Due to work constraints, I’m switching Tuesday and Thursday around.  That means 10 Screenwriting Tips via E.T. is moving to Thursday.  Right now, I have to post one of my favorite comments of the year.  It came in response to Thursday’s post about the intangibles of screenwriting.  Writers come from all different backgrounds and situations.  Some are trust fund babies with all the time in the world.  Some are parents barely able to scrape up enough money to keep their families above water.  Whatever the case, writers tend to make up reasons to procrastinate, to not write, to hold off.  This comment just makes you want to write.  Print it and tape it next to your workspace.  It’s from Half-Robot.  Enjoy (and Half-Robot, I’ll read your script when it’s finished!).


If you are finding reasons to avoid writing, maybe it’s not for you. It’s all about effort.

Megastar athletes are there because of dedication and perseverance. Not a single person wakes up one day and is amazingly talented.

Famous musicians.



You name it.

I’m sorry but you gotta churn stuff out to get better. The whole 10,000 hours thing. It’s almost as simple as math. Writing a great story, no. But getting better? Elementary.

Unless you just REALLY aren’t getting it. But that’s a whole different story…

I started writing five months ago.


Before that (and now) I just worked regular, everyday jobs. I’m currently a payroll manager for a mid-size marketing firm. I live an hour away from my job. I work 40-50 hours a week, plus another 10-15 commuting on a cramped bus reading every screenplay I can get my hands on. Plus, I’m married to someone who doesn’t really like movies. Don’t tell me you don’t have time to write.

I don’t have a fancy film degree. I haven’t watched all the classics. I just sit my ass down, forget about sleeping, and write. I leave for work at 5:30 AM, get home at 6 PM. Spend a few hours with the wifey and I’m usually writing from 9 until about 1 or 2 AM. It’s what it takes, man. It ain’t easy. No one said it was. But don’t give me a bullshit excuse that you don’t have time. Suck it up, buttercup.

Though, admittedly, when I started, I thought I would be one of the lucky ones. Sell my first script, dash away to the hills of Hollywood, hob-nob with A-listers. At first, that was my inspiration. The golden dream. Who doesn’t dream of that scenario? It still has to be a small part of your inspiration to make it as a writer. Maybe those things don’t happen to writers, but you still have to swing for the stars. Literally and metaphorically.

It obviously didn’t go that route. And months later, I’ve completely shifted my view on the art of screenwriting. I stopped caring about others “making it” and focused entirely on what I was doing. MY projects.

And you know how much I’ve written?

2 (god-awful) complete feature specs. Both rewritten a few times before I moved on to a fresh idea.

Countless outlines.

2 half-baked feature specs.

Dozens of half-baked ideas, scenes.

A million “A day in the life of” character sheets.

3 separate ideas for The Writer’s Store contest in 2 weeks.

And I’m now on my third draft (technically sixth, but some are partial rewrites) of my 3rd feature.

Five months, people. Don’t tell me it can’t be done.

Feedback is HUGE. I’ve connected with a dozen people through this site and I can’t even tell you how pleased I am to have met them.

Carson, thank you for providing a pretty relaxed atmosphere where we can discuss and connect with each other.

Contrary to popular belief, there aren’t a lot of sites like this. I’ve read a few blogs and they get MAYBE two or three comments. We’re consistently pushing 70+ on most articles. That is fucking stellar y’all.

The flip side to feedback is what to do with it. Get over yourself. You’re not god’s gift to the screenwriting world. We’re all (aspiring) story tellers. See what others think.

From the people I’ve met here, they usually have some pretty great ideas on how to improve that scene where your lead is slicing someone’s throat but in a way we’ve all seen before. You probably thought it was fucking brilliant. Guess what?

It wasn’t.

To quote the Barenaked Ladies, “It’s all been done.”

So yeah, feedback and a thick skin. WHEN (NOT IF) you sell something, you’re going to get hit with notes. Probably a lot of them. I obviously don’t know, but from what I’ve read, get ready for a lot of rewriting.

Rewriting is the fun part anyway. That’s where your script comes alive. I read an interview from here last night from E. Nicholas Mariani that talked about rewriting being the connective tissue, the “scene between the scenes.” That really resonated with me. You can only discover that stuff the second (third, fourth, fifth, sixth…) time around.

That’s why I have an issue with so many AoW scripts. They are clearly first drafts. They are not thought through. It’s basically a (way too long usually) first draft of some cool scenes you thought of. Guess what? After countless weeks of offerings, how many have really gained traction? Yeah. Exactly.

I think we are too easy on amateur writers. You sugar coat the issue, they don’t grow. Simple as that. I’ve read notes from friends that always start with “let me know if I’m being too harsh” and the really grinds my gears.

Let me have it. Make my story better. If you’re polite, I don’t see the problem. If you’re rude, we may have an issue. But I haven’t met anyone here or anywhere else that is a raging douchebag.

I have to disagree with Carson on three things, though.

One -

Don’t read screenplay books right away. I did that. If I could go back, I wouldn’t. Yes, read a book on formatting. Don’t be that guy. BUT, don’t read Save the Cat! and go from there.

Those bad habits will stick with you. Don’t count pages. Don’t worry about 15 beats. You will hit roadblock after roadblock. Write INTERESTING CHARACTERS doing INTERESTING THINGS that makes us want to KNOW WHAT HAPPENS.

If your inciting incident doesn’t land on page 10, an executive isn’t going to jump out of a bush and murder you.

The best way to describe if something is good to me is this rule:

How many pages have I read before I check to see what page I’m on.

If it’s good, I don’t check.

If it’s bad, well, you get it.

We all do it when we read.

We’ve read stories our entire lives. We’ve watched countless movies. Telling a story isn’t rocket science. Well, it is, but not really.

Read SCREENPLAYS. A SHIT TON OF THEM. I’ve read more screenplays in five months than movies I’ve watched in my entire life. And you know what? My scripts are stronger because of it. Half the movies you watch aren’t like the screenplay anyway. READ. READ. READ.

