For any Screenwriter who has ever typed FJAOIWEJFEHGS!!!!!

August 8, 2012 at 7:05 am

The Athletic Nerd Screenwriting Blog

FJCKSAHSDVKJHASFVJNEF….
A PAIN WE HAVE ALL FELT AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER

If you’re a screenwriter, you’ve no doubt found yourself staring at a blank screen with frustration boiling over in your mind. You’re stuck… We’ve all been there.  It’s a feeling we all work tirelessly to avoid.

Stop me if you haven’t experienced this before: It’s late… All you want is progress and so you start a pivotal scene but something is wrong. It’s not working. You can’t put your finger on it but you don’t like the direction the scene is heading. So you start over and before long it happens again. What you wrote doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t fit.

You take a deep breath and start again only this time the screen is blank…  And it stays blank…  You’re stuck. You type half of a sentence but quickly delete it. You try writing dialogue but lines don’t seem to connect to each other.

At this point, you take a look at the clock and note the time. It’s later than you think. You feel like sleeping and starting fresh might help but you can’t get the scene out of your head. If you could just figure out a place to begin the pieces will eventually fall into place. All you need is an idea. You give yourself a moment to regroup…

You take a deep breath and start again but the words just aren’t there. The pressure mounts and you feel lost…

FHOAEHASKFHSAOURFH…

I think it’s important to note the difference between lost and hopeless. There is a big gap between being stuck and reaching a dead end.

THERE IS HOPE!

Moments of frustration are unavoidable but they are NOT impossible to overcome. That’s why writers thrive on cracking the tough scenes.  It’s a sense of accomplishment we work tirelessly to achieve.   We are all problem solvers after all. So take a step back and really think about the scene and the story you want to tell.

Are you an outliner? Do you have index cards? Is there a detailed treatment you can refer to?

  • Go back and read your notes.
  • Write new notes.
  • Tackle a different scene.
  • Rewrite the scene before it.
  • Rewrite the scene that follows it.
  • Write something else entirely to get kick start your imagination.
  • Take a break.
  • Have a snack.
  • Brain storm new directions for the scene.
  • Isolate what’s bothering you and discard it.
  • HAVE FUN WITH IT!

One strategy I employ is to keep writing even if I don’t like the results. Even if the scene is full of cliches and moments I wanted to avoid, I keep writing. Sometimes it’s easier just to get it out. That way, you can take a step back and really analyze what works and what doesn’t.

  • Change the location.
  • Put the scene in a different place.
  • Try eliminating the scene completely.

At the end of the day, if a scene is giving you that much trouble, it may not have a place in your movie… Having said that, some scenes HAVE to be in the movie so you have to work harder.

  • Challenge yourself.
  • Don’t let a frustrating moment snap you out of the zone.
  • Try again.
  • The pressure makes solving the problem all the more satisfying.
  • Persevere.
  • Evolve.
  • Write!

Above all else do not stop trying until it works. I guarantee you’ll sleep a lot better knowing you cleared the road block and cracked the scene.

Every screenwriter has to be a skilled problem solver so don’t stay frustrated too long. It’s a challenge.  Kick the crap out of it.  You have to take everything into consideration and do what’s best for YOUR story. This is your passion so don’t let FHADLFFHSOJHDS beat you tonight. Who cares if it’s late. You’re a screenwriter and you’re passionate about movies and the skillfully crafted blue print behind them.

Get back to work!

NOTE: I’d like to mention that this post was written just after I found myself stuck recently. As I wrote the post I came up with a better way to write the scene.

My final tip for overcoming writer’s block and FHADLFFHSOJHDS moments? Write a blog or keep a journal. It’s one of the best ways to get your mind working in a pressure free environment.

A creative way to inspire creativity.

Why King’s Quest 6 Ruled My Screenwriting Notebook

November 7, 2011 at 8:41 am

Screenwriting: Why King's Quest Ruled My Notebook | Screenwriting Blog

OLD SCHOOL VIDEO GAMES INSPIRE SCREENPLAYS TOO

I got my hands on King’s Quest 6 long ago.  How long ago?  It ran on my lightning fast Compaq Presario 850.  I instantly fell in love with the amazing graphics and gameplay.  And thus the game dominated my life for months.

My dad runs his own business and our computer was command central in our basement.  Obviously, I’m thankful that my dad is a hard working man but it was always disappointing to come home from school and see him working.  It meant I couldn’t play King’s Quest!

