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Old 07-08-2019, 07:33 AM   #141
JoeNYC
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Default Re: How important is voice in screenwriting?

Quote:
Originally Posted by R.D. Wright View Post
It still puzzles me how a subjective topic (voice) can turn into an objective topic (craft).
R.D. Wright, my post wasn’t just about craft. It was also about a writer’s voice. The topic of the thread.

Centos said the following, “Writers who follow the Guru’s DO NOT’s list by the letter of the law -- results in stilted, horribly mangled writing.”

Both Centos and Jeff Lowell mentioned that a writer following this Guru list of DO NOT’s will affect their voice.

Yes, I agree, IF those writers who’s TRUE voice uses this type of writing choices on a Guru’s DO NOT’s list to express their thoughts, but was influenced by a Guru to not implement these things in his writing, because of the Guru’s “perceived” importance, it will effect this writer’s true voice.

My main point was, by demonstrating with my opening page, that if a writer chooses NOT to include things that are on a Guru’s DO NOT’s list to express his thoughts (voice), it won’t effect his voice, or as Centos says, to having his voice be expressed in a stilted, horribly, mangled way.

My purpose of my previous post was that the five issues that I found because of StoryWriter’s input on my opening page didn’t effect my voice because I choose not to use anything on a Guru’s DO NOT’s list, though one line could be perceived as novelistic.

For those members who are interested, the following is my rewrite of my opening page.

Tell me, because I didn’t use anything on a Guru’s DO NOT’s list, is my voice affected to where it effects the read. The writing is “stilted, horribly mangled writing”?

If not, then please tell Centos, so he can stop with his “stilted, horribly mangled writing” opinion for those writers who follow a Guru’s DO NOT’s list.

SCROLL OVER BLACK:

A miscalculation made by the United
States of America escalated into
Thermonuclear World War III.
When it was over, billions of the
world’s population were killed from
direct hits, radiation poison, and
starvation. America’s civilization
was pulverized... The once great
nation has become one of the least
developed countries in the world.

“Whether we remain in the ashes or become the Phoenix is up
to us.” -- Ming-Dao Deng

FADE IN:

EXT. COUNTRYSIDE - DAY

MAISY HOBBS (4), clothed in animal skins, walks along
blueberry bushes with a weaved basket and picks berries.

SUPER: “SOUTH CAROLINA -- 25 YEARS LATER”

Maisy spots an adorable, cottontail rabbit hoping along. It
stops to nibble on some grass. She crouches and stares. The
rabbit pops its head up and twitches its nose, smelling
scents in the air. Maisy’s eyes light up and she smiles.

A hissing sound whizzes by Maisy’s head.

An arrow hits the rabbit in the heart. It flops over, dead.

Maisy’s face goes blank. No expression of shock or fear. It’s
like she understands this is the way of life.

SHELBY HOBBS (26), country strong and gifted with an
unmatched beauty, a quiver of arrows strapped to her back and
clutching a bow, stoops down beside Maisy.

SHELBY
It didn’t suffer, Maisy.

Shelby rises and collects her kill.
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Old 07-08-2019, 12:17 PM   #142
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Default Re: How important is voice in screenwriting?

Hey JoeNYC,

It’s hard for me to comment in regard to voice - not having read any of your writing to contrast/compare. Also, I think the writing sample is too small… or maybe I’m just missing the point of the exercise.

While I’m here, a few nitpicks…

The action lines could be tighter:

….billions of the world’s population were
killed from direct hits, radiation poison and
starvation.

All the above can be cut… that’s the result of a thermonuclear war. It could be as simple and efficient as The world’s population was annihilated/decimated or whatever. Also, I’d find a replacement for “pulverized” to describe what happened to America’s civilization (I know, that’s a real nitpick, but writing is about word choice, right?).

Last thing, I’d cut this (below), it’s not needed.

...The once-great nation has
become one of the least developed
countries in the world.

I like the Ming-Dao Deng quote.

One could make a case that the lines “smelling scents in the air,’ “No expression of shock or fear” and “It flops over, dead” is redundant and could be cut.

An arrow pierces the rabbit’s heart - is sufficient. Maisy’s expression is all that’s needed. Again, a nitpick.

I think Shelby’s line “It didn’t suffer, Maisy” is a bit curious and doesn’t square with the scene. I think the vibe you want to give off is one of revitalization. So, suffering is not the first thing that comes to mind, for me, it’s survival.

SHELBY
We have to eat, Maisy.

