Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I got my script coverage back from Scriptapalooza last week. It was more positive than I expected which was a pleasant surprise, and I learned something I didn't know I didn't know so it was worth the money to get a report back. The main comments referred to a concept I thought I understood, but clearly didn't. Other people have told me the same thing and I obediently shook my head, 'Yuppers, I get it,' whilst missing the point entirely.

But I thought I understood so that has to count for... exactly nothing, actually.

Their main (and nearly only, yay me:) criticism about my entry revolved around the various story lines. My A story was exciting and interesting. My B story was interesting but didn't have much to do with the A story beyond appearing and taking up pages. The C story was interesting but petered away into nothing like a fart in the wind. A winning script, that does not make.

I've read and been told to tie the three separate story lines together. I thought I did, but just being set in the same universe with the same characters in the same script isn't enough. Just being present isn't enough. The separate story lines have to feed back into each other like a braid.

I pondered this and pondered this and pondered this, still not quite grasping the concept. While I was pondering, I discovered to my eternal delight that BBC4 isn't region locked. At first glance, this has nothing to do with anything except to be an additional way to mess around on the web, but at second glance, this completely revolutionized everything.

Cabin Pressure --> Johannesburg --> Play

If you've never listened to Cabin Pressure, stop what you're doing, download it and come back. I'll wait. It's brilliant, hysterically funny, and I think I'm in love. It's my new favorite show.

So I'm thinking deep thoughts about my script report and the various failures of the story lines to relate back to each other while I listened. I laughed my way through the episode then instantly started it over because my mind was making some interesting connections amid all the giggles. I paid much more attention to how the episode unfolded the second/third/fourth time listening.

Did I mention it's brilliant?

In the A story: Caroline is annoyed at Martin and Douglas and makes them cut two thousand pounds off their budget for the trip. If they succeed they can split the money. If they fail and come in a single penny over, they have to pay her a grand apiece. She thinks it's a fantastic idea. They're not so sure, but with a thousand pounds on the line, they're willing to go along with her. Also she doesn't actually give them any choice.

To save on fuel, Douglas shakes the plane down and tosses anything he deems unnecessary weight, including the coffee pot. Later during the B story Douglas tells Arthur to fill a wine bottle with water and set it on the edge of the engine to heat up so they can make coffee later. Incidentally, that sets up the C story. It all just builds on itself.

In the B story: A warning light comes on, leading to an emergency landing to get it fixed. Martin and Arthur go on an away mission to retrieve a mechanic and suffers assorted hijinks, including getting their borrowed baggage truck stuck under a bridge while Douglas is still focused on the A story of trying to come in under budget. When presented with the bill for their emergency stop, he has to do something to knock twenty bucks off so the airfield manager floats the idea of Douglas washing his car.

It's the same car the airfield manager refused to let them borrow at the beginning of the B story which led to Martin and Arthur dinking around Spain in a baggage truck. Determined not to pay Caroline a thousand pounds, Douglas whines about it, agrees, and parks the car behind the plane to wash it with some minor heckling from Caroline. He needs the money, okay?

Martin and Arthur return with a mechanic, he fixes their problem by thumping the instrument panel, revealing that the plane wasn't actually broken at all, just the little yellow warning light.

They're going to take off before the airfield closes at five, they're under budget, they won't owe Caroline any money. Martin does a quick jog around the plane for his preflight inspection and they get ready to leave. For once everything goes right. Or does it?

The tower calls them in a panic. They've fired a missile. Directly into the car Douglas washed to reduce the bill (A story). It's still parked behind the plane they thought was broken (B story). The missile is the wine bottle in the engine Arthur forgot about (C story).

Presumably they don't finish the trip under budget.

There you have it. A story, B story, and C story. They cross and crisscross each other.

Go listen to the episode if you haven't already. You can pick out the places the different story lines intersect. I feel like I've had a writer breakthrough. When people say tie the different story lines together they honestly mean tie them together. They're not being cryptic. It's not enough to be happening at the same time or be in the same script, they have to weave in and out like a braid.

