Proper writing format:

Assignments in this class uses:

1) present tense (action oriented: leslie runs across the field)

2) 3rd person ( eg. Narrator)

3) visual voice ( writing what they’re doing/Show,not tell. )

THE 3RD PERSON/PRESENT TENSE.
example:
mark picks up the gun and holds it in his hand. It begins to tremble, as if alive.

Presents a more immediate and urgent feel to the material.

Commonly used in:

  • screenplays
  • thriller
  • suspense genres.

noted: if writer intends to write about self,its best to use a fictional character.

PASSIVE VS. ACTIVE VOICE
Passive:

  • uses weak verbs (usage of –ING.)
  • tells what’s happening in the character’s head.
  • distances the readers from the story.

Eg. The sky was blue with a lot of fluffy white clouds.
noted: Don’t tell what the character is thinking!

Active :

  • uses strong action verbs
  • shows the action
  • uses an immediate sentence structure
  • conveys the story in a lively manner.

Eg. Fluffy white clouds drifts like cotton in the ocean blue sky. ( ACTION word is included.)

TIPS:

  • just write whatever that comes into the mind first,edit (into active voice) later
  • don’t tell the story, SHOW!

eg. mark slams the door and stalks across the chamber. He shouts,’ bitch!’’ ( adding DIALOGUE )

BIGGEST PROBLEM: Getting Started!

(More Tips..)

1) Once work is in progress , NEVER stop for the night if stuck, or else..I’ll lose everything that I’ve thought of previously.

2) Always solve the problem and keep going until you are in safer water. Sleeping on problems is a myth. FINISH WHATEVER, THEN GO TO SLEEP.

3) If I can’t start, just write something anyway. To do this, you need to have some words to type.( good source to check out :The dictionary. )

4) It doesn’t matter what I write, I’ll soon begin to think and move in my own rhythm/pace.

QUESTIONS TO ASK MYSELF:
– whose’s story am I telling?

-what is the point of this story?

-how can I engage the audience’s attention?

Easiest way: use sensation words.
Noted: I need to point off why the character does this/that.

ASSIGNMENT: COME UP WITH 12 OPENERS.

Eg.(s):

  • Sally glances at her watch..
  • Joe opens the bottle and takes a whiff..
  • May closes her eyes and jumps..
  • James paces around the empty hallway..
  • Mel opens the envelope. Her hand shakes..

EXERCISE 1A:OPENERS! Start or string together stories..
Noted: How I grab the reader’s attention.Don’t have to make sense sometimes.

CARVEY

Carvey walks into a graveyard wearing nothing but a hula skirt. His skirt started to flow with his steps as he graces the path, skipping along to his hum of ‘ BARNEY’s theme song’. For that moment, the song seemed to have overwhelmed his mind. Everything before his eyes appeared purplish and in a peculiar way, cute. He even felt that weeds which were like flowers to him,were aromatic. Bending down,he plucked a few weeds and started to sniff and smeared them on his face.
The next thing he knew, he was awaken by a slap by his friend Ray.
“What the hell did you just do to me?” Ray questioned.

“What did I do?”

“You were smelling my face. That’s like, weird..”

Ever since then, even the mention of Barney haunts him of the incident.

22/04/08

eM’s opener

As she crept out of the massive teak wardrobe, carrying along her little glass doll, she walked towards the window. Looking out, tears welled up in her eyes as she watched her mother leave with uncle Bo. She refused to leave and stayed on with her granny. Uncle Bo wasn’t the typical nice man you see on movies. He had a past that only she knew. Every morning when her mother leaves for work, Uncle Bo would abuse her by hurling insults, sometimes even slapping her for no reason. This left an emotional scar on her that everyday she would hide..

Elements of Dialogue

Dialogue reveals character.

  • A character will talk about himself and other people will talk about him.

Dialogue establishes relationships between characters

  • once you have established your main character’s P.O.V, you can use dialogue with other characters to show that they have other attitudes,creating opposite/alternative P.O.Vs.
  • This helps to create and sustain the element of CONFLICT between characters.

noted: include conflicts in stories.

Good effective dialogue will move the sotry forward

noted: saying less tells you more.

