A General Note on Script Reading

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  • #16
    Re: A General Note on Script Reading

    I'll admit it. I've attempted three scripts this week - and two of them I stopped around page 40. I simply ran outta steam and got bored.

    One of them was a comp winner too.

    Seriously, maybe I have ADD?
    @TerranceMulloy

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    • #17
      Re: A General Note on Script Reading

      TWA -

      Are you talking bad bad (as in brain-scramblingly bad)? Or mediocre bad? And if you mean mediocre bad, do you disagree with Goose and me that there is some value in figuring out why those scripts don't work?

      I'd like to hear (okay, read) your thoughts on this.
      "Tone is now engaged in a furious Google search for Leighton Meester's keester." -- A friend of mine

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      • #18
        Re: A General Note on Script Reading

        What White Album said. Too little time to massage a pile of s*** waiting for a diamond to squirt through your fingers.

        I've read thousands of scripts, from our top clients as well as hopeful newcomers alike. Never once found something that was crap for the first 50, even 25, then made some kind of miraculous recovery. Not once.

        But if you have the spare time, stomach, and thick skull to press on, enjoy.

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        • #19
          Re: A General Note on Script Reading

          Originally posted by Ralphy W View Post
          TWA -

          Are you talking bad bad (as in brain-scramblingly bad)? Or mediocre bad? And if you mean mediocre bad, do you disagree with Goose and me that there is some value in figuring out why those scripts don't work?

          I'd like to hear (okay, read) your thoughts on this.
          I've walked out of movies I didn't like. I stopped reading novels I couldn't get into. I've changed the channel on TV shows that didn't grab me. I've skipped through boring songs on an album. And these are things that have been published, released, produced, etc. (and I know you've all done this too!)

          Life is just too short, man.

          Imagine the pile of bad scripts out there! Seriously, I've read enough bad scripts from writers who are represented! Now I have to suffer through jokers who think they can write because they bought a copy a Final Draft? If you can't grab me by page 15 -- how is that my fault?

          If your intention is to figure out why a script doesn't work, then good on you. Have a ball! If this is an exercise in deconstructing screenplay narratives, I totally see the value of studying a flawed script and sharing that knowledge.

          But if you're reading a submission, or simply for pleasure (and I emphasize the word PLEASURE) -- there's too much good art in this world to be spending time on bad art.
          Twitter: @WriterLe

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          • #20
            Re: A General Note on Script Reading

            I've slogged through some lately and I do try to learn something. One of the more common items is that 2 or more characters blend together and I hardly know which is which...which reminds me that characters need some distinguishment from one-another via verbiage, name, actions and quirks.

            There are lots of little ways to distinguish characters...I'll use Ocean's 11 remake as an example...Brad Pitt is always eating something, the two Utah boys are always fighting, Cheadle has a British accent, etc. It's would be hard to confuse any of them as your watching on screen, but on paper it could be very confusing without context clues.

            Good names is another way to keep characters separate in the reader's mind. Italian Job has Left Ear, Handsome Rob and Napster...nuff said.



            R.O.T.

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            • #21
              Re: A General Note on Script Reading

              Originally posted by The White Album View Post
              If this is an exercise in deconstructing screenplay narratives, I totally understand why one would study a flawed script.
              That's pretty much what I was talking about.

              For pleasure, I'm very picky about what I read.

              (Though, I do force myself to watch movies to completion. It's sort of an obsession. I can't walk out of a movie (or turn off my dvd player), no matter how awful the experience. Don't ask me why; I'm not sure I could tell you.)

              Btw, you know me. I don't know if you recognize this username, though. I used it way back when (2002/2003) and decided to revive it in 2007. Shoot me a PM.
              "Tone is now engaged in a furious Google search for Leighton Meester's keester." -- A friend of mine

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              • #22
                Re: A General Note on Script Reading

                Originally posted by darrylyo View Post
                What White Album said. Too little time to massage a pile of s*** waiting for a diamond to squirt through your fingers.
                I don't think you guys are the intended audience of this thread. If you're not interested in furthering your education/skills/career as a writer, you have the luxury of partially reading everything. The rest of us aren't as lucky. Especially if we want to be good enough to write something that people such as yourselves might actually read the whole way through one day.

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                • #23
                  Re: A General Note on Script Reading

                  Originally posted by goosetown View Post
                  I don't think you guys are the intended audience of this thread.
                  Didn't mean to derail the thread.
                  Twitter: @WriterLe

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                  • #24
                    Re: A General Note on Script Reading

                    Perhaps the best way to think about it is like this: a "great" script gets bought and, most of the time, ends up getting produced...even if the end result is perfectly lackluster.

                    That's just not true unless you equate "greatness" with perceived commercial viability.

                    And as sort of a macro note, if you are ripping apart a script on the Black List that 30 people believed to be one of the best scripts of the year, maybe something's not wrong with Hollywood, maybe something's wrong with you. And you learn more from loving than hating. The end.