I'm going back and doing another page 1 rewrite of horror script so it's ready to go the very instant 'Girls on Film' reopens. Right now horror script is another example of A, B, and C not coming anywhere near each other, let alone interlacing. Now I can fix that.

Thank god for Cabin Pressure.

Monday, July 2, 2012



I feel like I haven't blogged in forever. A whole six weeks counts as forever on the internet. 

About eight decades ago (in internet years) I entered 50 kisses and blogged about it. From Adrian Mead's fantastic book, 'Making it as a screenwriter' I learned that I needed to get my act together before the contest happened. It makes sense, if you think about it, which I absolutely didn't until he pointed it out using small and easily understood words, but it takes time to write and polish a story. Slinging it in right before the deadline leads to sloppy mistakes which I am prone to commit.

I also decided to enter early before the readers were bored and burned out on reading the same type of thing over and over. That way (hopefully) my entry goes in the 'consider' pile before the standards for the 'consider' pile get too terribly high. I know, devious right? I'm a regular Bond villain, cackling my evil plans to the entire interwebz.

Two or three weeks before the deadline they posted a very helpful blog post about how the contest was going and what they saw repeated over and over among their entries. You'd think with a theme as vague as 'Valentines Day' and the only requirement is it must to contain a kiss, it would difficult to find too terribly many similarities beyond those two points. Three words, really.

Hahaha, wrong. I managed to tick off almost every box on the list. Oomph, right in the ego!

My creative and original work of love, romance, and passion was in fact trite, overdone, and boring.

Grumble grumble grumble. I spent the obligatory amount of time moaning about it on twitter (two humorous tweets, for those keeping score at home. I may have been was am pathetic) and moved on, convinced I didn't have the faintest fart of a chance for a writing credit and that ipad. I've never even touched an ipad. I certainly won't be fondling the one they're giving away. Maybe next year.

The ability to move on is important for a writer. Kinda like being used to being fired all the time. I've spent years perfecting that talent, I'm already used to being fired all the time from my day job so this is second nature to me. It's the all important getting professional credits and eventually getting paid to write something that I'm still working on.

Y'know, that really didn't come out right. I'm honestly a decent farrier. I think so anyway. But it is true, there's only two kinds of farriers in the world. Those that have been fired and those that are gonna be fired...  

Anyway, back to my point...

A week before the deadline, they tweeted that they'd decided to accept a SECOND script. TWO. It's Christmas come early! I get a free do-over! I went right back to the 'we've seen it' list and decided to go in the direct opposite direction. But probably so did everyone else so I went opposite from the opposite and just to thoroughly confuse myself, reversed it again! Then I bent it at a ninety and took the corner on two wheels just to be absolutely sure I wasn't followed... 

It might suck but there's not another one like it. I hope. But there probably actually is. Without my script's fatal flaw, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Oh yes, this story has a fatal flaw. It's almost a greek tragedy. 

My new story told a riveting tale of manliness, friendship, and devotion, barely contained in a mere two pages. My kryptonite is typos and I know this so I proofread that sucker 591 times, then got a friend to go over it also. No typos. Not one single one escaped us. We were proofread goddesses. Bow before our magnificence and wallow in our glory, you puny mortals!


In fear of inconvenient server crashes, random internet failure, or miscalculated time zone differences, I submitted it a full two days early. It was perfect. You know what happens whenever I think I did something right? You guessed it. I sent it off, got the confirmation email back immediately (which is a fantastic feature) and then started the Closing of the Tabs. I broke my own solemn vow and looked at it again before I closed the file.

I didn't start with FADE IN:

Screenwriter 101. ALWAYS START WITH FADE IN:

Did I remember this? No, and my friend writes novels so she certainly wouldn't catch the fact that I skipped straight to the first scene heading. INT - THE CANTINA OF BROKEN DREAMS - DAY


Will their crack team of readers be so used to seeing and skipping over FADE IN: that they don't notice it's missing? Will they be so captivated by the story they don't care? Do they read this blog? I'm confident the answer to last one that is hysterical laughter and a resounding no.

But only time will tell.