“Screenwriting Tips” is a Hot Blog

…In fact, it’s become one of our favorites. Highly recommended.

Here’s why:

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The man behind this site is Xander Bennett. According to our googling, he hasn’t made it big yet as a screenwriter. But if we were Big Time producers we’d change that.

Oh, he also has a book out. It’s like the blog only expanded. Check it out HERE.

John Ostrander on Writing Fight Scenes

Yo, action writers!

Read this!

Do it!

You won’t be sorry.

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JOHN OSTRANDER’s Rules of Engagement
by John Ostrander

Let’s talk about writing fight scenes. Nothing to it, right? In this corner we got character A, in that corner we got character B, the bell rings, and they proceed to beat the poo out of each other until someone falls down. Simple, right? You just point the artists in the general direction, tell them how many pages they got, and collect your check. What could be more simple?

I’ll admit, I’ve pretty much done that some times. If I know the artist real well, I’ll give plot points that are to be covered and let them work their magic. However, I only do that if I know that the artist and I are on the same page about how fight scenes should go.

The fact of the matter is, fight scenes need not only to be choreographed, they need to be plotted and written. They need to build. Above all, they should serve the story and not simply be there for some random violence. The purpose of the story is to reveal character and so also is a fight scene.

The real question in any story is what does the protagonist want and how badly does he want it? It reveals who he really are as opposed to who he thinks he is. My late wife Kim used to play scenarios for me and ask me how I would feel or what I would do in such and such situation. I always told her, “I don’t know. Ask me when we get there.” All I could have told her what was I thought I would feel or do or how I hoped I would react. The truth is, those are all bound up in youridea of who you are. You don’t know until you’ve been there. Past experience may be an indication but it’s not a guarantee. Circumstances are always a little different and there’s any number of contributing factors that can alter the outcome.

In any scene (and that includes a fight scene), what a character does is determined by what they want. What is their goal? Usually there is more than one objective and sometimes these objectives are contradictory – we’ll talk about all that some other time – but let’s say there’s one essential goal that drives the protagonist. It’s not something they would like or they sorta kinda maybe want, it’s something they want. It is something that defines them. It is something theymust get, must achieve, must save, must protect.

The opponent – the antagonist – is what’s in the way. It could be a person, it could be an army, it could be a wall, it could be a hurricane, it could be anything. In a regular scene, the objective could be relatively small but, in a fight scene, it usually comes down to something pretty primal.

The goal also can’t be easy for the protagonist to get. If the goal is to get through the wall, you look for a door. If the door is locked, you look for a key. If you don’t have a key, you try and kick it down. If the door’s re-enforced, you try to blow it up – or you give up. If giving up is not an option, then the protagonist has to find a way.

Notice there was a progression in the wall sequence. We try what is easiest first – rule of human nature and what’s true in real life should be true in our stories. You want the scene – any scene but especially a fight scene – to build. It gets harder for the protagonist as it goes. You blow it all in the first punch then you have nowhere to go and neither does your story. The protagonist has to struggle; it’s the only way we get to see who they really are. No struggle, no revelation. No point to the story.

Take boxing as an example. You have the champ and in this fight he goes up against a palooka. The palooka goes down and out in the first round. The fight is over and who cares? Palooka keeps getting up and coming at the champ and, win or lose, you’ve got Rocky.

Violence isn’t necessarily about two characters beating the poo out of each other, either. There’s emotional violence as well. Read or watch Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Wolff for some first class emotional violence. It can be small scale, it can be Grand Guingol, but violence – emotional or physical – creates conflict, tension, and reveals character.

Fight scenes, if you have them, are part of the story and they have to tell the story or they’re a waste of time and space and the reader’s attention. A good fight scene is about something. That’s what we’re looking for – and that’s what we have a right to expect.

OBEY: A Film That’s Actually About Something

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Movies should be about something. They should bug us. Otherwise, why bother going thru all that crap to make one?

…Something real.

And very upsetting.

See the film from Studiocanoe

Based on the book “Death of the Liberal Class” by Chris Hedges.

