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Stories from a seasoned screenwriter. Take heart! Your creative source is infinite and un-ending. Sometimes Hollywood just rips up the roadmap back to it. The bottom line is that Hollywood is not at all as bad as it sounds. Additionally, it's worse than you can imagine. Remember to pack a sense of humor.


I am a screenwriter living in Southern California. I've written screenplays for most of the Hollywood studios over the past 20 years. One of the uncredited writers of FANTASTIC FOUR, I wrote FIRE DOWN BELOW starring Steven Seagal, and the TV Movie 12:01 PM starring Martin Landau and MANEATER with Gary Busey. I have directed short films. I have written on numerous Hollywood studio assignments, some for big shot actors, some for small shot nobodies.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Speed Writing/staying on point

In order to write a piece quickly, you must have an idea of who is going to be in it, (character, not casting. Seeing an actor in a part you're writing can be an interesting tool, however, but it's for another post). and you must know the broad path of their story. You need to have a sense of the beginning, middle, end, obstacles, breakthroughs and showdowns.

Now remember, speed writing isn't for everyone. But it might be the thing to knock the cobwebs off an old idea, or the hesitancy out of a new one. If your process is one that is easily distracted, or caught up in double think, jamming through on an urgent deadline might help you to sit in your chair, focus and come up to speed.

And the only way you'll do it, is if you have an idea of what it is you already want to write.

A tremendous amount of energy goes into the shaping of the macro idea once inspiration has struck. To outline it, or beat sheet it, or flow chart it, or whatever your process is, requires real promethean fire, to turn clay into life. and that's just in outline form. Is it exciting? Does it have energy? To see the big picture, no pun intended, one has to work.

Only when you're there, can you take advantage of trying to blast through the many scenes, interactions and nuances that make up a screenplay. If you're trying to come up with the story, while racing through it to get to the end, you'll mire yourself in the swamps of creative confusion, where many choices seem possible, many directions seem valid and off you race at the same breakneck speed, while trying to build the road you're racing on at the same time.

Don't do it, it doesn't work.

And I know. Because I've tried that, and learned the hard way.

This time I know where I'm going. I know the shape of the story, the charcters, and what ails them. I haven't solved all the little problems, but I know the big ones. And I think that's crucial. As we write, the little details begin to change anyway, but if your glass is solid enough, you can fill it.

Just remember to have a clear lock on your character (s). Everything comes from them at the start, and it all flows from them in the end.


Blogger scott said...

Well then, I'm holding you to your advice and expect a draft in two weeks.

Friday, August 19, 2005  
Blogger Philip Morton said...

yes, let's see if I know what the hell I'm talking about, shall we? Good test of money where mouth is. Perhaps, literally.

Friday, August 19, 2005  
Blogger Jessica said...

I love the progress bar you've added to your site, very fitting. Good luck with the latest project. If you ever need some consolation that there are people crazier than you, check out the 3-day novel contest.

Saturday, August 20, 2005  
Blogger Philip Morton said...

Jessica: Jeez, what insanity. We are a culture obsessed with the short cut, the fast fix, the quick pill, the express check out line, seven days to a new you, five days to flatter abs. Why don't they have a three day contest to cure cancer? Two days to a great bottle of wine from grape to glass! One day baby - from sex to birth! Yikes. Time for a comedy sci-fi script. I'll write it in six hours. Now there's a novel idea!

Saturday, August 20, 2005  
Blogger Jessica said...

I take pleasure knowing that however fast they can write it, I can read it faster.

Sunday, August 21, 2005  

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