R is for the Reference Desk

April 20, 2012

The Script Frenzy A-Z challenge so far…

The Reference Desk forum is one of the best support resources for script writers on the Script Frenzy website. While ‘Plot Doctoring’ focuses on storyline and narrative, the Reference Desk is a place to go to other Frenziers for help with background research, quick fact checks, and any other question of detail that may be deviling your muse.

Probably the best way to get a sense for the Reference Desk is to look at some of the questions that have been asked or answered recently:

  • How visible would a years-old scar over my villain’s eye be?
  • How did the 1920’s police raid a Speakeasy – would they send an undercover agent in first or just ram down the door?
  • Can a 16 year old get a motorcycle driver’s license in the US?
  • How many priests would there be at a small-town Catholic church?
  • What sort of game injury would cripple a football player or keep him from playing for a year?
  • How long it would take for a fashion designer to ‘hit it big’ and how old would the designer likely be when that happens?
  • How much would it cost up-front to open a small bar or nightclub?
  • Anyone Know any Chinese Slang, Curse Words & Insults?
  • What would the title of a lawyer working for the state trying criminal cases be?
  • How much does a standard pack of cigarettes cost in Ontario?
  • What questions would a psychiatrist ask during a patient evaluation?
  • How could you delay the sinking of a cruise liner that’s taking on water?

Are there any tricky questions that you’d want to ask about your current project?

Q is for Quick Tips

April 19, 2012

The Script Frenzy A-Z challenge so far…

Hi, everybody, how’s it going?

I’ve got another article from the Script Frenzy writer’s resources to link you to tonight – Quick Tips on Shorts. 🙂 I’m not doing a short film, myself – but some of these tips look like they’d be good for short stories too!

P is for Plot Doctoring

April 18, 2012

The Script Frenzy A-Z challenge so far…

I’ve mentioned the Plot Doctoring forum in passing in my Just a Dream post, but I couldn’t resist dedicationg P to Plot Doctoring because it’s one of my favorite places on the Script Frenzy website. Basically, it’s a community for solving plot problems – if something is causing an issue in your storyline or narrative, you can start a thread in Plot Doctoring, and there’ll probably be a handful of other Frenzies who can help you out.

Permanently stuck (stickied?) to the top of the Plot Doctoring forum is the Screnzy Dares thread. This is a bit like everything from the Adoption Society rolled into one thread, but sillier – if you need something just flat-out wacky to include in your script, then care to take a dare! Many of them come with even more outrageous for bonus points, double bonus points, triple bonus points, and sometimes even more.

Some of the other threads currently on the front page cover:

  • Finding a name for a sidekick.
  • Possible screwups in a turn of the century bootlegging operation.
  • A name for the army of Chaos.
  • Conversation topics on a first date. (Not my topic, though it’s relevant to my script.)
  • Ending suggestions for a short film about high school and art.
  • How to bring a particular character into a ‘Transformers’ movie plot.
  • ‘Help – my plot just blew up in my face!’
  • Cornfields in an Iowa movie – horrible cliche or workable trope?
  • Theme and how it motivates your scenes.
  • Ambiguous phrases that mean different things depending on how they are said.

I should put together a post asking for help with making my main character his own worst enemy, come to think of it.

O is for Other Genres and Script Formats

April 17, 2012

The Script Frenzy A-Z challenge so far…

Script Frenzy is an event that welcomes outsiders and outliers. So, along with all of the discussion forums dedicated to particular genres and script formats, there are gathering places for those who don’t quite fit in with the established categories. If your script project defies categorization, you might well be at home here.

In the ‘Other Genres’ forum, there’s currently discussion about surreal mind trip movies, autobiography films, a tragicomedy, and a fandom crossover episode. There’s a short discussion about steampunk, a question about the possibility of writing porn scripts, and even somebody planning a series of political cartoons.

Over in ‘Other Scripts’, I noticed that somebody is apparently scripting a documentary, as well as plans underway for a long-form soap opera, and video games. And there’s Markus, who was kind enough to answer my question about his series of comedy sketches.

“My script is coming along nicely right now,” Markus wrote. “It is difficult being funny in small doses, but having written movie scripts, I know that a longer script is difficult as well. It depends a lot on the sketch, but a fake commercial isn’t difficult, because really, there’s only one joke. But with a more in-depth sketch, it requires multiple jokes to keep the sketch flowing. Even harder than that is effectively establishing the characters, having a beginning, middle, and end, as well as a flowing plot in such a short time.”

Good luck, Markus, and all the other Script Frenzy outsiders!

N is for Notifications…

April 16, 2012

The Script Frenzy A-Z challenge so far…

There are a few different ways the Script Frenzy website can send you notifications about what’s going on. A lot of them can be managed through the ‘Edit My Notifications’ page, in the ‘My Script Frenzy’ menu.

