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theinquisitor View Drop Down
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    Posted: 31 Aug 2020 at 5:12am
Hi, I've never even considered screenwriting before, much less produced a script,. However, I've recently realised that most of my attempts at fiction are 90% dialogue, so I'm wondering if I should give it a go. I know there's a 'how to' guide on the NYCM website, but can any of you point me in the direction of any other resources (on- or offline) that would be useful for a complete beginner? Any hints or tips? I'm not going to waste my money on entering a competition until I at least understand the basics.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (5) Thanks(5)   Quote alexdsut Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Aug 2020 at 7:27am
Hey.

The first book on screenwriting I ever read was Blake Snyder's Save the Cat! I'd say, it's a little outdated and perhaps oversimplified, but it was a massive help when it came to understanding some fundamentals, and it really helped getting me started on thinking about story structure and general principles of screenplay writing. Also, there's 2 really good follow-up books in the series. They're easy to read and -- more importantly -- easy to digest. Not the best books I've read on screenwriting, but for beginners, they're a pretty damn good gateway to understanding the medium.

Regarding dialogue, remember: at its core, screenplays are a visual storytelling medium, which means dialogue is far from the dominating factor (that's more for plays). Some renowned writers do use a lot of dialogue, sure, but screenplays are more about the action text and visual storytelling, generally speaking.

Probably the single best thing you can do to help your own screenwriting skills, is to find the scripts of really good films (or films you personally enjoy) and read them.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote theinquisitor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Aug 2020 at 7:52am
Many thanks, I'll take a look at the Snyder book.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote NYCNewbie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Aug 2020 at 7:59am
You'll love screenwriting. Sign up for the Short screenplay starting September 25th.
Ink2Screen is a great place to learn also, with lots of free stuff to help.
I plunged into Screenplay here in 2018 after getting such great forum feedback here for my first ever short story and I wanted to channel that. Pretty much a baptism of fire, but get some free software (NYCM guidelines point you to various) and enjoy! It was tough, but I'm so glad I did it. I love writing screenplays now. 

By the way, that guy above who just advised you to buy 'Save the Cat'..... lean in, shhhh .... he's just won the NYCM screenwriting competition for the 2nd year in a row!!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Suave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Aug 2020 at 8:33am
Originally posted by theinquisitor theinquisitor wrote:

Hi, I've never even considered screenwriting before, much less produced a script,. However, I've recently realised that most of my attempts at fiction are 90% dialogue, so I'm wondering if I should give it a go. I know there's a 'how to' guide on the NYCM website, but can any of you point me in the direction of any other resources (on- or offline) that would be useful for a complete beginner? Any hints or tips? I'm not going to waste my money on entering a competition until I at least understand the basics.

Yes, google and read all you can. Next important is going to be the 
software, see if you can get a free program, or if you think you are going
to like it, buy one and get used to using it.
My first try at it was in a NYCM contest, I love it. Until you get used to using
a program and understanding where and how things are put in it will take
a lot of effort - on my first try I had three or four scripts from contests
past opened while I was writing so I could figure out things as I went.
Was not optimal, but was fun. Things to look up on google - (V.O.) (O.S.)
when you first start these two come in really handy, haha.

Give it a try, you will love it!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote theinquisitor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Aug 2020 at 8:42am
Originally posted by NYCNewbie NYCNewbie wrote:

You'll love screenwriting. Sign up for the Short screenplay starting September 25th.
Ink2Screen is a great place to learn also, with lots of free stuff to help.
I plunged into Screenplay here in 2018 after getting such great forum feedback here for my first ever short story and I wanted to channel that. Pretty much a baptism of fire, but get some free software (NYCM guidelines point you to various) and enjoy! It was tough, but I'm so glad I did it. I love writing screenplays now. 

By the way, that guy above who just advised you to buy 'Save the Cat'..... lean in, shhhh .... he's just won the NYCM screenwriting competition for the 2nd year in a row!!


