mg_4019-4

Okay guys. So last week, we got up to page 40. At least I hope we did. Since this is screenwriting, I’m sure a spoon full of you made up reasons to watch 15 movies in the genre you’re writing as part of your “research,” cough cough.

Look, I’m not going to pretend like that’s never happened to me. Sometimes we are faced with the inability to come up with creative ideas and when that happens we’ll look for anything to do other than write. But if you’re going to get this script done on time, you need to throw away that judgement voice in your head and get those pages down.

Ultimately, you want to work in this business, right? Well guess what happens when you have an assignment due? Do you think the people paying you 500k are going to be like, “Oh yeah, just get it to me whenever inspiration strikes.” Yeah, unless you love giving studios reasons to void a contract, I’d suggest getting used to deadlines. Consider this practice for the big leagues.

We are now inside those 50 or so pages that many refer to as “the jungle,” because it’s where screenplays wander into and never come back out. Luckily, we outlined ahead of time, we did character work ahead of time, which means this section should be easier for you than for the guy who thought he’d write a script and “see where it goes.”

This week, we’re writing to the midpoint, which should be somewhere between pages 55 and 60. The midpoint is where you’ll be throwing a game-changer of a moment into your story. Maybe it’s plot related. Maybe it’s character related. It could be a major reveal, a major reversal. But that’s not what we’re going to be talking about today. Because we still have to write 5-8 scenes JUST TO GET US TO THAT POINT.

In order to understand what those scenes should be, we need to remind ourselves what the second act is and why it’s so difficult. The reason the second act is so tricky is because it’s the least definable section of the story. The first act is obvious in its intent. It’s SETTING THINGS UP. The third act is obvious in its intent. It’s CONCLUDING THINGS. That gives both acts AN IDENTITY.

Think about that for a second. Because it’s the MAIN REASON why the second act is such a fluckstercuck. Screenwriters literally have no idea what the intent of the act is. And what happens when you write without intent? Your story goes fucking nowhere, that’s what happens. So for us to even approach a strong second act, we have to define the act’s intent.

The second act’s intent is: CONFLICT

If you remember that the goal of this act is to create and sustain conflict, you should be all right.

Now, there are three areas of conflict you’ll be exploring…

Plot obstacles.
Conflict between your hero and others.
Conflict within your hero.

Let’s start with plot obstacles because it’s the easiest one. But you have to understand something first. If you haven’t set up a goal for your hero to achieve, you cannot place obstacles in front of anything. This is why goal-less character scripts are usually so boring. By the very nature of not having an objective, you can’t place anything (obstacles) in the way of that objective. That’s why I go on and on so much about goals. Because it’s hard to make a plot interesting if you don’t have anything to disrupt it.

Can it be done? Yes. But only if you are a MASTER at character development and character conflict. Which means you have to get these next two things right.

Conflict between your hero and others is the process of coming up with an “issue” between two characters and having those characters butt heads over that issue throughout the script. Take Lester Burnham in American Beauty. The very first element of conflict brought up in that movie is that Lester’s wife, Carolyn, has tuned the fuck out of the relationship. She doesn’t respect him anymore. So every time we see those two together, we can explore that lack of respect. That’s the IDENTITY of their conflict.

Where conflict between your hero and others gets tricky is in the variety that’s required. You need to come up with different types of conflict between different characters. So to use American Beauty as an example again, Lester’s daughter, Jane, and him just aren’t friends anymore. They don’t talk to each other. The IDENTITY of that conflict is different from one person not respecting another person.

The point is, a large portion of the second act will be used to explore conflict between characters. This will be less so in action and thriller scripts and more so in character pieces and dramas. But it will be there in some form or another in EVERY SCRIPT.

This brings us to our last form of conflict – conflict WITHIN the hero. This is the hardest form of conflict to execute because it’s difficult to take something internal and explore it externally. That’s why I always encourage writers to consider this when coming up with their hero’s flaw. There are certain internal flaws that are easier to explore externally than others.

Selfishness is one of them, obviously. It’s easy to come up with scenes where your hero picks himself over others. Lack of belief in one’s self is another. Being stubborn. Not living in the moment. Puts work over family.

These are all (more or less) internal flaws that can be explored externally. You achieve this by putting your character into repeated situations that directly challenge this flaw. So if you have a character who’s stubborn, like, say, Gene Hackman as the coach in the basketball movie, Hoosiers, you show him at his first practice with a group of townspeople who show up and say that they believe the practice should be run THEIR way. This is a direct assault on our main character’s flaw. Which means we not only get to explore his flaw, but we get to infuse a scene with CONFLICT. And as you now know, that’s the name of the game in the second act.

If you want to get into some advanced shit, make sure you’re sitting. Because things are about to get all AP English up in this mug. If you want to explore character and conflict in a truly impactful way, each subsequent “attack” on your hero’s flaw should be more credible than the last. So in the scene above, of course Gene Hackman’s going to tell a bunch of a-holes to screw off when they invade his practice. But later on, when the woman Hackman is falling for, a teacher, starts telling him that it’s more important for these kids to get an education than spend every waking moment practicing basketball, now his stubbornness is really getting tested. Because there’s more at stake by telling this person no.