Dialogue communicates faces and information to the audience

  • it conveys essential exposition. (people talking about what’s happening w/o telling )
  • character will talk about what happened, establishing the storyline.

Dialogue comments on the action

noted: think of sports commentators, they explain what’s taking place through dialogues on the radio.

Dialogue ties the script together

  • it is one of the device that YOU as a writer can use to expand and enlarge your characters.

” If you can see it or hear it, don’t write it.” – Neville Smith

Dialogue should be used sparingly

Never tell the audience what they can see for themselves!!

< DIALOGUE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR ACTION>

In Hollywood when they look at a page and its got too much black, too much ink on the paper, they say :

” SHIT! IT’S FREEZE THE CAMERA TIME!! ” ( Boring, because Action speaks louder than words.)

Common mistake

  • Students sometimes never achieve a level of competence as they tend to reproduce conventional spoken language, long statements of ” REAL TALKING“, and defend their decision by telling us that.

” its how the character speaks. ”

GOOD DIALOGUE is not somebody’s ability to write authentic speech as heard in real life.

  • if that was all there is to it, you can just push a button on the tape recorder and then go collect your Oscar.

noted: dialogue is taking in all i’ve heard, and take out the boring bits, retain excitment.

GOOD DIALOGUE is the illusion of reality.

  • you’ve got to know how to edit what people say without losing any of the spirit.

noted: not verbatim! = word for word.

Common mistake

Student tend to create a radio shows with images.

< FILM IS A VISUAL MEDIUM >

A SCREENPLAY IS A STORY TOLD IN PICTURES.

EXERCISE : writing dialogue

wife : where the hell have you been!

man : I looooovvee you!

wife: what the…? Don’t you think you can get away with all that sweet talking. I waited the whole freaking night for you to get home. I cooked for our anniversary for peas sake!

man: yoouu are, so beautiful.. to mee..(sings the song) yes you are BABY oh yea yea.

wife : argh, just get out of my face, you’re drunk and talking gibberish.

man: I wanted to call you, but i couldn’t find my phone. Darling, you’ll understand. I brought home beef sticks! want some?

wife: forget it.

” The experiment ” (based this same situation on my own parents

mom: why’re you home so late?

dad: ( walked straight towards the kitchen looking down )

mom: you tell me, WHY!

dad: wo gen wo de peng you que he le zi bei.

mom: i cooked your dinner.

dad: er.. okay.. I’ll eat later.

mom: do you know that for my entire life, just when i have the mood to cook.. You don’t want to eat! suan le la, I won’t cook anymore. You think im what, maid ah! Everything i do do do, like ah sam like that.

dad: k lo, don’t eat don’t eat la!

PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE:

WE WRITE BEST WHAT WE KNOW WELL

noted: story is all about writing down the feelings.

Storytelling tool 1: OBSERVATION

  • adopt a KEEN EYE
  • develop a natural SENSE OF CURIOUSITY

– an observed event, when subject to simple questions, can set up a sequence of possibilities that will develip into a story worth telling.

noted: make own conclusions to what i see. always think : ‘ i want to find out more! ‘

  • WHOM AM I WRITING ABOUT?
  • WHO IS MY CHARACTER?
  • WHAT IS HE/SHE/IT LIKE?
  • WHAT DOES HE/SHE/IT DO?
  • WHAT HAPPENS TO HIM/HER/IT IN THE STORY?

EXERCISE : AWARENESS LEVEL

  • people rarely observe familiar people or things closely.
  • most people pass through the day with 20%-30% awareness.
  • MINDLESS OBSERVATION vs TRUE OBSERVATION

– observe in a conscious way

– develop the ability to SEE and RECORD people:

  • their MOVEMENTS
  • their PHYSICSL CHARACTERISTICS
  • the SETTING/PLACES they’re in.
  1. walk into the canteen/library,etc. and watch the people pass by.
  2. eventually, one will catch your attention.
  3. write down as many details as possible through observation
  4. repeat steps 1-3 for 2nd character
  5. transcribe all these details into the “PEOPLE WATCH” page that will create on our blog

characterization : DEFINING THE CHARACTER

  • every story starts with a character.

the character is… the heart, the soul and the nervous system of your story.

noted : through your characters that the viewers experience emotions. / if its a good story, the audience would want to live vicariously through the character./ relate or identify w.

