris


Posted By: gmercer
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2006 at 7:50am
A new year, a new blur. Now that's poetic, or maybe pathetic - not quite sure yet - lol


Posted By: Calliope
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2006 at 8:21am
I'm a brainstorming fiend... the first day last year, I covered a few pages with tons of ideas, picked the most promising two to flesh out into full outlines, then picked the best outline to turn into a script.

I got first-runner up with it.


Posted By: ABEAR111
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2006 at 9:22am
Originally posted by Calliope Calliope wrote:

I'm a brainstorming fiend... the first day last year, I covered a few pages with tons of ideas, picked the most promising two to flesh out into full outlines, then picked the best outline to turn into a script.

I got first-runner up with it.
 
I like this method, I'm a brainstormer myself.


Posted By: Chris Messineo
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2006 at 9:34am
I hate trying to come up with new ideas.  I don't like writing much either.  Mostly I like having written.  I love the sense of accomplishment when a creative work is complete.
 
Does that make any sense?

Chris


Posted By: Requiem
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2006 at 12:34pm
I like to spend a few days thinking it over, filtering out the crap ideas before I commit anything to the page. Like wenonah said, that's the best part. You're just thinking it over and over and over until something clicks.

I also researched the genre since I'd never written full on suspense before. I watched a few Hitchcock movies and studied how he did it. I think sticking to the genre conventions is pretty important in this contest.

The final was crazy. No time to think or research, a genre I despise, a sh*tload of coffee. It was all a blur. Looking back at my final script, I love it but it's more horror than fantasy. A thousand typing monkeys and suicidal librarians in an infinite library, most of the dialogue was literally made up gibberish. I guess that tells you a lot about my state of mind when I wrote it :)


Posted By: joeld42
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2006 at 1:49pm

These are great suggestions. I tried generating a few genre/topic combos at random using last year's topics and a twenty sided die, and then writing a few pages. It definitely seems to hinge on having a good idea--the ideas I didn't like were non-starters, and when I got a good idea it was hard to stop. One idea was good enough that I'm going to revisit it after the contest is over (topic was horror/mascot).

I'll definitely put some extra time into brainstorming. And stock up on coffee, just in case everyone else in my heat gets ebola. (Actually, that's pretty much my game plan).

Joel


Posted By: BarbaraFL
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2006 at 3:32pm
Originally posted by joeld42 joeld42 wrote:

Anyone who has done this before have any tips and advice for us newbies about what to do and what to avoid? Do you write one short and revise it over the week or write a few and go with the best? How do you deal with a uninspiring genre/topic? What do you wish you had done differently?
 
 
I had a lot of fun coming up with the idea but it drove me up the wall as well...I was in heat one, crime caper...OIL. Oil?! I like to brainstorm with the TV on, had on discovery channel and they were talking about poisonous killer ants. Great! Oil of killer ants, let's make it more potent than viagra...and I was also watching Glengarry Glen Ross...so one of my characters was an older version of the Jack Lemmon character, so that became a caper with his buddy to score the ant oil.
 
I can't write in silence. 
 
The script itself was ok but not great, I was happy to get 3rd runner up though.


Posted By: Chris Messineo
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2006 at 5:05pm
I think another important thing to remember is to try and be unique within your genre/subject assignment. There are about 20 other writers given the same starting point and I the last thing you want is to writing the same basic story as 2 or 3 other people in your heat.

Reading the scripts that did well last year, I thought they were all pretty original takes on the genre.

Chris


Posted By: gmercer
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2006 at 6:25pm
Like I said in an earlier post I racked my brain for about 3 or 4 days - starting and stopping on ideas that never really came into fruition. So the moral to this story is don't force it.
 
Also, when I work on features I'm an outlining fool - I like to know the entire script on paper before I begin the body of the screenplay, but I found it was easier for this assignment to write in a less rigid form - only knowing my plot points - is that a bad word(s) - then I just connected the dots as I wrote and I found it flowed nicely.
 