Finally, the second act is a big place. So while I’m promoting a structural approach to it, I still want you to be creative. Follow your imagination. Try things out. You can always pull it back in if it gets too crazy. But I don’t want your script to feel like ScriptBot4000. It still needs a heart. It still needs to breathe. So make sure you’re still having fun.

Good luck, guys. You’re almost halfway home!

  • First

    First comment, bitches!

    • Marija ZombiGirl

      Let’s see your “First draft done!” comment.

      • Poe_Serling

        Not to shine the spotlight on you —

        Oh, maybe just a little. I saw your guest appearance over on Go Into the Story’s Classic 30s Movie Month series.

        And what a hair-raising shocker!!

        You picked…

        BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN

        Great post – both fun and informative!!

        ***Did you know that Bride’s co-writer John L. Balderston (also writer of Universal’s The Mummy and others) was present at the opening of King Tut’s Tomb in 1925?

        He was working as a journalist at the time.

        • Marija ZombiGirl

          Hey, thanks!
          Yeah, what a surprising choice, huh? :)
          No, I didn’t know that. I guess it was kind of thing that must’ve fueled his inspiration. Too bad there aren’t such discoveries to be made anymore – and that ‘m not much of a Miss Indy type ^^

  • Poe_Serling

    “We are now inside those 50 or so pages that many refer to as “the jungle,” because
    it’s where screenplays wander into and never come back out.

    Luckily, we outlined ahead of time… character work…. etc.”

    or

    The Hansel and Gretel Strategy

    Leaving a trail of story crumbs to mark the way and finding your way back out of the
    ‘jungle.’

    ;-)

    • brenkilco

      Yeah, but din’t the birds eat those and leave H and G completely lost?

      • Poe_Serling

        You’re right! A trail of pebbles got them home on their first trek into the woods.

        On their second trip into the woods…

        The vanishing trail of crumbs got them off-track and stumbling upon the house made of bread/cakes/sugar/etc.

        Perhaps sometimes going off the usual story path leads to the more exciting adventure. ;-)

  • Dreaming in Celluloid

    Writing and 30 pages in. Jumping around writing what comes to my mind for the story.

    Hoping to have in the end a 130-150 page script in the end.

    • hickeyyy

      130-150? That is L O N G my friend.

  • Daivon Stuckey

    At 55 pages right now, I’m really happy with the midpoint I’ve got for my comedy.

    • http://insideechenrysbrain.typepad.com/inside_the_brain_of_ec_he/ E.C. Henry

      Good job!

  • Paul Clarke

    And I think we need to remember the purpose of all the conflict, the second act could also be referred to as the TRANSFORMATIVE act.

    The character we setup in our first act is unable to solve their problems because of an imbalance (flaw, if you prefer). They must correct the imbalance if they wish to succeed in the third act. This doesn’t have to be a huge change of personality because that’s unrealistic, but without some sort of change the second act simply feels like treading water until the big finale.

    And while this is commonly known as an arc, I find arcs boring. A SNAP is much more dramatic (and again, more realistic).

    • witwoud

      Hi Paul — can you give us an example of a ‘snap’? Is it like an epiphany?

      • Paul Clarke

        It’s instead of a gradual change, a character will be highly resistant to change until the pressure forces them to reverse a behaviour. Often going from passive to active.

        So something like Ripley trying to flee from the Alien Mother, to duct taping some weapons together and going on the offensive. Or Michael Corleone giving in and slaughtering all his competition in one go. Or the final dance scene in Little Miss Sunshine where the dad lets go of all his ideas and just goes on stage to dance with Olive. Or Han suddenly reappearing to shoot down Darth’s ship and give Luke an open shot at the duct.

        It’s a reversal of their flaw, which has been demonstrated several times before. But rather than slowly change, it’s a full reversal in one scene. Which is much more impactful and dramatic.

        • brenkilco

          But unless you carefully set it up, don’t you risk being accused of contrivance. If Scrooge had spent all night telling the ghosts to fuck off, we would not have bought his waking up a nice guy.

          • Paul Clarke

            Indeed, but you could say everything in your script should be carefully set up. Scrooge is a tough example because he’s basically a children’s fantasy character, so bears little resemblance to a real human being. I can’t recall the details accurately, but while he softens, he still doesn’t become the nice guy until he wakes up in the morning.

            I think it’s more about showing a certain pattern of behaviour. Repeating it enough to establish the pattern. Then reversing it in one big climactic moment. Usually the audience can see the flaw and they wish he/she would change, so it’s a really nice moment when they do.

            In Shawshank, Red slowly learns to live, but it’s the parole meetings that display the change in his character. A story beat that is repeated to establish a pattern. Then he tells them he no longer cares, they let him loose, and we love it.

            The analogy I have heard is pulling the string back on a bow and arrow. If you release it slowly, it’s not very exciting, the drama just ebbs away. But if you release it on one sudden motion the arrow will fly for miles.

  • Omar Samir

    So this week it’s… 15-20 pages? Can’t wait for week 8 where all we have to do is look really hard at the script.
    On a serious note… I feel really bad. I’ve been keeping up. But it’s mostly because I’ve been relying too heavily on getting a second draft out of it. Like… I’d write something down, fully knowing that, it’s either bad or boring or has too much dialogue, but shrug it off as ‘I can get it write in a second draft… Just write’.