It charts the rise of the Corporate State, and examines the future of obedience in a world of unfettered capitalism, globalisation, staggering inequality and environmental change.

The film predominantly focuses on US corporate capitalism, but it is my hope that the viewer can recognise the relevance of what is being expressed with regards to domestic political and corporate activity.

It was made completely of clips found on the web.

Music by Clark (warp.net/records/clark)

Warning – this film contains scenes that some viewers may find disturbing. Which we have to say here and now is probably why we like it.

Dammit, We Missed IndieReCon!

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Indie ReCon, an interweb conference for self-publishing writers and their support groups, ended yesterday, and from all reports was a worthwhile event chock full of info for what are now called – and rightly so – indie writers and publishers.

We meant to write about this last week, when you could have, you know, actually attended the event. But what with one thing and another, the post got lost in the scheduling shuffle. (Maybe cuz it wasn’t about TV writing per se, but hell, writing’s writing, no?)

The good news, however, is that the Indie ReCon site is still up, and on it are the most helpful articles we’ve ever read for self-publishing indie writers et al. For example:

  • Indie Publishing Then and the WOW of Now by LM Preston
  • Indie Authors Selling eBooks in Bookstores by of Kobo
  • Your Book as an App by Richard Smith of Bowker Identifier Services
  • Top 10 Tips for Successful Self-Publishing by Barbara Freethy
  • Chat with Steena Holmes and her agent, Pamela Harty from TKA (the Knight Agency)
  • Partnering with an Agent by Steena Holmes
  • All about Audio by Stacey Wallace Benefiel
  • Breaking into International Markets by Orna Ross of ALLIi
  • The Double Life: Walking the Fence in Publishing by Nancy Holder
  • Measuring Success by Susan Kaye Quinn
  • The Magic of Awards and Reviews by Amy Edelman
  • Creative Book Launches That Command Attention by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
  • 12 Steps to Blog Tour Success by Joel Friedlander
  • Building an Author Brand by Ali Cross
  • Build Your Mailing List! 5 Ideas That Really Work by DuoLit
  • Reaching Your Readers Online by Brittany Geragotelis
  • How Can You Use Social Media to Your Advantage? by Jason Letts of the Kindle Fire Department
  • Building a Sense of Community by Melissa Foster of World Literary Cafe
  • Importance of SEO and Metatagging Part 2 by Lori Culwell
  • Importance of SEO and Metatagging, Part 1 by Lori Culwell
  • Marketing Plans Made Easy! by S.R. Johannes
  • How to Sell a Million Books (Vlog Joanna Penn interviews CJ Lyons
  • Capturing the Magic of Self-Publishing Middle Grade with Sybil Nelson & Laura Pauling
  • Releasing Singles and Listening to the Audience by Hugh Howey
  • Secrets to a Successful Series by Addison Moore
  • The New Adult Wave in Indie Publishing by M. Leighton
  • Building a Bestselling Publishing Team by Miral Sattar of BiblioCrunch
  • 10 Ways to Make Your Cover Stand Out in the Crowd by Alicia Kat Dillman
  • An Editor Reveals Her Best Secrets by Cheri Lasota
  • Setting the Foundation for Your Writing Career: A Business Plan by Denise Grover Swank
  • Self-Publishing Basics: Part 2 by Heather McCorkle
  • Self-Publishing Basics: Part 1 by Heather McCorkle
  • Costs of Self Publishing by Miral Sattar of BiblioCrunch
  • 7 Worst Mistakes Indie Authors Make by Joanna Penn
  • Sidestepping the Stigma of Self-Publishing by Colleen Hoover
  • Entrepreneurial Authors Wear Many Hats by S.R. Johannes
  • The Honest Inside Scoop or the Pros and Cons of Indie Publishing by Jessie Harrell

And more, all of it HERE.

Speaking of Oscar Nominated Shorts…

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…This is a my-T-fine one:

Further proof that animation of any kind no longer is a kiddy format. And surprising news that somebody who could get this made in, you know, “Hollywood” actually understands mature relationships, Timothy Reckart’s HEAD OVER HEELS makes this a smiley, optimistic day.