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?

Getting To Know Your Characters: 1000 Character Development Questions

February 27, 2013 at 1:38 am

Getting To Know Your Characters: 100s of Helpful Questions

How do you create characters?

It all depends on the story and the individual writer.  We all have different methods and techniques when creating characters.  Personally, I like to free write.  I sit down and write as much detail as I possibly can about my new creations.  When I start a screenplay, I’ve usually got a main character in mind but 100% of the time my original idea changes as I get to know them.

Beyond free writing and other techniques, there are many resources out there that provide quizzes, interviews and questionnaires to help you develop your characters.  These lists of questions are designed to help you truly understand who your characters are and what drives them.  Most of the time, I simply read questionnaires like these just to gain a basic understanding of my characters.

What’s in your character’s refrigerator?  It sounds like an odd question but answering it could give you a ton of helpful information.  Even if it gives you one tiny piece of insight it’s worth it.

At the same time, why not seek out questionnaires about getting to know yourself and answer them as one of your characters?  All of these techniques can help you write better in the long run.

The 100 Most Important Things To Know About Your Character

101 Character Development Questions For Writers

100 Character Development Questions For Writers

50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind

Top 10 Questions For Creating Believable Characters

Character Questionnaire

30 Questions (Character Questionnaire)

Creating Fictional Characters

Character Development: Getting To Know Your Characters

Character Creation Questionnaire

The Writer’s Character Sheet

Interview Your Character

Character Development Questionnaire

Create-A-Character Exercises

Character Interviews

Character Tutorial

Character Chart

2 Character Questionnaires

Character Survey

These links alone offer hundreds of questions that will challenge your creativity and elevate the quality of your characters.  Try a few of them out.

You’ll never know the level of detail you’re capable of until you give it a shot.

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Oscar Aspirations: Screenwriting, Passion & Good Ideas

February 21, 2013 at 12:35 am

The 85th Academy Awards on The Athletic Nerd

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

It’s the category I look forward to most each year.

A screenwriter(s) gets an idea and spends countless hours perfecting every moment.  Slowly, the story takes shape and the characters come alive.  The first draft gets sent out to family and friends.  To producers and actors.  The reviews are all positive but the screenwriter is still critical.  Rewrites.  The very measure of the dedication it takes to succeed as a screenwriter.

A new draft makes it’s way into the right hands and hundreds of passionate artists from all corners of the industry make it their own.  A collaboration.  One tiny idea backed by the passion and commitment of many becomes a film.

It’s released to the world and people relate to the story.  Professionals love it.  Critics love it.  Audiences love it.  Fans around the world discuss all the little details so carefully put in place.  Every word counts.  Every ounce of sweat poured into each sentence is on the screen.  A new classic.

Oscar night arrives.  The competition is tough.  The envelope is opened.  The winner is…

To me, this story is less about the award and more about the inspiring feeling I get when I watch The Academy Awards each year.  Best original screenplay.  A screenwriter’s dream.  It’s a worthy goal but I like to focus more on the passion that leads to the accomplishment.

A good idea is one of the most exciting events in the life of any creative individual.  But a good idea is only as good as the passion you summon to fan the flames.  Imagine having the freedom to write anything you want.  Imagine having the ability to hone your craft and make your screenplay great.  You can.  It may not win an Oscar but dedicating yourself to your script certainly doesn’t make things worse.  Everything you need is staring back at you when you look at a blank page.

It’s an inspiring thought isn’t it?

Oscar Aspirations: Screenwriting, Passion & Good Ideas

The Summer of Screenwriting: The Complete 20 Part Series

December 4, 2012 at 7:12 pm

The Summer of Screenwriting: The Complete 20 Part Series | Screenwriting Blog

20 ARTICLES.  1 SCREENPLAY

The Summer of Screenwriting

Screenwriting procrastination & the guilt that follows

I’m intimidated by the big scenes in my screenplay

The two scenes I came up with in an airport lounge

Getting stuck reading your screenplay before it’s finished

Screenwriting Mistakes: Small moments can have a big impact

When FADE OUT is just around the corner

The return to screenwriting: One Month Later

The soundtrack of my new screenplay

The language of my screenplay needs work

My screenplay lacks the all important little details

Have you ever cried writing a screenplay?

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

Tomorrow I finish the first draft of my screenplay

I finished my new feature length screenplay!

Who will read your screenplay first?

The screenplay is finished but my printer is broken

The first book I read after I finished my screenplay

What will I do with my screenplay now?

The Summer of Screenwriting: The Journey Ends

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The Summer of Screenwriting: The Journey Ends

The Summer of Screenwriting: The Journey Ends

November 28, 2012 at 8:08 am

The Summer of Screenwriting: The Journey Ends

OVERCOMING THE CHALLENGES YOU SET FOR YOURSELF

The Summer of Screenwriting ends with this post.  The journey is over.

It began as a simple challenge because I felt guilty.  I felt guilty about the lack of effort I put into my screenwriting.  I couldn’t find time to write.  I thought I had lost the passion.  It turns out, I was whining for no reason.  I hadn’t lost the passion at all.  I just let opportunities to write pass me by.

So I issued a challenge to myself.  Finish a screenplay before Summer’s end.  That gave me 3 months.  In order to leave myself with no excuses, I decided to put this blog on hold and really focus on writing something to be proud of.

The day I finished the first draft of my screenplay was one of my proudest moments.  Shut up, sit down & write screenplays.  That’s all I needed to do.  No more excuses.

Then I felt guilty for a different reason.  Why did I wait so long in the first place?  I’m thankful that I don’t currently write for anyone except myself.  (At this point.) There isn’t any pressure to sell it, impress a producer or score an agent.  I’m wasn’t thinking about those things.  I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.

This blog resumed on September 15 and since then, I’ve posted 19 articles detailing my summer of screenwriting.  This is number 20.  The final chapter but it is also my opportunity to issue a new challenge.

Finish a NEW feature length screenplay.

I won’t have to impose any deadlines this time.  I’ve learned my lesson.  I love to write screenplays and I’m still baffled that I let so much time go by without writing.  I feel so much better about myself when I’m creative.  I rediscovered my passion because I dared myself to do better.  I can’t guarantee my last screenplay is any good.  But I CAN guarantee my next screenplay will be better.

The next time you get stuck think about this: You have the complete freedom to travel anywhere your imagination will take you.  You can tell any story you want.  That’s inspiring!  Don’t let the pressure get to you.  Remember how much fun it is to write.  I forgot and I’ll regret the year I lost making excuses.

Never again.

Click here for more Screenwriting.

Stay tuned next week for The Complete Series.

The Summer of Screenwriting: The Journey Ends