  • pabloamigo

    I do something quite similar:
    – Write ‘short’ to about 70-80 pages. Though all the major beats and sections are usually present, there’s some placeholder stuff to give a sense of where the missing scenes need to go.
    – Then I print off and edit/expand by hand (still need to see the words on paper in front of me for it all to come together)
    – Put all those amends in and expanded/add new sections, then print off and repeat.
    – I guess I need to sort out a carbon tax contribution for all the paper I still use. :(

  • Wijnand Krabman

    According to the late Blake Snyder, the midpoint is a false victory or a false defeat. Since I’m following the Liar,liar template, in my script Killer,killer, the protag discovered that he can’t hurt anybody anymore. After trying everything; beaten up by his washing machine, trying to kill a police officer, fighting a tattooed guy, flying a killer drone and being kicked out a gay club he is reaching his false defeat when he decides that he is doing things wrong and it is now time to spend more time with the family going on a trip to Ikea.

    At midpoint he is facing the fact that the terrorists have taken over the Swedish store and he immediately goes back into his violent mode asking his daughter to undo the wish.

    • Scott Strybos

      I see the false victory as the moment RIGHT BEFORE the midpoint. He or she is THINKING they have a handle on things, ie a false victory, then BAM! Midpoint knocks them on their ass.

      I mentioned this midpoint before, but The Martian, I think, is a great example. Matty thinks he has surviving on Mars figured out, that he has enough food to last until the next mission, easy-peasy, then, a literal BAM!, as his HAB explodes destroying all his progress. Undermining his confidence and stability.

      • Eric Boyd

        Exactly! Never make things too easy on your protag. Everybody’s mantra while writing act 2 should be:

        “If Matt Damon wants to grow potatoes on Mars, there’s gonna be some SHIT.”

  • http://apairoftools.wordpress.com/ Sebastian Cornet

    60 pages in, and I’m shooting for 10 more today, big action sequence coming up. I’d be further ahead with the page count except I went back and tweaked some things. I’m having a blast.

    Oh, and I want to start using “fluckstercuck.” It’s going to be my second go-to- weird word, right after “kerfuffle.”

    • Scott Crawford

      I would consider skipping or skimming over the action sequence – just use terms like “they fight” and “he dies” – if you think it’s going to slow you down. Come back to it later.

      • http://apairoftools.wordpress.com/ Sebastian Cornet

        Thank for the advice! I already did that anyway. Usually I being all pumped up, but by the fifth page or so I go “Screw this, just write “he punches him, he punches back.” Rewrites is where the fun’s at!

  • Paul Schellens

    I’m out.
    I’ve reached a point where I’m good enough to realise my work isn’t good enough.
    I need to make another film. Never have I improved as much as I did when rehearsing, workshopping, filming and editing my first (failure of a) film. I need to see it.
    So, I’m going to focus on earning money for a while as I think up a decent micro budget idea. Then I’ll dive in again.
    I’ll keep reading Carson’s awesome daily lessons though.
    And I look forward to seeing some of the great work coming from the writers here!

    • Wijnand Krabman

      hey, I’m not good enough as well but I’m fucking enjoying it so much! By the way, your ideas are great!

      • Jonathan Soens

        Same. Not gonna let a little thing like being “not good enough” yet keep me from trying.

        Hopefully I’ll learn something, either through the process or from any feedback I get if I’m able to convince anybody to read it.

        Worst case scenario, at least it gets this script out of the way.

        Supposing most writers have to write x number of projects before they finally have their breakthrough. Maybe none of us writes a seriously good script until our 10th or 20th or 50th script. So if all this exercise accomplishes is it gets you to bang out script number 14 (or whatever) on the path, you’re now one script closer to whatever your breakout script will be.

    • Erica

      I get the “I’m not good enough” thinking. I battle this all the time, I’m mean really, all joking aside, I’m dyslexic. Do you know how difficult it is for me to even read my own scripts. Most of the time I don’t. I can only read small parts at time. It sucks, but that’s life, it took me an hour to get though this post again. Plus, I don’t know of too many Dyslexic screen writers in Hollywood. I just don’t care, I’m writing my script, even if you have to start at the 3rd act and read the other way.

      Only you can make the call, but I would recommend to just keep writing. If you need a movie to make, then write that movie. Write it as if your going to make it. So if you need to put in visual cues, like, WE SEE, or CRANE UP, A SERIES OF ANGLES. then do it. Nobody says that this script we write here must be entered into any competitions. So what if some of the action lines are a little basic or the dialogue isn’t up to par. That can all be fixed.

      I’ve done it before and so can you.

      • Marija ZombiGirl

        QT did it ;)
        I get your uphill struggles from having a dyslexic brother. I think it’s great that you’re just moving ahead and not backing down. More power to you and happy writings :)

    • Marija ZombiGirl

      Why stop now? This is the perfect chance for righting your previous wrongs and learning even more. You’ll be facing the exact same struggles when you start work on a new movie.

      Oh, and we should all ban the words “good” and “bad” from our work. What we should use instead is “work” and “not work” as in “Does this particular thing work inside this story?”. Taking a huge step back and truly focusing only on what we’re writing and not confusing it with ourselves helps fight back the doubts :)

  • Frankie Hollywood

    Act 2 is Conflict? Shouldn’t conflict be happening ALL THE TIME? I’ve always thought of Act 2 as the Pursuit (of the hero’s goal) or journey to the battle, etc. Of course nothing goes right in Act 2 and there’s always an ever-increasing amount of obstacles, so there is a lot of conflict. But Conflict is always, the Pursuit is Act 2 (or so I think).