Oops, I hadn't realised I was in the presence of greatness! Thanks, I don't know if I'll do the next short screenplay - I'm in with a shot of the next round in the flash fiction, and there's a limit to how many weekends my family will tolerate being ruined - but it's definitely something I'll look at for next year.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote NilesPerry Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Sep 2020 at 12:26am
Originally posted by theinquisitor theinquisitor wrote:

Hi, I've never even considered screenwriting before, much less produced a script,. However, I've recently realised that most of my attempts at fiction are 90% dialogue, so I'm wondering if I should give it a go. I know there's a 'how to' guide on the NYCM website, but can any of you point me in the direction of any other resources (on- or offline) that would be useful for a complete beginner? Any hints or tips? I'm not going to waste my money on entering a competition until I at least understand the basics.
The best learning tool I ever had was what was taught to me by my screenwriting instructors in college: Read every screenplay, good and bad, you can get your hands on. However, be careful of websites offering transcripts. These are not REAL screenplays, simply popular movies that have been transcribed into text files. You want authentic scans of real screenplays used while the films were being made. This is a link I refer people to often. Every script located at this link is a PDF scan from an authentic, most likely set-used screenplay.
http://www.wiredwednesday.org/handouts.html

As for books... I've read just about all of them, and I only own two: "How Not to Write a Screenplay" by Denny Martin Flinn, and "Writing the Script" by Wells Root. The latter is a bit dated now, but has excellent advice for things like writing accents, dialects, etc., which can't be found in any other books.

Just because your narrative prose is "90% dialogue" doesn't mean it will translate well into screenplay format. Screenwriting is a form of visual storytelling where long, involved passages of dialogue... what a lot of screenwriters refer to as "talking heads"... can make for a very boring film. You want to pay close attention to the screenplays you read and learn the fine art of effective dialogue that doesn't bore the viewer (or reader!) to sleep. Here's what I'm talking about...

Have you seen Erin Brockovich? Remember when her car gets plowed into? Dramatic visuals, right? One of those "OMG" moments, right? Now, imagine if we hadn't seen the actual car crash. Instead, we have two of Erin's co-workers at a window in an office where they've heard the crash, come running and are exclaiming what a horrible thing it is... all the while never showing the actual crash. Pretty boring, right? It illustrates what everyone will tell you about screenwriting... "Show it to us, don't tell us about it." Those co-workers might have had the best dialogue ever written, but without ever seeing the accident happen, the scene is a total bore.

And finally, stick with what you know, and know your limitations. If you've never read a science fiction novel or seen a science fiction film... what makes you think you're qualified all of a sudden to write a science fiction screenplay? It's this rule that keeps me away from mysteries and romantic comedies. Sure, I've seen many films in those genres... but I also know that I totally suck at trying to write something in either of those genres, and I'm not going to waste my valuable time trying.

Good luck to you...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dcontarato Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Sep 2020 at 12:53am
Originally posted by alexdsut alexdsut wrote:

The first book on screenwriting I ever read was Blake Snyder's Save the Cat! I'd say, it's a little outdated and perhaps oversimplified, but it was a massive help when it came to understanding some fundamentals, and it really helped getting me started on thinking about story structure and general principles of screenplay writing. Also, there's 2 really good follow-up books in the series. They're easy to read and -- more importantly -- easy to digest. Not the best books I've read on screenwriting, but for beginners, they're a pretty damn good gateway to understanding the medium.

@alexdsut I'd love to hear your recommendations on best books you've read on screenwriting! Smile 

I really liked Syd Field's classic "Screenplay" in the way it's grounded in the 3-act structure, and I'm enjoying reading about mythic structure in the Writer's Journey, which is good for prose as well. I found Snyder's beats formula a bit too "exact".

And thanks @NilesPerry for the recommendations as well, that link you sent is gold. 

Beginner screenwriter, but avid reader here!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote alexdsut Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Sep 2020 at 3:21pm
@dcontarato - Yeah, I agree with your opinion on the Beat Sheet, but I still find use for aspects of it from time to time. And back when I had limited knowledge of screenplay writing (during my Masters no less) it was a huge help in getting me acquainted. 

One of the best books I've read recently has to be John Yorke's Into The Woods. It's a great look at how storytelling works, and why we tell stories in the first place. It has a lot of references to British TV though, so that might be a drawback for people unfamiliar with some shows and films he uses as discussion points.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dcontarato Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Sep 2020 at 4:33pm
Originally posted by alexdsut alexdsut wrote:

@dcontarato - Yeah, I agree with your opinion on the Beat Sheet, but I still find use for aspects of it from time to time. And back when I had limited knowledge of screenplay writing (during my Masters no less) it was a huge help in getting me acquainted. 

One of the best books I've read recently has to be John Yorke's Into The Woods. It's a great look at how storytelling works, and why we tell stories in the first place. It has a lot of references to British TV though, so that might be a drawback for people unfamiliar with some shows and films he uses as discussion points.

Thanks! I’ll check it out.
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