Screenwriting & Simcity

March 9, 2013 at 7:19 am

Screenwriting Blog | Screenwriting & Simcity

SIMCITY CURES WRITER’S BLOCK?

Without a doubt, SimCity is my favorite game franchises of all time.  I’ve played every version and I’m still just as addicted as I was the first time I played the classic PC version long ago.

Recently, I purchased the brand new SimCity and despite some frustrating bugs, I love it.

Does this bring back memories?

SimCity was more than just a game to me.

I remember bringing paper, pencil crayons and rulers everywhere so I could plan out the cities I wanted to build.  If I wasn’t going to be home, I would simply draw them and recreate my drawings in the game later on.

I was obsessed with SimCity.

Screenwriting Blog | Screenwriting & Simcity

Note: I really wish I had kept some of those drawings…

What does Simcity have to do with Screenwriting?

A lot of it has to do with the creative freedom and power the game gives you.  It provides you with a set of tools and a blank canvas and it’s up to you to create your masterpiece.

In that way, starting a new city is just like staring at a blank first page.  The only difference is the medium and it’s all about creativity and letting your imagination run wild.

Build your world.

When I wrote stories as a child, I used SimCity to visualize the cities where my characters lived.

Why not?

For someone who couldn’t draw very well, it was a perfect way to figure out what these locations would look like.

  • Were they next to water?
  • Surrounded by trees?
  • In the slums?

Truthfully, these cities not only gave me an exciting reason to play my favorite game, it allowed me the chance to think about my story.

Have you ever engaged in an activity that lets your mind wander?  You go through the motions but really your imagination is somewhere else.  Your mind is occupied but your creativity is hard at work.

It’s that trance that I fell in love with.

I may not build the cities in my screenplays anymore but SimCity was around when I began to really take an interest in screenwriting.  I would constantly quit the game to write down whatever I came up with while setting down a police station or a brand new stadium.

Screenwriting Blog | Screenwriting & Simcity

For me, it’s like playing Basketball.  You can shoot a hundred shots in a few hours and plan out an entire script.  A creative ignition.

SimCity has those same qualities.  I can sit back and play for hours without really thinking about what I’m building.  I’m off solving story issues and building characters.  I’m creating stories.

I’ve evolved just as Simcity has over the years.  I may not lose entire afternoons in the newest version of the game but it’s nice to know my old cure for writer’s block is back.

What sparks your creativity?

10 Reasons Why Your Screenplay Will Never Sell

November 20, 2012 at 10:00 am

10 Reasons Why Your Screenplay Will Never Sell | Screenwriting Blog

10 EASY TO AVOID REASONS

I don’t write many screenwriting posts that attempt to ‘teach’ anything and the reason is simple:  It’s very difficult to teach something you haven’t experienced yourself.

XTRA | I’m not a screenwriting expert.  I just love to write screenplays.

With that in mind, I feel I have inside knowledge about screenplays that do not sell… Because I’ve never sold a screenplay.  Obviously, these aren’t the definitive reasons your screenplay won’t sell but they certainly don’t help.

1. You lack confidence.

2. You make excuses.

3. You rush to the finish line.

4. You think your first draft is glorious.

5. You’re Your grammar needs to improve

6. You spend more time talking about your script than actually writing it.

7. You can’t take criticism.

8. Your screenplay isn’t good enough.

9. You aren’t passionate enough.

10. Your screenplay has no heart.

THEY ARE ALL CONNECTED

Number 1 is a tough one to get over and is usually the cause of number 2.

Number 4 is an extension of number 3 because you never want to rush things but it happens.

If you think your first draft is incredible you likely aren’t enthusiastic about the rewrite process.  Which could mean your grammar is terrible.

When you’re stalled, you don’t put the work in.

Number 8 will haunt you.  You could easily lose focus and the work will suffer.  You can always make your screenplay better so stop talking about it (#6) and get the work done.

Most of all, if you aren’t passionate about the story you’re trying to tell, it won’t show in the pages you write.  Number 9 & 10.  Figure out those and you’ll find the fundamental cure to 1-8.

Of course, it’s my goal to one day write about the 10 things I did to SELL a screenplay…  It’s a work in progress.  I sincerely hope there are no grammar mistakes in this post.

Click here for more screenwriting.

10 Reasons Why Your Screenplay Will Never Sell | Screenwriting Blog

The Screenplay Is Finished But My Printer Is Broken

November 7, 2012 at 10:06 am

The Screenplay Is Finished But My Printer Is Broken | Screenwriting Blog

July 31, 2012

Hot pages are erupting from my printer and my heart is racing.  I’m about to hold my brand new screenplay for the first time.  I can’t wait to flip through the pages.  I’m looking forward to reading it without sitting in front of a computer screen or holding up my iPad.

