Screenwriting : A Method to my Madness? A reflection on writing two scripts during the month of April. by Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

A Method to my Madness? A reflection on writing two scripts during the month of April.

It’s May first and as I look back on April, it was a productive and successful month on many levels. I wrote two first draft scripts; one using a scene by scene treatment; the other with a concept for a story with a beginning, middle, ending, inciting incident and nothing else. The end result was two scripts, both about a hundred pages; one no better or more organized than the other. They both took me approximately the same amount of time. The one without any outline had a betrayal theme. I found that as I began writing, foreshadowing, necessary plot points, turn around, obstacles, mid-point finale and other creative elements sprung up during the process. Typically, before I begin writing a screenplay, I will form my ideas into a brief outline or write a one to two page synopsis. While working using a treatment, I convinced myself this was the best method to use in crafting a script. After writing the second script in the opposite manner, I’m now convinced there is no best method; the only thing that matters is that you’re happy with the end result.

Dan MaxXx

Because u are a professional! Let the armchair writers beat on the cat or quote Aristotle.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Dan M: That's a great quote, demonstrating your writer's wisdom and experience.

Dan Guardino

There really is no best method for everyone. I have written screenplays just sitting at my desk and typing whatever came in my head. Then I tried using and outline which helped me write faster and more focused. Then I purchased save the cat book and software program. I never used the software program but I have used the beat sheet as a guide. I think save the cat helps me to write my screenplays faster and with less effort on my part but I don't think the end results were any better or worse. I really doesn't matter what anyone does as long as the script turns out good and does what you want it to do.

Mark W. McIntire

Phillip, I find a more structured approach keeps me focused on the move from beginning to end. Knowing the ending keeps me on task. However, I applaud your ability to work the other model. Endings change as they did in the drafts for Chinatown, yet the discipline of structure helps at least on the first draft.

Dan Guardino

Mark. Everyone is different. Some people get the opposite results when they try to use a more structured approach.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

MM: a little structure can't hurt.

Anthony Moore

I'm partial to the latter method. Too much planning can lead to storyline predictability. If something happens in the script that even I didn't expect, then I know the reader will also be surprised. Besides, I always see the endings of my scripts first, then the beginning, then the challenge is to make them meet in the middle.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Peter: Have received very positive feedback from producers involved in both projects. Also third party feedback from great writers I respect. Both scripts will require minor tweaks of course. I've also written more than 25 scripts; so I think I have a pretty good idea on what I'm doing.

Jorge J Prieto

Congrats, Philip E. 25 scripts! Wow.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Peter: Congrats on your accomplishment.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Jorge: Thanks!

Dan MaxXx

phillip- u are boss Im waiting for produced movies from armchair critics.. hell, I 'd take a cell phone pic of a classroom lecture with high schoolers :)

Fiona Faith Ross

Amazingly productive, PEH, congratulations! Wish I was as accomplished, but as you say, it's a function of the years of time and effort you've put in.

LindaAnn Loschiavo

Philip: You're certainly having a great year. Much applause!!!!

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Linda: Thanks so much.

Andrew Martin Smith

The more screenplays you chunk out - the more confident you become in your art. Maybe the loose, free-booting style has worked well - because years of disciplined writing has enabled you to automatically structure your story on the hoof? Peter - I am sure that Preston Sturges wrote more than twenty screenplays. The only ones we get to know about - are the ones that turn up in a suit of clothes. Bare arsed end up in the bottom drawer.

Dan MaxXx

Peter For educational purposes, can u provide us with a link to your produced movies, published books, or even a classroom lesson on film theory? Your bio on stage 32 is rather bland. Just says u attended USC film school. My friends who are proud Trojans are listed in the USC cinema website, the Hall of Fame of alumni. I did not see your name. Better contact their webmaster. Must be a mistake. When they updated Ryan Coogler's info (Creed), they skipped your last name. I did find a "Peter Corey" on linkedIn. Are you the same director of a racist chinese beer commerical? Again, for educational purposes, please let us know what you have accomplished?

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Dan M: I post topics with the intention of sharing ideas and stimulating discussion. I don't expect everyone to agree with me. However, there is the type of forum denizen who presents a point for the sake of argument. And for the sole purpose of attempting to prove you wrong. I have the utmost confidence in what I'm doing; and therefore, can safely render the opinion I've produced a solid piece of writing without another party's validation. Just like a guy who produces fine furniture or bakes pies for a living. You just know. I’ve said this many times before. If I worried about every naysayer I’ve encountered during my screenwriting career, I never get a damn thing done.