  • mulesandmud

    Okay, congratulations to everyone for making it this far.

    You’ve spent four weeks working diligently on a screenplay. You’ve made it over a few major humps. That’s huge.

    Now it’s time to ask yourself: should I quit?

    I’m not trying to be a jerk, I swear.

    If you’re following Carson’s schedule, then you only spent three days outlining. Three days isn’t enough to know whether you have a movie on your hands.

    Now, four weeks later, you’ve pushed through your first act, lived with your characters a while, and tested your story on the page. You have much better perspective, and can make a more informed decision.

    So, ask yourself: do I still believe in this project enough to spend nine more weeks on it? (And probably much more than that?)

    If so, bravo.

    If not, it’s time to put your pencil down and take stock. You may have already learned a lot from this process, and can take that knowledge with you to a new and better concept.

    Being a professional screenwriter means figuring out which projects are worth your time, which ones are dead ends, and which ones are interesting but not quite ready to be written. It means not letting yourself feel trapped on a project.

    Sometimes that means putting a script aside, either temporarily or for good.

    I realize that for many people, the goal here is simply to finish a script. Any script. For them, keeping to Carson’s timetable is its own reward.

    For others though, this process is only useful if the screenplay it creates is worth reading.

    Here’s an article about Ernest Hemingway, detailing the real life events that inspired THE SUN ALSO RISES: http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2016/05/the-true-story-of-the-booze-bullfights-and-brawls-that-inspired-ernest-hemingways-the-sun-also-rises

    If you read the beginning, you’ll note that Hemingway started and abandoned three other novels in the years before he wrote this one, his first. It took him that many tries to find a premise that was worth his time.

    Or if you need a more recent precedent, here’s a full list of Max Landis’ output over his relatively short career, the vast majority of which are projects that he either abandoned or shelved after a vomit draft: http://www.maxlandiswrites.com/a-list-of-every-script-ive-ever-written-for-those-crazy-enough-to-read-it/

    Take it from Papa and Max: there’s nothing wrong with quitting if your story isn’t working.

    Hopefully, none of this applies to you. Hopefully you’re even more excited about your script now than you were at the beginning. Hopefully Carson’s logline scoring helped you avoid a dead end. Hopefully you’re seeing exciting new layers to your project that make it even more interesting than you first thought. Hopefully everything is falling smoothly into place.

    But if your story isn’t panning out the way you hoped it would, if you’re frustrated by logic gaps or missing character motivations, if you’re realizing that major puzzle pieces are missing from your structure, if you’re forcing things into place with awkward temporary fixes, if your scenes feel unfocused because your themes remain unclear, if you’re getting distracted by a new idea that seems much more enticing…

    …then don’t assume you have to finish this thing just because you started it.

    If your outline or your concept isn’t working out, then go refine it, or find one that works better. Carson’s schedule will still be here when you get back.

    • Erica

      “Okay guys. So last week, we got up to page 40. At least I hope we did.
      Since this is screenwriting, I’m sure a spoon full of you made up
      reasons to watch 15 movies in the genre you’re writing as part of your
      “research,” cough cough. ”
      Omg, your scaring me Carson, have you been spying on my, did you hack my PS3 camera?

      Oh I’m definitely all in!

      Done up to 41 pages last night and I will try for another page today. I have a couple long days at work so I’ll try and get a lot of writing done on Saturday.

      My problem is I have lots of things outlined that I’m trying to get to, but at the same time my story is just unfolding before my eyes. I reached a place 2 days ago at page 40 were I wasn’t sure if I wanted to throw the next scene at my characters yet, then I realized that not only will it be difficult for my characters, but it makes the stakes go up another notch. So last night I wrote the scene. I can’t play nice to my characters. Then I wasn’t quite sure how to get out when it hit me. Everything I wanted to accomplish in that scene was covered, why keep writing the obvious dialogue – just get out of the scene was screaming in my head. So I did.

      All I can think about right now is my characters and story, 24/7. I’ve been carry around a note book with me, writing down ideas as they hit. I even came up with a new opening scene – again. I’ll write that later, for now I’m just pressing forward and getting to that end goal.

    • Neo

      I disagree. Although I think that everyone should be free to abandon a project if it isn’t working, no one should even start start page one if the project’s not working.

      That’s what your outline is for, to gauge whether the project can work/does work/is working.

      If you start page one, that means your outline has informed you it will work. There should be no other reason to start. If you abandon your project after you’ve started writing page one, that tells me you didn’t correctly outline your project in the first place.

      I believe the reason most writers abandon projects is because they did a very half-hearted job with their outlines (that is if they even bothered to do an outline in the first place).

      • Erica

        I tend to agree with you. Scrapping scenes or rewriting the intro or other parts is one thing, but your outline should at least tell you if you can go from A to B to C. The fun comes when new things emerge while writing that you can go back and add or move around.

    • hickeyyy

      Wonderful advice.

      If you can’t figure out whether or not this is actually working yet, and you are nearing the midpoint, there’s a disconnect between you and your project. There is no shame in finding out an idea isn’t working. That is NOT a problem. The problem becomes when this is the only idea you have and you’re grasping at it hoping it can work, when in reality, it’s not.