Last last thing, is 25 years enough time for the effects of radiation poisoning to dissipate? Just curious…
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Old 07-08-2019, 12:47 PM   #143
R.D. Wright
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Default Re: How important is voice in screenwriting?

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Originally Posted by JoeNYC View Post
R.D. Wright, my post wasn’t just about craft. It was also about a writer’s voice. The topic of the thread.
My post wasn't about your post (or any of 140 others). It was more of an observation. I thought I'd wrapped it up (and then GucciGhost rapped it up) and it would be over. I shoulda known better, but maybe after so many years, I forgot.

I said I have nothing to contribute, so I will. All I really know about writing is what I learned a long time ago, like in middle school. (The rest of you knows everything else.) I'd turn in a paper to the teacher, and I'd get it back the next day, usually with an A or a B. But there would be places where she crossed things out.

So I asked her, "Why did you do that?"

She'd say, "You don't need it. It slowed me down."

"What do you mean?"

"The words 'colossal' and 'enormous' mean the same thing. Why did you use the same word twice, in the same sentence? Pick one and move on."

I was fifty when I started writing screenplays, after many years of doing everything else. When I "finished" a script, I would give it to my wife, who had been a professional proofreader. Then I'd fix it up and show it to a friend -- no one special, mind you, just a guy. He read every one of them and liked them all, which is funny, because I don't like them all.

My point is that he read them, and I could tell because I asked him pointed questions. He read them top to bottom, front to back, no problem. And what good is my "voice" if I can't do that?


Here's a quote:

“To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself…Anybody can have ideas–the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.”

That's Mark Twain. You may have heard of him because they made movies and such. You know, on second thought:

"Never say in ten words what can be said in one"

I don't know who said that. I think I like Twain's better. It has a "voice."

In closing, I would like to thank Jeff Lowell, JoeNYC, and all the rest for calling out those Gurus. You are like James Randi exposing the quacks. And dare I ever say Guru ever again lest I invoke them like Beetlejuice. They will take my money for information that I can get for free. Instead, I will come right here to good old DD, read a thread like this one, and glean the 1% that I can actually use. And it's free!

No wait, was that redundant? Hell, I'll fix it later.

Love you all,
RD
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Last edited by R.D. Wright : 07-08-2019 at 02:41 PM.
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Old 07-08-2019, 01:07 PM   #144
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Default Re: How important is voice in screenwriting?

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I’d find a replacement for “pulverized” to describe what happened to America’s civilization (I know, that’s a real nitpick, but writing is about word choice, right?).
fastfreddie, thanks for giving me your thoughts. I love feedback, but I want to ask members to refrain from giving feedback on this opening page because I don't won't to annoy members with me hijacking the thread away from the topic of voice.

I do want to mention one thing that fastfreddie stated, which has to do with a writer's voice, and that is word choices.

fastfreddie, I understand your cautiousness about pointing out a word choice. I've know writers who would get upset and yell at the reviewer about being "nitpicky." And I'm not talking about any one specific writer. This happens often from many writers. Too many writers in my opinion.

Word choice in a screenwriter's script is important. It paints a picture for the reader. Word choices convey an image, shading, tone, etc.

fastfreddie, it's shameful that you would have to apologize before you give your insights and notes on a specific word choice, but unfortunately, the reaction that you're afraid will come at you is real.

Last edited by JoeNYC : 07-08-2019 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 07-08-2019, 01:22 PM   #145
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Default Re: How important is voice in screenwriting?

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Originally Posted by R.D. Wright View Post
I would like to thank Jeff Lowell, JoeNYC, and all the rest for calling out those damned Gurus!
I just want to clarify the only thing I have against Guru's is when they say, NEVER do this or that to a creative person. The Guru's DO NOT's list that Centos points out has merit. It's just that when the Guru says NEVER use these things on this list, that doesn't have merit.

To use as a guideline, yes, to whatever fits the writer's style and voice, but to say ABSOLUTLY MUST NEVER USE is not good advice.
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Old 07-08-2019, 03:28 PM   #146
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Default Re: How important is voice in screenwriting?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeNYC View Post
I just want to clarify the only thing I have against Guru's is when they say, NEVER do this or that to a creative person. The Guru's DO NOT's list that Centos points out has merit. It's just that when the Guru says NEVER use these things on this list, that doesn't have merit.
Yes, I know. I wish I hadn't brought it up, because now here we are. That wasn't the point of my post anyway.