Screenwriting: Why King's Quest Ruled My Notebook | Screenwriting Blog

Once he was finished his to-do list, I got to work exploring and solving puzzles.  Eventually, my imagination surpassed the limits of the game and I began writing my own story entitled.  The King’s Deadly Race.  I filled up a bunch of loose pages before my mom bought me a notebook to collect them all.

And so, I would make progress in the game and in my own story simultaneously.  It was a glorious time.  I would open up new secrets in the game and it would inspire me to create my own unique secrets in my writing.  Eventually, I beat the game and moved on but for a little while, King’s Quest literally dominated my imagination.

I think screenwriters everywhere have little tales like this.  Moments from our past that inspired us and led us down the road we walk today.  I look back on King’s Quest 6 fondly not only because the game captured my imagination but because it set my imagination on fire.

To this day, I still have the first 5 chapters of The King’s Deadly Race in the same notebook my mom bought me long ago.  I can tell you exactly where it is.  I keep it close because it was created when my passion for writing began.  While I wrote that book, I discovered how much I love to write and I began searching for a medium that suited me.

I found that outlet the day I discovered the screenplay format and the rest is history.

C:\

cd Quest [enter]

C:\quest>

Quest.exe [enter]

That’s probably not exact but you get the idea.  Takes me back.

Vital Screenplay Statistic: 100% Of All Page One’s Are Blank…

June 14, 2011 at 7:56 am

Vital Screenplay Statistic: 100% Of All Page One's Are Blank... | Screenwriting Blog

DON’T BE AFRAID OF PAGE ONE

I sat down last week to write a couple scenes I may include in a feature I’ve been working on the last little while.  The idea blossomed into a short screenplay idea that could serve as a sequel for the story.  It was an interesting take on the the concept I created but the more I developed it, the more it didn’t fit with the overall style I wanted to achieve.

Still, the character is both interesting and tragic so I wanted to write the short.  It’s one of those stories that, if done right, could be cool.  However, there is a fine line between cool and cheesy in this case so I had to be careful.  That was last week.

I still haven’t written the short.

A part of me hesitated because I hadn’t really broken ground on this new world I’m exploring.  My feature is still a month or so away from PAGE ONE but still I found myself intimidated. Even though the current story is a short that’s merely set in the world of my feature, I still wanted it to be perfect.

It was my first opportunity to nail an introduction to a reality I’m very excited to write about.  I’ve stared at the blank page on a number of occasions trying to figure out the best way to get going.  I think a lot of writer’s find themselves stuck on page one because you desperately want it to be amazing. That first paragraph is written, deleted, written, erased, written, overwritten, overridden, deleted again and restarted.  At least in my case it is…

I put a lot of pressure on myself when it comes to the opening sentence. It sets the tone for your script.  True, I’m only working on a short screenplay but the FIRST sentence is crucial especially since every sentence is crucial.

The same thing happens to me every time I start a new script.  I shouldn’t be surprised by now.  I know PAGE ONE is coming.  Even if I ignore it and walk away.  It’s still going to be waiting for me when I get back.

So I decided to try something else.

JUST LIKE A BAND AID…  RIGHT OFF!

Why wait?  Clearly my feature screenplay is influencing this ‘prequel’ idea so why not write the first page of my feature?  If I’m so worried about how the universe will be introduced then why not write it.

That’s when my imagination really fired up and I felt inspired.  I was about to start my new feature.  Officially.  I hadn’t planned on starting it until well into the summer but there I was writing my first sentence, my first line of dialogue, my first page.

When I finished the scene, I immediately felt like it could be better but the idea was there.  At this early stage, it’s the IDEA that takes priority.  I can improve the language as the screenplay evolves.  That first page also gave me a fresh take on the short I want to write.  Suddenly, it all made sense.  Maybe this short screenplay idea has a place in my feature after all?  Maybe it fits.  Sometimes, working on a separate idea will feed another.

That was my first hint that my new world is coming to life and that’s a pretty exciting feeling.

We shall see after I get passed PAGE ONE.

Vital Screenplay Statistic: 100% Of All Page One's Are Blank... | Screenwriting Blog

Screenwriting Goes With Everything

June 6, 2011 at 8:00 am

Screenwriting Goes With Everything | Screenwriting Blog

It’s amazing how many random things can inspire you to sit down and write screenplays.  You never know when something as tiny as a grey hair can spark an idea for a movie.  I’m a big fan of collecting little tales like that and today I’d like to share a collection of 27 posts that covers everything from swimming pools to personal confessions.

Enjoy!

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