Foreword: On Screenwriting

Rule 1. Don’t publish your first screenplay.

Rule 2. Don’t publish your second screenplay.

Rule 3. Practice makes perfect.

Rule 4. It will never be perfect.

Rule 5. Never stop practicing.

So, long story short, awhile ago, I bought and read The Anatomy of Story by John Truby. For those interested, I recommend the paperback over the Kindle edition, because it’s best used after the first read as a reference book with lots of back-and-forth page flipping. As practice, while I read, I filled a notebook with notes based on a Russian fairy tale to see if I could line things up, and I accidentally deliberately on-purpose wrote a thing that became it’s own idea.

As aforementioned, I debated turning these script notes into a novel, but it seems that since I initially worked on it as a screenplay, it wants to be one. So I decided as of this morning that I would try to post a screenplay on WordPress via this Blog. I’ll still have “Chapters,” since the length of scenes can vary, and I’ll write in the style of a Speculative Script (Spec Script), since there’s less technical language.  I’ll try to post at least one a week over the next few weeks.  I’ve played with the idea of comic-i-fying it, but I’m not artist but in a blue moon. However, if you are an unpaid artist who wants to help an unpaid writer make something neither of us will be paid for, drop me a line.

For those of you interested in actual formatting for Spec Scripts, you can read about it on Story Sense’s PDF, here. Text is generally left-aligned and all actions, dialogue, etc. is noted by where it’s indented. Since WordPress doesn’t have tools like Docs and Writer’s Duet, and WordPress doesn’t adhere to a strict 8.5″ x 11″ sheet, I’m going to simplify Spec Script formatting even further as follows:

  • The font: Screenplays are always some form of 12pt, Courier (other than Courier New). The default font of WordPress is, I believe, Georgia.
  • ALL CAPS, left alignment, bold/underlined = scene and time headers, split by (-) or (.) (usually 1.5″, normal)
  • ALL CAPS, center alignment , bold = character cue (aka, who’s talking). (usually 4.2″, normal)’
  • text, left, italics = actions and descriptions I’ll try to keep these brief (usually 1.5″, no italics)
  • (  ) , center alignment = parenthetical (aka, how they talk, act) (usually 3.6″)
  • text, center alignment = dialogue (usually 2.9″).
  • Notes = descriptions that need to be highlighted. Scripts generally use underline instead of italics. I may give it an asterix (*) here and there. Spec scripts do have wiggle room for using your own style, but only if it remains easy to read.
  • Sounds = I’ve seen sounds written both as ALL CAPS and underlined text. I like underlined personally.
  • ellipse (…) = interupted or unfinished speech (or split, shared sentences)
  • em-dash (—) = for action interjected during speech.
  • Fade in / Fade out = generally the only “camera direction” still used in most spec scripts. Aside from “Fade in” at 1.5″, transitions are indented to 6.0″. Generally these are not put into the script until the Technical script is drafted.

In general, having more experience writing scripts than screenplays, I will fall back on old techniques when it seems more easy to read.

*The downsides of Writer’s Duet: A note, for the sake of those of you looking into programs for your own screenwriting, for WD, you need internet at all times and, if you unsubscribe to the mailing list upon signup, there’s a glych that, if you forget your password, you can’t have it sent to you because they can’t email you. Inconvenient, yes? I thought so!

As with any work, if ever I acquire an agent who can actually get me to sell one of these, I’ll have to take it down, but until then the working title of this one is “Liliput.” Why? Because it has nothing to do with the subject matter, but the tradition is a screenplay is not christened until the producers say so. I think this is mainly for the secrecy of a project between studios, but I figure it works here too. So expect the first scene / scenes next week.

Finally, I am posting this here because writing is what I do and since I intend to devote a lot of time to this, I want to share it here. I still have a wishlist for it and consider it far from perfect, but I’d like to get into the feedback stage of things, so let me know what you think!

RJ’s Wishlist

  1. Topography & History. I tried to study the Kieven Rus, but The Primary Chronicle only got me so far. I plan to set the story far back from its original setting, so I’ve settled on three kingdoms (a nod to the Chronicle) with hints of extrenuous kingdoms, named the way old lands more or less tended to be named way back when, by what was there: So we have the highlands, the valley, and the mountains.  I’ll get a map up soon.
  2. Last names. Goodness gracious, I have read up on how names work, but I am still uncertain how to go about them. And while I’m going pre-Chronicle era, I don’t want to go too far off the mark (or so close as to cause confusion).  Much of what we know is post Peter the Great, and he westernized a lot of stuff.
  3. More cultural knowledge! I can sail the seas of the Internet, but it’s not the same as knowing what’s really there, so I’d love hints about little things I could change or add to make it more real. Wikipedia gives me lists, but I’d love to hear what’s old vs. new in terms of sayings, superstitions, and so on.
  4. Art! I can dream, can’t I?


More later.