I used a script consultant (or whatever it's called) only once. She used to post here a lot, and you probably know who it is. Anyway, the coverage only cost sixty bucks, nothing compared to the thousands that others charge. The one DO NOT that she came up with was about using action in a parenthetical. I already knew that I could. It was something that didn't justify taking up three lines for a trivial action. The rest was valid, though: A script that wouldn't sell. I knew that, too, just maybe needed some validation. But I NEVER will do it again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeNYC View Post
To use as a guideline, yes, to whatever fits the writer's style and voice, but to say ABSOLUTLY MUST NEVER USE is not good advice.
And check your spelling! -- Jeez!
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Last edited by R.D. Wright : 07-08-2019 at 04:01 PM.
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Old 07-08-2019, 05:00 PM   #147
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Default Re: How important is voice in screenwriting?

Gurus... good god.

None of them have sold anything, true?

Short list of gurus I'd listen to:

Terry Rossio
Craig Mazin
Scot Frank
Tony Gilroy
Chris Mcquarrie
Billy Ray

etc...

Never do ___ is about the worst note you could ever get. IMO.
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Old 07-08-2019, 06:10 PM   #148
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Default Re: How important is voice in screenwriting?

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None of them have sold anything, true?

Never do ___ is about the worst note you could ever get. IMO.
There was one famous Guru who's comedy script was in a bidding war, but yes, the majority haven't sold a script.

For them, it mostly about film study and analytical. There's a difference between artistic ability and the craft. The Guru's have study the craft for years. They DO have knowledge, where an aspiring writer can learn something.

Do they say stupid stuff sometimes? Yes, they do.

Mckee says, NEVER have your Inciting Incident happen off screen before the story begins. The audience has to see it.

This is bad advice.

I did a post about this in a thread called Inciting Incident Before the Story Begins, where I showed this structure is perfectly fine, if executed well, like the example I showed.

But still, a writer can learn some stuff from a Guru.

By the way, there is one "Never do" note that is a must for a screenwriter to follow:

Never do boring.
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Old 07-08-2019, 06:30 PM   #149
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Default Re: How important is voice in screenwriting?

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Originally Posted by JoeNYC View Post
There was one famous Guru who's comedy script was in a bidding war, but yes, the majority haven't sold a script.

For them, it mostly about film study and analytical. There's a difference between artistic ability and the craft. The Guru's have study the craft for years. They DO have knowledge, where an aspiring writer can learn something.

Do they say stupid stuff sometimes? Yes, they do.

Mckee says, NEVER have your Inciting Incident happen off screen before the story begins. The audience has to see it.

This is bad advice.

I did a post about this in a thread called Inciting Incident Before the Story Begins, where I showed this structure is perfectly fine, if executed well, like the example I showed.

But still, a writer can learn some stuff from a Guru.

By the way, there is one "Never do" note that is a must for a screenwriter to follow:

Never do boring.
I agree with that... boring will friggin kill you.

I think gurus have 'some' decent stuff to say, but the stuff that's stuck with me most as "wow moments" has all come from actual writers or producers in the game. To this day, the best note I've ever gotten is from Brad Pitt "Why is this story socially relevant TODAY!? Not 2 years ago, not 2 years from now, but RIGHT NOW?" I apply that to everything I write. Great note!

With Scott Frank it was flashbacks. Example "The liquor store owner drops an open bag of candy that skitters across the concrete. This SOUND reminds our character of a past trauma. Boom. Flash us back. Always have a reason for the flashback that's tied to emotion." Noted!

Terry Rossio "Never let your agent decide what you'll write next. That's the best way to never sell anything." Or something like that.

Actually, one note came from my ex's assistant. Read my script "WHY does she fall for the protagonist? I feel like it's for no other reason than he's the hero, I need more of a reason. *I* have to fall for him." Interesting. My misogyny showing. Decent point.

Getting those key pieces of advice... you never forget it!

Maybe that's a thread: "List the best advice you've ever received." I'll start it unless it's already been done. But, which forum makes the most sense?
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Old 08-15-2019, 12:42 PM   #150
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Default Re: How important is voice in screenwriting?

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Originally Posted by JoeNYC View Post
Mckee says, NEVER have your Inciting Incident happen off screen before the story begins. The audience has to see it.

This is bad advice.

I did a post about this in a thread called Inciting Incident Before the Story Begins, where I showed this structure is perfectly fine, if executed well, like the example I showed.
there's successful script where the I.I. happens off screen?
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