Carl Plumer

Keep at it Phillip, persistence, hard work, and talent. Sounds like you have the trifecta. Now, the missing ingredient: luck. And you'll have it all. Cheers!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Just a friendly reminder... While healthy debate is always welcome (debate focused on the thread topic please), personal attacks or abusive behavior is not appreciated. Please do keep in mind that Stage 32 prides itself on being a safe and supportive environment for creatives. Behavior or commentary that breaks the Stage 32 Code of Conduct may be deleted—so you run that risk. If you'd like to look over the Code of Conduct, please see the site's "Terms of Use" found in the bottom bar of the site. Thanks.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Carl: Thanks for the positive support.

Dan Guardino

Phillip. I think what you posted was great as usual and I for one appreciate you sharing your personal experiences with us. I too have written several screenplays using different methods and they don't come out all that different. Producers don't give a rat's rectum what method we use to write our screenplays.

Dan MaxXx

Philip- 25 scripts. wow, that's boss! i'd ride and die with you any day, every day! Thank u for being original. Phillip: Do you like apples? Bar guy: Yeah. Phillip: I got her number. How do you like dem apples?

Carl Plumer

Phillip, post here the minute you get optioned. Well, the minute after you tell your friends, colleagues, neighbors, the guy at Starbucks, the guy at the gas station, your mailman . . . :)

Jody Ellis

Philip I for one always appreciate your posts, I think there are some very sour grapes floating around here sometimes. @Peter, I agree with Dan, let's see some links to your work. If you're going to get ugly with people, at least show you have some experience to back up your "opinion".

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Dan M: Thanks and ready to saddle up. Dan G: Thanks.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Carl: I've had options and right to shop agreements. The tricky bit is getting a producer that raises money. But I'll keep you posted on good news. Jody: Those sour grapes are a bitter fruit to swallow. In any case, my normal policy is not feeding the llamas.

Jody Ellis

@Philip, to quote Napoleon Dynamite, "Tina! Eat the food!"

Dan Guardino

Jody. Peter says he is an Author, Director, Editor, Screenwriter and Script Consultant so he must be pretty important.

Jody Ellis

@Dan G, thems a lot of hats to wear. Maybe he's flying under the radar, using an alias ;-)

Dan Guardino

In Texas they call a ten gallon hat a shit container.

Brian Walsh

Thanks for that post, Phillip. I always find your insights encouraging. While I'm very much green compared to you, I too agree that there are many ways to approach a script that work. Sometimes the better approach may depend on the type, or genre of script, as well as the constant 'rule' that what works for one person my not work for another and vice versa. Regardless, keep your insights coming. I learn as much from hearing what works for people as I do learning what doesn't work. Both give me new things to try or consider as I continue to learn my craft, and people like you who volunteer their experience are a credit to the community, and to themselves. To the nay-sayers....I ask only this. What have you contributed to help the community?

Jody Ellis

I am not a huge fan of outlines or treatments. Like Phillip, I've done both and while I'm sure outlines, notecards, etc. work well for some writers, I've never seen a profound difference when I use them or skip them. And because I don't see a profound difference, I tend to see them as a time waster. Id rather just write the story. My personal style is to vomit out a shitty first draft, then I make notes on what needs to be different. I also have a couple trusted readers who will point out flaws, needed changes, etc. Everyone is different and I don't think there's one right way. It's the end result that matters.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Brian: Thanks so much.

Jorge J Prieto

Jody: I'm the same. I see the scenes, characters, conflicts in my head, I write, take a break, next scene pops in my head , I get up or make a note, then write some more. The characters most of the time take over and the things they organically come up with (antagonist specifically) are a total surprised to me. I love it!!

Dan Guardino

Jorge. I wrote a lot of screenplays that way. The only reason I changed was because I wrote some screenplays for hire and the producers want them written to industry standards.

Jorge J Prieto

Dan: No argument from me there. BTW, I do follow all or most of the standards, from beats, characters arc, inciting incident and 3 act structure, I just don't let these rules get in the way of my creative process. These are in the back of my head as the story progresses, but they are not my priority, story is.

Carl Plumer

Jorge, I like the way you describe the process. I think I'm that way as well. I think it's like playing a sport. You can't think about it while you play, impossible. You have to just let your instincts take over. But you can study the game at other times. My two cents.

Fiona Faith Ross

Great thread.

