RJFS Writer's group!


#103

KaBOOM

Today there will be blood!


#104

Cool!
I’ll read that ASAP.


#105

Hiya,

Okay, so I really enjoyed the content in your screenplay from a critical standpoint this week, as you have a dialogue scene and an action scene. It was a pleasure experiencing both of them in the same read. I’m going to focus on both of these.

I liked the conversation between Myrin and Dija. We got to know more about the world a little bit, and what kind of people they are. (Also: “I know last night was a big discovery for you, and you gotta talk to your mum and five priests” – hilarious). There’s been a lot of action and conflict in this world so far, so I welcomed this moment of connection between two people (even if it didn’t necessarily end well) as you made it seem real.

The action scene:
I liked that you didn’t hold back from Myrin getting hurt. I’m not a fan of gratuitous violence, but it’s a common convention to put the hero in danger when we all know that nothing is every really going to happen to her (because she’s the hero!). And you went for it without being too over-the-top, which is good.
I’m confused about a couple of things:

  1. Why didn’t Fritz help Myrin while she was tied up, or do more to defend her while his former crew was delivering retribution? Were those rules established earlier? They could have been, and I might have missed them.
  2. Why didn’t Myrin pray to the goddess while she was tied up, and avoid prolonged violence and possible casualties? Because it seems like she could have…I’m all for a fight scene, but that these two magical creatures were so unbelievably helpless in the face of the sword affected plausibility for me a bit. To play devil’s advocate, yes it’s your screenplay and you can write the scene however you want…but if the timing of a character’s action seems odd to viewers, it takes them completely out of your movie, and that’s the last thing a screenwriter wants.
  3. Also, why does Myrin feel she has to answer to the bandits for killing someone? Considering her understanding of justice, wouldn’t it make more sense for her to tell the bandits “Fuck off, I’ll answer for my crimes in front of a court of law, thanks.”
  4. This makes me think of something else: Myrin’s character. What would have happened if she decided not to surrender to the bandits? What if she had decided to duke it out with them instead? There still could have been a fight. Okay, so maybe that isn’t who Myrin is. The thing is: Myrin is so good, noble, and virtuous, that I’m struggling to figure out what makes her worth following as a protagonist. Okay, she has personality, a huge bonus, and superior fighting/magical skills (totally awesome). But does she have anything to learn?

I’m making too much of this. But I’m glad this brought up an occasion to talk about what makes a character compelling. It’s been really cool seeing Fritz change from this rogue to a guy with heart. I wish there was some identifiable struggle or opportunity for change for an awesome character like Myrin.

Doesn’t mean I’m still not down to follow her adventures though. I want to commend you for practically reaching page 70 this week. Well done. I hope you’re getting as much out of writing it as we are out of reading it, and enjoying yourself in the process. Hope to see more soon.


#106

It was great to read more of your story!

I think @PianolasonMars already said the important stuff.
I could add I found it kind of painful to read the action scene, but reading it again was great, it probably just was me at the moment.


#107

So, what’s the latest here? At the moment I’m just wanting to look over someone’s shoulder, so I’m wondering how to get started.


#108

Hey!
You may share your scripts here and get feedback on it. The original goal was to write 20 pages a week and post it here on Friday but it’s not easy to keep that pace.

If you just want to help you’ll find some scripts shared in the thread. Read them, share your impressions! We are here to get some good writing in the end so don’t hesitate to tell what you thing.


#109

I’m going to expound on what @Spica said. The very first post on this forum details everything pretty well, but we’ve been bending the rules a little bit. Our current goal is to submit ten screenwriting pages every Friday (only @Exquisite_Corpse’s been keeping that pace on the regular), but any amount of pages you can submit that day (even a block of text) is fine. Also, we’ve all been giving feedback to whoever submits during the week, rather than just one person, as we only have a few amount of weekly submissions at this time. If you post pages, it’s courteous to provide feedback for at least one other person. You can also leave feedback without posting.

The goal of this forum is to grow as writers and to keep each other motivated by having a supportive group in which to share work and provide constructive criticism. None of us are Aaron Sorkin/Nora Ephron, but this thread has been going for a few months now, and I’m pretty impressed that we’ve all managed to keep it going for this long by continually providing feedback and submitting work.


#110

Alright, so I’m back on board this week. I think my last submission ended on page 27, so feel free to read from there until the end. I hope my introductions of the characters in the bunker weren’t too clunky. Let me know what you think. Thanks.
Edit: Totally forgot I wasn’t using Docdroid to upload. Here we go:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B92ANbTfQxhZaHd2WnJwQjFGUUE/view?usp=sharing


#111

It looks as if everyone just posts and responds in this thread. That makes it hard to jump in and follow along. I see you posted a script for “Down in the Valley”. If you could point me to the first pages, I’ll try to take a look. I realize you’ve probably already gotten feedback, but it will be easier for me than jumping into the middle of a story.


#112

Sorry about that, should be fixed now. Thanks for reading.


#113

Not a problem. I’m trying to learn at this point, so most of the mistakes will probably be mine.