Because you are -

WRITING. WRITING. WRITING. They are words. Go outside, feel emotions, nature. Next time you’re on a walk, mentally think how you’d describe where you are in the most interesting, brief way. Not how your favorite movie ALREADY DID IT.

Two -

Yes, you should write. Every. FUCKING. Day. No excuses. BUT, it has to be more than five minutes. I know that is metaphor for just spending at least some time on writing, but you’ll get no where.

Five minutes? Ten minutes? That’s how long it takes me to come up with a fucking tweet for christ’s sake. How many pages do you think you’ll get done in a year writing even 30 minutes a day? Maybe enough to post a new blog entry every couple of days.

Put your ass in that seat and get excited. Tell sleep to go fuck itself. Tell five minutes to go fuck itself. You’re a writer, not a stopwatch. Get to writing.

Three -

Don’t write something because it’s a “commercial idea.” It will be so obvious. Another interview I read from the fucking talent that is Brian Duffield explained how he starts his specs… A thought or emotion that he’s struggling with. That’s what you need to do.

Yeah, that’s right. YOU.

Pick something challenging. Pick a flaw in your life. Writing will become therapy and before you know it, you’ve got something good.

My current project is about relationships. Their complexity… their brutal way of making you vulnerable, exposing you to another soul. How unfair they can be. How they shape us. How in dire situations, knowing the person you are with has your back. Trust. Finding your soul mate.

The logline? A former couple must survive a road trip during the zombie apocalypse.

And it’s a fucking rom-com. It’s a dark comedy, but a rom-com nonetheless.

If you write based only on a commercial idea, that’ll get you a couple scenes. It WON’T get you a deep connection with the reader. Look, we’re all human. We all have fears, worries, problems, complications, themes, ideas, struggles, whatever. Pick one. Tackle it. Challenge yourself. Brian Koppelman bashes this idea into our heads with his six second screenwriting advice vines. They are brilliant.

Once you’ve grasped the idea you want to work on, then you can attach the story to it. I could have written a dumb comedy about two opposites stuck in car together and all the wacky, crazy things that happen to them. But I grounded it first, then added the story later. I want you to know, at the heart, WHY they are a former couple, HOW that affects the trip, WHY they are even on the trip to begin with. I want you to watch and FEEL them grow, arc, whatever word you want to use for it.

I don’t want Kevin James butt to touch David Spade’s face for a laugh.

Your Bridesmaid is a Bitch isn’t just about some guy going to his sister’s wedding where his ex-girlfriend will be. That is the story, sure. But at the core, like Brian says, is the complexity and struggles with relationships we’ve all been in. We’ve all had our hearts broken. Now, I’m sure a very small percentage of us actually have been to our sister’s wedding where our ex was. But we relate to the feeling. It’s pretty universal. No one is reinventing the wheel, here. And it doesn’t need to be, either.

In conclusion – sorry for ranting. I’m pretty fired up about this. It all comes down to you. Do you want to do this. Like, for reals. Or is it just a hobby?

Here’s a clue. In the last week, how many hours have you dedicated to a blank page? If it’s less than 15, you might need to reevaluate your goals.

As always, if anyone wants to connect, trade scripts, or engage in hilarious, off-beat emails while I’m at work, email me.


I’m also on twitter. I’ve kind of fell off the map there, but I still whip up a few quips every now and then.


When I win an Oscar, I will thank all of you in my speech. Especially you, Carson.

  • Murphy

    I have read this twice.

    I am going to bed now and will now doubt replay it over in the head until I fall asleep or the baby starts crying and relegates this to the back of my mind…or quite probably both.

    I will think about this in the shower tomorrow, the shower being the place where I have my most profound thoughts.

    And again no doubt at selected times during tomorrow when I will wish I didn’t have to work and could write all day instead.

    Will I stay up till 2am tomorrow night as I hammer on my keys and finally begin my script?

    Will I make an effort to come back to Scriptshadow more often than I have this last year?

    Will I fix the letter ‘t’ on my Macbook Air which keeps flying off and hitting me in the face?

    I hope the answers are yes (especially fixing my ‘t’ key as that is really annoying me now) and if it is yes then this post is partly responsible for that.

    We will see.

    But whatever the outcome thanks for this, maybe it is what I want to hear at the moment.

    • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

      Maybe also think about your script in the shower? But don’t let being in the shower turn it into a porn script lol

      And while you fall asleep? Or at work (no reason not to have a tiny notepad in your back pocket at work where you can jot ideas that come to you while you work)?

      That way, when you do come home, you have an idea of what you’re going to write. Let words of wisdom sink in, but don’t let it take place of thinking of your script and your story and your characters. Talk to yourself in your characters voice, get to know them… just don’t speak out loud or people will think you’re crazy haha

      But just because you’re working doesn’t mean you can’t be working on your script in your head at the same time. Even just randomly throughout the day, if your job requires a lot of mental concentration.

      Good luck.

      • drifting in space

        LOL, yes. I love you, Rick.

        So you’re saying I can’t turn my shower thoughts into a porn script while talking to myself in there?

        My wife might think something’s up.

        I agree about the notepad in the pocket. I have one and abuse it. 99% are half-baked ideas but hey, my brain’s constantly working on something.

        • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

          Hey, if you have an unfulfilled fantasy, go for it ;)

          And hey, for every hundred bad ideas, there’s one good one. Or one bad one, or half-baked idea that leads to a vein of gold.

          The idea is to not stop mining, because that gold or diamond might just be one pick swing away.

    • drifting in space

      I’ve had “ah-ha!” moments in the shower. I need to invite a marker that can write on shower walls.

      I’m glad to be a part of whatever pushes you to write, in any capacity. We are interesting characters, us writers. Any little push can mean the world. I know it does for me.

      • Paul Clarke

        My bathroom has white tiled walls. Sometimes, if I have specific problems/ideas I need to solve for my script I write them on the wall with whiteboard marker. It’s odd how the shower is such a creative atmosphere, but at least that way I can put it to use.

