Scriptshadow is the blog by Carson Reeves that lets us eyeball screenplays that have been recently purchased in this big machine we romantically call “Hollywood”. Makes a nice complement to your Done Deal Pro and IMDB Pro subscriptions, no? (Plus, it’s free!)
Here’s how Carson describes his work:
Scriptshadow started off as a small intimate blog whose purpose was to review and make available recently sold spec scripts for amateur writers to study so that they could improve their own writing.
But then came The Man:
Fortunately/Unfortunately, the blog has grown to a place where me posting scripts has become impractical. I’ve received enough legal urging to convince me it’s not worth the risk. As a result, from this point on, I’ll only be reviewing scripts and not linking to them.
Still, he provides a great resource for those who like to be in the know.
Here in Los Angeles, The Young Storytellers Foundation pairs writers and actors with kids who need help with literacy skills. Together, they write short screenplays, rehearse, then put on a “Big Show” where the young scribes can see their work come to life. It’s brilliant! So why not volunteer today? Schools served are all over town–there’s sure to be one near you.
An eight-week, one-on-one screenwriting program dedicated to increasing literacy and self-esteem in fourth and fifth grade students.
Loglines are hard. It’s true. Creating those snappy compressed bites of your story can feel more draining than writing the entire story itself. No one said they were easy but they are essential. Here are a few tips on how to create a great logline for your story.
Start with one page. Get out a blank sheet and challenge yourself to say all you can about your story on that single page. If it’s your first try, this will seem impossible but be assured it is not. Try to ignore that naysaying voice on your shoulder and just write. Start with the opening. Jump to the ending. Then insert the middle as best as you can. Write as if you are speaking to a friend you’ve met unexpectedly on the sidewalk. In fact, talking it out often helps. You’ll fill that page in no time. Once you’ve reached the end of paper/screen, stop. Resist the urge to continue writing. Now is the time to find out what can be sacrificed in order to get all of what you want to say to fit on that single sheet of paper.
Once you have your page, notice what you had to leave out in order to make the story seem complete within your constraints. You probably lost entire subplots and characters that, while are important to the whole work, didn’t enhance the shortened version. Being able to identify these aspects is a good skill to develop. A very, very good skill.
Read through your single page to find even more opportunities to trim. The goal now is to cut what you’ve written by half. By now, you’ve eliminated characters and sequences of events. Now is the time to go for verbiage. For example, you might want to shorten, “In the sleepy little farm town known as Marcus, Iowa” to simply, “In Marcus, Iowa,” or “In Iowa.” Be ruthless with your red lines; do what you must but KEEP THE FLAVOUR in your effort to employ fewer words. Remember: a lifeless, generic summary is NOT the goal. Keep what makes your story yours. (At this point, you’re probably retching from performing the unholy opposite of creative expression but remember that this is only a tool to get your real story into readers’ hands. To that end, the more concisely you can render the whole, the better.)
Getting shorter still. Put your red-lined page aside and start fresh with a new sheet. Rewrite your edited synopsis and marvel at how you’ve managed to tell your story in a way that retains its meaning and still makes sense in 500 words or so.
Repeat steps 2 through 4 until you have a single paragraph of approximately 100 words that introduces your main character, the setting of your story, the main conflict your character faces and also conveys the beginning, middle, and end of your piece. If you need a refresher, read “The Logline: Your New Best Friend” for more details on your endgame.
Finished? Good work. Now go make yourself a cocktail to celebrate the blood, sweat, and tears shed in condensing your much-loved and hard-wrought tale into a reduction of its glorious self because now you are able to tell anyone about your story, have them understand the broad strokes without their eyes glazing over, then bask as they beg mercilessly to read the entire thing. Congratulations.
Those of you who read THE STORY SPOT regularly will know that we’re fans of screenwriter John August’s highly entertaining and informative blog. Recently, he posted a little video about tightening up the openings of your scenes. Just because it’s screenwriting-focused, doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant to you novelists and memoirists out there.
In a nutshell, the illustrious Mr. August illustrates how to get to the core action of the scene right away while adding a bit of visual color along the way. Good stuff for writers at all levels.