I wasn’t thinking of posting anything, but maybe I will. I’ve been circling for awhile trying to figure out how to get started, but maybe the best way is just to jump in. I’ve written a lot of fiction and pretend to know what I’m doing, but scripts are new to me. My struggle with scripts is understanding how to read them. In fiction everything is on the page, so I can make judgments about what is missing and what aspects of the description need to change. With scripts the director is so important to how the film will look. He can make those changes (for better or worse). So, do I read based only on what is on the page or in terms of the potential I see?

I think what will help me is to dive in with you guys on a script of my own. I’ve started working on something called “Chicken’s Foot”, but it will be awhile before I have anything ready to post.

In the meantime, I’ll give you my first impressions of “Down in the Valley.” I’ve read the first 5 pages in detail, and skimmed up to page 15 to get an idea of the story. I’ll need to go back and read pages 10-15 again to get a better grasp. I think the dialogue is well done and defines the characters. I could quickly pick up on differences between Ricochet and Missile. I had some questions about the purpose of the story about Moses. I couldn’t tell if that was just nervous chatter as they were setting the bombs or if it’s going to be important to the story, but I’m OK with that. I’m willing to wait and see. I only mention it to say the question wasn’t answered in what I read. If it should have been, I missed it.

What I had trouble visualizing was more the scene. When the bomb went off and it was a perfect circle (a “precision” explosion), and then there were stairs, I wasn’t sure if the explosion created the stairs (which would be a bit too much precision) or if it merely uncovered the stairs. It appears this is supposed to be earth after the desolation of an “impact” (a meteor strike?). But I wasn’t sure about the atmosphere. Are these guys in space suits or is the air breathable? Why do they have to go down to uncover what they’re looking for? Is the surface barren or is this a decimated city? I couldn’t get my bearings. … Again, maybe I’m just too new to reading scripts.

The “Locusts” also confused me. At first I assumed they were going to be like the Bugs in Ender’s Game, but then it appeared they were just a different gang of people doing the same thing these 5 characters were doing. It makes sense that if resources are scarce, people will be fighting over them, but it threw me for a moment.

Finally, it does seem risky to try to get the viewers to invest emotionally in these characters and then kill them off. I’ve tried similar things in my stories, and I always get bad reviews for it. But, I’m willing to wait and give this a chance to see where it’s going.


#114

Thanks for your feedback! I appreciate your thoughts. Clarity is really important, so I’ll definitely be thinking about how to improve that with writing in the future. Also, regarding the characters at the beginning, I was really surprised at the feedback I got from other people, who liked them a lot, and therefore didn’t like it when I killed them off so quickly! It’s a common movie opening where you have a situation, then the menace comes and destroys everything (think Jurassic Park, or practically every horror movie ever). Maybe I just fleshed out the characters too much when they were going to die so early? Anyway, the response was interesting.

So you want to write a screenplay. (a screenplay isn’t a script until it’s being made into a movie; not a lot of people know that and I just wanted to clarify) I would suggest starting off by reading a couple of screenplays first, so you can get familiar with the form. Formatting is the basic characteristic that separates a screenplay from other works of literature. If you’re interested in writing one, I wouldn’t even get started until you know what INT. RESTUARANT - DAY means. Besides, reading screenplays of your favorite movies can be fun. Search for the screenplay of your favorite movie online, it’s probably available.

Think of a screenplay in terms of images. When you read a good screenplay, you can see the movie in your head, thanks to the clarity of the action lines, character description, good dialogue, etc. In this kind of literary work, you’ll never read anything that doesn’t have to do with what you’ll see on film, meaning anything other than images and audio. Nothing to do with smells, tastes, the interior thoughts of characters (unless voiced by that character specifically, or heard through voiceover). The emphasis on sounds and images, to the exclusion of all else, is what separates a screenplay from a novel.

Read only based on what’s on the page (and I’m glad you asked that question). How the film will look is up to the director. Your job as a writer is only to get the idea down on the page, and provide the framework for the rest of the production team to bring your cinematic world to life.

I hope that this description helped. Thanks again for your feedback.


#115

So how many participate in the writer’s group? I found the RJFS video about the basics of a screenplay (thanks for the terminology correction BTW), and it’s the best I’ve seen or read. That’s what brought me here. I’ve been doing exactly what you suggested for a while now - reading screenplays from movies I liked - learning the basics of formatting. But nothing was connecting until I saw the video. I also tried writing a little today. I feel like I’m starting to connect to the craft.

Also thanks for the tip about sounds and images. In writing fiction I do try to create a total sensory experience, so it will be an adjustment to just sounds and images. I would say another difference in writing a screenplay is that it involves a much more utilitarian style. To be honest, that turned me off at first. But once you understand the purpose, you can see the art behind it. I had a similar reaction the first time I encountered flash fiction. I thought it was facile at first, but once I got the idea, it became fascinating.