Halfway through, the printer spits out a blank page.  My heart skips a beat.   Thankfully, it’s a false alarm as page 49 is printed as planned.

Then…  My worst nightmare…  (At least from a screenwriting point of view.)  With 30 pages to go, the ink starts to fade.  My first print out isn’t perfect!?  Unacceptable!  Still, the pages are still readable.  With 10 pages left there is virtually nothing left.  The ink cartridge is living on borrowed time.  I’m starting to wonder if it’ll make it to page 1.

5 is readable.

4 requires mild straining.

3 will need several words penned in.

…  2…  Never made it.

And so my first print out was ruined.  I didn’t even get a full script.  103 out of 105 pages with 30 of them faded.  My celebration must wait.  I’ll be visiting a printing place first thing in the morning.

The Summer of Screenwriting: Looking Back

It took an extra week before I finally got to hold the script in my hands.  (Isn’t that a great feeling?) I finally sat down to read and found a typo on page 20.  But at least I got to punch holes in my work and slip a couple brass brads in them.  A feature length screenplay that I wrote.

The pinnacle of the screenwriter’s journey.

I have a new journey to complete now and I can’t wait for my printer to break down at the worst possible moment again.

I Finished My New Feature Length Screenplay!

November 7, 2012 at 9:58 am

I Finished My New Feature Length Screenplay!

July 12, 2012

YOU DON’T FINISH THE FIRST DRAFT OF A NEW SCREENPLAY EVERYDAY.

Today is a good day.

On May 29th, I published this post.  It was about putting this blog on hold for a little over three months.  I wanted to finish my newest screenplay and hopefully develop another.  It’s been 45 days.

I finished my screenplay! 

What an incredible feeling it is to type FADE OUT and smile.  Obviously my work is far from over as it’s just a first draft but it’s important to appreciate the moment.  I write a lot about ‘moments’ in movies and I feel like my new script has some great ones.  I’m proud of what I accomplished today.  Not just because I finished a screenplay but because I decided to focus and challenged myself.

Had I not taken a step back and reorganized my priorities, I could very well still be sitting on page 11.  It feels a lot better now that I’ve pounded out 105 pages.  Today, my little experiment was a success.  I still care deeply about screenplays.

WAS MY PASSION FOR SCREENWRITING LOST?

I ask that question because I feel like I could have accomplished so much more if I had focused years ago.  It feels so amazing to finish something new and unique.  So why didn’t I write more?  Why didn’t I write!?

Today represents a big leap forward for me.  I doubted myself.  I was beginning to question my passion.  I debated the difference between the love I have for the craft and the dedication needed to finish a new script.  I’ve learned there is a big difference between writing about screenplays and WRITING screenplays.  Who was I kidding?

I’ve earned the write to call myself a screenwriter again.  However, this new found enthusiasm can only live if I continue feeding it with new ideas.  I just reignited my passion and now I have to keep the fire going.  That’s my new mission.  I’ve proved to myself that I can write a feature length script if I commit 100%.

Now I have to prove that I can continue exploring new ideas.  When I wrote about taking a break from blogging, I mentioned very clear goals.  I wanted to finish a script and develop a new one before September 15th, 2012.  I’ve finished the first draft.  My list of rewrite notes is lengthy but manageable.  I should have a draft worth passing along to close family and friends within a few weeks.

Beyond that, I already know the next story I want to tell.  The seeds been planted and I feel like I’ve challenged myself again.  My new script is infinitely more complex than the one I just finished.  I’ve created a main character that has a long road to travel before redemption is attained.  Now it’s up to me to develop something worth while.  Something I care about.

– Long ago, I wrote a screenplay about a high school basketball star struggling to decide what to do with his life.

– Last year, I finished a screenplay about three college roommates who stand on the brink of adulthood.

– My new script is all about dealing with stress and anxiety as an adult.

Next up, I plan to write about responsibility and courage.  A drama that mirrors my own journey with a wedding around the corner.  (Actually, I suppose by the time you read this, I’ll be married!)  But I don’t want to think too much about my next project when there is still work to do.  I’ve got a second draft to tackle tomorrow!  A second draft of a screenplay I’ve decided to call: Strangers

HAVE YOU QUESTIONED YOUR SCREENWRITING?

I’ve never claimed to be an expert when it comes to screenwriting.  I can only talk about my own adventures between FADE IN and FADE OUT.  But if there is anything I’ve learned over the last year it’s this: 

You only get out of screenwriting what you put into. 

It sounds corny and horrifically obvious but a story isn’t told until you tell it.  Write it down!  Challenge yourself.

