I realize that I have been neglecting my blog posts on screenwriting. The thing is, I was busy writing my screenplay. Now that I’ve finished it (for now) I’d like to share what I learned about screenwriting for TV or film.
A few posts ago I wrote about the logline which you can have a look at here:
One of the ideas I discovered in my process to screenwriting is that your script should be presented in a certain standard, much like a play might be presented. There are quite a few screenwriting softwares out here, depending on your needs. I chose to write on ARC STUDIO and really like it. I am still on it.
So here’s a link to their website and especially what they have to say about the log line:
(… the basic formula of a logline is protagonist + catalyst + protagonist’s goal + antagonist/conflict.
Over the course of the summer months I will be sharing the recommended authors who feature in the Smorgasbord Bookshelf along with their books and a selected review.
The first featured author today is Carol Balawyder – with her coming of age crime thriller...Just Before Sunrise
About the book
A coming-of-age story with a domestic noir twist.
Nadine, tired of running her call-girl agency has upgraded to gold digger as she finds the perfect rich widower to marry. Discovering that her wealthy widower is an abuser she seduces his stepson, Charlie, to plot her husband’s murder.
But things don’t go as planned and soon she is turning to her experience hiring young call-girls to find the perfect girl to save her from going to prison…
Homeless Maya is drifting on the streets, grieving the recent loss of her mother. When she is offered the opportunity to prepare a…
His name was Doctor Rich but he never made much money being a doctor. You see, he wasn’t a medical doctor but a doctor of philosophy. There had been a time when he had tried writing a book, but that had not worked out for him. He taught a few courses at college which barely paid his rent.
He always felt like he was running out of money no matter how much he tried to budget. There was always something unexpected coming up. A tire that needed to be changed on his bicycle or a glass pot he left on the stove that had scorched so he’d had to replace it.
Each month, he thought that this was it. He would put a bit of money aside for a trip he might want to take in the future. But lack of money always crept into Dr. Rich’s world.
The essence of what he believed in was the heart and soul of every individual, and he tried to live his life in such a way that at the end of it, whenever that would come, he could say that he had lived a very rich life.
Wasn’t it better in the long run to have a rich soul than a rich bank account? The latter was like a tyrant tied around your neck. A slave that was impossible to beat.
He found it strange that when he thought about this, he didn’t worry about his lack of money at all. The only thing that he trusted was that things would work out, and somehow, they always did.
LISTENING TO JEAN – MICHEL BLAIS AT THE MONTREAL JAZZ FESTIVAL
There are words that I want to write about.
Kindness and joy and other words that fill a dictionary like sunrise and sunset. Words that wobble like a wild wobbling turkey and words that fill souls and warm hearts: Thank you. You are dazzling.
Words like imagination, inspiration and passion although passion can sometimes be a dangerous word that can lead to jealousy and murder and other words that I do not even want to think about.
I want to write about the beauty of an ocean and the rays of a sun shining on a seaway that will lead to that endless ocean.
I want to write words that smell like the apple pie which my father used to make.
Memories of wadding in a plastic pool with my sister and her white rubber bathing cap are also good words that make me feel that she is still with me.
Perfect is also a good word although I have found it hard to end my day without messing up one way or another like having a series of perfect golf shots only to end up on the green with three putts, if you know what I mean.
I want to write about naiveté and vulnerability and being humble.
Words that are unselfish. Everyday words that are too often unused like love and happiness and smiles.
Unpretentious, funny and confident. These are also good words to incorporate into one’s life.
Words that make you dream and hope and believe in faith and the goodness of mankind.
Youthfulness, appreciation and acceptance are also good to have swirling in one’s head.
Persistence, dedication and effort. Difficult words at times but necessary.
Rustling sounding words and murmurs of birds flying by.
Lightness and strength and desire. Good to carry around.
Words that say Hello, Good Morning, How Are You?
Words that are delicate, gentle and relaxing.
You think to yourself that this masquerade of happiness, joy, and spring is all very well, but occasionally you get tears in your eyes, and you realize that there’s maybe a small wound beneath the surface, an underlying sadness to it all, one that you nonetheless contemplate with optimism, with a willingness to turn it into something positive.” Jean-Michel Blais
In this post I share with you three other elements that are included in the proposal of a screenplay.
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.
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.
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.
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. 😉
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.
I am used to associatingToni 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.