< WITHOUT A CHARACTER , THERE IS NO ACTION >

<WITHOUT ACTION, YOU HAVE NO CONFLICT >

<WITHOUT CONFLICT , YOU HAVE NO STORY >

< WITHOUT STORY, YOU HAVE NO SCREENPLAY >

DEVELOPING CHARACTERS

when developing a character, ask yourself :

  • who’s your character?
  • what does he want ? (motive/desire)
  • what’s his quest?
  • what drives him to the resolution of the story?

noted : everybody who’s not happy w their situation is a good character .

1) ESTABLISH YOUR MAIN CHARACTER.

characters should have a 3 dimenstional structure.

  • physiology ( sex, age ,height, weight, colour of hair,eyes,skin, posture,appearance,defects,abnormalities,deformities,birth,birth makrs, diseases, heredity )
  • sociology:
  1. (class-lower,middle,upper. ,
  2. occupation : type of work,hours of work, income,condition of work, attitude towards organization, suitability for work.
  3. Education : amount,kind of schools,marks,favourite subjects,poorest subjects,aptitudes. Home life : parents living,earning power,character’s maritual status.mental development )
  4. religion ,
  5. race,
  6. nationality,
  7. place in the community ; leader among friends,clubs,sports.
  8. Political affliliations, amusements : hobbies,books,magz. i read)
  • psychology:
  1. sex life , moral standards
  2. personal premise, ambition
  3. frustration, chief disappointments
  4. temperament : choleric,easy-going,pessimistic, optimistic
  5. attitude toawrds life : resigned, militant ,defeatist (*most impt!! )
  6. complexes : obsessions,inhibitions,superstitions, phobias (* creates interest, put them into the character )
  7. personality : extrovert, introvert
  8. abilities : language,talent
  9. qualities : imagination,judgment,taste,poise
  10. I.Q
  11. what is the deep and personal secret this character has which he is desperate to protect hide? ( trump card for storyline)

SEPARATE THE COMPONENTS OF HIS LIFE INTO 2 BASIC CATERGORIES:

  1. Interior

– the interior life takes place from birth until the moment your story begins.

-it is a process that FORMS character. [ when you start formulating your character from birth, you see your character build in body and form]

how old is he when the story begins? where he livs? any sibilings? what kind of childhood he have? what’s his r/s w his parents? what kind of child was he? is he married,single etc..

2. exterior

– the exterior life takes place the moment your story begins to its conclusion.

-its a process that REVEALS character

  • who are they, what they do?
  • sad,happy with their life?
  • do they wish their life was different? another job,another wife.

you must create your characters in r/s to other people or things.

all dramatic characters interact in 3 ways :

1. they EXPERIENCE CONFLICT in achieving their dramatic need. ( eg. need money- rob and bank,rob a store, rob a person? )

2. they INTERACT w other CHARACTERS ( either in an antagonistic,friendly or indifferent way)

3. they INTERACT w THEMSELVES. ( eg. he overcame his fear of being caught by pulling off the robbery5 successfully ) / thnking to himself.

HOW DO YOU INVENT CHARACTERS?

– TRY TURNING THEM UPSIDE DOWN.

EG. a monk who is devoted to his religion.. but is a football fanatic.

a serial killer…whose obsession is to kill other serial killers.

a common street rat.. who loves to eat and cook only fine food.

THE ROLE OF CONFLICT

  • CONFLICT is the central feature of the screenplay

-man against man

-man against environment

-man against self

  • its variation of sex,age,religion and culture which provide variety to the conflict.

