On Writing : Authoring & playwriting by Josephine Jeffries

Authoring & playwriting

I'm writing a script with a friend and it is a story about my life. I'm writing the story the way it happen to me and I need to know if this is the way to do it. This is all new to me and I'm learning.

Robert Rosenbaum

I wrote a screenplay about my summers at camp in the 70s. Then I read a comment in one of Blake Snyder's STC books "no one wants to read about your summer at camp in the 70's." LOL Chances are the story of your life is not all that interesting to anyone but you and your mom, especially written as it happened. However, you can use your stories as a basis for a script, but spice them up! Raise the stakes. Use what you know, but think about it... Do you want to sit through a movie about my life the way it happened? You may ask "well, who are you?" Exactly! So until you are a noted author or celebrity of some sort, or have accomplished something truly amazing, save the autobiography and write a story that will interest everyone. Or... IS your life really that interesting?

Josephine Jeffries

I have been told many times that a movie about my life should be made. My life is very interesting. I was living on the streets of New York trying to stay alive. I Hitchhiked all over the country and was picked up by a killer who tied me up and was about to kill me when a miracle happened. By the grace of God my life was spared from my stupidity and given the opportunity to tell my story. So many times I should have been killed. Yes my life is very interesting. I do thank you for your input.

Robert Rosenbaum

Forgive me, as I know nothing of your life. What happened to you does indeed sound interesting in a horrific way! It sounds like it would make a great movie. However, I will stick to my guns about not writing it "the way it happened" to you. Most movies about true events use dramatic license to create a plot that works. There is probably a lot that happened to you that is extraneous and needn't be told and there might be things for legal, ethical or moral reasons can't (or shouldn't) be told. And finally there is pacing. Things in real life almost never happen at perfect movie pacing. This is why most true event movies are said to be "based" on a true story. Sounds like you have a great tale to tell. Tell it how you want to tell it, and if that means fudging a few things to make a better movie that is OK. Even autobiographies are edited for dramatic effect. :)

Robert Parera

I'm reminded of that movie the Babysitter, with Diana Franklin. What a great flick.

Josephine Jeffries

Thank you so much for the information Robert Rosenbaum. I will pass it on to my friend.

Josephine Jeffries

I've never seen this movie Robert.

Dan MaxXx

My suggestion. Stop writing the script. start writing a novel. U will have leverage when your novel becomes a best seller . Then u can hire Arron Sorkin to write script. Good luck

Robert Parera

Josephine, my mistake Title is - SUMMER GIRL - 1983. Great flick

Beth Fox Heisinger

Josephine, I'm so sorry that happened to you. It takes a lot of strength to get past such a terrifying experience. With that, I would also kindly suggest you write it in long-hand first. Write a novel, if you will. Writing can be cathartic, but long-hand frees you from the constrains and structural needs/expectations of a screenplay. You could share your experience more openly. Therefore your story may work better in a different form, one that allows you to be more expressive and personal. Who knows, you may have a best seller on your hands. And someone else may wish to adapt it to screen. Not that you wouldn't be capable of writing a screenplay version, but having another writer tackle the script lends objectivity. I hope that helps! :)

Josephine Jeffries

I already wrote the book, about my life, but it was self- published. I had to do all the work myself and trying to promote it was hard so it didn't do well.. I had to know the right people and I didn't. This is why I'm doing the script. The book is called Lost Soul. Available on Amazon.com

Regina Lee

Not knowing the story and your goals, I can only offer "big picture" advice. If you're writing a script for the Hollywood market or for the indie film market, typically, I'd suggest writing TOWARD or WITHIN a well-defined genre. Your script will be compared to others in its genre, and informed readers will evaluate how strong it is when compared to others in its genre. Doing so might mean manipulating the true story to fit the shape of a genre story, whether that genre be character drama, thriller, horror, etc. But that advice might be irrelevant to your specific goals. We don't know. Best of luck!

Jeff Lyons

Story is story. Doesn't matter if its fiction or nonfiction. Memoirs can be as compelling as any great piece of fiction (just read anything by David McCullough). Make sure you have a real story and not just a bullet list of stuff that happened in your life. Tell a real story and you'll rise above the sea of memoirs out there. Creative nonfiction is just as compelling as fiction... if there's a story. But... there's the rub. You have to figure out what that means :)

Tom Stohlgren

Hi Josephine, I wrote a book and a screenplay about one especially comical week in my life, "Twelve: My Age of Reason." (on my profile under loglines. I agree with Regina Lee, and I aimed specifically for "comedy" in a coming of age story, and specifically for the indie film market. Best of luck on yours, Tom

Regina Lee

Thanks, Tom. A clearer way that I should have put it -- "Biopic" is typically not a viable genre for a true story about a person who is not well-known to the general public. Thus, my advice is to adapt your story within a well-defined genre, so regardless of the fact-based nature of the story, you will have a script that works well within a defined genre.

Andrew Gruffudd

Just write it and see what happens. After all, a creative project ceases to be very creative if bound by systemisation, despite what Mills & Boon might have you believe. What you should be aiming for is for it to be well written, interesting and unpredictable. If you can do that, anything goes - as long as it doesn't frighten our equine chums and, of course, if you avoid cliches like the proverbial.

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

I think it was Hitchcock who said... something like (in writing true stories) ... it's about life without the boring bits.

Josephine Jeffries

I want to thank you all for your input.

David Taylor

Josephine - its not the right way. Write the story, then ask. Don't jump into writing it as a screenplay - that's a minefield.

Tammy Wheeler

Josephine's story was in a book I am selecting portions to make into a fictional drama. We have enough here to make 2 good feature films. The first half of the story with an ending that leaves it open to continue easily into the second half. Even tho this is my first attempt at a screenplay, I pay close attention to all the advice given here and will ask for experienced folks to come along beside me to read and guide me through the process. So keep the advice coming, I am listening. I have 3 sections open-- one is my main script and am numbering my scene changes as I go. As well as Character's list with their part, highlighting those with lines. And then a section for notes along the way. Location ideas, and things I will need to do for that location type.

Kathryn Waterfield

Josephine, probably dramatic elements of your story will make great fodder for a screenplay. Maybe the whole story is too much, but the most dramatic events you can zero-in on and develop into a riveting screenplay. Mine your book (and memory!) for the best scenes and play with those. Best of luck!

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