Dan MaxXx

peter- contact the Webmaster at USC Cinema dept. they dont have your name on their Wall of Fame. they don't know about your career or credits. in fact, the Writers Guild of America don't know about your film career. punch your name on their database and "0" comes up. Funny, when I punch Ryan Coogler, Shonda Rhimes, John Singleton (USC alumni) , their names come up in the WGA database. maybe the same Webmaster works at USC Cinema Dept and Writer's Guild of America? until I see your credits, I think you are full of bullshit. save the Shakespeare quotes for the tourists. new yorkers know bullshit.

Jody Ellis

@Peter, I never said Blake Snyder was a "master" of the craft, I simply pointed out that he did manage to sell quite a few scripts in his lifetime. I'm not quite sure why there is so much vitriol in your posts, but it just makes you look...sad. Here's a hug <3

Dan Guardino

Dan M. Peter said he graduated from USC. I doubt you'll find more than that anywhere but personally I wouldn't waste my time because I don't give a rat's rectum what he has done.

Dan MaxXx

Dan G Im sure he did. plenty people have (I was an un-official student for over year, cast my first movie on campus & zemekis building.) I was referring to the USC Cinema Hall Of Fame. Their Who's Who list of Hollywood. http://cinema.usc.edu/alumni/notable.cfm

Bill Costantini

I'd say Blake Snyder was a master at the craft, though. His stories were well-written, well-structured, emotionally pleasing and entertaining. The two films he has credits for - Blank Check and Stop or My Mother Will Shoot - were both great films. I know the latter was universally panned, but I found it a funny and thoughtful film. I know that some of you may be more high-brow and sophisticated than I am. My tastes in art are very wide-ranging. Let's not forget that art and its effects are personal and subjective. My definition of "great" might be different than your definitions, too. Let's also not forget that it's not an easy task to get a major studio or a major production company to fund a film based on your script. Those two scripts were great enough to get Disney/BV Pictures to say "yes", and to get Universal/Northern Lights Entertainment to say yes. Blake Snyder was a great writer, and a great teacher, at least to me. RIP, Blake Snyder.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Blake is one of the most influential teachers in screenwriting history. The is no denying STC is a very effective tool.

Jody Ellis

When I first started writing screenplays, STC was one of the many books I read. I found it very helpful for a novice writer like me, and while I don't specifically use his methods now, it was definitely worth reading. I find it very telling when people who are less successful must dismiss or put down those who have done well. And whether people agree or disagree with his methods, Blake Snyder did have a successful career.

Dan Guardino

Blake Snyder was a master of the craft. I used his beat sheet to write three screenplays that are currently in various stages of production.

Regina Lee

Congrats, Dan G!!

Dan Guardino

Thanks Regina.

Dan MaxXx

Peter For educational purposes, can u provide us with an example of your produced movies, published works, or script contests winners? As for my "un-official" trojan status, 3 of my best friends are USC graduates. I attended classes there (free), worked on my film projects.

Dan MaxXx

Peter Carroll liked me. Sweet porsche. Best parking spot on campus. When Pete knows you, U are a Trojan :)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Guys.... C'mon. Enough. Please. Perhaps take this elsewhere. This isn't benefitting anyone.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Peter: 1) “Aw, shucks! It was easy: critiquing a weak argument is no different from pointing out that "the Emperor has no clothes." Basically, it was just a matter of thinking, pointing, and saying, "Look." Declaring yourself the winner of a discussion or debate doesn’t mean you have prevailed in that discussion. It just means you don’t enough confidence in your opinions to allow them to stand alone, without reinforcement. 2) @Daniel Wai Chiu yo, bro! u r gr8, m'dood. im w8ting 4 a grammitukul sentens frum u, may-b w/sum punktooayshun 2. TTYL :) Insulting, demeaning or being condescending to other posters, doesn’t make you the winner of a debate. It just indicates a mean spirited insecurity and need to bully or dominate. 3) “Blake is one of the most influential teachers in screenwriting history. The is no denying STC is a very effective tool." Though lacking any convincing evidence, this lapidary declaration was impressively stated with supreme confidence in a sonorous and stentorian voice. Bravo!" (Is it any wonder that Emily Ann Jefferson asked, "Are writers full of themselves?" To which we reply, "Yes, Emily, they often are — and often when they're least aware of it.") Mischaracterization of someone else’s statements also isn’t a way to win an argument. What are we debating here? “Save the Cat” is one of the most popular formatting books and software tools being used by screenwriters. It’s currently number one at amazon for several categories for books related to screenwriting. Along with Syd Field, Blake is considered one of the most influential script gurus: “The real golden paradigm in Hollywood right now — in the sense that you can watch bad movies and see it being obeyed pretty much to the letter — is the 15-point “beat sheet” from Blake Snyder’s bookSave the Cat!, a virtual schematic that tells you not only that your character must experience a “Dark Night of the Soul” but exactly on which page of your script it needs to happen. All the writer has to do is decide what fake job Adam Sandler or Vince Vaughn is going to have. It’s the next-to-last step before the rise of the algorithms.” ~Alex Pappademas Article on how Save the Cat has taken over Hollywood http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2013/07/hollywood_and_blak... One needs to only perform a few minutes of research to determine that Snyder is in fact, very influential. I've never used save the cat, nor do I give a rat's ass about it. If pointing out Blake Snyder is influential makes me a diamond polishing lemming, then I stand guilty as charged. I prefer that to being an arrogant blowhard. If you’re not sure who I’m referring to; or require more evidence. You need only look in a mirror.

