So it must be done…

I’m struggling a bit with my Script Frenzy task and have fallen horribly behind on my deadline. It’s quite uncanny for me… though I suspect that it’s because I’ve come to realize that I’m not terribly good at ‘play’ writing. I tell a lot of my story in the heads of my characters. I struggle getting things together visually.

To get inspiration, I decided to watch the 1st Pirates of the Caribbean movie again (any excuse to look at Johnny Depp is a good one) and it is almost daunting to watch. It was written very well. The story is quick and in the span of ten minutes the writers tell you almost all you need to know about the characters that you’ll be working with. It shows you that Jack Sparrow’s a pirate 60 seconds after he appeared on the screen. You can see that Will and Elizabeth have… unfinished business (read smooching). And you see the type of man that Commador Norrington is. Less than twenty minutes into the film and you know all that you need to know so you can sit back and enjoy the ride.

And what a ride it is.

I’ve seen this movie a thousand times. I’m serious. I’ve watched it over and over and over again. And I don’t get tired of it.

I didn’t like the sequels (and have little hope for the next) but this movie, this original story was a gem among many.

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Waiting to Breathe

Ever since I was a child, I’ve had asthma. It’s not severe, or crippling, usually I can continue with my life as most people with only the odd attack. I was told that I’d grow out of it, but as it turned out, it got worse as I got older – probably because the air that we’re breathing has become much much worse.

I had an episode this weekend, without warning, without real cause. One moment I was laughing with my friends (we were quite hysterical actually) and the next I was coughing and choking, desperately trying to breathe with lungs which refused to take in any oxygen. My Other Half, who’s had to deal with this before, raced to get my inhaler and I was left, alone.

Waiting.

Waiting to breathe.

Those moments are always endless. My every breath is normally followed by a violent spasm of coughing. My instincts scream at me to breathe faster to gasp for air yet I have to remain calm and try to keep my breathing in a steady rhythm. Slow and calm for all the panic that is pushing through me.

Last week was a bit like this, my life threw a metaphorical asthma attack my way, sending me sprawling in all directions trying to organise home, work and everything else that happened in between the lines. My heart raced every moment and I found myself holding my breath as I rushed from one end of my life to the next, waiting for that breath which would come to relief me. Everything stopped as I waited for relief. I stopped writing, stopped blogging, even stopped doing Script Frenzy and letting myself get terribly behind with my page count.

It was a survival mechanism, just as the one which I have to breath slowly and deeply when I have an asthma attack.

Now, the moment’s passed – and I am back. I suspect that I will lose the Script Frenzy challenge I had gotten myself into, but that’s alright. I will still make 100 pages before 30 April.

And I will write, and blog, and carry on with my life.

Because I am breathing again.

How to write a Script…

I was asked earlier in the week how one would set about writing a script and what the format looks like. This was a very good question as the format of a script essentially makes it a script. It was one of the reasons I hesitated to commit to Script Frenzy last year because I didn’t know how to do it myself and I thought that figuring it out was going to be tough.

Very tough.

Luckily – I was wrong.

The first thing I did was download a script writing program called Celtx. It made my life easier within minutes. Celtx provides you with an easy, format as you type lay out. It immediately set everything out as it should be. The only thing you need to learn is to understand what it allows you to do.

Basically – a script compromises of four sections. The headings, the actions, the character names and the actual dialogue.

The headings tell you where you are. Whether your inside or outside, whether your in a specific location or in an unknown piece of territory – whether it’s night or day or what is the time.
The actions are the descriptions that follows the headings. These give a little bit more detail as to how things look, or what the characters are doing at a particular time. If you’re set on a lot of details, these can become quite lengthy.
The character names tell you who is about to speak and the dialogue naturally tells you what the person is saying.

To show you an example, this is how we would put something together using this.

INT. ALYSSA’S ROOM 8:52pm

The young woman sit in front of her computer, typing away at her blog post. She pauses, then sits back to narrate at herself.

ALYSSA
(taking off her glasses)
See, it’s all pretty basic. The trick to writing a script is basically to understand how these four actions link together.
A writing program like Celtx makes it so much easier because it takes away the stress of you wondering how your formatting like line spacing and font should be.