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                    • #25
                      Re: A General Note on Script Reading

                      Originally posted by Staplegun View Post
                      That's just not true unless you equate "greatness" with perceived commercial viability.

                      And as sort of a macro note, if you are ripping apart a script on the Black List that 30 people believed to be one of the best scripts of the year, maybe something's not wrong with Hollywood, maybe something's wrong with you. And you learn more from loving than hating. The end.
                      First of all, I made a point of saying that such a breakdown came with many exceptions. But are you suggesting that most "great" scripts go unsold just because they're not commercially viable? Who said we were only equating greatness with scripts that sold to studios and large production companies? Are we not to follow the maxim that, by and large, "great scripts sell"? That seems awful shortsighted to me.

                      And then you seem to contradict yourself in the second paragraph. Are you talking about a particular Black List script, or just a Black List script in general? Because 90-99% of scripts on the Black List have already been sold.

                      Where exactly are you attempting to go with this? I fail to see your point.

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                      • #26
                        Re: A General Note on Script Reading

                        I see goosetown's original point. If you want to become an expert screenwriter, it will require reading scripts that may not always be to your liking. It will NOT be pleasurable all of the time. Work is work. And if your blessed with a career, not all of the assignments are going to make you do somersaults. But someone's gonna hafta keep food in the fridge.

                        There's a famous comedian, Chris Rock I think, who hops into comedy clubs every once in awhile to see the newbies. He says no matter how much these "comedians" stink up the joint, he will not leave. He's a family man who is well-off, but he won't leave. He studies where they went wrong, what little worked, where their timing went bad etc. That's love for the craft, plain and simple. Now I feel I haven't gotten through enough great scripts to go thru a few fuglies, but something tells me I should at some point.
                        "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."
                        -Maya Angelou

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                        • #27
                          Re: A General Note on Script Reading

                          Originally posted by boski
                          Interestingly, you almost never hear professional novelists or short-story writers suggesting that aspiring writers devote a lot of time to reading and studying unpublished manuscripts. Instead, again and again pro novelists talk much more about closely reading and studying the best examples in the genre/field you're aspiring to as a new writer.
                          If no one else will say this, I'm happy to: that's because most "professional" novelists, short story writers, screenwriters, non-fiction compilers and everyone else who makes a living (or some semblance of one) putting words to paper have egos the size of garbage dumps. To advise that reading the trash is equivalent to reading the treasure in the literary world is to say that Hitler was on the same level as Jesus. It doesn't happen. And you know why? Because too many "writers" have spent so much time up their own rectums that they're not willing to recognize such a viewpoint as even potentially valid. These are the same guys that will tell you Hemingway was a hack and Bukowski really knows what's what.

                          Again, this is one of those Take My Advice or Leave it Moments. Believe me or not. You're not right and you're not wrong. It's just been my experience that you can't really know what to do if you don't know what not to do...and WHY you shouldn't do it.

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                          • #28
                            Re: A General Note on Script Reading

                            Starting out -reading polished works may not be as effective as reading piles of unpolished, badly written or average works. Because, arguably with the latter, you get to continually disagree or complain in your [critical] mind, and that may at least force you to think about what is wrong with a piece of writing and learn how to correct/delete/amend/refine it. Develop the critical faculties/the writer's eye.

                            A very high quality piece of script writing has that: yes that works, yes that's great, yes that works, yes that's great ... pattern.

                            Looking back over this, a mixture seems like a healthy compromise to me. If you have access to them.

                            And read the best that has been thought and written, across the spectrum.
                            Last edited by The Road Warrior; 01-31-2009, 08:48 AM.
                            Forthcoming: The Annual, "I JUST GOT DUMPED" Valentine's Short Screenplay Writing Competition. Keep an eye on Writing Exercises.

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                            • #29
                              Re: A General Note on Script Reading

                              Originally posted by boski
                              Something similar applies to writing: You learn to be a good writer (of any kind) by reading & studying the more accomplished and sophisticated writing modeled by professional writers and then trying to approximate that kind of skill and polish in your own writing.

                              Interestingly, you almost never hear professional novelists or short-story writers suggesting that aspiring writers devote a lot of time to reading and studying unpublished manuscripts. Instead, again and again pro novelists talk much more about closely reading and studying the best examples in the genre/field you're aspiring to as a new writer.
                              Absolutely true on both counts. Professional novelists, whatever their stature, already know what crappy writing looks like: they've produced enough of it in their own careers, especially in their apprentice years. We go to the classics time and again, and, from what I've seen from my peers, read only sparingly among their contemporaries.

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                              • #30
                                Re: A General Note on Script Reading

                                http://johnaugust.com/archives/2005/...ork-spoil-mine
                                "Tone is now engaged in a furious Google search for Leighton Meester's keester." -- A friend of mine

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