Screenwriting : Are you a rule breaker, risk taker or formula driven? by Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Are you a rule breaker, risk taker or formula driven?

You're working on your next script. Let's say its a zombie story. Are you going for a good solid formula, hitting all the beats in the right places. Or are you breaking rules and taking risks? And this applies to every genre. Though I like to think of myself as very creative, I tend to stick to linear, more formula driven writing. 

What's your method and why? 

Dan MaxXx

not necessary break story rules but a write it with a fresh Point Of View that other more talented folks want to do and collaborate. Storytelling with a beginning, middle, climax ending. Know your genre and your audience. They don't pay to see Writers.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Dan: Great POV. I'm watching Woody Allen's Manhattan as we speak. Now that's great writing!

Dan MaxXx

Hardy

Go watch "DO THE RIGHT THING" after Manhattan. 2 "original" voices/ POV.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Dan M:

I saw Do the Right Thing at the movie theater when it came out. I thought it was superb.

Kerry Morgan

I'm an advocate of outlines and beginning with a linear process, but I know there are some writers that are not fans of outlining. An linear outline gives me structure and, because I am chaos squared in other aspects of my life, I need this structure to start my plotting process. It is once I have built the outline that I can go back and play a bit of a game of mix n' match - move scenes around, remove scenes, add or expand scenes, which allows the story to breathe (yup, kinda like wine). Essentially, yes, I begin my process as a rule follower, but then as the characters grow I allow myself to break the rules and allow the story to grow organically.

Jorge J Prieto

I hardly ever outline, so maybe I'm a rule breaker?? Although I do follow a format by trying to keep the story moving and always having conflict in every scene, plus beginning, middle, end within each scene. I work from instincts and feelings, if I'm not entertained, how can I expect anyone else to be? Great questions, Phillip, always a fan, buddy.

Craig D Griffiths

I don't go out of my way to break rules. Most of them are just observations and should be considered as rules, "a story must have conflict", "they must be a start a middle and an end", "a character must have a goal". These are common sense. Like I said I don't set out to break rules, I just don't think of them. They are not part of my thought process. All the films I consider to be really good, that I have enjoyed, normally don't follow the rules. They keep me guessing, I don't know what will happen next. This unpredictability isn't contrived it is just an outcome of the story.

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

I was a rule breaker, then I learned the 'rules' (ignorance was bliss!) and now I'm a risk taker, when the story demands it.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Personally speaking, I just don't consider screenwriting in that way—"rule following" versus "rule breaking." Screenwriting is a complex, subjective craft. Besides there are no universal rules. Every writer has their own methodology. And structure is not formula. When writing, I try to focus on the specific story I'm trying to tell, my specific creative intent for a screenplay, its specific context, and how best to execute it with the reader's/audience experience in mind. Whatever approach I take—and the script's structure—forms from those considerations. ;)

Chad Stroman

@craig d griffiths I think that's where a starting screenwriter should endeavor to be eventually. Learn the basics and "rules" or "conventions" and at least starting out, learn to craft within those rules. Then once you have a handle on crafting within the conventions craft without having to think of them. Every great painter (that I'm aware of) never started out breaking conventions but learned and mastered the conventions of their times and then began to craft their art using what conventions they had and inventing their own, that worked.

Craig D Griffiths

@Chad I think I have benefited from what would normally be a drawback. I suffered a brain injury at 3. This caused (what operates like) dyslexia. I never really learnt to read until the last years of high school. But my friends and I were mad about role playing games, Dungeons & Dragons, Traveller or even Gamma World. Because of my illiteracy I wasn't much of a rule reader. My job was to make up scenarios on the fly. I became the weekly game master. For about 5 years every Friday and Saturday I would make stories for my friends to interact with. I think this is why I am more comfortable working outside rules. I comfortable making up endless issues to throw at my characters. I will garbage most of what I think.

Breda Paccione

In order to break rules, there must be rules to break. I agree with Chad. If you have a good understanding of the rules and know how to use them well, then you know which ones can be broken to tell your story in a unique way. European filmmaking doesn't follow the Hollywood formula, yet they tell stories well.

Bill Costantini

Rule-less people operate by rules, too....the Law of No-Rules. So they are really no different than those who operate by rules, even though they think they are.

Suck it up, precious little snow-flakes . Seriously. You'd all be sitting at the same table for the Writer's Christmas Party. Heh-heh.

Dan MaxXx

All this chatter about breaking rules when most can't agree what the rules are. Here is my rule, mentored by a Hollywood Indie Producer: "Are you willing to risk your own money- your house, 401K, Kids' college funds- and do a movie your way, damn the rules of proven storytelling and selling?"

Put up your own $$$. That is the end game. Make movies and sell tickets. The maverick filmmakers take huge on financial risks. People lose jobs when movies fail. Big stress. Writing a script has 0 or the least risks.

Bill Costantini

Breda: the theory of dramatic structure is hardly a "Hollywood formula."

I've seen many great European films - from the 1940's to the present - and all the great ones that I've seen have premises, beginnings, middles and ends; rising actions; conflicts (both outer conflicts and inner conflicts); reversals; darkest-before-the dawn moments; and characters who are trying to gain something (and usually characters who are trying to prevent them from gaining something).

All of the great Asian films, Indian films, and African films that I have seen have those same elements, too. What exactly is this "Hollywood formula" that you refer to, if I may ask?

Fiona Faith Ross

I'm a rule breaker, within the rules.

Desiree Middleton

Who cares? Are you screenwriting for a quick buck, or is this something you have to do, like a foot fetish? You can't go a couple of days of not writing, without getting withdrawal symptoms. When you get to that point, rules vs. no rules won't apply. There will be no spoon.