    • klmn

      It’s been stop and start for me. I’ve got my outline, 40 pages of notes, and 19 script pages (which will have to be rewritten).

      Took time out to revise my Western and prepare for my face-off with Mayhem.

      • Mayhem Jones

        Oh, poor Klmn with his various 1950-1985 robot stock photos…. my humanoids run off their own kinetic energy, their futuristic bodies composed of rare, durable metals. Their Cyborg eyes can probably read your script in 2.8 nano-seconds, the time it takes them to travel to one of the farthest known galaxies: MACs0647-JD.

        Ken’s robot script, perhaps written with his Feather Quill & Ink Writing set… PERHAPS finally typed out on a typewriter (as jokingly insinuated by Poe, BUT IS IT A JOKE??) Do your robots run off 4 large Duracell D batteries? Or are you more of a coppertop 9V-robot kinda guy?
        ::in Stewie Griffin voice::
        OOOOOH, I look forward to reading it.

        (Who are we kidding? Ken’s gonna kick my butt.)

        • Erica

          What’s funny is that my Alien would crush both your “robots” and “Cyborg’s” The people of Mondora discovered long ago that Robots and Cyborgs have limitation that a new species created for one purpose and one purpose only far out matches anything.

          • klmn

            Hey bring it!

            Judgement Day is Mid June!

          • Erica

            I just might have too.

          • Mayhem Jones

            YASSSSSS!!!

          • klmn

            I just have one more thing to add.

          • Erica

            lol, to late, you’ve already outline, no going back now.

          • Mayhem Jones

            REMEMBER, FOLKS! A vote for Ken is a vote for Kim Jong-un

        • klmn

          Hey! Delete that last parenthetical. If we’re gonna promote this thing we’ve got to go full Pro Wrestling. (Think the Gestapo Match – Matilda the Hun vs. Mt. Fuji).

          • Mayhem Jones

            full pro wrestling against….. MAYHEM JONES?? That’s like fighting a mentally ill SUGARED PEEP®!

        • Poe_Serling

          Mayhem-

          Quill and ink. Batteries. Those are fightin’ words! Don’t make me pick a side…

          Everyone knows klmn’s typewriter is HIS futuristic robot/time travel machine to the past/etc.

          Horse opera, scary lab goings-on, and other projects just didn’t write themselves. ;-)

          • Mayhem Jones

            Little known fact: klmn writes all MY scripts!

          • Poe_Serling

            No wonder he’s so eager for the Robot Script Showdown. Even if he loses, he still wins. ;-)

          • klmn

            I wish.

          • Erica

            Yikes, maybe I should leave while the get tin’s good.

          • klmn

            Now you’ve done it. Revealed my secret. Let Schrodinger’s cat out of the quantum bag, so to speak.

            I use the Roboscribe Scriptwriting/Time Travel System.

            Oh well, I suppose my secret would come out sometime. So I’ve adopted it as my avatar.

    • witwoud

      ‘…if you’re getting distracted by a new idea that seems much more enticing…”

      Ignore it and keep buggering on. Otherwise you’ll never finish anything.

      • garrett_h

        I had this problem when I first started writing. I have so many ideas and I want to write them all. And every time, the new idea is always more exciting than the one you’ve spent forever with.

        If the story isn’t working, that’s one thing. But don’t dump a perfectly good story for the next big idea. Just write the new one down and come back to it when you’re done.

      • klmn

        Don’t ignore it. Just jot down the new idea and save it until you’re done with your current project.

    • Scott Crawford

      I think this contest will be of most benefit to those who may have struggled to finish a screenplay and MAY be encouraged by a group endevour, sort of like dieting together.

      With that in mind, if people doing this are working on their FIRST EVER script, they might as well finish it, even if it’s not that great. They will get used to writing screenplay format and learn the importance of outlining and research and picking the best story, things that will improve their next screenplay.

    • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

      Before you just say fuck it, though, and through that thing in a drawer, I would recommend you put your screenplay aside and write your movie as a five page short story. Five pages, max, something you can bang out in a hour that goes from beginning to end.

      Too many times we get caught up in the details of a screenplay, but if you can stop and tell your complete story to a friend, or write it out in short form, the act of telling it quickly will make you realize you have a fuller idea than you thought.

      I guess that’s another way of saying if you have a story, and you’re just bogging down in the details, there’s a way around that.

    • Comma

      Those who have never finished a script shouldn’t quit! Quit and jump on a new ‘better’ idea? If it’s really a good idea, better save that one for the next script.

  • Andrew Parker

    Midpoint twists are important. They make you lean forward and start paying close attention again. Don’t be shy to try something bold, like having Captain America say “Hail Hydra.”

    • Andrew Parker

      I went back and looked at the two most important comedies from the last decade to see what their midpoint was.

      BRIDESMAIDS – Page 46, the dress fitting scene concludes with Annie driving Lillian home, humiliated. She knows she can’t keep screwing up if she wants to be maid of honor for her best friend.

      THE HANGOVER – Page 58, the gang is arrested by PD. Finding Doug isn’t going to be as easy as it initially seemed.

