Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Big Finish

This post is inspired by Terry Rossio's column at Wordplayer.com .

I wanted to give some additional notes on my personal experience to it. I agree with Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot that the ending is by far the most difficult part to come up with when you want to satisfy your audience.

I've been struggling for numerous times with an ending that makes the entire story/plot worthwile and satisfying. I never had a problem to come up with a great ending for my short scripts. They came up fast enough (usually after two or three weeks within the initial start of the script). But then for a feature length script it gets harder somehow. I guess it's the complexity you invest in a 100 page script. There are far too many characters and far too many emotions and motivations to oversee to keep track of.

With my latest two scripts (Shadows in the Sun / Friday, Last Night) I've come to a point where everything is clear except for the ending. They may be good enough for a mediocre script but ultimately not satisfying enough. Somehow you have to have a feeling it is satisfying for you as a writer as it is as a reader. I always felt things are missing.

In Shadows in the Sun I don't know the motivation of my antagonist. There is one but it is not enough. It seems too superficial.

The problem I face is basically what I believe most writers face: You have the first act perfectly executed. The second well done. The third act is coming but now you know everything has to come up to point where it all makes sense without the audience to anticipate it like a "same old story" thing.

For one part it lies in your writing. For another part it lies within your ability to step back and see what the audience will see.

It's a process you need to go through. Over and over.

Let's take an example from The Usual Suspects. If the writers wouldn't have put enough thought into their script it normally would've become a "cheater plot". It didn't. Tho in my opinion to a part it is. But it's so well executed you don't even realize what really is happening until you see "Kobayashi Porcelain" on the ground and how Chazz Palmiteri looks with the greatest surprise in his face on it. It's pure cinema. Great writing, great cinematography, great score, great acting, everything is perfect.

But you can't count on everything but only your writing. It's like a lightning strucks you one night and you realize you got it. Write it down.

I'm a firm believer of fast endings. Don't go for it too long. Don't set up things. Just go for it. Whenever you have the chance, end the script. You can always add a paragraph or two into your second act or even your first. But when it comes to the solution. When it comes to the end. Make it as quick and as compressed as possible. Like a poem. The audience will understand. And they will be in awe.

My point is actually this: Study poem. It's the art of screenwriting! Involve as much information as possible in your script as you can in only a few pages. Character motivation, storyline, emotions that arise from a few facial expression or better visual action.

Try to write a poem about your script story. Or even better write a poem about your third act. You know you probably got only roughly 20-30 pages for your third act. Write a poem and you will know if it works.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

additional notes!

No matter if you write about a submarine or outer space experience. You may have no experience with it. Just research it. At the times of internet and ulimited access to information, you can do anything. Research. You are part of it. No need to experience it first hand. My first short story that went beyond 30 pages was about WWII. I had no real idea about the wars in the desert of Africa. But I wrote it. I was 15 years old. I still wrote it. I did it because I had something to tell. No need to be very clear about any infos or construction of a "Spitfire" or a "Messerschmitt". You just need to stell a compelling story! Stoy that grabs an audience! Even if it's just you!

The thing with writing is...

When you write, you don't really do write. You tell a story. Most of us have to stop with the notion of "I am writing". You actually compose instead of writing, you tell. Whatever technique you use. Three-act tecnique or a freelance style, it doesn't matter. The story you write must touch you. One way or another. You are part of the audience. You are the audience.

No one gives a shit about a script that has no heart and soul. It must be part of you. What you experienced, part what you would like to experience, who you are, who they are... everything you know. Don't be afraid. It's a screenplay. Your real-life encounters are not interesting as long as they are not in your script. It's up to you! Who ever could've thought that talking about what a quarter pounder of cheese is been called in netherlands, is a funny and interesting topic? That's real life! At least Tarantino reality!

It doesn't mean you should write the neverending story of "a writer comes to LA and doesn't know how to handle it". That's crap. Take the nuances of your life. Everyday life and pick up the interesteing parts. What do you think Larry David does? He makes comedy out of our lifes! And we pay for it!

What I am saying is: Basically just try to do what you know. Write every single crap you know. Dismiss it after you wrote it. But write it. Don't get stuck by little bullshit on page 7 or 11l. Just finish your script. It's much more important to have a first draft then having 10 pages of nothing.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

just wanna share this

You Should Be a Film Writer

You don't just create compelling stories, you see them as clearly as a movie in your mind.
You have a knack for details and dialogue. You can really make a character come to life.
Chances are, you enjoy creating all types of stories. The joy is in the storytelling.
And nothing would please you more than millions of people seeing your story on the big screen!