Fiona Faith Ross

Fair comment, Desiree.

Bill Costantini

That sly old Phillip....knowing a topic like that would cause a ruckus about rules.....Phillip is quite the agitateur de merde, as they say in Paris, Texas. Heh-heh.

Craig D Griffiths

Dan everyone loses money when a wrong decision is made in every job (pretty much). People (even Executives) are in the creative industries to be part of something creative. There is far more money in finance or banking. Stating that everything has to be by some structured, formula is logically wrong. Otherwise they wouldn't need writers at all. They could grab the structure, put a scenario at the front, fill in the blanks and then let the actor improv the dialogue. Let's look at the UK or Asia, there industries are doing fine. They are looking for quality and a marketable product. Yes I do put my money where my mouth is. I think it is wrong on many levels to jump in with the "stick to the rules - it's a business when people are discussing creativity" You want a stressful job, talk to the military or law enforcement. Let's put this in perspective people.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Bill C: Moi?

Dan MaxXx

Craig

Hollywood entertainment is about making money. Always has been about $$$$. And as far as "formula", what is it? If there is a formula, every film and filmmaker would be earning $100mil+ at the box office, winning Oscars.

There is no formula and there are some of the smartest MFers working at the studio level. MFA and MBA degrees from the best schools. They don't even know. The ex Sony Studio Boss (fired) risked $200mil+ on "Passengers". The Script looked like a winner written in 2007, directed by an Oscar Director, with 2 legit A List young Movie Stars. And at present "Hidden Figures" is the highest BO $$$ for an Oscar nominated movie. That movie had virtually 0 marketing campaign starting out. How do you sell a movie with 3 women? Dunno. But audiences love it. I saw it twice.

And there is no "quick" money to be made writing scripts. Not non-WGA level. The script purchased contracts are not even full amounts. They are partial payments. Get paid in full when a script makes it to a lense, production. I dont know how folks survive as a full time, non-wga Screenwriter. How much real money upfront do you think you're gonna get? Better off working at Starbucks. Better pay per hour and free Medical, 401K plan.

Robert Rosenbaum

Dan, you're a whore.

Yes "Hollywood" is about making money, but film making, play writing... WRITING is not (necessarily) about making money. It can be about expressing yourself and being creative. Do that first and you'll have much more satisfaction, especially if you ever find financial success in a creative industry.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Robert:

I think it's safe to say that we all have our reasons for what we do. Personally, I'm not a big believer in being a follower. I've written some screenplays that I believe have commercial potential and I've also gambled on writing spec scripts for a few producers. One of my advantages in this game is that I'm blessed to be a prolific scriptwriter. When I have what I think is a good idea for a story, I don't perform a market analysis or necessarily deliberate over whether or not my script will ever be filmed. If they are, that will be a wonderful thing. I always endeavor to create art, while entertaining the reader and my weightier scripts have been the ones that have garnered me the most attention. I put forth my best effort to build my brand as a writer. But I also write what I feel like writing and think it's more important to feed my soul than my wallet.

Dan MaxXx

Robert

Spot on. Pros get paid. Write it and sell it. Some times you make "Moonlight". Other times you write "XXX xander Cage"- movies that pay bills.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Dan's not a whore, he's just focused on the color green. And silver and gold are also okay.

Dan MaxXx

Hardy

Im not focused on $$$. Im focused on a career. Risks, formulas, however you want to write, you got to transfer words to $$$.

It's Oscar week. If you're not attending the Oscars or don't know a person attending or involved, you're not in the Industry at all. Write movies people want to see or go make your own movies. That is risk$$.

Patrick Ryan Jones

Personally, I'd have to say two things: lack of orginality as per the premise, and wooden, clunky ass dialogue. Everything is rehashed and refried these days, plots have the depth of a puddle; seemingly when it's not a concept main stream filmmaking forgot we saw 20-30 years ago lol C'mon, give American audiences credit, they're simple. Not stupid ;)

As for the latter comment, dialogue is golden compass to character development, charming the audience. People forget that. Kills me! With all the crazy, colorful vernacular this country has at its disposal, screenwriters should be spitting wicked convos with their charas, but alas! Many do not. I read some scripts and, "Feels like I'm babysitting my brother's kids or somethin", in regards to grammar and syntax.

Robert Rosenbaum

I meant whore in the most loving sense, Dan. LOL

Phillip, sounds like you enjoy what you do. In the end, that's what will keep you from putting a bullet in your brain, not the money!

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Maxy: You know I was just funning you. I have enormous respect for your focus and drive. I know a couple of guys attending the Oscars wiping my brow. And hope to get there once before I croak.

Owen Mowatt

Dan Maxx - The whore with the heart of gold.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Robert R: Thanks for the kind words. Creativity has definitely been my mistress. But If I ever did blow out my brains, what a fantastic shot that would be!

Dan MaxXx

robert

:))) I'll be your private dancer for a WGA salary job

Aray Brown

I'm a fan of outlines, wasn't at first when I started. I pretty much have it mapped out in my head. I write more in my head than anything. I think it about every scene in my head before I put it on paper or FD, prolly why I don't type as fast as I could.

There are times where I just run with an idea and see where it takes me, especially if it's a first draft. You iron out the beats later. Nothing kills creativity faster, than worrying about that stuff in the beginning.

Dan Guardino

Dan M isn’t whore just because he wants to make money. For some reason a lot of screenwriters just assumes just because someone wants to make money writing screenplays that they aren’t passionate about what they are doing or they are tossing creativity out the window and that just isn’t true. I am very passionate about what I do but I still want to make some money doing it. I also write screenplays that I think the producer can use to make money. Without screenplays, they can’t make movies but without money they can’t buy them. People need both to survive so it is pretty hard to separate the two. Least that is my opinion. And it isn't very nice to call someone a whore.

Thomas Lee Howell

Buy Final Draft software, learn to format and write. Let if flow and come back later to cut out the extraneous BS not needed. No one can teach you how to write a decent story.

Rob Jones

I couldn't have said it any better than Aray. I used to just get the basic story premise, opening, characters & ending then just sit down and write what comes in my head. I still essentially do that but with the guidance of outlining and outlining again every step of the way.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Rob J: It's always good to have an outline. For my last script I wrote fifty pages out of my head and then outlined the second half.

Craig D Griffiths

@Dan I have to disagree. It's about film. People want to make film. If they can make money doing it great. Then they can make more films. So then they hire accountants etc to help keep it in line. The reason a movie doesn't get green lit, is because it may threaten the future of making more films. MAKING MORE FILMS, not more money. By using your argument everything is about money, therefore it is pointless to make that statement.

Craig D Griffiths

Passengers, hmmm cast of four limited locations 200 million. Perhaps sacked for being wasteful. Could have been a hit $80m movie.

Dan MaxXx

Craig

If you believe you know how to make movies, America and Hollywood Studios are always hiring.

C Harris Lynn

Oh, come on. There absolutely is a formula for every genre and sub-genre out there. You can download beatsheets that literally give you the formulae to writing marketable (to producers and studios, at least) screenplays in any (sub-)genre. TV has very specific formulae, but that's mostly due to commercial breaks. Still, it's a formula - one you can analyze every week while watching TV.

I definitely want to get paid, but my reasoning for working in Hollywood - as opposed to, say, being a novelist or pornographer - is not just about money. That doesn't mean that I don't know it's a lot of money! But authors get an awful lot of money, too - far more than screenwriters, in many cases. It's about collaborating with other professionals who are (hopefully) as passionate about what they do as I am about writing. And it's exciting!

That said, I write by scene, then fit those scenes into the general structure or outline readers and producers expect to see. I may break with the conventions or structure here and there, but I hit The Big Stuff I know readers expect to see to avoid getting my mss slushed before they read it all the way through.

Dan Guardino

Whether it is a lower budget film or a big budget film it takes money to make a movie. Most screenwriters want to sell or option their screenplays or be hired to write one and someone has to come up with the money to do that. Then they use the screenplay to raise development money. If they are successful an make it past the development stage they then try to raise production money. If the movie gets made they hope it makes money so they can make their next film. Obviously the people that are trying to make money need talent people that might not be doing this just for the money. The movie business is mixture of art and business and one usually won't survive without the other. As far as formula there are formulas that are considered the industry standard but nobody has to follow what other people consider the standard. Really it is all just a crap shoot anyway.

Craig D Griffiths

Dan here's a thesis. Since writers ( let's call them amateur, or lacking industry relationships) are all flowing a formula blindly, this is giving producers less choice and therefore increasing their risk since there is no chance to diversify. I liked Passengers. But I also knew there was no way Chris Pratt would die, the film was following "The Formula". Hold on, could the formula be souring and the cause of flops..... say it isn't so.

Dan Guardino

Not all screenwriters are amateurs or lacking industry relationships. As far as formulas go there are formulas that are considered the industry standard. I said nobody has to follow them. It is entirely up to each individual screenwriter to do whatever they want. I've used formulas and sometimes I didn't follow a formula. I just did what I felt like at the time.

C Harris Lynn

They ran it into the ground! They focus-grouped it, data-analyzed it, market-researched it, and concluded that the female lead in a rom-com has to wear a certain color outfit for the Meet-Cute which must happen by page #, etc. - then they recycled that winning formula ad nauseam for 25+ years!

After seeing the same premise, setup, and execution 242097097986 billion times, the audience finally caught-on. What they call "predictable," we call "trite," "cliched," or "formulaic." Yet we're told that these are the beats and so forth necessary to get a script read, much less produced. Someone else noted, and I'm paraphrasing, "We're told to be original, as long as it follows The Formula." :D

He hit the nail on the head, and that's what I'm trying to do.

Craig D Griffiths

Dan G, my comment was more in reply to Dan M. But if you are a working writer with existing contacts, work will come to you based on those relationships and reputation, the power of a network. This work will be based on a conversation, a collaborative effort. I was focusing on comments that normally end up with some form of "if you don't stick to the xxxx formula your script will be thrown across the room unread" or ".... everyone will know you're an amateur and stop reading" or "..... you can, NOT follow the formula if you're Tarantino, but you're not Tarantino". I am just sick of structure and formula bullies that come down hard on people that are trying to express their individuality. This thread started with a question around, do you or do you not stick to the rules. Of course it ends up with people telling what to do rather than just commenting on their own work

Dan Guardino

Craig. Sorry about the mix up. I agree people don't have to follow a formula. I am self-taught so I do whatever I feel like doing and and I don't worry what other people say or do. That is one of the reasons I never ask for feedback.

Dan MaxXx

Craig

Still wanna known what rules or formulas folks are arguing about? I have my own rules like setup, conflict, resolution. I like 3 act structure: boy meets girl. Boys loses girl. Boy gets girl back. That s solid storytelling to me.

I don't know how folks make movies

In other parts of the world but American movies and Studio release movies have their own ways of doing business and making movies. And making movies is hard.

There are no guarantees on a hit movie. Heck if I knew, I've given my own $$$ to James Wan when he was shooting "Saw" in a crappy sound stage in LA. The filmmakers of John Wick ran out of $$$ and Eva longoria wrote a check. Considering Keeanu Reeves has a personal income savings of $300mil++ and he didn't front the $$$$. Nobody knew John Wick would be a franchise.

C Harris Lynn

I'm not giving you a formula for a winning screenplay, much less a profitable movie, but they do exist and they appear to work because we see hit TV shows and movies use them all the time - so much so that many of their tactics have become "Golden Rules" of screenwriting, and cliches.

The Rule of 10 is a great example. That was a somewhat guarded "secret" of the writing world that some of the TV writers from the '70s made popular in the '90s, and it has since become Standard. "High Concept" pitches were developed by what's-his-name over at ABC (IIRC) back in the '80s, and has since become industry standard. "Nutshelling" - comparing your "original" work to two other, existing works - was a late-'90s/early-00's "shortcut" that became industry standard.

You can download beatsheets that tell you to have your Meet-Cute by page 15, your Second Act start at minute 25, and so on. TV sit-coms require a B-story, and so many laughlines per minute.

There are formulae for everything - every genre, sub-genre, pitch session - in screenwriting, and most of the BigWigs we're supposed to court appear to adhere to those guidelines.

Dan Guardino

There are formulas but not everyone follows them. All formulas are just variations derived from three standard three act structure. A beginning, a middle and an end if I make it that far. LOL!

Craig D Griffiths

The three act structure has become a standard. But in older Hollywood films there was a longer first. Character development was considered a more important aspect of a film. SAW was based on a single scene from the original Mad Max movie, expanding it was smart. Come on Dan M, you know all the formulas, heroes journey, vogler, save the cats and all the page count gang. You must have a blah blah blah on my page ? or you will fail. This entire thread is about if you like them or not. Not about money, budget or who paid what.

Dan MaxXx

Craig

Whatever rules or formulas you want to use or believe is fine but how does a Writer measure success? $$$, work, a Rep backing your material, Industry referrals, Readers are excited.

Obviously if a person wants to "break rules" & has been writing for xxxxxxx years and has 0 traction, 0 paid career-- maybe it s a good idea to study the folks who write for a living, track their tools of the trade.

Or go write and make your own movies. It is all theory until you have something worth to risk.

Dan Guardino

Craig. The three-act structure has been the industry standard in Hollywood for a longtime. It wasn’t until years later that people started telling screenwriter that they must follow this or that formula to succeed. A lot of screenwriters read that in how to books so they believe it to be true and if they don't they will fail. I don’t really believe that is the case but I’m just a self-taught hack so who am I to tell other people what they should or shouldn’t do.

Doug Nelson

If you write the perfect script; hitting all the right beats on all the right pages with the proper character arcs along with the correct A and B story intermingling with a wonderful feeling up end - your script will be crap. It will be predictable, dull and insipid - there is a market for that crap. What do you want to be known for?

Michael L. Burris

I'm simply a conundrum, contradiction and parallel thinker. When we no longer have anything else to pick apart we try to revert back to a three act structure some cat told us about involving logic. Only problem: logic be good but there are times story is greater whether or not it is logic, emotion driven or both while staying within standardization of what's expected. I simple formulate and if that be some recognizable formula I suppose this may be a good sign but usually this is only or primarily relative to television versus screen. Everyone risks via concept to fruition. Rules are indeed rules and we must follow them to have order as to how we paint a canvas that someday becomes that which is interpreted to film. Not to be a smartass but this is how I see the craft if I'm to have any kind of Hardy or Hearty meal: Mr. Hardy.

Michael L. Burris

By the way: You may DOWSE to pray for extinguishment, WATER DOWN with hope something will reignite or ALLOW fire to burn uncontrollably where only you the author can guide where the fire can take you. Not that I would speak for your hydrant.

Craig D Griffiths

Dan M, or perhaps just aren't good at writing? This the danger of selling the lie of the rules. It would worse and far more common for a person to subscribe to the lie and have the outcome you are describing. Now that would be depressing.

Dan Guardino

Craig. What lie are you talking about?

Craig D Griffiths

That if you do not have a particular event on a particular page you will never sell your script. I listened to a podcast where people were breaking down scripts using the Save The Cat formula/method (don't know what it is referred to as), There was a huge debate about what constituted this particular event on page 75. It was upsetting them (I can't remember the details), it was a hit film with awards but they couldn't find the page 75 thing. The biggest lie is you need these formulas. You don't, you need talent, craft and the ability to tell a story. People without these things are told "for $x we will teach you the secret structure". They think that is why they can't sell a script, they didn't have the secret structure. I am a realist, if a script doesn't sell it's because it wasn't saleable.

Adam James Mawson

I say break the rules somethings need to change we can't live in the past forever, evolution. "You will never influence the world by trying to be like it never sell out!"

Dan MaxXx

Craig

Whatever rules or formulas the so called "Hollywood Industry" believes in is probably BS in real life experience, working.

But I think it is a good career decision to show a writing sample script With a clear beginning, middle, and Climax... and under 110 pages. It tells folks with $$$ and power that You understand craft. The "crawl"

Before you "run" theory.

Thats what Barry Jenkins did. He directed films in school, impressed folks with $$$, then got the opportunity to spend 3 years to adapt "Moonlight", using 6 different Actors for 2 lead characters. Who does that? Thats breaking traditional American film structure and Casting.

Anyways like i said it is all theory until you make a movie, from script to screen, make profit$$$ and folks with Power ask you, "what else you got?" Then go break some "rules"

Craig D Griffiths

Dan M we will probably never agree. I find it impossible to follow your logic. Do stuff that everyone else does and hope you stand out. Then after you have a relationship with someone break the rules. I am just going to be consistently me. That way when people put money down they can do it with confidence, no shock.

Dan MaxXx

Craig

Yes, do what others do, get real life making movie experience.. then 'break rules" (whatever rules mean to you). It's called, "Show Business." And I don't follow your logic. You already stated you don't like Hollywood or want to work for American Film Industry but you're trying to break into the American Film Market with 0 success track record doing it your way. (I have no track record myself. 0 reps. Never won a contest, I'm not in the WGA, never put "WRITER" occupation on my income tax forms).

It is all theory until you have done it.

Nea Simone

Rules? What rules? No risk...no reward!

Doug Nelson

Dan M - I understand what you're saying - but then, I'm one of those who is comfortable going in opposite directions at the same time.

Amparo F. R.

En mi pais natal se suele decir "cada maestrillo tiene su librillo". Eso significa que cada cual tiene su propia forma de trabajar.

A unos les sirve seguir las normas "a rajatabla", a otros les va mejor cuando rompen las normas y se arriesgan.

A mi, en lo personal, me gusta seguir las normas pero no siempre "al dedillo".

Como suele decirse " Fortuna sonrie a los valientes"

In my native country it is often said "every teacher has his book." That means everyone has their own way of working.

Some serve to follow the rules "a rajatabla(strictly)", others do better when they break the rules and take risks.

To me, personally, I like to follow the rules but not always "on the point".

As it is said " Fortune smiles the brave"

Dan MaxXx

Lol in my country, you either publish or teach. Lots of great teachers with academic success.

Bill Costantini

In honor of Fat Tuesday, and New Orleans......rules are suspended for today! Let the Good Times Roll!

Dan Guardino

Craig. I agree that you don’t have to have an event happen on a certain page or your script won’t sell. I agree there are no secret formulas out there that would guarantee a sale. This whole screenwriting thing is just a giant crap shoot. You can follow different formulas and fail. You can try not following any formal and fail. The odds of making any money at all writing screenplays are about 1 in 5,000. Why that 1 in 5,000 made some money is anyone’s guess. Nobody here or on this planet really knows what anyone else must do to break into this business as a screenwriter. So, there is no right or wrong way to do things. People just have to do what they feel will open doors for them.

Doug Nelson

The only guaranteed path to failure at screenwriting is to not write anything. Write your script, watch it "fail", learn from that failure and try something a little different next time. If you learn from your failure - that's called a lesson. I buy the occasional lottery ticket and I've won a few bucks over time but I've noticed that whenever I don't buy a ticket - I don't win. I think that Dan's 1 in 5,000 stat is a little steep, but it sure beats the lottery odds.

Bill Costantini

Fat Tuesday Hurricane

2 ounces light rum, 2 ounces dark rum, 1 ounce orange juice, 1 ounce lime juice, 2 ounces passion fruit juice, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon Grenadine. Shake in a cocktail shaker. Pour in tall hurricane glass over ice. Garnish with orange slices.

TO ALL MY FRIENDS!

Debbie Croysdale

@Bill. Ha ha but far too much sugar. London Gin, 1 whole fresh squeezed lime n lemon , chopped corriander with slimline tonic. SKINNY WEDNESDAY. And boring London Rain. Dang No Hurricane!

Doug Nelson

C Harris; there are screenwriters motivated by money, many are driven by visions of fame and glory, most by a combination of both. It's a long hard struggle up the magic mountain of marbles to reach ultimate success. Your writing can be your avocation but yeah, keep your day job.

Patrick Freeman

Whenever possible I try to break the rules, if for no other reason than that I tend to avoid rules and traditions that exist only for their own sake. I still use MSWord simply because I don't believe that screenwriting software makes you a better writer. For me it's about the story, the characters and their arcs, the conflicts and resolutions. I write scripts of the kind of movies I'd pay to see.

Having said that, I have some scripts that I know will never be produced. And that's OK. because in my head they're perfectly executed. And how often does a writer get that in reality?

C Harris Lynn

I apologize. That guy...okay?

Is giving bad advice that discourages people from doing what I think Stage32 is about, which is networking with others and being vulnerable enough to share. F-ck him.

I certainly do not discourage him from posting. Just handling my own. F-ck that guy.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Patrick F: Scripts that won't be produced? I have a few of those too.

C Harris Lynn

Screenwriting software definitely makes you a "better writer:" It handles formatting. (Which is still confusing as Hell until you make connections with people working on shows, or whatever).

C Harris Lynn

I don't want people/accounts like Dan MaxXx to stop posting; I want them to defend their alleged position.

Or GTFO.

C Harris Lynn

If you're a Writer, you accept it and nurse your project. Then you end up with that gay cowboy script that almost never got made (thank God for Angels). If you're a hooker...

I am uncertain as to what hookers do to make money.

C Harris Lynn

Prepositional phrases first, sir. Isolate then move. Branches or Bubbles.

First, isolate the prepositional phrases, then move them to lower branches - you can make as many branches as you like. The neater you make your diagram, the more pleasing it is to those who know nothing of this process - but that's aesthetics. And, as important as being pleasing to the eye (viewer) is, it isn't always correct - nor does it tell the story (storytellers).

So. Now.

You have to pleasingly diagram that insanely-worded sentence before a viewing audience in a way that makes them appreciate it - and silently walk away from the chalkboard while everyone who isn't asleep praises the cheerleader for being born pretty and jumping around or whatever.

I'm interested. You have so much to give, I'd like to receive, Sir.

Dan MaxXx

C Harris Lynn

Such is Structure - both in Writing and Screenwriting, and in English. And most of the Readers you're going to face are the type of people who still have a beard as a "statement." Defiant and ignorant.

But, they are English Majors who are doing their best not to move back in with their parents - which I, typing from my mom's basement, HIGHLY SUGGEST. Some of them are so f--king cool that you can literally give them half a page of dialogue notes and it becomes a half-hour on NBC (or ABC, or whatever that other one is - PBS), but the vast majority of them just got the job and are two months behind on their rent, so they'll do almost anything not to lose it.

You have to make it past The Readers

Dan Guardino

C Harris Lynn. Personal attacks are uncalled for.

C Harris Lynn

You learn to read upside down, sir. That's, like, the first thing you learn. Are you familiar with the term, "galleys?" Or "discards?"

C Harris Lynn

So are veiled and "situational" personal attacks, Dan Guardino, and I think Dan MaxXx has engaged heartily in both.

Dan Guardino

C Harris. I am not your buddy,

C Harris Lynn

We aren't all losers. And coming together is a positive thing, even if it amounts to nothing much. If we get together in a coffehouse and nervously say hello, that's AWESOME! That's how Masters of Horror began.

That guy...

Dan Guardino

C Harris. I never suggested you or anyone else here is a loser. I already have enough friends in the business so that is not the reason I am here.

C Harris Lynn

Wrong Dan. But we can fight... you know, for no reason.

I write scripts - like a Doctor. I pitch scenes, scenarios, and posts like I'm Goddamn Mark McGuire in the 1990s. When he absolutely did NOT do steroids or steroidial drugs.

And you ain't never made no money for me, so I'm calling it.

C Harris Lynn

He ain't got nothing. He just goes around this site, hating. Toxic.

But I do appreciate a worm's-eye view. I don't hate The Third Person - by any means! - I just wish he'd provide some reason for his bullshit (like the cheerleader stuff - if that got through, or if I finished it).

Ahem

Dan Guardino

C Harris. I don't fight with screenwriters. I am just here to share experiences and help my fellow screenwriters if and when I can.

C Harris Lynn

I'm here to fight. Tell him.

Owen Mowatt

Agree to disagree, Gentlemen. Both your dicks are exactly the same size, so unless either of you are writing a story about two dick-less thread-jackers and this post is somehow helping you, I suggest we move on.

Whenever we have a topic about structure and methods it always raises good, sometimes heated debates, but lets not get carried away here.

C Harris Lynn

Tell him in small, easily-defined words, and in a straight and direct manner - I believe they are called "imperatives" - that I am here to fight.

Adam James Mawson

Jesus that escalated quickly.

C Harris Lynn

He's had it coming.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

We want to thank Drunk Uncle from Saturday Night Live for demonstrating a shining example of poor conduct and how not to support the S32 writing community. And, not respecting and ignoring our 32 moderator who politely cautioned this person to stay on thread topic.

I would like to declare my support for S32 member Danny MaXxx and his straight forward opinions and contributions. And those who support other writers will receive treasures in writer's heaven as well as here on earth.

Now, please allow me to refresh this thread topic:

Are you a rule breaker, risk taker or formula driven?

Sometimes, I push boundaries. what say you?

Beth Fox Heisinger

C Harris. No thanks. Take some fight elsewhere. Read over the S32 Community Code of Conduct found in the site's "Terms of Use." Healthy debate is always welcome. Personal attacks are not. Abusive or offensive comments may be deleted. And no one likes a thread to be hyjacked. So, yes, let's please return to the thread topic. Thanks.

Emile M. Hobo

I prefer to stick to the rules of proper writing if I can. Proper writing comes close to being like a kind of rocket science sometimes. Like I said in a different thread, I'm a big fan of for instance Lajos Egri and Linda Seger and ... But I do need to get my head around to actually concentrate sometimes due to difficult circumstances and all that.

Eric Christopherson

I don't think it matters whether you breaks rules because there is still so much creativity allowed you even working within the rules. Take those films from the golden era, the 30s and 40s, structurally they came off an assembly line in the way there was always the inciting incident by page ten or twelve, the end of the first act plot point by page 25-28, etc., and yet produced so many beautiful films of such diversity. (But I also admire films that play around with structure, Memento, Pulp Fiction, etc.)

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Eric C: Well said sir!

Boomer Murrhee

Wow, how this thread weaves. I learned the rules so I can ignore them. I spent a lot of time learning about what makes a screenplay successful from a variety of sources. I then took all that stuff and placed it in the back of my mind. My goal to write what inspires me and hopefully others and to push the envelope with something unique. No fight here. LOL

Jody Ellis

Okay that was crazy. Right on Phillip. Danny Maxxx you keep on keepin' on.

Doug Nelson

A lot of venomosity (is that a word) being spewed around in here, to nobody's benefit. Doug has left the building.

C Harris Lynn

Actually, no comment from a mod came through until this morning (on my end) and I only see one - I just now see a comment from Beth, which is way after any comments I made, and I'm good. I don't dislike Dan M. - I do not dislike anyone I've encountered on this site - but I am tired of defending others against him, and defending others' helpful info and comments against his snide cruelty. I've liked and supported him for some time now across a number of threads, and he has not done that for me - nor have I seen him do that for anyone else. That's fine, but I'm under pressure - just like most of us - and we're supposed to be supporting one another, not tearing one another down and misleading others.

I apologize to the rest of you for going after him, but if you take the time to look back through his history of comments, an impartial person will see what I'm saying. You can see him behaving this way on this very thread! I have pitches to make, I have courses and webinars to take, I have screenplays to write and develop - and I've paid money for some of these things! I come here to hopefully connect with others who will provide (sometimes) positive messages and helpful comments and information, and discuss what I've learned. He doesn't do that; he mocks and disrespects almost everyone, all the time, every time he comments.

He's welcome to behave however he likes, but it's disingenuous to insist that I, alone, am to blame - I have no control over others, and I have my limits. Like many commenters who behave similarly on other sites, I don't know if Dan M is serious or not, and when I've asked him directly, he's ignored me - the way he's ignored others, and comments disputing his misinformation and attitude. That is trolling.

Making inflammatory or outrageous comments for the explicit purpose of riling others, or just to get a response, is trolling.

All of that's well and good, but if he's going to dish it out, then he better learn to take it - not start trouble then walk away from the fray like he's above the drama he starts, nor gaslight others who get involved. He is not the victim here; he's the aggressor!

No, I'm not on IMdB. No, I'm not a millionaire. No, I don't party with movie stars. But that doesn't make me, or anyone else here, any less an aspiring screenwriter than he - nor does it mean that we're bad writers, or that we don't understand the industry, or anything else he casually and constantly suggests. We all want to succeed, we are all under pressure, and we all want to be taken seriously - not mocked, slammed, and derided. Which is what he does on every thread. It doesn't look very good, and it feels pretty bad when you're on the receiving end, doesn't it?

Passive-aggressively undermining others, others' comments, and others' work (history), or their decision to seek outside help, is abusive - but I'm not here to complain or report anyone. I'm here to help as best I can, and hopefully be helped in return by those who know more about certain aspects than I.

You have to get your work past the readers, and many of the people giving advice - many of the folks running/moderating this very site - are either readers, or have dealt with them. They're providing a service that hopefully helps us get our mss in producers' hands. Paying for these services doesn't make us stupid, and it isn't going to give us some magic password to Hollywood - and we're well aware of that, thank you - but some of it helps, and some of it isn't very good. That's what discussion forums like this are for.

Also, if you're a difficult, combative, or toxic person, it doesn't really matter how good your work is, people will not want to work with you.

Discussing these issues is a good thing, and no one should be afraid that our ignorance of an issue, lack of experience- or whatever else it may be - is going to be insulted; we should feel confident to speak-up without fear of being embarrassed or passive-aggressively mocked.

(No, Beth, that was not aimed at you - I was speaking to Dan G. lol I don't see any other comments from you but the last one. Also, I apologize for hijacking your thread, Phillip, and to everyone else for behaving in a manner which is consistent with the way I feel I've been treated.)

Bill Costantini

Every time Doug leaves the building....I feel like watching Shane again. Doug....Doug! Come back! Come back, Doug! (Resignedly) Bye, Doug.

Doug Nelson

Wow! Before I even got out the door - someone got up on the wrong side of the bed.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Bill: I'm in the building and wild horse couldn't drag me out.

C Thomas:

I appreciate your apology. And you express yourself well. If you're pouring the same kind of feelings into your screenwriting, you're probably a hell of a writer.

Remember, we're all just Bozos on this bus.

Bill Costantini

See that, maw? Doug's back....I told y'all he'd be back! Doug's back, maw! Doug's back!

Bill Costantini

Phillip: you are one of the toughest hombres around.

Beth Fox Heisinger

C Harris: I appreciate your apology, thank you. You certainly contribute very much to the community.

I did indeed make an initial comment saying "Okay... Enough, guys" and to "Please return to the thread topic." I left it up for a moment, knowing thread comments are also sent through email notifications if a member has that preference set — most do. I then deleted my comment from the thread because I do not like to distract a thread myself — altar its direction. Hijack. You did respond afterwards — your comment that begins: "I apologize. That guy...okay?" But you then continued... I posted again this morning, leaving that one up. I then deleted more derogatory and attacking comments — per the Community Code of Conduct.

Now if you, or anyone else, has an issue it is far more productive and constructive to inform me, or another moderator, or send in a complaint by clicking "Contact Us" found at the bottom of the site.

Let's please return to civility, and, again, return to this thread topic. Let's move on, people. Thanks everyone!

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Beth FH: Your diligence is appreciated.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Bill C: I use a dry rub and marinade on my skin. But I'm still tough as titanium.

Craig D Griffiths

(Not wanting to stir things up again) Dan M and myself rarely agree. We debate (not fight). Abuse is the weapon of the defeated or people that are out of their depth. Now my final retort to Dan M's assertion that writing to rules can make you stand out. Following rules doesn't prove craft, story telling or writing. It proves you can stick to rules. You can say that the craft is writing a compelling story while sticking to the rules. But why constrain yourself and lessen a story by making it conform to some arbitrary rule? "Be like everyone else to stand out "..... Like I said before. I don't break rules intensionally, they don't appear in my thought process. If I had a rule it would be concentrate on the audience experience.

Eric Christopherson

Why lessen a story by "making it conform to some arbitrary rule?" That's a rare dilemma for me. More typically, I realize I've failed to follow some rule and when I do it strengthens the work.

Craig D Griffiths

@Eric many rules (from my POV) just state the obvious, like needing an inciting incident in the first few pages. Stating we need something to get a story started is obvious not a rule. That you should get into the "adventure" by page 25, don't be boring, again obvious not a rule. For me I look at the truly great stories like The Godfather. The wedding at the start is all background, no inciting incident. If we rewrite The Godfather to meet what people consider the rules. We'd need to have someone killed at the wedding to start the war. I have an internal set of rules. They help me produce the stories I want to tell. Stephen Knight said something which made sense to me. If a painting which is 40% blue paint is a masterpiece and sells fir millions, that doesn't mean another painting which is 40% blue paint is going to be as good. In reality you could probably find the rules in what I write, it is just never my intention that they be there.

C Harris Lynn

I'll be the first to admit I'm out of my depth. Writing rules are one thing, but formatting, pitching, and some of the other stuff I thought I knew (at least in general)... at this point, I am so thoroughly confused by all the conflicting info, that I don't know if I should speak at a pitch, or just stare and smile politely!

I was taught - and this has been The Rule since the 1970s, at least - you picked a popular TV show that was airing, or one you liked or wanted to work on, and wrote specs for it. And that you should have two or three specs from different shows, even if they were no longer airing. Apparently, those seeking writers don't do specs at all these days - they want you to have two to three original pilots! Two to three original TV pilots!? That's like saying you need to write two or three novels before you bother submitting anything for pub, if you ask me.

I don't come up with original ideas for pilots and features every day, every week, or every year! And, if I'm busy brainstorming and developing, I'm not writing - but hey, if that's what they want, that's what I'll do! I'm just not convinced that it's what I should be working on without specifically being asked to do so by someone I'm meeting, or plan to meet. Developing an original TV series is no small feat, and that's an awful lot of work for one, 22-45 minute script on spec.

THEN they tell you that, if you've never been staffed, you basically have a less than 0% shot of getting an original pilot to air. SO WHY AM I DOING TWO OR THREE OF THEM!? Again, that's not being combative - I'm just thoroughly confused, and unwilling to take on such big projects just because someone online said that's what to do.

BTW, I no longer have any idea, whatsoever, as to what it is - if anything - that I'm supposed to be capitalizing in my sit-com scripts. None. I highly recommend software that handles formatting, but every TV sit-com is different - which you can see from reading scripts. Features appear to largely be the same, as far as formatting.

I also learned (back in The Day) - and, not for nothing, I learned these things from Big Time People who work[ed] on Big Time TV shows, many of which are now considered classics, so this is solid info (at least at the time) - that you didn't write scripts, you wrote treatments, then shopped those out, and developed the ones you were passionate about while awaiting a response. Once the responses came in, you set to work on Requested/Considered material, or you started writing more treatments. That's how pub used to work, re: querying, when magazines were a thing.

They haven't done treatments in years, but now - as I just learned - they do again! lol It's really confusing and it seems to depend entirely upon the studio, or whomever you're meeting. I understand being frustrated by all of this - and that leading to cynicism, bitterness, and lashing-out. It happens, and it's understandable.

When it comes to writing, there are some hard and fast rules beyond grammar, but many of the most popular, important works are the ones that break from those conventions - from Joyce to Hemingway to Eraserhead to Memento. I love writing what they used to call "genre," and that has tons of conventions and beats - or what you could say is a "formula" of sorts - and I love that. I like having that structure to work within, although I don't necessarily stick to the conventions - especially if something outside those rules works for the project. I get why some people would use a template, or stick to a formula. These days - from what I have learned and understand - I'd need to rework basically everything I've ever written to better fit into a single genre. (No way I will, as I see this as chasing the market.)

In that sense, I think it's easier to consider screenwriting a genre for these purposes (it's a form, to be certain, but a kind of medium unto itself between print and film [IMO]). And "formula" - we know they're out there, we know some of them work at least often enough that a formula could be identified in the first place - may not be the best term. But we also know there is a lot of formulaic product - once again: confusing.

I've found that my stuff tends to conform to what I was taught, even without intentionally thinking about it when I work, and I'm sure that's because it was drilled into my head. Get a copy of AP Stylebook and Elements of Style because - and I could not be happier to say this - every lecturer, producer, manager, et. al., I've heard has stressed good writing and proper grammar, and most have literary backgrounds. Those contain the only hard and fast "Rules" I don't think you should break if you hope to sell.

Speaking of, I've worked in almost every form there is, so I'm very fluid when it comes to redeveloping projects. With a strong background in prose, you can rework an unsalable feature into a series, novel, et. al. I know we're talking about film, but you can pay your bills writing, so don't dismiss it. Expand your pilot into a feature, or vise-versa, and reshop it - then sell FNASR to a magazine and serialize it, if you need to. I've never understood that old saw about screenwriters with dozens of unsold/unsalable screenplays setting about, collecting dust.

I get a lot of insight from these exchanges, and it's fun to discuss, but I have no problem admitting that I have no idea what the hell I'm doing - so take anything I say with a BIG grain of salt. I love reading topics with headlines like, "PLEASE GOD SOMEONE HELP ME!" I'm like, "Here, you sit next to me. We're the WTF!? Club. We meet on Tuesdays" :D It's nice to know I'm in good company.

Here's Elements of Style:

http://faculty.washington.edu/heagerty/Courses/b572/public/StrunkWhite.pdf

Owen Mowatt

I pressed, expand comment and the damn thing just rolled off my screen and landed in my lap.

I'm sure there are some decent points in there, Mr Lynn, but after 122 other posts over 7 days, it's asking a bit much to read all that now.....but I did try.

Dan Guardino

People are confusing rules with structure. The only rules are formatting rules like all capping a character’s name when they first appear on film. All this other stuff people are debating about is structure which is not a rule. People can structure a screenplay anyway they want and they wouldn’t be breaking any rules. If Dan M believe he should follow a certain formula that is fine. If someone believe you don’t have to follow any formula to succeed that is fine too. Nobody in the business really cares about half the crap people here argue about.

C Harris Lynn

I know, it was like a book! I spent half an hour editing it, but still wound-up with that. I started not to even post it. :D

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