Melissa Willis

This is great, Phillip! I have mostly written TV scripts and I find myself spending A LOT of time planning everything. I'm gearing up to write my first feature and feel a little overwhelmed, so this is most helpful. I should, as one of my favorite motivational people says, "Stop fixin' to get ready" and just write the damn thing. Consider me inspired. :)

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

@Melissa I'm delighted to hear that you feel inspired. If I can help you in any way, please feel free to let me know.

Jody Ellis

@Peter, I've yet to see any evidence that indicates you are doing anything more than "playing at screenwriting". I think the bigger question is why you feel the need to be insulting, rude and condescending. Care to answer that? Why even participate, if you don't have anything worth contributing? Sorry Beth, back to topic!!!! ;-p @Melissa I see a lot of people get caught up in "preparing to write" which is why I tend to avoid outlining at least until after my first draft. Get it out, then do your revisions!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Thank you for starting an interesting thread discussion, Phillip. But again... Let's please put an end to this fight. It is frustrating to have a personal argument dominate the Screenwriting section, which is not the spirit of Stage 32, nor is it fair to everyone else. Every single one of you has made your point. So please let it go. If the fighting continues, I will simply move this thread elsewhere. Thanks.

Beth Fox Heisinger

My dear Phillip, I know. :) For the most part, everyone kept it "clean." But, duty calls. I must step in when I receive complaints via private messaging. And I'm well aware of members. Let's just say some folks have received formal warnings from management, not just from little ol' me. :) With that, I will stop my part in this as well. As always, I'm here to help.

Zlatan Mustafica

I always appreciate your posts and inputs on our craft Phillip! I am nowhere as experienced as you or Dan G or Jody, I can only humbly share my viewpoint and how I work and if that is beneficial at all to you guys then, I did something right. :) I agree a lot with you, Phillip. My process is always the same but different. My method is NOT starting right off the bat but seing the movie play out in my head first then putting the words on the pages. I rarely outline but that has happened a few times. And it suits me pretty well, I think, but different people work in different ways. As long as we write well we should all be okay. Now what is writing well? That´s another topic entirely as well. What I´m saying is we need to have each others backs here. Personally, I have grown so much as a writer since joining this platform. I have learned more in two months by talking with other writers, posting and reading posts of others than just sitting in my home writing for years and years, with no real feedback coming my way (except from contests and arenas like that). It is a very subjective craft. And it needs food elsewhere not just our own ideas or thoughts on it. And you, Phillip, you are very gracious with your knowledge and experiences and I thank you for that, Sir! It sure has helped me!

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Zlatan: Thank you and your remarks are very much appreciated.

Zlatan Mustafica

I appreciate that, Phillip, thanks!

Dan Guardino

I agree with Beth. I don't have time but if someone wants to start another discussion about how to become and act like a professional screenwriter I will definitely participate.

Anthony Cawood

Made me chuckle reading some of this... though that probably wasn't the intenion ;-)

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Anthony: I totally get it.

Anthony Cawood

Knew you would my friend.

Jorge J Prieto

Zlatan: Loved everything you said. Thanks for writing it. BTW, we all love Philip E. A real positive influence here at Stage 32. Glad you acknowledged him.

Zlatan Mustafica

Jorge, I appreciate that more than you know. I have always believed that credit should be given where credit is due and acknowledging good people around oneself, in whatever way, shape or form , is important and rewarding in itself.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

@Beth: Thank you. You are a valued friend.

LindaAnn Loschiavo

@Beth -- thank you for bringing the fire extinguisher. The ice is all melted and the cock-fight is winding down. Anyone needs a designated driver to help them go home ---- send me a DM. Cheers. :-D

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