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Oh, you clicked? Of course you did! You wouldn't be reading this otherwise!
My name is Ares Schizas. If you know German my last name might sound funny to you; in this case, think of it as "Schneider", it is essentially the same thing. On the other hand, if it sounds more like "Schizo" as in "Schizophrenic" for example, you are correct and I consider this to actually be a good thing, because the way I see it a scriptwriter has to be schizophrenic. A good scriptwriter has to be every single character. That guy on page 31 that brings the coffee and does not appear again in the whole film? You have to be that guy; and every other guy, and every single thing too, no matter how itty-bitty it is; you have to be everything. So being crazy in the good sense of the word helps.
I believe that contrary to real life movies have to make sense. I actually take this very seriously. I also have this ability to recognize when things that break this rule happen in films. Things like characters knowing something they could not know, characters that appear Ex Machina at the right time at the right place, even though they do not possess any special power, errors in continuity, gaps in logic, etc.
In doublethink, my ability is my disability. I cannot sit down and write the thing without stopping to research every single thing. The result, I know many things, I have no credentials, I have no specialization,, I have no College credits, and I have no scripts at all. And since I live in Athens, which is the capitol, and not a village, I cannot become the village's fool, so I have to become a screenwriter. I tried many things and still try many things. Let's say that it didn't worked out.
My biggest weakness, other than my OCD and general detail-fixation, is that the English language is not my native. I turned off Grammarly for this post however, because why not? Also, I cannot learn grammar by reading about grammar. I can only learn if I have something to relate to and that something is actually needing and using this knowledge to create something. So yes, I learn the hard way. I have to bite something far bigger that I can chew, and after many hours of agony and suffering I learn a few things that normal people can learn in an afternoon. So, I need to sit my butt down, stop procrastinating, and actually write the bloody thing. Then write another one. Then yet another one. Then hopefully my English will have improve enough to revise them and start working on the fourth one while trying to sell the first three.
Oh, I also lack motivation, because most people that I know laugh at me when I tell them that I am thinking of becoming a scriptwrite, so it would be great if you can motivate me, so I can motivate you back. Help me help you help us all. Let's generate some love and spread it around. <3
You read this far? Great! Thank you for your support!
One more thing. How you become good, and I mean really good, at describing stuff? Seriously, I can't even do it in my native. For example, I was reading "Basic Instinct" by Joe Eszterhas. You could say that the love scenes were like Greek to me, but since Greek is my native that would give the wrong impression that I understood them perfectly, which is not the case. I needed to search quite a few words in the dictionary, sometimes to even understand that I was reading a love scene. Now I can understand them, and if sex-chatting was my thing I guess I would be very good at it, although I cannot guarantee that anyone would understand what I am saying.
But how he got that good at describing? He did it before the internet was a thing so there must be a trick or something. Maybe a book or a stone of knowledge or something?
Here is an article I often refer to - came across it a few years ago and liked what it preached. Others and you may not as style really is a personal thing.
To me, the most important thing is the balance between tone and pace.
Tone: I like scripts that make me feel the location or the intensity of the action - but at the same time that must be done efficiently. This from Gone Girl:
Nick runs his fingers into Amy’s hair.
NICK (V.0.) Trying to get answers.
He twirls and twirls a lock, a screw tightening.
" A screw tightening.." For me that perfectly set the tone by adding 3 words. IMO, a lesser writer would have written he twirls a lock of hair. The "screw tightening" to me adds a world of tension in a very efficient manner. BUT WARNING:- only when needed. No need to amp mundane actions that are meant to be mundane.
To me, the level of description must be married with the pace of the scene. Guess it goes without saying. But I have read a lot of scripts where too much time was spent on events that are naturally happening quickly and too little on events that are naturally happening slowly.
I don't want 4 lines of action describing a gunshot. I want BANG - gun smoke in the air. Conversely, I don't want one line of action describing a Detective investigating a house. Who is inspired by - Detective Dave walks through the house and inspects everything?? I Want to feel the pace of the Detective as he examines the place - that might mean several more lines.
That was probably one of the longest intros I've ever read here.
We have several non native English speaking members here that have had great successes. especially one from Argentina who is now a Hollywood writer. He hasn't moved there yet, but it's probably just a matter of time.
I'm from Sweden and my English used to be atrocious. Some people here think my grammar is still shit and I've been told in the last six months by a member that I don't write well at all. I hear you about trying to learn grammar. Just like you, I can't sit down and read a book about grammar. I can't learn that way at all. What has helped me though is kind people over the years who have read my scripts and point a couple of things out here and there. Much easier for me to remember that way.
Another thing that has helped me is to try to be as simple as possible when writing. Don't try to write beautifully like so many good writers can, but stick to the very basics. The simpler your writing, the less chance of messing up. I've come a long way, by doing it my way. I now usually get scores in the mid 90s for writing when I send my scripts out for coverage. People say my scripts are fast reads. That's a plus in this business.