 

Another thing about scripts are that apparently, they must be in courier new font. This is something I just learned recently – but it wouldn’t have affected my writing anyway because I always use courier new when writing.

These are all just the basics naturally and, if you are interested in learning more – I would suggest going to the Script Frenzy website’s tutorial section. They have brilliant articles, not just on script writing but basic story structure. The thing is that all stories have a rhythm and once you understand that, you understand how they are put together. J It will make you a better writer, trust me.

Go into a Frenzy. A Script Frenzy…

It’s that time of the year again.

National Novel Writing Month’s sister project Script Frenzy is just 24 days away. During this project approximately 20,000 writers all over the world will attempt to write a 100 page script in 30 days.

Impossible?

Definitively not!

I did Script Frenzy last year and not only did I find it great fun, but I also found it a little bit more relaxed than NaNoWriMo. If you convert the 100 pages down to words, you only have to write about 24,000 words – if you write lengthy descriptions like me. Due to a script’s format – you waste quite a lot of space between paragraphs which cuts your word count significantly. Espesually if you have a character that nods a lot.

READER

I don’t understand.

ALYSS
(nods)

READER

What did you say?

ALYSS
(nods again)
You see what I mean?

It’s the one time of the year where you can relax and get out of your box a little. This specifically is very applicable to me because I’m a habit writer. I write the same way – always. Writing in script format challenges me a little bit. Hell, it challenged me a lot in the beginning.

So, if you’ve never heard of Script Frenzy – I’d recommend that you make a detour to this page. It will definitively spice up your April…

The Project: Word count

After an initial bad (or false, depending on how you look at it) my project – in which I’ve decided to try and write my own original story – is moving forward again. I’ve edited the first 4 chapters (all approximately 4000 words in length) and took out the scenes which had been bugging me. In doing so, I did lose a couple of dialogue pieces which I’m sorry about – but I’ve put them in my note book and hope to work them in again at one point or another. My total word count for the story now stands on just over 27,000 words. Considering that I had aimed to write 1000 a week (giving me a total of 52000 for the year) I’m pretty pleased with myself. Now, don’t think that I’m halfway – no. This baby is only getting started.

I use word count as a measure of how my story is flowing and where I am approximately. Couple of months ago, I spoke about using the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet. It’s mostly aimed at screen writing, but I’ve modified it for my own uses (after having a lot of success with it in Script Frenzy 2010). It helps me to establish whether I’m slow with my plot or whether I’m bombarding the reader with it too quickly. Also, you need a good framework on which to build your story and I feel that this beat sheet is it. I won’t be able to completely measure this until I’ve completed my story but it’s a good place to start.

While I was debating about word count, I thought to google some popular works and discovered this great web page. It gives the breakdown of a lot of famous works’ word count. Naturally (and to my pleasure), fantasy word count rules. I like to measure (and imagine) my own works against these – so that I can establish how thick a book I’ll write one day. 😉
For interest, I’ve archived over 680,000 words on my FanFiction.Net account. Which means that I’ve written more than Tolkien did on Lord of the Rings. 😛 I’m not saying my work is as impressive as his, but it’s something to think about when I look at the words on my book case. For your amusement, here are some of the well known numbers that I’ve found:

Lord of the Rings – J. R. R. Tolkien (revised to be in line with the rest)

The Fellowship of the Ring: 187k
The Two Towers: 155k
The Return of the King: 131k

Total: 473k

Wheel of Time – Robert Jordan

The Eye of the World: 305k
The Great Hunt: 267k
The Dragon Reborn: 251k
The Shadow Rising: 393k
The Fires of Heaven: 354k
Lord of Chaos: 389k
A Crown of Swords: 295k
The Path of Daggers: 226k
Winter’s Heart: 238k
Crossroads of Twilight: 271k
Knife of Dreams: 315k

Total: 3M 304k

A Song of Ice And Fire – George R. R. Martin

A Game of Thrones: 284k
A Clash of kings: 326k
A Storm of Swords: 404k
A Feast for Crows: 300k

Total: 1M 314k