Friday, December 11, 2009

TODAY'S NUGGET: Notes & Confusion

Last night I heard an A list writer speak how a bad note could be a good thing.

As writers, we get so immersed in our writing world & sometimes become stale. We know the relationships & the mythology so well. The characters are with us 24/7 and go around and around and around with the same ideas.

The speaker said that a note, even a bad one, is an opportunity to point us in a new direction.

Inconsequential bad notes generally fall away. But the writer's job is to sift through all of them for the diamond in the rough. If you can pinpoint the underlying meaning of the note, it actually might help you.

To take this a step further, I cover scripts daily & give lots of notes. Most of them revolve clarity & simplicity. If I tell you I'm confused, it's not because I don't like you personally, or because I think you have a funny name.

I get confused because all I have to go on is the print on the page. I get confused because your script does not convey the vision of what you intend, and you're not here to answer my questions. So to help you & me out, let me give you my short list of tips:

Top 5 Ways to Tell Me What Your Vision Means & Confuse Me Less:

1. Economy of words

2. Clarity

3. Fewer mindless action sequences, more character development. I hate these pages upon pages of single lined action shots to "increase the white space" but there is no story development DURING the action.

ex. "He shoots the guy on the left.

He shoots the guy on the right.

He gets shot."

See? No story development. Tells me less than squat.

4. Can you answer the question: "What is the meaning of this film?" Many cannot tell me.

5. For heaven's sake, tell me your lead character's motive. This is my #1 pet peeve of the week.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: The note is there b/c you're not clear of your intent. Only YOU are in charge of that.

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