Another suggestion would be to read more contemporary scripts. Old script can be good for studying structure, character development and such, but if you're looking for style, it's better to study modern scripts. I started reading Death Wish this morning and it had the most intense first script page I've ever read, I think, and I've read a lot.
Anyway, stick around and get to know a few people here. Lots of knowledgable people here that are willing to help.
Thank you so much for the kind words and the warm welcome! <3
LC, from what others have told me, I have a wild imagination, to the point that I have been called crazy quite a few times, which I guess is a good thing. I do read books but I have to admit, I mostly read political, philosophical and historical books, technical manuals and textbooks. I see your point though. I recently had a scene in mind and I found some nice words to describe it in George Orwell's "1984". However, reading stuff in hope to find something that fits my vision is not very efficient in my mind. In all these years someone must have written a book on how to describe things. In English proficiency tests, one of the things that they test you are describing pictures. Of course, most teaching is done by textbooks, but the existence of such a book is a reasonable assumption.
eldave1, that is quite an interesting point that you make. I like it.
Angry Bear, I hope my intro did not bored you! <3 I tried to keep it as funny as possible. It is heart-warming to know that there are others whose learning ability works similar to mine. Simplicity is a nice and interesting trick, I try to utilize it. I also thought about writing characters that are not native speakers, however, due to different speech patterns, I have to consult people who speak whatever language my non-native characters are supposed to speak, in order to make them sound convincing; so I might end writing Greeks; hey! "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" was a success, wasn't it? I am always open to new scripts, but I have to really like the movie to be interested in them. Well, maybe I should give other scripts a chance. There is something to learn even from flops.
Cool - glad it helped - the bottom line is that there are is many different styles as there are writer - thankfully. Otherwise it would get boring
It is a concept that can be incorporated in many different styles. I understand the logic behind it and as a rule, the writer should not tell the director how to do their work, so focussing on what is actually necessary for the story is logical.
Welcome to the site, Ares! Judging from your top post you're doing really good. I'm from Azerbaijan, you should see some of my posts. Thank God I was told about Grammarly couple of weeks ago.
One of the regulars here is from Germany, too, and he's got pretty impressive scripts posted here on the site. Hope to read yours soon, as well)
(Oh, look, this post here took me 5 minutes to write, sucks to be non-native but what can you do)
Thank you! Grammarly is great but sometimes it is "too perfect". Not all speakers of the same language use the same by-the-textbook speech patterns. There are many variations on speech patterns, depending on where a character is from and what their social background is. The way I see it is that unless you have lived in the place your character is from, you cannot really write convincing lines for them (unless of course they are from X place but they speak with general patterns). Think about "English English" in "Austin Powers: Goldenmember", there is no way I could write something even close to that! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgPH0tYXJrA So you can get really good in English (C2 Certification level) but still you will need assistance if you want to write anything than general speech. For example, I want to write Cockney characters. I will not write the accent, of course, this will be tiring for the reader, but Cockneys use words that can give away that they are from England and specifically, London. So finding someone from London is the way to go. Good thing that we have the internet. It seems that a scriptwriter, after a point at least, is as good as their consultants are.
I don't envy non native English speaking screenwriters. It's hard enough to write a script as is without that added hurdle to jump.
I wish you all the best.
Thank you for your honesty. Yes, it is harder. However, with languages, the difficulty is not of the time imaginary. One "trick" that I use is that I don't try to find the equivalent words in my native. It doesn't really matter. What it matters is to understan the English words.
I also think in English most of the time. That has resulted in changes to my speech patterns and as well as my accent (even though my English accent is terrible) so people sometimes mistake me for a student who studies in the UK or something like that.
Yeah, that's an interesting intro. Good luck to you!
Language vs Story.
I think - I *think* - the art of really good storytelling is to remember to focus on the story, not the language. If you're writing in your native language, if you've had a college education, if you've done well at school, then it's all too easy to get carried away with fancy language.
Fancy language is no substitute for good story. Just like fancy special effects are no substitute for good story. Fact.
The Shawshank Redemption strikes me as a winning winning winning script. Stephen King's brilliant story, with Frank Darabont's brilliantly tight screenplay.
From the opening scene:
He can hear them fucking from here. He raises a bottle of bourbon and knocks it back. The radio plays softly, painfully romantic, taunting him:
You stepped out of a dream... You are too wonderful... To be what you seem...
He opens the glove compartment, pulls out an object wrapped in a rag. He lays it in his lap and unwraps it carefully --
-- revealing a .38 revolver. Oily, black, evil.
Can't you just feel this is going to WORK? Yes, it's nicely written. But that's a story told by someone who is confident that they have a hell of a story to tell.
Mmm... language vs story. Language wraps story, but story beats language every time.