Of course I didn't get past round one - so what do I know, but I can say I am very happy with what it turned out to be and if I was a better rewriter I would've written a second draft of the darn thing. I try to rewrite as I write - but that's just me.


Posted By: Chris Messineo
Date Posted: 21 Jul 2006 at 11:30am
Originally posted by gmercer gmercer wrote:

Also, when I work on features I'm an outlining fool - I like to know the entire script on paper before I begin the body of the screenplay, but I found it was easier for this assignment to write in a less rigid form - only knowing my plot points - is that a bad word(s) - then I just connected the dots as I wrote and I found it flowed nicely.

Plotting and outlining are great tools to help craft your story. I try to do it as much as possible.

Chris
    


Posted By: trike
Date Posted: 22 Jul 2006 at 6:00am
Originally posted by Chris Messineo Chris Messineo wrote:

Last year, I spent the first 5 days desperately trying to compe up with an idea for a script.  Then with 2 days to go, it finally came to me.  I wrote the first draft in a day and then spent the last day tweaking it.
 
Chris


I think that's how it's going to be for me, too.

Stew, stew, stew... mull, mull, mull... again, again, again... mulligan stew, mulligan stew, mulligan stew....

Then (hopefully) inspiration and revelation and excitation and good vibrations.

Off to stew some more.

Doug


Posted By: trike
Date Posted: 22 Jul 2006 at 6:03am
Originally posted by Chris Messineo Chris Messineo wrote:

I hate trying to come up with new ideas.  I don't like writing much either.  Mostly I like having written.  I love the sense of accomplishment when a creative work is complete.
 
Does that make any sense?

Chris


Yes.  Me, I love coming up with ideas, and I rather like writing, although the process isn't as fun as being finished.

Brainstorming is fun, writing is a challenge.  Rewriting... now that's work.

Doug


Posted By: AndyHeck
Date Posted: 22 Jul 2006 at 8:06am
Hey.  Weighing in a bit late.  I just work on the idea for a day or so. Think about characters, plot, theme, etc.  Then begin on Sunday.  A few pages a day and finish by Wednesday.   Then I rewrite. 


Posted By: gmercer
Date Posted: 22 Jul 2006 at 8:18am
Sitting down to write is one of the hardest things for me to do - there are so many more fun things I could be doing --
 
- like watching the food network
- and then there's one of the various bad David Arquette movies on TBS
- staring at the blank page on my computer screen
- "did the mail just come, I better go check"
- "damn I can't stand Chris Matthews, but I better watch the rest of his show"
- can a pill really do that?
 
etc, etc... - you get my silly point, but when I do get into the writing I just don't want to stop. So I guess the moral to my story is throw out your TV.
 
glenn 


Posted By: Peter Ramsey
Date Posted: 22 Jul 2006 at 2:45pm
Hey Joel,
This is my first contest, so I am a newbie as well. I was surprised at my genre and topic but now I am on my way and am almost half the way through my screenplay. Here is a little advice that has worked for me in the past. Look back in your life, your family and friends lives and you will most likely find what you want there. If not look at history and think about the future, Also release the thought of uninspiring and change it to a challenge. Best of luck to you. I hope I have helped a little.
PR


-------------
Never assume anything!


Posted By: Hairy Lime
Date Posted: 23 Jul 2006 at 6:11am
Originally posted by wenonah wenonah wrote:

My "method" is to just let everything simmer in my head for a full day - I don't write a word, I just do my thing and somehow, someway the idea comes.
This is excellent advice, but don't limit yourself to a single day. Last year I sat on the idea for 4 days without writing a word. Wrote the script over the next 2 days, rewrote on day 7, and won my heat. I was determined not to even submit a script unless I found a story I truly wanted to tell. I'll do the same thing this year. I've got too much going on to write something I'm not passionate about, entry fee be damned.