CONFLICT =CHANGE

  • change is common to everyone.
  • change is universal. / as universal as change may be,people often resist it for fear of the unknown.
  • people must learn to cope with change if they want to survive.
  • the action in drama depends on conflict

CONFLICT

  • definition
  • (opposition of persons or forces )
  • it is the interaction of opposing ideas,interests,or wills, and creates a plot.
  • plot cant be constructed without it.
  • as your characters attempt to reach their goals they come into conflict with each other.
  • the end of the story nears when the protagonist and antagonist approach their goals and the conflict rises to generate maximum suspense and excitement

CREATING CONFLICT

  • the protagonist and antagonist must be locked together with no possible compromise between them.
  • this is done by having characters of strong conviction and purpose who will fight for what they want.
  • the more evenly matched they are, the stronger the battle will be and the more suspense will be aroused. (equally strong )

assignment: 50 word stories:

eg: i live with my grandmother as a matter of convinence. she has long since gone senile. she had a pet parakeet that died a week ago. she accuses me of killing it. i feel sorry for her, but if she accuses me one more time im going to flatten her.

  • 5 posts of exactly 50 words
  • the story makes sense and try to make people think.

>purpose of the exercise :

-breaks down the myth of handling only 1 idea at a time.

-encourages recise and concise writing

-teachers basic script editing skills, to focus and reveal the essential elements

6/5/08

DYNAMIC ACTION

<story is action>

  • action encompasses any kind of movement,activity and interaction between the characters and also between the characters and their surroundings.
  • talking about how one feels is not as powerful as illustrating why one feels the way they do through action. (eg. jim looks at the mirror and starts crying = he hates himself? )

<film is behaviour>

  • action is the manifestation (take the form of) of behaviour.
  • the complexity of the human psyche and interaction is better understood when it is possible to watch the actions,nuances(little ticks of expression, eg playing w pen = boredom) and reactions of the characters.

noted: the actions that i describe makes the reader to thinks, film only works when things move on screen.

<dynamic action>

  • has the potential to enrich the experience of the audience by heighting the stakes and increasing the tension.

noted: eg waving a knife at Jim: so many things happen eg. he may end up in jail, he may become a murderer. and this can be carried on as a 2nd part of the story.

THE POWER OF ANY STORY LIES IN THE NARRATOR’S ABILITY TO PROJECT A MENTAL PICTURE FOR THE AUDIENCE. ( the more powerful my story will be )

MOVING PICTURES

EXERCISE: translating emotional responses into actions.

PURPOSE addressing the problem many newbies have to screenwriting..

HOW TO CONVEY VISUALLY ANY SENSE OF INNNER CONFLICT OF EMOTION.

INTERACTIVE LOCATION

  • LOCATION IS:

-a physical setting and surrounding that INTERACTS with the characters of the film by positively heightening their action.

-it can enchance the impact of the action and heighten stakes.

-eg., a high rise building invokes more suspense than a low rise building if a character is afraid of heights and has to leap between two buildings.

noted: puts the character in control. eg.. he watches Jim from the building. the hunter now becomes hunted./ uses location to enchance eg. power of the person? the feelings in the readers./ write in detail,what im seeing. /think about how the location helps to enchance the story.

– a place in which events occur and characters interact

STORYTELLING TOOL 2: MEMORY

  • your memory is A wonderful cabinet of past incidents which you have experienced or been told.
  • these memories are points of reference to your own past existence. ( I AM MY MEMORY)

noted: memories are subjective and inaccurate( based on own emotions etc..) / can even be made up at a spur of a moment

TIP:

  • WRITE what you Do not know because you will find some part of you that does know.
  • THERE IS ALWAYS ROOM FOR PERSONAL DISCOVERY!

EXERCISE: LETTER TO SOMEONE FROM THE PAST

  • this might be a person to whom you can no longer speak to.
  • could be someone you completely lost touch with
  • even someone who is dead
  • you should describe yourself exactly as you are in present time and then try to CONTRAST that..

[the letter is a practical,personal eg. of how a character- YOU- undergo an inevitable process of change.]

[this process of change is an essential ingredient of any effective story]

In dramatic writing, the very essence is CHARACTER CHANGE.

STORYTELLING TOOL 3: EXPERIENCE

  • a storyteller should be concerned with the potential of every experience.
  • everything about you- where you were born,what food you eat,the bump on your forehead- your experiences are unique and irreplaceable.
  • many of your experience are universal and translatable and can be used in any location. ( so people can relate to my stories)

TIPS:

  • if you don’t know what to do with a character, make him yourself for a while.
  • see how he relates to the world he has been thrown into.