      I’m probably off by a little bit with each, but the basic point is the stakes are raised with our protagonists realizing the road ahead will be tough. Then things escalate…

  • http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brett-martin/52/702/72 ElectricDreamer

    Mostly OT: Personal Project Update

    In the past four months, the director of my proof of concept short has assembled an amazing crew for the production. Our composer has scored many feature films. Our DP was a camera operator on 300 and X-Men 1 & 2. He brings 30 years of feature film experience to the table. Our VFX team worked on Guardians of the Galaxy and Man of Steel. And once we finish securing the modest budget, the light is green.

    Why have all these great talents signed on for peanuts? STRENGTH OF CONCEPT.

    They see a feature film in those five pages. Now more than ever, I get why Carson banged the Strength of Concept drum so hard before his 13-week screenwriting quest. Because when you’re a nobody writer like me, it’s the most effective way to attract industry creatives.

    • Short?

      Cool. Can we see your proof of concept short?

    • klmn

      GREAT F#&%ING NEWS!

      Sounds like a winner!

      Keep us posted.

    • Erica

      Wow, sounds like a dream team to work with! Sounds like exciting times ahead. Enjoy every minute, they go by so fast.

      Congrats!

    • LaughDaily

      Congrats ED; always glad to see a fellow writer make progress!

    • garrett_h

      Congrats!

      Was it just a few pages of the script? Or did you include some concept art, maybe a reel of the pages filmed, or a reel of similar films spliced together, etc.?

      • http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brett-martin/52/702/72 ElectricDreamer

        It was a modified version of the prologue to the feature script. The tweaks give the short an ending that’s also a beginning. This way, I get a proof of concept teaser to peddle around town for my new spec. And my director gets a project he can take on the festival circuit. So, we both win.

        • garrett_h

          Thanks for the reply. Nice job! Good luck going forward!

    • Mayhem Jones

      Hot diggity-dog!!!!!!!

    • hickeyyy

      Congrats, sir!

  • garrett_h

    “Ultimately, you want to work in this business, right? Well guess what
    happens when you have an assignment due? Do you think the people paying
    you 500k are going to be like, “Oh yeah, just get it to me whenever
    inspiration strikes.””

    This is so important and rarely talked about.

    We spend a lot of time on story, character, etc. But just getting the damn thing written, BEFORE THE DEADLINE, is important.

    I have a couple of working writer friends. They turn stuff in all the time that isn’t perfect. But they have a deadline. They need a draft in a week, or a month, or tomorrow. You have to be able to deliver. If you can’t deliver, they’ll find someone that can, and you’ll be out of work.

    That’s why, as amateurs, it’s important to give ourselves deadlines. Yeah, I know, you don’t have all day to write like a working writer. You have a 9-5. So make your deadline a little more generous. But still, make a deadline and stick with it.

    When I was doing web development, one of the terms we used was MINIMAL VIABLE PRODUCT (it’s not exclusive to the tech industry, but this is where I first learned about it). For those that haven’t heard of it, basically this means, get a version that works. Does the app work? Sure it doesn’t have Facebook sign-in yet and e-mail notifications, but DOES IT WORK? You can get all the bells and whistles in there later. Make it work first.

    I’ve started taking this approach to writing too. Try to get to a point where I can say, YES, THIS STORY WORKS. Then you get feedback, tweak some things, etc. As they say, writing is rewriting.

    But if you can’t even get the first draft in the bag, ON TIME, you’re not gonna be working very long in this business.

    That’s why this Challenge is so important, especially for the newcomers. Stick to Carson’s deadlines like it’s a studio exec’s marching orders. Do your best to meet them all. It’ll be good practice for the real thing.

    • klmn

      Yeah, but this isn’t a paid assignment.

      “It all comes down to a simple question.

      Am I still reading because I have to or because I want to?”

      Remember this? It’s from the last AF. If this was a paid assignment, the buyer would be motivated to read the work. It was probably be his idea – or some IP he’d purchased. He’d have an investment in seeing it work.

      But with Carson, most of the projects won’t ever see his eyes. He’ll lead the loglines – (okay, he’s seen some, but not others, and the ones he’s seen before will be tweaked). Then, maybe, he’ll read a few WYSRs. And then he’ll deign to read a few scripts.

      But there is no reason for him not to quit at any point. I mean – even when it’s his suggested subject, like a certain submarine project – if there’s any lag, he’ll still be looking for the exit.

      • garrett_h

        No. It absolutely isn’t a paid assignment. That’s why I said it’d be good practice for the real thing.

        Especially for newcomers. People that have never finished a script. Or maybe it’s their first script. Good to get in the habit now, rather than later.

        If you wait for your first paid assignment, you’ll never get anything done. “Oh, I’m not getting paid for this, it may never get read, so why even finish…” And 50 unfinished scripts later you’re still at the same spot in your writing career as when you started. Which is nowhere.

        There are things to learn from not finishing a script. But discipline and getting a draft that can be read and submitted and maybe even filmed isn’t one of them. Which was part of my point.

        Stick to the deadlines and try your best to have something completed by the end of the exercise. Puts you miles ahead of the writers who never finish anything.

      • garrett_h

        And regarding “investment” you’re right. Carson has no investment. He has no reason to read these scripts. A buyer would of course, but he doesn’t.

        IMO, the value in this exercise is the investment in YOURSELF. Some people haven’t finished anything. Just knowing you CAN finish it can be huge.

