Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Let the Frenzy Begin!

So besides all the numerous things that consume all my time, I've also participate in Script Frenzy - Nanowrimo's sister script writing challenge. Because of this, I've put my revision WIP on hold. At least for a month. So for all of April, I'm going to post topics that come up during the Frenzy.

Today's topic: Don't be Afraid of the Script

A lot of people I talk to don't want to write a script because they're afraid of formatting. And I'll admit, compared to any other form of writing save some unusal forms of poetry, scriptwriting looks like Greek.

Personally, I think this is done half to scare away people from writing scripts.

In a way, it's a test for industry gatekeepers. They know how serious you are because you followed the ridiculous gatekeeping format.

But mostly, when actually filming the script, the format works really damn well.

But, thanks to modern technology, you don't have to really worry about formatting anymore! There's top of the line programs like Final Draft. Then many other writing programs like Scrivner offer Scriptwriting mode. Hell, even Mac's default Pages offers a scriptwriting form. And if you can't "afford" any of these programs, Celtx is free and available for download.

So there is no excuse for not formatting. Now we can rely on technology to transcribe our writing into Script Greek for us, and we only need to know 3 basics.

1. Scene headings - the INT./EXT. DAY/NIGHT

In prose, we spend paragraphs carefully crafting setting. In scripts, we spend one line.
INT. stands for interior and EXT. stands for exterior. Basically, are we indoors or out? (Tip: use INT if you're inside a car.) If you're moving indoors to outdoors, or not quite sure if it counts as either, just write it best you can. This is a 1st draft, you can look up the specific ruling on that after you've written it, if there there is a ruling.

Next, comes the where. HOUSE, CAR, CHRYSTLER BUILDING 27TH FLOOR. The actual where of the scene. It can be as brief as house, or as detailed as you want, like the 27th floor of a major building.

Finally, if it's important, time of day. Day, night, afternoon, morning, dawn, dusk, 3pm, etc. Time of day is really only used when it's important, otherwise, you don't really need it.

There you have it! All of those paragraphs and paragraphs of beautiful prose condensed down to one line. Now to move on.

2. Dialogue

A lot of any script is dialogue. It's short and squished together and doesn't use quotes.

Don't be afraid of it. Don't be afraid if it doesn't sound quite right yet. Just get it down, and be happy you don't have to worry about that "should I use said" conundrum.

Hey, look, we're 2/3rds of the way through all the basics!

Lastly, 3. Action, aka, everything else.

Now that we've eliminated dialogue and scene headings, everything else falls into an Action block. This is where any description goes. (Yes, there is still description, just not paragraph and paragraphs of it.) Any silent visuals. Any props. Any movement. It's a catchall for everything that's not a scene heading or dialogue. So when in doubt, just use an action block.

It's also a really great way to add on to your page count for Frenzy.

Does this cover every little detail of scriptwriting? No. Sometimes, you'll have odd little format questions. And in the real world, if it's odd, and you don't get it quite right, no one's going to notice because, chances are, they don't know how to write it either.

So if you've ever wanted to write a screenplay, play, radio drama, video game, comic, anything involving scripts, get off your butt, stop using excuses, join the Frenzy, and write.

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