        • Malibo Jackk

          It’s not a shower.
          It’s a think tank.

          • drifting in space

            Love it.

        • drifting in space

          I’m going to try this ASAP.

      • Marija ZombiGirl

        When I need an “A-HA !” moment, I either cook or do the dishes (but the shower works just as well) :) When your brain is on stand-by, the unconscious is free to roam. Yeah, I sometimes end up with lots of cakes, delicious meals or other creative foods but hey, the muse needs to be fed !

        Great comment-turned-article, Drifting Half-Robot, keep writing ;-)

  • Paul Clarke

    Great words Michael. Can’t wait for that first draft.

    • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

      We can’t wait to read yours either ;) got your e-mail, hope you’re writing =P lol

      • drifting in space

        I’d like to personally thank these two fine gentlemen.

        Without Rick and Paul, there’s a chance my comment never happened.

        They were the first two writers I’ve ever connected with and getting help from them has pushed my writing further than I could ever have imagined.

        Thanks guys!

        • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

          No problem.

          I don’t think I’ve commented this much on this site in my life. But have to show some love to my teammates.

  • Alex Palmer

    Congrats for having the comment featured, Driftinginspace/half robot. It was a great post.

    It hit home for me. I’ve only been writing scripts for 7 months. But I feel like I’ve developed more in those 7 months than at any other point in my life. It’s been exhilarating. It’s been maddening. It’s been tough. I’m in love.

    I recently heard Susannah Grant appropriate a Martha Graham quote to describe her writing experience. It’s a process of “divine dissatisfaction, blessed unrest”.

    Your post NAILS that, 1/2 Robot. I’ll be looking out for the Zom-Com (Romantic Zomedy?) in the newsletter.

    • drifting in space

      Gosh, this is exactly how I feel. I kind of floundered in life. Bad decisions, relationships, moving cross-country a few times. Then one day it hit me.

      I was watching (don’t hate me) Iron Man 2 and thought to myself-

      C’mon. I could make something better than this.

      Which was naive, but it started the dream. Writing movies is hard. But totally worth it.

  • Malibo Jackk

    Would like to option this comment.
    (Who says robots can’t write.)

    • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern


    • drifting in space

      I set it to auto-pilot and hope for the best.

  • Montana Gillis

    Half robot’s pretty fired up at 5 months in and counting. Good! You need that initial fire to get through the rough spots/negative reviews/moments of darkness when you read something that’s really good and then look at what you spewed on the page. After 5 years of sitting alone in my office; re-writing and re-writing, all that flag waving, hell fire commitment of the newest convert turns into a quiet determination to continue the enjoyment of crafting a better story than your last. And when I’m asked who “I’m trying to satisfy”, I answer the same way the little, tiny guy at the whorehouse did… ME!

    • drifting in space

      I made the mistake of sending my very first script out to readers and *GULP* actually spending money on reviews. Egads, what a terrible idea.

      They were nice, but it was an interesting learning experience. The bright spot was that both said I had some chops, just need time to develop my voice. At the time, I hated the advice, but man, has it stuck.

      Your commitment over 5 years is inspiring me to keep this fire going!

      • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

        You definitely have the chops, bro.

  • romer6

    I read the original comment and thought it was awesome. Very inspiring. I tried to change my writing habits since then but am yet to achieve any success in that matter. It seems life always finds a way to take us off track. (Well, I could be writing instead of commenting here so I guess it´s not life´s fault, but mine).

    Once again, thanks for your words, Half-Robot. Are you by any chance related to a Bad Robot? I´ve heard that one robot has already achieved quite a lot… It runs in the family, I hope!

    • drifting in space

      I’m related to Bad Robot in the way that when someone wins the lottery and that third cousin from your half-sisters side of the family shows up and wants to start an alligator farm.

      So no, unfortunately not. :) That would be a thrill though.

      And I hear ya on life getting in the way. I have the same stuff come up. It usually just leads to me getting less sleep that night. Which sucks. But you gotta do it sometimes.

      Keep writing, brother.

  • ripleyy

    There is so much truth in this. I remember reading some on Thursday but this is the first time I actually read it all and I agree.

    I was at one of those “pet talk” meetings a while ago where some man stands in front of you and fills you up with confidence and tells you like it is…which will get you home just before it all fazes out. But he said that – much like what “drifting in space” said – “No one is born a builder, an athlete and no one is born a teacher. Talent isn’t a gift, it has to be earned” (paraphrasing)

    And that’s true. I don’t like these “gurus” telling you how to write a screenplay and I don’t like the books, even though I have two myself. They are the exception, and not even famous screenwriting books. They’re just guides. I also agree that you have to stop abiding to these “rules”. Rules only serve to punish you, to make you stop and think “Shit, have I missed the inciting incident by one page?!”

    You have to learn how to drive a car, and you are taught how to read, as well as writing. But that’s all it takes. You don’t need to read in a certain way, you don’t need to write a certain way. You just do what suits you and that’s all that matters.

    The point is, and I think “drifting in space” said this before in another post (if not, I apologize) but I think he said that if you write a commercial idea, in twelve months time, it’s going to be dated and another “commercial trend” is going to take over.

    You can do that if you absolutely want, but you also need to know what is relevant and what is going to be relevant in twelve months.Trends are constant, just write stuff that challenges people. You don’t want to write a movie that someone will see and an hour later, at home, struggle to remember any of it. If you want to be a writer, and you want to tell a story, just write something that people are going to remember for two hours after they read it. That’s all it takes.

    Anyway, inspiring comment all the same!

    • Paul Clarke

      Isn’t it a ‘pep’ talk?

      • Midnight Luck

        I think he might be talking about TED talks

        • ripleyy

          Whoops, I met these. A pet talk is someone baby talking to their pet I guess. :)

    • drifting in space

      The rules really cramped my style right off the bat. They are helpful guides (some) and can help structure, but at some point you need to throw caution to the wind and just get the words on the page and tell your story.