        When I first started, writing a full script was daunting. After writing THE END a few times (on shitty scripts mind you) it became far less daunting. Then, I spent more time worrying about character or plot or story and less time worrying about “how the hell am I gonna write all these words/pages!”

        I know a lot of people come here just to get read by Carson. That’s fine. They think it’s the magic bullet that will launch their award-winning career. “If I can just get on Amateur Friday…” Or, “If only Carson reads my “Let’s Write a Screenplay” submission…” Then they’ll be great and get signed and write films and win an Oscar.

        That’s not why I’m here (no offense, Carson). I’m investing time in myself, in my own writing, learning things and discussing things to improve on my own skills. I’ll probably never submit to AF. But I’ll be submitting to Prodcos and Agents and Managers.

        That’s how you get into Hollywood, not a Carson review.

        • Xenthia

          To say that exposure from this website doesn’t work is wrong and arrogant beyond belief.

          Tell that to the writers who have already had great exposure from the site and you’ll see how wrong you are.

          • garrett_h

            How is that arrogant?

            And yes, writers have gotten exposure. But this site has been around for 7 years. How many have gotten scripts purchased/optioned?

            Probably the most notable script has been REUNION. Got the script optioned and he got reps. A lot of people will mention DISCIPLE PROGRAM, but that was already making the rounds via the Writer’s Store contest. So SS didn’t exactly launch it, though I suppose the exposure helps.

            There are a couple of other lesser examples that I can recall. Some scripts got requested by agents/managers/producers. Maybe a couple people got meetings. Dassit.

            So let’s say 15 people in 7 years got a rep/sold their script/optioned their script/got someone to ask for their script. That’s about 2 people a year.

            I’m not saying it’s impossible. I’m just saying there are other more efficient avenues than a Carson review.

            And my point was, in terms of this exercise, you shouldn’t be writing this thing because OMG Carson might read it.

            WRITE IT BECAUSE YOU WANT TO WRITE IT. Because you need a kick in the butt and following this exercise step-by-step will help you get to the finish line.

            If the only reason you’re participating in this exercise is because Carson MIGHT read your script at the end, you’re doing yourself a disservice IMO.

    • http://insideechenrysbrain.typepad.com/inside_the_brain_of_ec_he/ E.C. Henry

      Who cares.

      Like any of us are actually going to be in such a position.

      Vanity. All such talk is uninspired vanity.

      • garrett_h

        “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” – Ecclesiastes 1:4

        • http://insideechenrysbrain.typepad.com/inside_the_brain_of_ec_he/ E.C. Henry

          Dude, that’s NOT what Eccleiastes 1:4 says. Here’s the correct quote from my New American Standard Bible:

          Ecclesiastes 1:4 “A generation goes and generation comes, But the earth remains forever.”

          Vanity is talked about in Ecclesiases, just not there. Weird that you would take my comment and go to the bible, didn’t expect that from anyone on this site.

  • smishsmosh22

    What’s the longest you’ve gone without leaving your house?

    • Scott Crawford

      Five days. Random question!

      • smishsmosh22

        Oh no, it’s directly related to writing and this challenge, haha.

        • Scott Crawford

          I’m an indoorsy person, which helps if you want to be a writer, so there are days when I don’t go out if I don’t have to. But I get fed up if I don’t get out more than a few times a week.

    • klmn

      Do you include childhood and the years I spent locked in the basement?

      • smishsmosh22

        hehehehhe. no.

    • Erica

      I would say 5 or 6 days. I love doing that! Especially in the winter.

      • smishsmosh22

        For me I think it all depends on the supply of toilet paper.

    • Scott Strybos

      On or off medication?

      • smishsmosh22

        lulz

        • Scott Strybos

          I had to Google what ‘lulz’ meant. For anyone else who may be perplexed, lulz is not a typo; lulz means fun, laughter, or amusement, especially that derived at another’s expense

          • smishsmosh22

            hahah, sorry, I don’t even know why I said that. I don’t even say ‘lol’, I think that’s stupid. I’ve been inside too long. Day 4.

          • Scott Strybos

            Four Days! So you probably don’t know then. Canada has entered summer, and the weather has been phenomenal.

          • Nick Morris

            Not on the East coast. Cool and foggy. But good writing weather. :)

          • Scott Strybos

            I am on the EC. But just barely, in Ontario, which is the cut off province in terms of east coast. Didn’t have nice weather this morning, but the weather is great now, has been great for 6-7 days.

          • Nick Morris

            I’m in NS. To me, Ontario is central, dude.

          • smishsmosh22

            Yes sometimes I feel the heat and have to open my balcony door.

          • Erica

            I use to think LOL meant, Lots Of Love. so…

          • wlubake

            There’s a great text exchange that made the rounds on the internet, basically laughing at parent texting. The text reads something like:

            “Your grandmother died this morning. LOL.”

            That person also thought it meant lots of love. Obviously the kid was taken aback.

          • Erica

            Ouch.

    • ShiroKabocha

      2 days. I needed to get food.

      (can’t stack ‘em anyway… I don’t have my driving license so I need to get to the grocer’s a few times a week. Plus I always need fresh meat.)

      • smishsmosh22

        I freeze meats but I usually end up having to leave for either fresh vegetables or toilet paper.

