Darabont on Screenwriting



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  • #16
    Re: Darabont on Screenwriting


    cards, too.

    read lots of books on these things...got cross-eyed looking at some diagram or graph chart about a story once. points on a line and so on.

    good education, i guess, it all helps in some way, but trying to follow that stuff left my stuff hollow. characters that smell like cardboard, etc.

    doesn't work for me. i have to write out a ton of stuff to the point where i know the characters and they tell me what they would do and i just write down what they would say...not, what would so and so say here? oh, she would say "this" because it's important because coming up...

    the "important" thing coming up is never that important writing that way, if that makes sense.

    i work best leaving 'what's coming up' blank. until i get to 'what's coming up.'

    where you stare at the screen. you stare. you can be lazy, or you can take the hard way out.

    hard way is a hard way.

    hard way is generally the...way.

    the one thing that drives me crazy on this board is the constant talk of time and so on, got to do this and got to do that, write one script, write another, write another, write another. write another. write one more and you'll start getting the hang out of it. hang out of what?

    how to more efficiently write better crafted mediocre stories?

    hardly ever see someone saying...focus on your best story, the one that means the most to you, and bring it to life. do all for it that you can. take your watch off. focus on that story.

    rarely see that here.

    like in this thread, it saves "time" to work off an outline.

    what "time?"

    time to get it "done" to write something else?

    get to work on that next script?


    if you're trying to get something done to write something else, can the first thing and write the thing you want to really write i would suggest. and go into it thinking that it may take a ton of effort and time to see it through.

    and of course outline from the get-go if it helps you write a good story.

    i sometimes outline after i have a big mess to pull myself back from my own story, and try to look at what i have as objectively as i can in raw terms. i change my hat from writer to story scientist.

    don't like to do that in the beginning. no...

    not when i'm developing a story.

    no way. i let the fingers go where they want to in the beginning. they're much smarter than i am.

    but it's all good, whatever works.
    Last edited by AnconRanger; 05-22-2005, 10:13 PM.


    • #17
      Re: Darabont on Screenwriting

      In my case it's productivity. I needed to get a project done quick. I couldn't waste any time, I needed a good product ASAP.

      This is how I did it.

      And the great thing is your characters can still develop on their own and come alive even when you start from an outline.

      I thought I'd lose that if I outlined which is why it took me so long to actually sit down and write one.

      But again it comes down to whatever works for you is fine.

      There are no color by number formulas that make your script great except for a lot of talent and hard work.
      "So I guess big parts of our youth are supposed to suck. Otherwise we'd get too attached and wake up one day trapped on a hamster wheel that used to look like a merri-go-round." - Hal Sparks


      • #18
        Re: Darabont on Screenwriting

        I tend to have my script "outlined" in my head, and usually that "outline" is pretty detailed. At one time, I can have 3 or 4 movies in my head. I realize if I wrote down these ideas, I wouldn't occassionally forget some important moments, but I always feel like if my mind dumps an idea, it probably wasn't very good to begin with.

        I don't frown upon treatments and outlines, not at all. I just found it interesting that such an established screenwriter like Frank Darabont doesn't like to use 'em.


        • #19
          Re: Darabont on Screenwriting

          I just found it interesting that such an established screenwriter like Frank Darabont doesn't like to use 'em.

          That's not what he said. He said there are times when he prefers not to use them. Big difference.

          For me it is a productivity issue. I could write the script without an outline but when I did try it, it resulted in bloated unfocused first drafts while using an outline produces tight focused first drafts. The net result for me, is that starting with an outline results in fewer and faster rewrites than starting without an outline does.

          I've been told by several reps that a new writer should be producing three original specs per year, unless you are working on an assignment, in order to have enough new material for your rep to shop around. Once you are established you can dial back that original output but to get established it takes a lot of original material. You need to have the chops produce material and IMHO using an outline is the best way to increase your productivity and develop your chops.

          When you are writing under a deadline, you don't have time to spend years tinkering with a script and following the characters around hoping they might make a story happen. You have to produce a tight focused script quickly. Using an outline on your own material is good practice to develop the skills to produce quality material quickly that you will need when you do land an assignment.

          I don't have years to spend years tinkering with a bloated unfocused script script and that's why I use an outline.

          IMHO when Darabont occasionally doesn't use an outline, I would be willing to bet almost anything that a man with his skill and experience has already figured out where the story starts, where it will end, and although he may not know every beat in act two he probably does have a pretty good idea where he is going in his head before he sits down and starts writing.
          Fortune favors the bold - Virgil


          • #20
            Re: Darabont on Screenwriting

            Y'know, I don't disagree with what CE and Deus are saying. And if I were writing a script that was really complicated with lots of twists, I'd definitely use an outline or treatment.

            The script I'm working on now, however, is very small. I've got all the major beats worked out in my head, and instead of toiling away on an outline, I just want to dive in. But part of me felt guilty about doing that... until I heard what Darabont had to say.

            I knew I'd be opening a big ol' can of worms by bringing this up, but I'm glad that I did.


            • #21
              Re: Darabont on Screenwriting

              I've got all the major beats worked out in my head

              Sounds like you do have an outline. It's just not on paper.
              Fortune favors the bold - Virgil


              • #22
                Re: Darabont on Screenwriting

                Since act two is a WWF match for all writers
                Actually, it's WWE now, thanks to the World Wildlife Federation.

                Anyway, yeah, I consider my outlines to be part of my own personal "organic process." Same with my first drafts. And my rewrites.