      • ripleyy

        You’re right. I like to think that they’re baby steps. If you want to try for real, you have to try without support. Everyone has a different voice, a way of writing, that’s all you. The “guides” are there for support

        • drifting in space

          That is a brilliant way to put it.

  • Kieran ODea

    Very bold. Even inspiring. I don’t agree with all of it, but thanks for the wake up call. I am awake and writing :)

    • drifting in space

      Hey, even if you disagree with all of it, if it gets you to writing, I win! :)

  • ximan

    Awwwwww. This is a very sweet gesture, Carson.


    • drifting in space

      I know, I appreciate it so much. Never expected anything to come from it. I’m glad it got people writing.

  • ximan

    Look at all the WHITE SPACE!

    Someone’s been paying attention :)

  • Poe_Serling

    Hey Drifting in Space-

    Per Carson:

    “Enjoy (and Half-Robot, I’ll read your script when it’s finished!).”

    It looks like your self-proclaimed ‘rant’ is already paying out a dividend or two. Your obvious passion for the craft of screenwriting is both inspiring and infectious.

    • drifting in space

      I nearly threw my computer off a cliff last night (along with my characters). So right now, it’s not going great.

      I hope this post translates into a kick-ass script for everyone! We need more great films out there.

      • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

        Awww — at least you didn’t go through with it.

        Killing Field is giving me the same problemo, dude. I think I set the bar too high for myself on this one. Trying to get the rest of the script to be as good and as hooking as the first 15 is going to be like climbing up a mountain face with toothpicks as your anchors lol

        • drifting in space

          I know, dude! I’ve been trying to apply what we did with that contest to what I’m writing now and I’ve been through NINE EFFING DRAFTS. UGH.

          Killing Field was such a cool concept. Keep hammering away at it. Even if you are using toothpicks.

          People escaped prison using spoons. It can be done!

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

            Hell yeah! I’m that dog trying to paw his way under the fence… except I’m clawing through concrete lol but once I get to the other side, the story will flow like honey ;)

            Joe Marino read it yesterday, and was hooked as well. It’s showing positive signs… but that scares me even more haha

            Oh well, back to clawing through concrete d:-)

          • kenglo

            Tell Joe Marino – Ken said Hi guys. Would you let me have a gander at your scripts?, and if you want, I have a copy/license of Final Draft 8


          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

            Like I said, you’ll have to ask Joe. But I’ll tell him hi for you.

            And I’ll send you the 1st 15 of Killing Field. I’ll email you in a bit.

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

            And nine drafts? That’s nothing lol shows your commitment, though.

            Are they actual drafts? Or are they more changing small things?

            I could be wrong, but I feel like a true draft is when it changes significantly. So for a first draft I usually put 1.0. And then if I make a small change, like a spell correction, or a piece of dialogue, or action I put 1.1, and so on.

            But if I start changing scenes around, or changing things drastically, or add something huge, that’s when I put the 2.0, and then begin the process again.

            But keep at it. If it were easy, we’d all be millionaires haha

          • drifting in space

            I should be more clear, they are drafts of the first 30 or so pages. Not entire scripts. Although a few are at around 65.

            Unfortunately, the only thing that has really stayed the same in each one are my character’s first names. I’ve changed their jobs, the location, the story, the outline, AHHHHHHHH.

            At one point I had them going from west to east coast. Scrapped it. Rewrote it going east to west. Scrapped it. Now working on north to south.

            I use the same file naming method. It works wonders. The problem I’m having now is that I have 3+ documents open and Final Draft CRASHES.


          • fragglewriter

            How often does Final Draft crash?

            I used Movie Draft to write my scripts. But since Celtx offers an app to use on iPads/iPhones, I switched to Celtx during the Spring. Everyday was working fine until I had to do the first 15 pages of the writersstore script and then it crashed so many times that I went back to Celtx.

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

            I use my Final Draft App. Works good.

          • fragglewriter

            Great to hear. Final Draft is on my Christmas list :-)

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

            The stupid thing is you have to buy the software and the app. I personally think for almost 200 bucks they should come as a set.

            But in the end, it’s a very good investment. And the App and the Computer Software talk to each other, so you can go from your computer to your iPad (or iPhone) in seconds flat.

            And I personally haven’t had the Final Draft crash like that. Though, I have written a shit load and then I try to delete something and it freezes on me, and I just lost everything I just did, so my advice would be to save constantly… so much that it’s habit.

            But you have to be careful you don’t with changes you wish you didn’t save because you like what you wrote before better, and now you can’t remember how it went. Been there, done that lol

          • drifting in space

            It’s every once in awhile, but it ALWAYS tends to be after a brilliant brainstorm and writing session (debatable).

            I have more good things to say than bad though. Although, my copy isn’t exactly legit… :)

            I also use Scriptly on my iPad. It connects with Dropbox and can load Final Draft documents (plus, is free). The formatting looks a bit off, but it’s great for little ideas or hashing out a scene.

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

            Oh yeah, I remember, you were talking about finishing act 1 and then sending it out, as we were doing with the contest.

            I’m up in the air about my thoughts on that. Definitely worth experimenting. William Goldman says that he just writes the entire script first. He doesn’t look at what he wrote or anything. He just plows through.

            Then he takes a step back and looks at his canvas to see what he has, and then starts picking at the slab of granite he has in front of him and starts taking away everything that’s not an elephant (a metaphor lol)

            Also, what did you do for your outline process? (I hate outlining, it’s the hardest part of screenwriting for me)

            I think Blake Snyder’s idea is a good one, where you use cards and place them on a board and look at your movie from start to finish.

            If something doesn’t look good, change it. If a scene looks better somewhere else, move it. Or if it’s not necessary to the story or plot, rip it up.

            In the end, I think, especially in your case for this particular script, it might be beneficial for you.