Posted By: Hairy Lime
Date Posted: 23 Jul 2006 at 6:12am
Originally posted by ABEAR111 ABEAR111 wrote:

That "not writing for a full day" could be problematic in the finals...
Let's not put the cart before the horse.


Posted By: Hairy Lime
Date Posted: 23 Jul 2006 at 6:14am
Originally posted by Chris Messineo Chris Messineo wrote:

I think another important thing to remember is to try and be unique within your genre/subject assignment. There are about 20 other writers given the same starting point and I the last thing you want is to writing the same basic story as 2 or 3 other people in your heat.
Dammit, Chris. That's golden advice ... not something to be shared with noobs.


Posted By: MisterWrite
Date Posted: 23 Jul 2006 at 10:06am

I'm gonna find my hook. And once I get it, I'm gonna knock it out in one go. That's how I normally work with shorts. To me, it's like masturbating - if you spend too long on it, you'll lose interest very quickly. And it may take a while before you re-find your momentum. The only problem is that you can potentially leave a very large mess at the end of it. And it could take a while to clean up.



Posted By: ABEAR111
Date Posted: 23 Jul 2006 at 10:54am
Originally posted by Hairy Lime Hairy Lime wrote:

Originally posted by Chris Messineo Chris Messineo wrote:

I think another important thing to remember is to try and be unique within your genre/subject assignment. There are about 20 other writers given the same starting point and I the last thing you want is to writing the same basic story as 2 or 3 other people in your heat.
Dammit, Chris. That's golden advice ... not something to be shared with noobs.


That's the spirit, Hairy!  That's why you can't be the bartender.


Posted By: ABEAR111
Date Posted: 23 Jul 2006 at 10:56am
Originally posted by Hairy Lime Hairy Lime wrote:

Originally posted by Chris Messineo Chris Messineo wrote:

I think another important thing to remember is to try and be unique within your genre/subject assignment. There are about 20 other writers given the same starting point and I the last thing you want is to writing the same basic story as 2 or 3 other people in your heat.
Dammit, Chris. That's golden advice ... not something to be shared with noobs.


Gotta think big.   My mind is in constant fast -forward  -- great for coming up with ideas and outlines on short notice, but bad for leaving too much ground unturned in the process.  Trying to slow it down. 


Posted By: Chris Messineo
Date Posted: 23 Jul 2006 at 11:18am
Originally posted by Hairy Lime Hairy Lime wrote:

]Dammit, Chris. That's golden advice ... not something to be shared with noobs.

What can I say, I like helping the underdogs.

Hopefully, no one in my heat is reading these threads.

Chris

p.s. MisterWrite, that is the most unusual writing metaphor I ever heard.
    
    


Posted By: trike
Date Posted: 24 Jul 2006 at 5:46am
Originally posted by MisterWrite MisterWrite wrote:

I'm gonna find my hook. And once I get it, I'm gonna knock it out in one go. That's how I normally work with shorts. To me, it's like masturbating - if you spend too long on it, you'll lose interest very quickly. And it may take a while before you re-find your momentum. The only problem is that you can potentially leave a very large mess at the end of it. And it could take a while to clean up.



Coming Soon: Writer's Viagra, complete with moist towelette.

Doug


Posted By: ABEAR111
Date Posted: 25 Jul 2006 at 10:17am
Originally posted by joeld42 joeld42 wrote:

Anyone who has done this before have any tips and advice for us newbies about what to do and what to avoid? Do you write one short and revise it over the week or write a few and go with the best? How do you deal with a uninspiring genre/topic? What do you wish you had done differently?
 
Thanks!
Joel
 
I have a tip.  When you finish, do not be in a rush to send your script in.  After you finish, read through your script several times and eliminate all of the typos.  Concentrate on spelling and grammar and punctuation.  After you have it all perfect - read it again because you have missed something - a period where a question mark should be - a comma - something.  Then let someone else proof it.  The thing is this, you do not want anything in your script that will "take the reader out of the moment."  Any mechanical thing that is not perfect is a a distraction.  (see?)  If the judge pulls her attention away from your script because you misspelled something, you might just not get her back.


