Screenwriting: Genre, Setting, Concept

In this post I share with you three other elements that are included in the proposal of a screenplay.

Genre:

In Save The Cat (see my previous post) Blake Snyder mentions ten types of genres. He cautions about staying away from “standard genre types such as Romantic Comedy, Epic or Biography- because those names don’t really tell me anything about what the story is.”

As a standard genre my story is romantic drama, but in following Snyder’s advice my genre falls under the Rites of Passage type. “These are tales of pain and torment , but usually from an outside force; Life.” Movies that Snyder classifies under this type include stories about puberty, mid-life crisis, old age, romantic break-up, and grieving stories.

Settings:

Although my series takes place in part in India, Italy and Boston I have omitted these scenes from the screenplay. I do mention the character going to India but I only speak of her impressions upon her return. Similarly, I do not have the character go to Boston or Italy. The reason for doing this is that film producers are money minded. Having the crew travel to film a scene ups the costs which might make a producer reject the screenplay.

So my settings are: A women’s center in a middle-class area of a city. Bars and pubs, restaurants. The characters’ apartments. Conference hall. Art Gallery. Inside taxi cab. Backyard garden. Museum. Gym. Office. Golf Course. Library. Construction site of a donut shop. Inside a car.

These are easily filmed on set or at least in the city where the film is being made.

Concept:

This is the synopsis of the story. One thing I was told to keep in mind, is that the agents/producers/directors are busy people and don’t have time to read through pages of what your film or series is about. What they will be more interested in is the script itself which I will talk about in another post.

The concept is the heart of the proposal and includes:

An introduction to the idea of your story along with main emotions and theme. Here you can include one sentence story examples.

A paragraph which outlines the story in each episode – its beginning and ending.

Visual Elements that are in the story. Is it entertainment, an interview, narration, animation. Is there a host?

Finally, clarity and brevity is key.

Please note that I will not be as active on Social Media for the next while as my family is preparing a funeral for my brother-in-law and in the weeks that follow I will be involved in helping care of my sister, who is eighty, and will need support as she begins her grieving process.

Based on my Getting To Mr. Right Series

Please visit my author page on Amazon

Screenwriting: Save The Cat

While taking the course on Writing a Proposal for TV, one of the books recommended was Blake Snyder’s SAVE THE CAT –  The Last Book On Screenwriting That You’ll Ever Need.

My intention here is certainly not to write a review of the book. The guy’s got almost 5,000 ratings, 80% of them 5 stars.

But before I tell you why I am writing about Save the Cat, let me let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, and explain the title in Blake’s words:

Save the Cat is the screenwriting rule that says… it’s the scene where we meet the hero and the hero does something -like saving a cat – that defines who he is and make us, the audience, like him.

Further in the book, Blake explains his test marketing method:

I pitch to anyone who will stand still. I do it in line at Starbucks. I do it with friends and strangers. I always spill my guts when it comes to discussing what I’m working on, because:

I have no fear that anyone will steal my idea (and anyone who has that fear is an amateur and…

You find out more about your script by talking to people.

I talk to “civilians’”

Which brings me to THANK ALL OF YOU who provided me with comments, suggestions and encouragements regarding my logline (see previous post).

One comment was that the absent father may not be the best term to use. For an indebt comment on my logline you may want to read the comments posted by PRIOR.

Perhaps abandoned fathers might be a better term.

If you’re interested in writing a screenplay you might consider having a look at this book.

One last word. I am aware that taking on this project and especially talking about it places me in a vulnerable position. What if I fail (and the chances, considering my zero contacts with the business) are quite high.

I will continue to work on my logline and will also write about the other aspects of screenwriting which are the concept, the characters, genre, the setting, and the all intimidating screenwriting software which I am in the process of learning.

If anything, all this gives me material to post on my blog. 😉

THE LOGLINE

A few weeks ago I completed a twelve hour course on Creating A TV Series Proposal given by Jennifer McAuley sponsored by The Quebec Writers’ Federation.

One of the features of writing a proposal for TV is to have a GREAT logline. It’s one to three sentences that grabs the agent, producer, director, audience attention to your story. It is precise and gets to the point of your story.