            Unless that’s what you did and I’m just spitting smoke up the chiors ass lol

  • Maxi1981

    Mr half robot, I just want to say thanks for your post/rant. I really agree with almost everything you’ ve said and in particular with the 10,000 hour rule thanks to the great Malcolm Gladwell, love all his books!!!. I’m a Journalist/Editor and I’m pretty sure that I have put in those 10,000 hours at work and I have to tell you it shows in my writing how much better you get at writing, editing and getting ideas to flow the more hours you put in.
    At the end of the say I think it applies to anything you do in life. Like Ray Bradbury said, “You fail only if you stop writing”.

    However the one point I do disagree with you on is the reading point. I have read Save the Cat and a few other books on screenwriting including The Hero with a Thousand Faces and I gotta say I learnt a lot about the essentials of screenwriting. Read Stephen Kings book On Writing, which is brilliant or Robert Mckee’s Story, which is a bit more developed and not as entertaining as other books, but still a definite must have for a screenwriter.
    I do agree with you that the more screenplays you read the easier it gets to understand the mechanics of writing and to get inspired.

    • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

      I think books do help as guides. And some, if well written, like Save the Cat can actually inspire you to write.

      The hero with a thousand faces book isn’t a screenwriting book, but is highly recommended by a lot of working writers. Almost required reading in some circles. Helps you really understand character and the heroes journey.

      And I don’t think they take the place of just sitting down and writing, but I personally like screenwriting books, they bring up good points that you can implement in your own writing. Or not. But ideas are meant to inspire, and that’s how I look at screenwriting books, as inspirational tools and guides.

      If you only get one thing from a book that makes you a better writer, it was worth it.

      In my book anyway (hehe see what I did there? Pretty clever, eh? lol j/k)

  • BurntOrangeBoy

    Just a tad bit fired up now.

    I’ve been doing a lot better of a job of writing lately, but five days a week for an hour max isn’t enough. I’ve bumped it up to six days this week, but I need to be putting in more time. Lately I’ve been enjoying writing a lot more, but I struggle with motivating myself when I’m tired and I’m just a high school student. If I can work even half as hard as Half-Robot, I know I’ll see better results.

    And the idea of writing based on an emotion you’re currently experiencing is great. Definitely going to try that.

    • drifting in space

      If you are just a high-school student and put in the work… We’ll be seeing your name in no time. Keep at it!

  • JW

    Well done, brother! You may have just put Braveheart to shame! And, you’re right. It has to be a balance of knowing and understanding yourself and what it is you want to write while simultaneously being able to look at something and truly ask, “is it cinema worthy and is this how the pros would do it if it was?” For the first 2 years (maybe 3) any and all notes will be great and they will get you over the hump. There will come a day when you need “pro” feedback or at least someone who’s been down that alley, but right now, you’re in the zone, so let it play out. Stay fired up, not for the sake of staying fired up, not for the thought that this is what creates a “pro” but because the stories inside you are what drive you. Stay fired up for them and your perseverance will follow. Now, grab your face paint and a horse because we need to shoot that scene!

    • drifting in space

      I don’t have much of a face to paint, but this is amazing.

      Reading people’s reaction to what I said has me more fired up than before.

      Circuit overload.

  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

    Paul Clarke and I will make sure will make sure that script is Drifting in Space’s best work and kicks your teeth in that you can’t speak for days, because it’s that damn good lol

    I know he has people outside this little group the three of us have started, but Paul and I read a lot of what he’s done, and I know Paul concurs, that he can write, and I don’t think anybody will be disappointed.

    I also want to encourage people to start a group like we have (we could probably even use a couple more people in this email group of ours) of three to five people where you all share your stuff with each other and just make yourselves better writer.

    But if you’re not the person who can take correction or feedback and gets pissed, or make an excuse for every decision you make, then don’t even bother… because you obviously already have it figured out, right?

    I met with Joe Marino yesterday at the WGA, and he asked me how di I prioritize reading other people’s stuff and writing my own stuff.

    First of all, you don’t owe anybody anything. Set up boundaries and don’t be afraid to say no. And don’t feel like you have to read someones full script. If you gave it a chance, and it sucks, then don’t waste your time. Give notes up to where you read and explain why you stopped where you did.

    And then I told him just to have 3 or 4 people, who you learn from and who learn from you, whose stuff you read everything from, and who reads everything you write, and you just help each other. I don’t think you need more than 4 people. You get too many people, then you’re reading more than your writing, and you always have to be you main priority.

    But make sure those 4 people are a good match and are at least as good of writers as you (unless you suck) that way you are getting good advice.

    But obviously don’t just take people’s advice. Write it down, think about it, mull it over, and make sure it fits and that you like it. Ideas are just that. Ideas. Usually they suck, or are good but don’t match the story you’re trying to tell, but many times, at least for me, they lead to a brilliant fucking idea that excites the living shit out of me.

    Nobody is going to get you there but yourself. It’s your effort, it’s your sitting your ass down and writing that’s going to get your characters in their world with their problems that they have to solve on paper.

    It’s good to read scripts, it’s good to talk about movies and structure, what makes a good script, but talking doesn’t get words on paper. Neither does just reading.

    My personal opinion is write more than you read. If you aren’t comfortable writing, well fucking write anyway. That’s really how you learn. Read every book out there, even every script you can get your hands on, you’re still going to suck until you go through the writing pains that every writer goes through. Which is writing, writing, writing, writing, writing, writing, and then when you’re sick of writing, you write some more, and then when you want to vomit, you write with your head in the toilet.

    Your bones hurt, your voice squeaks, that’s part of the pains of growing up. It sucks, it hurts. But in the end, you get a voice.

    This isn’t a profession for pussies. You need a superman drive. A batman drive. An Avengers drive. In other words, a superhero’s drive. It takes a super human effort to make it in this industry. It was always hard, but never as hard as it is now. So unless you’re willing to put in the time is takes, you might as well as pack up your shit and get the fuck on because there isn’t any place for you.

    But if you have the desire of Drifting in Space and a shit load of other people, then you have a chance. Because always remember, as hard as you’re working, someone is always working harder than you.