>> PLUNDER YOUR OWN PERSONAL BACKGROUND!

The things that happen to you as you grow up and the things that are currently happening to you make terrific story sources.

EXERCISE 5: TRUE & FALSE STORIES

  • WRITE 2 SHORT STORIES
  • ONE IS TRUE
  • ONE IS FALSE

#1:

I was on my way back from school on a fine afternoon. Walking alone, I felt someone tailing me. This feeling was making me really uneasy so I pluckered up my courage and turned back. Ah, to what I thought was a scary old man turned out to be a cute little stray cat. After a few strokes on its back, I stood up and took the lift back home. Weird thing was, it followed me back and now, I keep a cat named Xiao Hei.

#2:

My mom told me that the house was getting too crowded with so many pets in the house, I had to set my dwarf hamsters free. My dad and I brought my two hamsters and headed to the nearest field. I was happy to see the hamsters running for their freedom but out of a sudden, a crow came flying down and grabbed them. Now , i feel so bad.

  • Now identify: which story is true?

>>PURPOSE: A true story is not necessarily a good story.

Good stories have to be worked and reworked.

  • true life stories do not offer neat and relevant endings.
  • in a story, we can and must control the events and sequences so that it gives the appearance of being like life.

noted: experience is concrete. can’t be faked or blown up. its a very technical thing.

CRAFT OF WRITING

  • focus on conceiving and plannig your scenes so they’re easy to write.
  • good scenes write themselves ( gives people the feeling what comes after w/o me saying much )
  • BUT if you start writing and the story isnt going where you want it to go, here’s smth you can try:

– make a list if Principal characters and check to see if each character has a major scene with another character. ( the principal char. brings the story to the climax/focus everytime they appear talking etc)

– by “major” it means a scene where characters are in conflict with each other.

  • STRUCTURE IS CRITICAL

– once you have the spine, you can hang everything else on it. (plot)

– if they can be used,great. if not, no matter how good it is, it has to be TRASHED.

plot=plan that the story will be based on.
make a plot 1st so after that I can arrange it here and there.

“come late, leave early” this applies for scenes. so people will be forced to use their imagination to feel in the gaps. but don’t leave too many gaps, too blur. eg. a scene opens with a guy talking to another saying ” again? ”

TIPS:

– write down a list if scenes

-use only keywords.

example: akmal meets carvey and steals carv’s watch. ( jealousy and anger) rmb to tie up the stories with emotion links( just an eg. ) in between so it isn’t too disorganised.

-each word is supposed to remind you of a scene that helps to promote the story.

WRITING IS REWRITING

  • revision and rewriting

-rewriting is not JUST REWRITING

– it’s RETHINKING , RECONCEPTUALIZING and APPROACHING NEW THINGS

NOTED: editting my 1st draft is to take out what i think is boring and adding new things to make it more interesting. 2nd draft will be more streamline.

  • everyone should at least try and rewrite their stories 5 times
  • you’ll never find out what is really in you until you write and rewrite
  • this doesn’t mean just polishing phrases

TIP:

  1. STUDY MY STORY,SEE IT WITH A NEW VISION AND CHANGED VALUES.
  2. WRITE IT AFRESH (dont be afraid to throw away the previous draft i’ve written-its good! (:)
  3. THEN MAYBE SCRAP IT, START ALL OVER AGAIN – DON’T BE AFRAID TO DO THIS!
  4. AFTER THIS, THEN YOU CAN BEGIN “POLISHING” .(cool phrases/lines, good vocab)
  5. FINDING EXPRESSIONS WITH CHARACTER, DIALOGUE THAT HAS RHYTHM.
  6. IT MAY TAKE 2 OR MORE VERSIONS TO BRING OUT THE FULL COLOUR OF THE CHARACTER OR YOURSELF

REFLECT ON THIS!!

The inclination(lean towards) of the egoist is to get as much as he can,but at the same time not to change.

noted: even when people say your script sucks, you still refuse to change because you think your script is the best.