I made it through the section with Doc. I like how you staged it. The pain of one person wouldn’t work at this point, because we’re not really connected to any character. But trying to show the complex weave of pain running through the camp would become distracting - too many characters. You found a way to do them both. Doc serves as the common thread running through it all, and we can watch all different kinds of pain from all different kinds of people while remaining centered on just one character.

I was looking for a connection to the opening, though. Other than knowing this is the Survivalist camp, it still seems a bit disconnected. I was expecting a report to come in that the 5 were dead - something like that. Maybe that is going to happen, but if not you might want to think about it.

Also, why Jaime? He doesn’t seem suited to being Doc’s assistant. FYI, my son is going through nursing school right now. Of course he’s only one case, but he has a stomach of steel. The blood & guts … all the “body fluids” … it doesn’t bother him. He’s seen a lot of people drop out because they can’t take it. So, I’m looking for what will help Jaime make it - if he is going to last.


#116

Just read the new pages!
We may have a problem here: we started with a crew, they die, and then we follow Doc. And I have the feeling of jumping from a story to another, not linked by anything else but the universe.
You may make an “anthology movie” with several characters and stories but I don’t think that’s what you going for.

I don’t have the whole picture yet, I don’t know where you’re going with the story but I don’t have the feeling it started yet.
We may need some linking with the beginning, or to know what the story is gonna be about.

Because for now we had interesting characters who died, others we don’t know what they want, and the only thing we really kinda know is the universe.

Hope it’s helpful and again I don’t have the whole story so I don’t know what’s it’s gonna be like in the end.


#117

Have you posted a screenplay here as well?


#118

@ReshaCaner @Exquisite_Corpse and I have been posting on and off; @Spica provides feedback on the regular. At the beginning there were a few people who posted and they’ve since dropped off, which is fine. There’s something to be said about the fact that they were inspired to submit screenplays at all.

For @Spica as well, I totally get what you’re saying about the opening. I mentioned in passing during another post that the Gareth Edwards movie Monsters inspired me to take the story in a whole different direction than where I was going with the opening. So you’re right to consider the opening completely separate from the world of the movie, because it is.

Also, Jaime’s going to get cut. This is a draft that I have no intention of rewriting, and I’m making it up as it goes along, which is great for the purpose of this forum, but it’d be hell to rewrite multiple drafts of this as an actual screenplay. So on page 15, Jaime might have seemed like a good idea, but with where I’m at now (pg. 28?), he no longer serves his purpose.


#119

Yes, I did some times ago.
I’m not a huge writer and I usually write in French because I’m more comfortable with that language, so I had just one real script in english.

I wrote it rapidly, kind of experimenting. I may make more out of the story someday.


#120

@LightStorm: I’m linking to your original post to hook you into the writer’s group thread:

I read through the first 10 pages. The first thing I noted was that you’re doing a lot of direction. Again, I’m new to this, but my understanding was that unless you intend to direct this yourself, you need to tell the story and leave out most of the direction. You can imply a lot of direction by the way you write the story, but don’t be too explicit - calling out camera moves, sound track, pacing, etc. Also, though you may be a fan of Quentin Tarantino, you can’t really name this as a film of his, so I think you’ll need to remove the reference.

Next, though you open with a lot of description, I was a little lost by the two characters. It seems these two know each other, but the screenplay doesn’t say how. That will need to be explained. Especially since it is unusual for an Arabic man to be so familiar with an unrelated woman. My experience is that Germans are pretty liberal and are at ease with mixing sexes socially. Not so in Arabic culture - especially Islam. An Arab man would never approach an unrelated woman in public. I’m not saying it can’t happen in your story, but it needs to be explained.

Finally, remember the viewer isn’t invested in these characters when the film begins. You need to do something to get them engaged. A lot of people use action to open a film, but there are other ways. A long, long dialogue about a fairly trivial subject is probably not the best choice for an opening. Once we know them better it could be an excellent way to create subtle interplay between the characters, so you can probably keep a lot of this dialogue, but it needs to move later in the screenplay so you can open with something else.

With all that said, this is an interesting idea. I’m close to finishing my M.A. in history, and one of my classes was about the connections between history and memory. One case we studied was the popular German memory about WWII - especially as it relates to women. I think it’s a fascinating subject, and this would be a great setup for exploring that.


#121

Who’s got the re-writes? This chick! Unfortunately, the fight scene needed so much surgery that I didn’t really get anything else written. There are certainly recycled pieces, and the outcome is very similar, but the entire thing was re-worked from the ground up. See if I hit the mark a little more closely the second time around

@PianolasonMars I want to write a little defense of Jaime before you decide to axe him completely - because I actually really like this character! He’s someone that has a lot of growing to do, so he’s just a natural fit for a screenplay. However you want to build the story, Jaime’s arc is very clear: He’s got some decent medical training but he faints at the site of blood, so he has to learn to overcome that and become the healer he was born to be. It flows really naturally from the rest of the story.


#122

Yes, I intend to direct this. But I understand that directorial inputs can really annoy some readers. My work is a scriptment, and if you wish to know more about a scriptment you can read about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scriptment