Today, I feel like a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can breathe again.  I don’t doubt myself anymore.  To think, all I had to do was sit down, shut up and write screenplays.  It’s a simple lesson but I’m happy to report that I’m a screenwriter again because I made a choice.

WHAT ABOUT THE BLOG?

All these screenwriting lessons have led to an inevitable question:

If putting the blog on hold led to so many breakthroughs, what will happen in September when I start posting again?

First of all, the blog isn’t going anywhere but I am going to make some changes.  (Again, these will all be announced by the time you read this.)  When I created The Athletic Nerd, I posted 7 days a week.  In year two I gave myself Saturdays off.  Towards the end of year three I began posting Monday-Thursday only.

I love movies, screenwriting and independent film.  I can’t wait to start posting new articles again.  I’m looking forward to featuring more of your work in the next evolution of THE POST.  But I owe it to myself to keep writing screenplays as well.  When the blog returns, I’ll be writing three posts a week.  Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  That’s just a minimum.  I’ll probably still have week’s with 5 or more posts but I won’t feel like I HAVE to come up with that much original content.

I’ll save the rest of the announcements for a separate post.

SCREENWRITING!!!

Back to the new screenplay!  I’m done!  I finished it!

There’s nothing better than setting a goal and reaching it!  The only thing left to do is set more ambitious goals and work my ass off.

Thanks for reading!

The Summer of Screenwriting: Looking Back

Well, that day was nearly 4 months ago now and the passion is still there.  The blog has been back since September 15th and October traffic nearly tripled the numbers I got in August.  Posting 3 days a week instead of 6 gave me a lot more free time to develop my new screenplay and I finally started writing pages.  It’s a little later than I had hoped but those first 10 pages are always exciting to tackle early on.

Interestingly enough, I’ve also lined up the script I want to write AFTER I finish my latest.  I’ve decided 4 straight dramas is quite enough and I’m going to attempt a horror film next.  Until then, I can’t wait for another day like July 12, 2012.  The day I typed FADE OUT and completed a project I’m extremely proud of.

That was a good day.

I Finished My New Feature Length Screenplay! | Screenwriting Blog

Tomorrow I Finish The First Draft Of My Screenplay

October 24, 2012 at 9:07 am

Tomorrow I Finish The First Draft Of My Screenplay

July 11, 2012

Nothing worked.  No matter what I tried, I simply couldn’t relax enough to sleep.  So I leaned over and picked up my iPad to write this post.

I’m too excited!  Earlier today, I wrote 22 pages of my feature length screenplay.  I was so close to finishing but I had run out of time.  It had to wait until tomorrow.  I went to bed and watched a documentary on The New York Times thinking it would be interesting but not enough to keep me awake.  It backfired as I started thinking about the possibilities of this blog when it returns.

It didn’t matter what I tried.  I was wide awake.  So I grabbed my iPad and started writing this:

More than anything, I just can’t wait to type Fade Out tomorrow.  It means more to me than any project I’ve ever worked on.  Just over a month ago, I decided to test myself and see if I could truly commit to screenwriting and screenwriting alone.  Tomorrow proves that I can and that’s a big deal.  I put so much pressure on myself over the last few years and never stopped to fully appreciate how much I love to write movies.  Tomorrow is going to be so much fun.

I’ve already set an alarm.  7 AM.  That’s 8 hours from now.  8 solid hours would be perfect but it’s like Christmas Eve! Every time I close my eyes I see white pages full of action and dialogue.  I see the final page.  I see FADE OUT.

Tomorrow is the big day.  I’m going to be able to tell people I finished my new screenplay.  I’m going to be able to read it start to finish.  I get to start the rewriting process.  I get to fine tune my story.  I get to write.

I couldn’t be more pumped.  Part of me is thinking I should just get out of bed and finish it now.  I could work on it all night and not have to deal with this.  I don’t have to toss and turn wondering how it will all come together.  I can get up right now!  But I shouldn’t…

…  The point of my Summer of Screenwriting is to find a balance between my career, my personal life and my writing.  I have other missions to accomplish besides my script tomorrow so I need to sleep.  I just need to figure out a way to calm myself down, forget how important tomorrow is and relax.

So I’ll begin by saving this post, shutting down my iPad and closing my eyes.

Tomorrow, I finish my screenplay.

The Summer of Screenwriting: Looking Back

It took a while to finally relax and close my eyes that night.  I was so excited to write the final moments of my movie.  All I could think about was typing Fade Out and how much it meant to me.

That was over 3 months ago and I find myself writing something new and experiencing the same feelings all over again.  I’m no where close to finishing but I desperately want to get to end and feel proud all over again.  Until then, I get to work on my screenplay tomorrow.