Here’s my logline for my TV script (which might change as I go along writing the script) but for now here it is:

According to Keri Novak’s PhD study group, women who have had absent fathers grow up assuming that they are doomed to unsuccessful relationships with men. That is, until Keri meets her own Prince Charming putting her research and the award she is about to receive in jeopardy.

Does this grab your attention?

Based on my Getting to Mr. Right Series

Please visit my author page on Amazon.

Toni Pike: Linda’s Midlife Crisis

I am used to associating Toni Pike’s writing with crime and thrillers, not this delightful modern feel-good women’s fiction and so it was a surprise for me to see it on her post.  

The first part of the novel is about Linda’s marriage to Ron, a horrible man.

He was the sort of person who brought joy whenever he departed, a feeling of peace and freedom that lasted until the moment of his return.

Ron is constantly criticizing Linda, especially her weight, treats her like his servant and is often going out at night coming home smelling of alcohol. Linda stays in the marriage because she doesn’t know what else to do and likes her home when her husband is at work or playing golf. As much as Linda is the glass half full type of person Ron is eternally pessimistic.

Aside from her marriage, Linda also hates teaching although there was a time when it was her passion but things have changed.

She had once been a great teacher, popular with students and respected by other staff members. Every year, a little gloss had been wiped away and now only a dull, rusted undercoat was left. It was so hard to look forward to a day at school when a riot could break out at any moment and every lesson was like trying to tame a herd of wild beasts.

Linda has a breakdown (or perhaps a breakthrough). She spends a great deal of her time in bed eating chocolates and gaining weight something which Ron doesn’t let her forget.  

If you’re not better tomorrow, then I’m leaving. I’m not taking care of an invalid for the rest of my life. There’s nothing wrong with you, apart from being too fat and too lazy to go to work.

When Linda doesn’t change Ron asks for a divorce and off Linda goes gaining enthusiasm, energy and the will to take care of herself.

The remainder of the novel is sweet and reminiscent of the Television show I used to watch as a kid: Leave it to Beaver. It has that kind, family feel to it. Beneath her submission towards Ron, Linda is a very astute woman who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Her character adds a fun, easy relaxing and pleasant read.

We see Linda thrive through the obligations of life: getting a house ready to sell. Finding an apartment. Moving to a different city, closer to her sister. Quitting her job. Finding work in fashion. Taking care of herself. Embarking on a new and loving relationship and writing.

Linda was an English teacher who once loved to write, but life with Ron had dulled her inspiration and melted the muse.

The book also contains some heartwarming sentences:

… your heart matches your lovely face. Said by new boyfriend, Dennis.

Linda uses her struggles with weight to write inspiring articles for The Canberra News Magazine which motivates her in setting goals for her own weight loss program.

She loved trying to write with clarity, transposing the thoughts in her brain to paper and then polishing them carefully.

As the stain of verbal and psychological abuse fades, Linda becomes more confident and someone you’d love to hang out with.

It’s an upbeat novel and Pike shows that there are happy endings even for those in mid-life.

An enjoyable read that is bound to take you out of any morose mood you might be in.

Pink Carnations

It’s unusual for me to buy myself a bouquet of flowers but yesterday I couldn’t resist and bought this lovely bouquet of pink carnations. I got home placed them in a vase and every time I see them, I smile and bend to smell them. Carnations have such a sweet scent.

The smell of the carnations brought up a childhood memory of my older sisters filling our home with their music. I was seven at the time and I still remember the joy I had listening to this song.

What is the Way to Make Life Happy

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine I have been having an existential moment regarding my writing. Although I am currently in the process of a crime novel I feel myself taking a break from crime and violence. In search of more feel good reading I came across this article published by QUORA. These days we all could use a bit of Ubuntu.

An anthropologist showed a game to a group of children of an African tribe. He placed a basket of delicious fruits near a tree trunk and told them: The first child to reach the tree will get the basket. When he gave them the start signal, he was surprised that they were walking together, holding hands until they reached the tree and shared the fruit!

When he asked them why they do that, when one of you could have got the basket all for them self! They answered with astonishment: Ubuntu.

“That is, how can one of us be happy while the rest are miserable?” Ubuntu in their civilisation means: I am because we are.