    I met with Billy Ray (Captain Philips) last Tuesday, and he told me the amount of work he puts in. And he told me something that is a hundred percent true. You have to put I a ll your effort, because it’s people like him that I’m going up against. And he works his ass off. He drops his kid off to school, then he’s at home writing. Take 30 minutes for lunch, and then he’s right back to work until 6 or so at night, when he gives the rest of his night to his family.

    Bruce Joel Rubin (who I’ve been living with recently, who write Ghost and Jacob’s Ladder) told me that he did like Drifting in Space (half robot) did. He worked his day job, and then he would write one scene a night. No matter how long it took him, 5 minutes or 5 hours, he would get his happy, sore ass off his chair until it was done. He had a wife and kids, so he had other priorities, which is why he only did one scene a night. But his wife was also supportive.

    But that’s the effort you’re going against. Follow suit. Talent can’t be taught. Either you have it or you don’t. You don’t have any control over stuff like that. You don’t even have complete control over your script selling, but you do have control over your ass sitting on a chair and your fingers typing or writing.

    So just do it.

    And drifting (robot) that’s why your stuff is good. Paul and I can see the hard work you’ve put into your stuff. I had lunch with Bruce yesterday, and I had mentioned you again because he’s still going to be in Seattle during his second grandchild’s birth. And I said what I said here, that you’re a good writer. And I’m thinking he will meet up with you after they get stuff settled in the house they’re renting.

    So keep up the good work and send Paul and I your stuff, as we will continue to do the same, and let’s write of good fuckin shit. You got the chops and the imagination, so keep plugging away, and I see good things happening for you.

    • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

      Damn, I didn’t realize I wrote that much!

      Hopefully it’s actually a flame up someone’s ass lol and DISCLAIMER: everything is just one lowly writers opinion.

      But seriously, and I say this because I do honestly care about everyone here, just put everything you have, every ounce of blood and sweat you can possibly give without a) sacrificing your family, and b) you don’t send yourself to the hospital.

      There’s really enough room for all of us (if you write that magical script), so I’m pulling for everyone here. You have what it takes, you just have to put the work in.

      Good luck to everyone! :)

    • kenglo

      How’s Joe doing? He called me a couple of weeks ago and is lost in LA!!

      • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

        He’s doing good. Had some new roommate issues lol but it seems to be working out.

        He lives walking distance from The Grove and the WGA, so he lives in a good spot. Great places to go and write and be inspired.

        Are you in LA, too?

        • kenglo

          No, I’m in Austin actually. We met through his SS spec Rose in the Darkness, I actually begged Carson to read it and he did! I’d like to read some of the stuff you guys are doing if you don’t mind. I’m finishing up my latest (5th) and going to put it up on Zoey for a bit, then see if I can break into Carson’s world! LOL

          What in the world is wrong with DISCUS???

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

            Oh, cool. You’d have to ask Joe if he has anything to share. Not sure how his manager feels about him sending his stuff out to people to read. But since you both go back a ways, he might. It’s all about trust.

            I am trying to work out a couple kinks on my latest feature, but I can send you what I wrote for the Writer’s Store contest that everyone seems to love and are convincing me not to give up on breaking the story.

            But this outline has become one major bitch! Screenwriting is problem solving, and it hasn’t been easy on this one. But I’m working my ass off because if it miraculously wins, I need to have as much of an outline done so I can start writing.

            But another thing Billy Ray told me was that you don’t want people to just return your script and say, “What a smart script you’ve written. You made some good choices.” That’s cerebral, you haven’t reached the persons guts

          • kenglo

            Yeah, I just texted him today, awesome! Grendl is DOPE! I’ll be reading your Killing Fields in a sec! Do you know Paul Undari?

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

            Yeah Grendl is good people, if a little misunderstood lol

            And no, I don’t know Paul, except Paul Clarke. But I got Joe to start setting up a Los Angeles screenwriters get together, so that’s in the works.

    • ArabyChic

      I want in to this group of free, tough love and rampant, soul saving support.

      • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

        I think it’s important to have a group of people to support you, but give you absolute honesty. You really grow tremendously when you’re with people who live it as much as you do, and are putting the work in, or at least are trying to.

        I would say that aside from the actual writing, where you learn a lot, the second most important aspect to growth is to surround yourself with good people who get it.

      • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

        Just send me an email a_fathersluv@yahoo.com

    • Alex Palmer

      This is yet another great point of view. Yet another reason I frequent Scriptshadow: the comment section is a goldmine.

      Once I have a script I am truly proud of, I’m going to do some critique hunting (ahem, networking).

      • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

        Thanks. And keep at it. :)

        And looking forward to your script. Glad you’re taking your time and not just sending out your first draft (which I have a tendency to do, because I’m bull headed!!)

        • Alex Palmer

          Lol, I don’t have the hasty first draft submission problem. I wonder, does writing make me insecure, or does insecurity make me want to be a writer?

          Thanks for your kind words, they mean a lot. I mean, you have an IMDB page for chrissakes!

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

            I think my insecurity and high level of sensitivity (which I passed onto my daughter unfortunately) is why I’m a writer.

            And no problem.

    • http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chrismulligan/lunch-meat?ref=live Chris Mulligan

      I’d be way into a feedback e-mail group if this gets going. I’m a twitpitch finalist & published video game writer who writes weird comedies.

      • wlubake

        You did the superhero one, right?

        • http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chrismulligan/lunch-meat?ref=live Chris Mulligan

          Yep. “Everything Falls Apart”. It lived up to its name, ha.

      • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

        Yeah my buddy is a video game writer. He wrote for Assassins Creed 2, wrote for the new Destiny game that’s coming out, and wrote for one of the Call of Duty games. But Destiny is the next big release. He works in Seattle as one of four writers.

        Anyway, I’ll see what they want to do, I don’t see a problem.

        • drifting in space

          Good thing your buddy wrote for AC2, the only good one. LOL!