Posted By: Chris Messineo
Date Posted: 25 Jul 2006 at 10:24am
Originally posted by ABEAR111 ABEAR111 wrote:

I have a tip.  When you finish, do not be in a rush to send your script in.  After you finish, read through your script several times and eliminate all of the typos.  Concentrate on spelling and grammar and punctuation.  After you have it all perfect - read it again because you have missed something - a period where a question mark should be - a comma - something.  Then let someone else proof it.  The thing is this, you do not want anything in your script that will "take the reader out of the moment."  Any mechanical thing that is not perfect is a a distraction.  (see?)  If the judge pulls her attention away from your script because you misspelled something, you might just not get her back.
Great advice.
 
It amazes me how many people don't take the time to proof their own work.
 
Chris


Posted By: ABEAR111
Date Posted: 25 Jul 2006 at 10:29am
Originally posted by MisterWrite MisterWrite wrote:

I'm gonna find my hook. And once I get it, I'm gonna knock it out in one go. That's how I normally work with shorts. To me, it's like masturbating - if you spend too long on it, you'll lose interest very quickly. And it may take a while before you re-find your momentum. The only problem is that you can potentially leave a very large mess at the end of it. And it could take a while to clean up.

 
How did I miss this one???  Perhaps you should change from MisterWrite to MisterQuick!


Posted By: trike
Date Posted: 25 Jul 2006 at 11:45am
Originally posted by ABEAR111 ABEAR111 wrote:

Originally posted by MisterWrite MisterWrite wrote:

I'm gonna find my hook. And once I get it, I'm gonna knock it out in one go. That's how I normally work with shorts. To me, it's like masturbating - if you spend too long on it, you'll lose interest very quickly. And it may take a while before you re-find your momentum. The only problem is that you can potentially leave a very large mess at the end of it. And it could take a while to clean up.

 
How did I miss this one???  Perhaps you should change from MisterWrite to MisterQuick!


Or MisterWriteNow.

Doug


Posted By: ABEAR111
Date Posted: 25 Jul 2006 at 11:47am
Originally posted by trike trike wrote:

Originally posted by ABEAR111 ABEAR111 wrote:

Originally posted by MisterWrite MisterWrite wrote:

I'm gonna find my hook. And once I get it, I'm gonna knock it out in one go. That's how I normally work with shorts. To me, it's like masturbating - if you spend too long on it, you'll lose interest very quickly. And it may take a while before you re-find your momentum. The only problem is that you can potentially leave a very large mess at the end of it. And it could take a while to clean up.

 
How did I miss this one???  Perhaps you should change from MisterWrite to MisterQuick!


Or MisterWriteNow.

Doug
 
Or MisterHurryupI'mlosinginterest


Posted By: jadeph
Date Posted: 25 Jul 2006 at 3:43pm
Does anybody know if Final Draft has a word count feature and if it does where do you find it?
 
Thanks,
Joan


Posted By: joeld42
Date Posted: 25 Jul 2006 at 8:55pm

Final draft word count:

Tools -> Report -> Statistics Report

I'm not sure what you'd use it for. Prose is usually counted in number of words, screenplays are always counted in pages since the format is pretty standardized.

 
Joel


Posted By: jadeph
Date Posted: 25 Jul 2006 at 9:18pm
Thank you , Joel. Yeah, I just want to know the word count. I'll check it out. Thanks so much!


Posted By: Renascent
Date Posted: 27 Jul 2006 at 4:17am
Read a couple months ago where capitalizing sounds and other special effects is no longer the fashion.  So this write I didn't -- seems odd.  Anybody else not capitalizing -- would hate to get feedback admonishing me on that.



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