That tribe knows the secret of happiness that has been lost in all societies that transcended them, and they consider themselves as being the civilised societies!

https://worldsnews.quora.com/https-www-quora-com-What-is-the-way-to-make-life-happy-answer-Sajeev-Rajan-11

Music as Creative Inspiration

Please feel free to listen to this album as you read this post and its links.

For the past two weekends I was taking a course given by Antolina Ortiz Moore on Creating A Universe With Words sponsored by the Quebec Writers Federation.

During the course, one of the elements which was discussed was the usage of rhythm in our writing and how the sound of words is important for the flow of ideas.

That got me thinking about an interview I recently heard on CBC radio with the Neo-Classical pianist Jean-Michel Blais on the creation of his latest album, Aubades – a piece of music appropriate to dawn.

Blais composed this music in the midst of confinement where, because of gentrification, he had been evicted from his apartment and his studio and to add to all of this, had a breakup in his relationship.

Understandably, he was depressed, lonely, felt he had reached bottom and worried that he would never again compose. (Sound familiar?)

Alone, in his new apartment, he felt that he needed something to get back to his creativity and so he set  up a room for his studio and decided to record a new record – his pandemic therapy album.

 To feel awake again he challenged himself by asking how he could remain creative. What would happen if he let himself go, tried to surpass himself by writing new stuff and used the confinement as opportunity to transform a dream into reality?   

The result is an album that is simply gorgeous. Filled with hope, open to what’s new, uplifting and  inspirational.

 You can read the interview with Piya Chattopadhyay and listen to a great composer talk about the process of creativity.  

How’s your New Years Resolution coming along?

Many new years resolutions have to do with getting in shape – exercising more and eating properly. But studies show that 64% abandon their new year’s resolution within a month.

Ellie Marrandette’s book will help you get back on track and re-energize you to maintain good eating habits.

Combining her career as a nutritional counsellor and her New Creation Ministries series, this book addresses the “intricate mind, body and spiritual aspects to optimum and sensible health.”

Whether your goal is to lose weight the end point is to be healthy and Ellie Marrandette offers expert advice and tips on doing so. It’s not about dieting but about introducing into your life healthy eating habits.

Being healthy improves one’s looks, energy level, longevity and self-esteem.

Critiquing every fad diet out there she explains why they don’t work and suggests that the only diet that works is feeding your body with the proteins, minerals and vitamins it needs to function at maximum health and to ward of illnesses such as cancer and diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and joint problems.

Be mindful of harmful habits when reaching for food when you are not even hungry.

She explains the role enzymes play in regulating different parts of our body, including regulating our appetite. Much of the book is on quality nutrients necessary for the proper functioning of our bodies (liver, intestines, skin, brain, bones et) and which foods contain them.

The book includes chapters on the benefits of detoxification and emotional eating and the importance of fiber and foods to incorporate in your daily intake for a good night’s sleep or for battling dark circles under the eyes as well as foods that protect sun damage. The benefits of eating nutritious mini-meals throughout the day to maintain stable blood sugar levels.

Add to this our personalities, our attitudes and the importance of gratitude in maintaining a stable health plan.

Although this book targets Christian groups, her knowledge on health and nutrition is universal. This is not a book to read in one reading. There is too much information and it is more of a reference book.

If you find that you are having difficulty sticking to your new year’s goals of becoming healthier this book might just be the boost you need to motivate you to get over that slump.

 We are the only ones who live in our bodies. Choose wisely.

Happy V-Day

Ha

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY EVERYONE!

February 14 is also V-DAY for ONE BILLION RISING

1 in 3 women across the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. That’s ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS. Every February, we rise – in countries across the world – to show our local communities and the world what one billion looks like and shine a light on the rampant impunity and injustice that survivors most often face. We rise through dance to express joy and community and celebrate the fact that we have not been defeated by this violence. We rise to show we are determined to create a new kind of consciousness – one where violence will be resisted until it is unthinkable.

About One Billion Rising

One Billion Rising is the biggest mass action to end violence against women (cisgender, transgender, and those who hold fluid identities that are subject to gender-based violence) in human history. The campaign, which launched on Valentine’s Day 2012, began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS.