Screenwriting : Ever Get Embarrassed By Your Own Work? by Michael L. Burris

Michael L. Burris

Ever Get Embarrassed By Your Own Work?

Perhaps it is just learning three fold in the last few months really since about June but I've got to fight for my validation I do know what I'm doing. Recently I have posted and taken down a lot on my wall and even in threads sometimes. So I've noticed a reallly good discussion about process of rewrites then I thought I'd post something of my own that was really not that good from six months ago and show how I should have rewrote it before submitting. It's short and won't take long to read. By the way noticing and deciding to post this one paragraph just took me about fifteen minutes and four rewrites for one paragraph, three sentences. I think it is workable the way it is now then again maybe it does have too much actor direction in it. I think it is a good example showing how hard this stuff can be to get right. Hopefully it will help somebody else struggling like I did and sometimes still do. INT- NCIS HEADQUARTER’S- DAYTIME Dinosa is coming into the office carrying a new brisk tea he is deciding to try. He notices Ellie is already at the office and as the morning light from the office window hits her face he decides to make a lighthearted anecdote. INT- NCIS HEADQUARTER’S- DAYTIME DiNosa enters the office carrying a cup labeled Brisk Tea in his left hand and laptop under right arm. DiNosa sees Ellie already sitting at her desk noticing the morning light from the office window is shining upon her face. DiNosa puts his laptop on his desk while slyly looking over at Ellie, takes a sip of his tea then greets Ellie in an onery but lighthearted boyish tone. (Probably better as "then greets Ellie with a lighthearted anectdote".) Takes out actor direction especially since it is for an already known character with known character traits. Anyway hope this might help someone a bit. By the way I could still be wrong in writing it this way. Peace out and hope everyone is doing well with their endeavor's. I guess I shouldn't look at it as embarrassment so much but perhaps being grateful I'm growing and noticing these things. Being humble enough to admit when I'm wrong is a hard change for me too.

Shelley Stuart

It can be hard to get right, and it takes courage to put pen to paper, and even more courage to put your work out there. But it sounds like you're learning, and that builds more courage and better writing. It's still overwritten regarding actor directions (you're probably better off never telling the actor what tone of voice to use). The very first thing to get right when doing a spec script is your character names. It's "DiNozzo," and (if I remember right) "Bishop" not "Ellie". Keep at it. Every draft is a learning opportunity.

Joshua Maislin

I don't really get embarrassed by my own work--I just get defensive, irrational, and resort to ad hominem attacks when someone criticizes my genius.

Michael L. Burris

Well Alle you are good editor. I'll give you that. However naturally speaking (Me that is) In my opinion I think some of the comments that you make seem as though you really put effort into making much of what you want to convey read and resonate being interpreted as or sound like an editorial instead of just naturally speaking. Perhaps that is your unique style of writing almost in an editorial style with whatever it is you write. Maybe we should nickname you "Editor Alle" LOL! I mean that never antagonistic and always complimentary for the most part even though you can antagonize, enlighten and be frustrating at times. Why do you make me think of Parks & Rec. ? Oh nevermind don't ask me or my dumb brain to explain that.

Lisa Clemens

I Was hired to write a screenplay for a company that wanted it's target audience to be early 20s, college age males... I was told that in one scene I was to add HOOTERS girls, in another they wanted gratuitous "after fight" sex... I was happy for the paycheck but even happier it was never made!

Enmerkar Zedek

Lots of early 20s collage age male are not happy to hear that LOL!

Mario Leone

Never dwell, pick yourself up, brush yourself off and keep on going. Just make the next one better.

Anton West

Alle, your own grasp of spelling, grammar and punctuation is pretty poor. Even the background pic on your profile contains two glaring errors. Unless of course the words 'fictonal' and 'genuis' really do exist. Your use of apostrophes is invariably wrong and you spell 'lose' as 'loose'. As for accusing people of writing rambling sentences, that's hilarious coming from you.

Mario Leone

We can all remain professional. We all know story trumps all. Grammar just halts all reading before page Ten. We can all find common ground here. :-) We can indeed help every one who needs it. We can focus on helping Mitchell.

Michael L. Burris

Thanks Dan and all. I keep thinking thinking about advice William Martel gives about writers wanting to be too visual as well. It's hard to let that visualization go sometimes. It probably isn't necessary to even put Dinossa greets Ellie and just go straight to dialogue. I know it's hard to get into just one scene and break it apart but here is my thinking and perhaps I'm wrong Dan but as perception goes Ellie sits at desk. Sun shines on her face. Yes the audience sees that but it is also important in this particular scene that Dinossa himself sees this because it leads into or set-ups the dialogue. It's also important I think that the audience sees Dinossa look on slyly because of the dialogue set-up. To me it's like the audience and readers or actors know this is going to be good knowing the intent instead of leaving intent of the scene wide open. The way you wrote your interpretation leaves everything up to the actors or director and perhaps that is more what we should do. It's hard for me to know when to show intent of a scene as well I guess and how much intent to show. With established characters it is probably a bit different at times too. Again thanks all and I'll get my mind wrapped around all advice instead of thinking I know-it-all. I'll have a better chance if I can better understand what I know too. Does my thinking even make sense to you guys. I have to go work on some stuff today and may not get back until later tonight. I hope there is a bit of continuation with this discussion helping me better understand.

Shelley Stuart

Mitchell (and Dan), I agree -- sometimes you need to show intent. But when you're writing a spec TV episode with long-running existing characters, then it becomes less necessary to put into the action what the dialog conveys. The sun hitting Bishop's face might be important for this moment but think about it -- in reality it's a pain in the ass if you're sitting at a desk working on a computer screen, so use that moment to give Bishop some character. Let her be trying to shield her monitor or her face from the sun somehow. DiNozzo will have a very specific reaction to the moment. But it won't be a physical attraction to Bishop. DiNozzo's not. His heart went with Ziva, and Bishop's married. DiNozzo wouldn't knowingly pursue a married woman. He has a very high degree of integrity and even nobility. DiNozzo's opening line of dialog might be something to reference Bishop's former job making her a mole person (perhaps tied in with a movie reference). Then DiNozzo would work it around to his cup of tea that he apparently wants someone to comment on. (Though McGee is likely to notice and comment on it first.) If this were the introductory moment to people we had never met, then yes, a sly glance would tell us much about the person involved. But in this case, it conveys that you don't really have a solid understanding of the characters and their behaviors toward one another.

Cherie Grant

If you're not embarrassed by your work then you're not learning.

J.G Sarantinos

Never. Even the most godawful, incoherent jumbled mess has a spec of gold that will stimulate other stories.

Michael L. Burris

Thanks all sound advice I can use from all. Shelley on one point I'll just agree to disagree and if I were in a writer's room I would fight for my two words "Looks slyly" and probably wouldn't win. I still think it's an instance of making things go smoother rather than slowing it down though. LOL! Now I have to go do some actual work. Peace out all and hope everyone's projects are going well.

Sandra Campbell

Hi Mitchell. The action lines are a bit wordy. You might consider shortening them to just a couple of sentences. Long stretches of paragraphs are hard on the old eyeballs. Also, try using simple tense action words instead of present continuous verbs. This shortens it a bit and makes it more interesting to read. Best of luck!

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