You can choose to be notified by Email of the on-site FrenzyMail system about new bulletins or new articles posted on the site, about anything new that’s happening in any of the Regional Lounges that you’re connected to, or discussion threads on the forums. Subscribing to notifications for discussion threads can be done two ways. One is to check off the box in your Notification settings that automatically subscribes you to any threads you start.

Read the rest of this entry »

Six Sentence Sunday – Geek at Heart 2

April 15, 2012

Okay, I’m continuing with my first draft script from last week. This is an establishing scene that might not actually make the final cut – my characters are waiting to get into a big fan convention, and they’re all dressed in their best Star Wars costumes.

M is for Municipal Liaisons

April 14, 2012

The Script Frenzy A-Z challenge so far…

I have to walk a fine line in this post between tooting my own horn and admitting that I suck. 😉 For I am one of the few, the somewhat mighty, Script Frenzy Municipal Liaisons.

A Municipal Liaison is a local Script Frenzy facilitator to help encourage participants in the same city or region to come together and meet with local events – like social parties for the start, middle, and end of the month, or weekly ‘write-ins’ where everybody brings their laptop to a coffee shop and pound out a few pages together.

I haven’t actually done that much as a Municipal Liaison. I’ve welcomed everybody to the online forum and tried to moderate the discussion there as much as moderation was needed. I reached out to a neighboring region that doesn’t have an ML this year, and tried to keep an eye on them and help out. I threw a ‘Kick-off’ party for my own region on March 31st, at a favorite coffee shop – and nobody else showed up, as I suspected that they might.

The thing is, there’s only half a dozen or so writers in my region this year, and a lot of them are teenagers who can’t make it out to events, or otherwise aren’t interested. And – well, I’ve been busy with a few other things myself, such as the blog, and getting ready for Wizard World Toronto. I’ve been encouraging people to suggest good times and places for events, but nobody else has spoken up, and I don’t really want to declare an event all by myself and be alone again.

It looks like Script Frenzy is having trouble finding MLs in Ontario – as far as I can tell, there are only four of us on duty – there’s also two in Toronto and one in Ottawa. I hope that more people volunteer next year, because they’re a key part of the event, a personal touch that nobody else can quite match.


L is for Love…

April 13, 2012

The Script Frenzy A-Z so far…

Well, I’ve got another article from the Script Frenzy archive to share with you, and this is one that’s really going to come in handy for me as I navigate the increasingly weird love life of my Jedi-wannabe main character.

The Top Five Reasons to Show Your Story Some Love, by Lauren Gunderson. My favorite bit is the tip about letting good characterization guide your love story and take it someplace unexpected.

Happy weekend, everybody!

K is for Know your Story.

April 12, 2012

The Script Frenzy A-Z so far…

Good morning, all. I just have one Script Frenzy article to share with you today – Know your Story.

This little word of advice comes from Greg Marcks, and it’s about outlining – which I’m not doing that much of myself this year, but Greg makes a good case that putting in planning time before starting page 1 of your screenplay can save you problems down the road.

J is for ‘Just a dream…’

April 11, 2012

The Script Frenzy A-Z so far…

Today’s topic might be a little stretch, but it was inspired by the blurb for the ‘Plot Doctoring’ forum on the Script Frenzy message board, which reads…

Written your way into a corner? Dangerously close to making the whole story “just a dream”? Our script surgeons can help.

So I ended up starting a discussion thread in the forum to ask people what they thought about ‘Just a Dream’ endings:

Nymue: “There’s a reason people try to avoid that kind of ending. It’s usually trite and dissatisfying. It suggests there’s no internal order to adhere to, the story doesn’t have to mean anything and the events don’t matter… It’d take a lot of creative deconstruction to make this kind of plot worth the time of day. Myself, I’d rather work on things that (at least in the story) definitely happen.”

Quandtuniverse: “I’ve never done it myself, but I don’t mind “all just a dream” endings as long as there’s foreshadowing and a strong, creative reason for it (like, a subconscious character exploration or something). If it’s tacked on just to make up for things that don’t make sense, then it’s boring and annoying.”

JoshMcD: “I think the reason “Mirrormask” is able to get away with it — and for that matter, the reason “Wizard of Oz” gets away with it too — is because the dream does lead the character through a sort of coming-of-age, emotional journey. Instead of ending with an, “it was a dream, oh well, just forget about it,” the story contained within the dream actually helps the MC learn to deal with difficulties in her “real-life”. Also, the story-within-the-dream actually does come to a satisfying conclusion. These movies don’t use the “just a dream” as a cop-out, to escape an otherwise unsatisfying ending.”

I think I agree that it’s generally a bad and cheap technique, but can be used well if it’s done with purpose and care. I wrote a Buffy fanfic as part of a series once where nearly everything that happened in the story was a dream spell, and there were hints to that from the beginning. Partly, it was a fun way to kill off most of the main characters without having to deal with the consequences of them being permanently dead. It also foreshadowed some interesting things about the series’ Big Bad, who had cast the dream spell on Buffy just to watch and see how she reacted to a stressful situation.

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