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

            It’s Bruce’s son, Josh. Haven’t played any of those games though lol But Destiny is supposed to be a big release.

      • drifting in space

        That is bad ass. What games have you worked on?

        • http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chrismulligan/lunch-meat?ref=live Chris Mulligan

          Did some scenarios in a pair of CPU RPGs, my gaming credits are full-nerd. And I’ve got a concept sold that looks like it’ll never get made, which is whatever.

      • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

        Just send drifting or I an email a_fathersluv@yahoo.com

    • Jim

      I’ve read a bunch of Joe’s work – he actually asked me to read Rose based on some notes I gave him previously, but I didn’t have a chance (probably a good thing, lol!). Glad to see he’s doing well for himself!

      I read a lot where people talk about writing and the need to write everyday. If I could, I’d like to suggest there is something more important: wisdom.

      Wisdom experience is gained by applying knowledge. Writing to write for writing’s sake is good, but it’s not going to get one that far if they’re not learning something and continually applying that to their writing. Even if it’s just one thing per week to learn – going back and applying that to each script will amount in an incredible amount of progress in a short period of time, and really – that’s the name of the game.

    • BSBurton

      Sounds like a good group and I’m down. I’ve spoken to Paul quite a bit recently. Shoot me an email Rick. bburton.evolvinginnovations@gmail.com

    • A Tribe Called Guest

      Upvote times a billion. This is a great idea.

      • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

        I’m also a SAG actor, so I have actor friends I get together for reads. I’ve also have had stuff I’ve written read in acting class. Small stuff.

        And we read pages in my WGA mentorship as well. I just finished a pilot, so might bring that… we usually only read the first 15 pages though.

  • A Tribe Called Guest

    Sofa King dope.

    • drifting in space

      Up-vote x 100.

  • Bobby

    Nicely done Drifting Robot! The idea that become a comment. The comment that became an article. The article that inspired a (Scriptshadow) nation!

    Well worth a second read. Now unlike you, I need my sleep so I shall bid you adieu :-)

    • drifting in space

      I took a day off today to catch up on some sleep, so I feel ya. :)

  • TruckDweller

    Thanks for this. I’ve been falling off the writing path due to a few recent “almost successes”, which translates quite readily into failures. Sometimes it’s easy to get sucked into the need to succeed – to prove that your current favorite project is viable – that you forget entirely that you’re in it for the long haul. And that means cranking out new pages, constantly. So after work, I’ll go back to my standard minimum of two pages and have another pilot by the end of the year. Every semi-positive rejection is another crack in the wall. I’ll toss you an email, drifting/robot (Gravity meets Wall-E?). Thanks again.

  • http://www.twitter.com/esporter Evan Porter

    This is great and really inspiring. One thing I’d want to add to the discussion, though, is the idea that you really need to go out there and live your life. Caring about nothing but writing and making it as a writer is a really dangerous thing. I’ve done it. I’ve had stretches of months and months where all I did was read scripts, read Scriptshadow, write, think about writing, listen to Scriptnotes and other podcasts, then write some more.

    You need to have perspective. If all of your free time is going into your script or thinking about your script or thinking about writing, you’ll find pretty quickly that you don’t have anything to say anymore. Some of my most productive sessions have been after a day or two break. Helps you get some clarity and find a new way to tackle that scene or story beat that just won’t click.

    You need to get out and listen to how people talk to each other, see how they interact, hear about the problems other people are facing and how they deal with them. You get inspiration from the real world — for characters, dialogue, gags, jokes, set pieces. Holing up in your apartment in front of a laptop every single night puts an ENORMOUS strain on your imagination. It needs a refresh every now and then.

    But don’t use this as an excuse not to write. Find your own balance.

    All I know is I would be pretty upset if I spent my every free moment for the next 15 years on this and could never turn it into a career. I’d wish I maybe went to a bar with my friends every once in a while or went to a nice dinner with my wife. And the funny thing is that doing those things from time to time will make you a better writer.

    • drifting in space

      I agree. Thankfully I have a supportive wife who reminds me of that all the time. I usually don’t write on the weekends during the day so we can spend time together.

      Otherwise, I may have burned out before I even really got started.

      Another thing that helps is that I work in an office with 200+ people. I use little quirks from those people to help shape characters. I work in a bustling city (Seattle) so I’m experiencing things every day (like drug deals, almost getting mugged/shot, crazy homeless people, etc) that helps my writing.

      But yeah, you nailed it. Perspective and balance. They are key. If you aren’t living, what do you have to write about?

      • http://www.twitter.com/esporter Evan Porter

        I really admire your drive. I’m sure it will pay off soon.

        Best of luck to you, man!

    • Wes Mantooth

      Very true, Evan. As writers, especially those of us without families, it’s very easy to allow writing to consume your life. I’ve done the same things you mentioned, where you go weeks obsessing about nothing but your story. Not a healthy situation, any way you look at it.

      I remember at the Oscars a couple years ago that Robert Downey Jr. jokingly referred to writers as “sickly mole people.” He had a point. Can’t be afraid to step out into the real world.

    • garrett_h

      You hit the nail on the head here. I’ve been writing for quite some time. Been an introvert all my life, mainly sticking to the circles I’m familiar with. Family and close friends. I gave my 2nd or 3rd script (maybe both) to a friend to read, and they said all the characters sounded like me Even the girls. That was a bummer, but it was enlightening.

      It’s only been the last couple of years where I’ve branched out and met people had crazy experiences, lived in a whole new city, etc., that my writing has started to become more diversified. You never know where the germ of an idea can come from. But granted they won’t come from you sitting in your apt all day. Maybe REAL germs, especially if you don’t shower often, but not those germs for your imagination.

    • A Tribe Called Guest


  • Midnight Luck

    I agree with the idea of focusing your script on something people struggle with, then have a story around it.

    I liken it to the difference between an Adam Sandler movie and a Charlie Kaufman script. Charlie’s scripts are rooted in struggle, Sandlers are a basic idea that tries to be carried out over 90 minutes with a bunch of gags to hopefully get you there and keep your focus away from the tripe and the fact that there is nothing behind it.