        • Erica

          Same here, Usually I run out of Vegetables or milk or Alcohol. Always keep a large supply of toilet paper though.

          • smishsmosh22

            Oh yeah, coffee creamer. That’s the other one. People always buy me bottles of Captain Morgan’s spiced rum for holidays/bdays so I don’t think I’ll EVER run out of that!

        • ShiroKabocha

          I freeze them too but some days I’m too lazy / can’t wait for my filets to unfreeze so I just buy fresh ones to cook as soon as I’m back. And I never know beforehand when I’m gonna crave for a steak (I don’t eat much beef but I love it nonetheless).

    • http://insideechenrysbrain.typepad.com/inside_the_brain_of_ec_he/ E.C. Henry

      Probably 2 days over the weekend.
      What a strange question to ask?
      You sound like a self-confined writer whose trying to meet a deadline, am I right?

    • garrett_h

      Do mundane tasks like taking out the trash or getting mail count? Or walking across the street to the liquor store to buy booze?

      If not, 12 days.

      If it does, 2 hours. I need my booze.

      • smishsmosh22

        Mundane tasks still count as leaving the house to me.

    • Jonathan Soens

      Between 100 and 130 days.

      • smishsmosh22

        no way. seriously?

        • Jonathan Soens

          It took a perfect storm of circumstances.

      • Kirk Diggler

        Was your doorway widened and you were you craned out by paramedics?

        • Jonathan Soens

          No, I wasn’t trapped inside by a debilitating condition.

          (Although, playing devil’s advocate, the DSM might have something to say about staying home for a huge stretch of time being suggestive of some kind of grab-bag of mental health issues. But I never bothered to analyze it that closely. It was just a thing I did one time, and then it passed.)

          As I said, it took a bizarre confluence of circumstances to even make it logistically feasible. Even if I could wave a magical wand to solve the more basic problems like needing to go to work, I probably couldn’t duplicate that stretch even if I tried. It was a fluke that it was able to go on that long.

          • I gotta know

            Ok, but what were the reasons behind this exactly? Why did you choose to do this, or why did it happen as it did?

          • Jonathan Soens

            I didn’t choose to at first. Just kind of looked up one day, did the math, and realized it had been almost a month. At that point, it became a thing: could I keep it going for awhile? Figured I’d just go until I hit a milestone and then break the chain, but it amused me enough to keep it going.

            I was between jobs and had saved enough to coast for a bit. So I didn’t NEED to go out. (And, bonus, it made the money go further because I wasn’t ever going out and spending.)

            I was still trying to make it as a novelist back then, so I was off in my own world writing (or avoiding writing) through a lot of that period.

            And it was winter, so I didn’t even have to go out to mow grass or anything like that.

            I ended it because I noticed, through a window, that my car had a flat tire. I could’ve kept going. I didn’t mind being a shut-in. Probably for the best that I ended it, though, since I met my wife not long after.

          • smishsmosh22

            wow. I feel like that story would make a great movie. it’s pretty interesting.

          • Jonathan Soens

            Unlikable protagonist.

          • Erica

            That’s were you need to find the twist in the end. You said you met your wife in the end, so, likable.

          • I gotta know

            How were you getting food and other supplies?

          • Jonathan Soens

            I had a giant freezer stocked up when it started. That helped.

            It was mostly full of really cheap cuts of beef. Those lasted a long time largely because they weren’t enjoyable enough to eat fast. Also, the freezer had big tubs of random leftovers, things I’d cooked in the past year.

            Also had a pretty well-stocked pantry.

            Unless someone came over with things like fresh fruits or eggs, I didn’t get any of that kind of stuff, obviously. I probably missed eggs most of all.

            Obviously, I ordered stuff online. You could get certain types of groceries on sites like Amazon. Toilet paper, too, of course.

            I had a terrible time finding reasonably priced powdered eggs online — I could find egg whites just fine, but I really wanted the yolks for taste and protein. But I was too stubborn to overpay. Affordable powdered egg yolks were basically my Holy Grail in those days. I sought it, but never acquired it.

            I ate a good amount of ramen, and became quite skilled at improvising to create vastly different meals out it.

            Ate a pretty unholy amount of beans. I sometimes wondered if thermal satellite images of my house during that time would show evidence of my bean-eating (and bean-digesting) situation.

            Ate a good amount of powdered instant milk, too. Used it as an ingredient for cooking and baking. Added tons of it to protein shakes. Drank it as liquid milk, of course.

  • Citizen M
  • smishsmosh22

    Nice! I wish that was my excuse haha!

  • smishsmosh22

    Has anyone seen Dark Places? (Charlize Theron) There’s this scene where she has to go see her estranged father to get some information. He’s not at the group home where she goes to find him, he’s living at a toxic waste dump, full of squatters. And to make things worse, he’s down at the bottom of this giant vat in an abandoned warehouse. So she has to literally climb down into this vat to talk to him, with no one else around. And the entire time she was in there I was like MAN, this is tense. What if he attacks her? She would be fucked.

    Would have been way different if she found her father at the group home where he was supposed to be.

  • klmn

    OT. Will there be an AF tomorrow? Place your bets here.

    • Malibo Jackk

      Casting my vote for jb’s skeptic psychic script.

  • Erica

    Chalk up another bad guy… I mean scene. Now off to bed, today was way too long.