                • #23
                  Re: Darabont on Screenwriting

                  Every writer must do what works for them, but it'd be a talented person that could produce a tight, lean, mean script without investing a considerable amount of time in outlining. Outlining is writing the script - just not the part writers enjoy the most.
                  Craft maximises talent


                  • #24
                    Re: Darabont on Screenwriting

                    I say "yay, Frank!" It MIGHT very well take longer to do it that way-- you can get from point A to point B by taking the highway or you can take the scenic route, and everyone has their way. Whichever way makes you enjoy the trip without running out of gas. As long as you end up in the place you wanted to go (or an even better final destination) then cool.


                    • #25
                      Re: Darabont on Screenwriting

                      Take which ever way you want, just don't be late for work.
                      Fortune favors the bold - Virgil


                      • #26
                        Re: Darabont on Screenwriting

                        i thought most agents preferred a beginning writer have at least 2.3 specs.

                        ha. just having some fun.

                        i would suspect what agents really look for from a beginning writer is one really good spec. hard find, i hear. something that sets their hair on fire, that sort of thing. and of course they want to work with someone who is serious about writing and who can produce.

                        however a writer produces material i would think is fine with them.

                        and btw, it may take as long to thoroughly outline a story as to actually write out a story...where you may find when finished that you have many layers to work with in the story, because you were "in the moment" while developing it. and you may know your own story better, but maybe not. it's not a good technique for everyone.

                        i always thought of a script as a sort of outline, easy to move stuff around, etc. i want/need a story to work with...i guess to adapt. i guess the story is my bloated outline. or something like that.

                        i don't think new writers having a sense that there is a time limit or clock ticking in writing specs is particularly helpful. put the clock in your desk drawer and focus on writing a good story/script. when it's done, time's up.


                        • #27
                          Re: Darabont on Screenwriting

                          When this subject comes up, I'm often reminded of Frank Daniel, who once said: "There are people who don't believe in outlines, so they start writing the script without knowing where they are going. What they end up with is something that resembles a script, because it's typed in the format, and looks like a script, but it's not a script, and it's not a story, althouth it resembles it, and then, although they have written over a hundred pages and discovered something, they have to go back and decide finally what it is that they want to write about eventually. They have to throw away most of the scenes they have written, because the scenes don't fit in the new story."

                          I've actually tried it both ways, drafting very long (40+ page) treatments, and diving straight into my script with a few jotted notes. I've personally found that there's a lot of truth to Daniel's words. That said, a happy medium tends to work best for me. I need about a page of notes for each major sequence of my script, usually eight. From there, I know all of my major beats and reversals, but can be creative in how I get from one to the next. That's just me, of course. Whatever keeps you in the chair writing is all that matters.

                          Oh, and if you don't know who Frank Daniel is, he helped found the screenwriting programs at Columbia, AFI, USC and the Sundance labs, so he had read a script or two in his day.



                          • #28
                            Re: Darabont on Screenwriting

                            it may be well said, but like any generalization, it's untrue as often as it's true. i've never written an outline in my life (well, that's not quite true -- i've written one, but i ended up discarding it completely when i found a better way to write the story i was working on by writing the story i was working on), and i do fine. there are some people who are always eager to make a point of proving their way is the way to do something (or at least, the best way) -- but there's no one correct way (nor is there a best way).

                            you can quote frank daniel till all day long -- and writers like charlie kaufman will still have written scripts like being john malkovich in part because they let their stories go where they "want" to go, and that's what works for them; and pointing out writers like charlie kaufman does not make writers who do outline and come out with brilliant scripts, scott frank for instance, go away either.

                            for every method or technique, there's certainly a professional who's said something in defense of it -- but that doesn't make him/her any more correct than the professional who's said exactly the opposite.

                            there's no correct or incorrect way to write a screenplay -- what matters is the results. how one person gets there will not be the same as how someone else gets there. i don't see how that's cause for debate.
                            Last edited by captain bligh; 06-01-2005, 08:42 AM.
                            "Though he is a person to whom things do not happen, perhaps they may when he is on the other side."
                            -- Edward Gorey, The Unstrung Harp


                            • #29
                              Re: Darabont on Screenwriting

                              Originally posted by captain bligh
                              writers like charlie kaufman will still have written scripts like being john malkovich in part because they let their stories go where they "want" to go,
                              I think this touches on the heart of the misunderstanding about those who outline vs those who do not.

                              Every writer lets their stories go where their stories need to go.

                              It doesn't matter if you begin that process in an outline or a first draft, your story will evolve and change as you write it.

                              No one writes with the goal of making their script conform to their outline.

                              I have never finished a first draft that hit every beat, or hit them exactly the same way, I had planned in my outline. I don't think anyone has.

                              Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio have talked about this and said in their opinion those who do not begin with an outline are essentially using their first draft the same way some would use the first draft of their outline. The only difference is that the outline is only 10 or 20 pages and the script is 110 or 120 pages which means it's faster to figure out your story via an outline than it is with a script. They have also said that their stories rarely duplicate their outlines because their characters come to life and their stories evolve as they write it.

                              An outline is not a straitjacket you try to cram your story into.

                              An outline is a tool that simplifies and accelerates the process of exploring and developing your story.
                              Fortune favors the bold - Virgil


                              • #30
                                Re: Darabont on Screenwriting

                                I say you have to KNOW who your hero is (or anti-hero) before you do anything. What's he about? The world he inhabits dictates what he does, how he will act, and how he will change. Plus, what is the story truly about? Revenge? Redemption? Endless love? If you don't have that figured out before you start, you're screwed. At least I am.

                                I do outlines when it is a work-for-hire. You know what the producer wants, and you have to give it to him.

                                Last edited by Landis26; 06-01-2005, 08:01 PM.