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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.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Can You Pat Your Head and Rub Your Stomach?

I can't. Been on deadline and can't seem to blog at the same time. Wrote the first draft of a cable movie - and they needed it in 3 1/2 weeks. And I did it. Pretty much didn't do anything else.

What did I learn?

On deadline the structure rules. And your outline is key. Without a defining blueprint, you'll go 100 miles an hour into every tree in the road. My own detailed outline saved my ass and kept me on track and on target.

Writing as always is a revelation, even to yourself, as you write. And I discovered those moments when the outline didn't work - because the reality of the world I created demanded a different scene, or different connecting tissue.

But because of the outline, that only happened twice in 110 pages, so that taught me a lesson about the outline.

I'm now writing a new piece, with a very ill defined outline. Smart, right? Particularly after what I just went through? I'll see if I prove my own theory.

Why not write a more detailed outline before I start this new piece?

Because it's a ton of work. It's essentially writing the entire movie, without writing it yet, but putting all of the creative juice, fire and work and etching it into a stone shorthand anyway.

Jeez, after reading this I think I better revisit my new outline...

I will answer the questions posted here on the last post in the next day or two, thanks!


Blogger A. M. said...

Oh, so outlines are a ton of work, you say? ;) Congrats on meeting your deadline!

Friday, May 12, 2006  
Blogger Bill Cunningham said...

Glad you're up for air. Take a breath.

Saturday, May 13, 2006  
Blogger ggw07 said...

Yes congrats on deadline and mighty outlines! re. your idea of crushing the hero to become reborn as a new kind of hero-
Can you explain double reversal?
And how it might fit in this?

Monday, May 15, 2006  
Blogger A. M. said...

Next question:
The stories that seem to arrive "fully formed" and are a breeze to outline - do they turn out differently from the ones that take much, much longer to hatch and write?

That "easy story thingy" currently boggles my mind. I'm not worried about writing a potential suckfest, not at all. I don't go back and forth. It comes together so easily. /: boggles

The complete absence of anything to worry about makes me wonder if I should worry about not worrying. Oh je.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006  
Blogger Philip Morton said...

ggwo7: i'd be glad to explain double reversal, except I'm not sure what it is. Is it something I wrote about here, or from another source?
am: well, nothing is ultimately "easy" and even the easy ones hi some brutal wall at some point and you want to change professions. But every marathon runner hits the wall too. it's normal. I suppose a better word is FLOW. If you feel a lot of flow and energy for a story, good sign. If it fizzles and burns after act one of your structure all the time - somethings wrong at the outset, the seed form, the orchestration of characters, or desire of hero, or conflict (or lack) in his environment and attention needs to be put there. but if you don't have flow, you're in trouble.

Thursday, May 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006  
Blogger Unknown Screenwriter said...

How true when you're on a deadline! I'm on a deadline myself right now and I keep finding myself wandering off the beaten path of my outline. Once I realize it, I simply pull back the reins and lay out my index cards... Yeah, I still use 'em.


Friday, June 23, 2006  

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