Tuesday, 17 March 2009


I'm back!!

Have you missed me?

Anyway, now that I am back I'm going to canvas some opinions. Here's the thing. One of the agencies for which I occasionally work has raised the issue of some more workshops.

Now, I've been thinking about this one for some time. I've done umpteen zillion 'Introduction to Screenwriting' workshops, taster sessions, courses, blah blah blah.

But I've always worried that those who come on such courses then get kinda dumped. Where do they go from there? They've done their introduction, and then they're cut loose and left alone, without visible means of support.

So I started thinking about follow-up workshops or courses.

And I came up with two ideas. Let me run them by you, and then, if you'd be so find, I'd appreciate any thoughts and feedback ...

One which I've long wanted to focus on is format.


The dreaded format.

A lot of people (students especially) seem to feel that screenwriting format isn't a problem, these days, because there's SOFTWARE that can do it all for you.

Ha! Couldn't be more wrong. Relying on screenwriting software is a BIG mistake.

Format is the essence of screenwriting. That's because the format requires you to think in a certain way. And if you can't do that, no amount of clever software is going to format your scripts properly. But if you can train yourself to THINK in screenplay format, then you can write a screenplay (without needing the software at all).

So that's one option. A Screenplay Format workshop (don't think that it's just about the layout on the page - script format is more a way of life).

And then, there's development.

There's a process that screenwriters usually go through (especially if they're working for television). It's a case of building your story up in several stages. The idea is that, by the time you come to write 'FADE IN:' at the top of your first page, you've already plotted your script.

Now, I'm a great believer in not over-plotting your script. Some development processes go too far. For example, in television, you're sometimes required to do a 'step-by-step', or 'scene-by-scene', treatment for your script.

That might work for some. But I find it intolerable. Why?

It's unnecessarily hard work, and it takes all the fun out of writing the script.

So a development process which organises the script for you, sorting out certain story and structure problems before they arise, but leaves you free to enjoy the actually scripting process - that might be worth exploring, don't you think?

Those, then, are the options:

1) FORMATTING (how to 'think' in scripts)
2) DEVELOPMENT (how to plan your scripts most effectively)

Your thoughts, please, ladies and gents.

Which one do you think would be most useful to you?


Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

good to see you back! I think a format workshop would be excellent. There's really no need for a development workshop because it's everywhere anyway, for novelists, screenwriters, actors, etc.

It's the format that matters the most because it's unique to screenwriting. the way a script is formatted can break it or make it work. I just read "Inglourious Basterds" and QT formatted it beautifully, with beats and nice, detailed, funny short action sequences, which meant that I was able to envision the movie in my mind, you know?

script doc said...

Hi there, Sabina!

Thanks for the comment. I happen to agree with you ('Format' is the workshop I'm most interested in teaching) - the difference between a properly formatted script and one that isn't can be all the difference in the world.

Michelle Goode said...

"So a development process which organises the script for you, sorting out certain story and structure problems before they arise, but leaves you free to enjoy the actually scripting process... "

That's exactly what I need to know! I'm terrible when it comes to detailed planning. I always want to get stuck in and get to know the characters as I write them. But if I do no planning (usually the case) I get lost near the middle and end up searching for the "directions" I need to get me through the middle and to the end - succesfully.

I agree also that a formatting lecture would be useful, but not as useful as the organising one. There are many books and itnernet sited that ecplain formatting, but not many that talk about how to plan, without planning too much (you know what I mean!) :)

Great blog by the way! I'm Chelle :) Nice to meet you!

script doc said...

Hi Chelle! Good to meet you too.

It sounds to me like a few blog posts covering the development process could be useful. So that gives me an idea!

Many thanks!