    In the end writers need to Dig Deeper (which I say quite often).

    I have also talked about my tiredness of 90% of the SS scripts being first scripts by first time writers. They haven’t dug deep and they are typically one shot simple ideas with no depth. It becomes tiring to wade through them.

    I also have some disagreements with SS in that tent poles, spandex movies, Big Idea scripts and being commercial are pushed so intensely on the site. The site is already heavily loaded with geek boys who tend to already follow this kind of writing path. I don’t agree with focusing that way for your writing. Otherwise you get a ton of empty space with big set pieces and no deep characters and struggles to hold them together. Not interesting writing in my opinion.

    Yes you want your script to be picked up, yes you want to get payed and to have it become a career. But people Have to be sucked in to your writing for that to happen.

    Dig deep everyone. I hope it will help everyone get where they want to be as we’ll as help us all have great scripts

    • drifting in space

      DIG DEEP. Yes. Love it.

      I feel I will probably fall into the first time writer group, but everyone starts somewhere.

      I agree on Sandler’s movies. I’m $ure their heart$ are in it (not). You can’t just get four guys together and load it up with dick jokes.

      But the sad part is, they make money. Gah!

      DIG DEEPER. I’m pinning this mantra to my monitor.

  • Midnight Luck

    You do us all proud Drifting. I struggle to get my butt in the seat. It is my biggest fight. Sounds like you have tamed the monster, and I so applaud you.

  • Kosta K

    Great article. Makes me want to eat a pint of ice cream and curl up in a ball somewhere : Can’t wait to read what all that hard work can produce (no pressure).

    I started waking up an hour early recently, in order to squeeze some writing in before the day comes around and crushes whatever’s left of my will. The day gets off to a better start and any writing that gets done after the kids go to bed is gravy. So far so good.

    • drifting in space

      Tell me about it… I wasn’t nervous to show my work, now I feel like grendl when everyone wanted to see what he put together. Ahhhhh.

      I’ve heard writing right when you wake up actually fosters the most creativity due to still being in a dream state. Could be on to something!

      • Kosta K

        It also keeps me in a dream state for most of the day :

  • jaehkim

    your dedication and perseverance is very inspiring. it’s really people like you who we all hope will make it. (including ourselves).

    I really love this site. I used to comment all the time, but not much anymore. I still visit the site and read all the articles every day, but I’ve been writing more and interacting with a writing group who I got in touch with through this site.

    I don’t agree with everything said in this article/rant, but creating time to write without excuses is something we should all take to heart.

    now, I’m off to more writing.

    • drifting in space

      Connecting with a writing group from this site is great. I’ve done the same thing and it has paid off tremendously.

  • fragglewriter

    Thanks for choosing driftinginscripts post from last week’s article as was and still is a great motivator.

    I think there is a misconception that you can’t write commercial and write what you know (deep emotions). You can write both. You can either combine the two or write two completely different scripts. I look at Stephen King as one of my many writers who inspire me to write. King loves horror movies but his writing is not strictly horror. Yes the majority is horror, but then there is Stand by Me, The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.

    As writers, we don’t have to subject ourselves to what sells (tentpole or action), but the scripts have to be interesting.

    Also, if you’re writing just so that your name can be plastered in film magazines, hob nob with celebrities or to make “X” amount of money, then I suggest you need to reevaluate yourself because those things, which is nice, does not validate you as a person (writer). Stop looking for external validation. Internal validation works the best.

    • drifting in space

      I agree. If you can combine the two, you’re going to write something that connects with our eyes and hearts.

      “Stop looking for external validation. Internal validation works the best.”

      Nailed it.

  • drifting in space

    Where do I even begin…

    I am so humbled that my comment was at least helpful, let alone inspiring, to anyone. It brings joy to my heart to hear so many of your stories, your struggles. It brings this whole experience to another level.

    And of course, leave it to this great community to provide such great reception to it. It really reinforces what I’ve been saying. I don’t think there’s a better place to be a part of right now.

    I’ll keep this short and respond to each of you, along with the mountain of email I woke up to this morning!

    It’s funny… I used some vacation time today so I could write. Woke up, checked my email and it was nuts. Looks like I’ll be writing all day! :)

    Again, thanks everyone. I really appreciate it and I’m glad my words could inspire. I look forward to connecting with each of you.

    Let’s take Hollywood by storm with some stellar work!

    – Michael

    • drifting in space

      Also, the picture you used is fantastic.

    • Alex Palmer

      So much heart not even the downvoting fairy had it in her to dislike.

      • drifting in space

        Thank goodness!

        • Alex Palmer

          Tempting fate, :P

          • drifting in space

            Looks like they came through, d’oh.

          • Alex Palmer

            Still trawling through replies, huh? Hope you solve whatever’s problematic in your script.

          • drifting in space

            I’m at work now, so I can’t do anything except read through comments and emails.

            Or work, I guess. But meh.

    • Linkthis83

      I’ve said it before…..STORY MACHINE. Congrats, brother. This is awesome and you deserve it.

      • drifting in space

        Ahhhhhh! Another person I strongly respect from the SS community. Thanks so much for all the time you’ve wasted reading my dribble. :D

        • Linkthis83

          No problem, man. I appreciate that you provide so much dribble in such a short amount of time :)

    • andyjaxfl

      Great post, Drifting. Your post has inspired me to use my hour lunch break in a more productive way.

      • drifting in space

        Lunch hour writing is the best! Until you have to go back to work. :(

    • garrett_h

      Great post man. Very inspirational. You’ve been one of my favorite posters on here ever since you’ve shown up. Always positive and 100% about the craft. Keep it up! And good luck with your current spec, can’t wait to read it!

    • DamselInDisguise

      My response probably won’t mean much, since I’m still relatively new to the whole SS community, and am still a struggling writer.
      But from I’ve seen… to be frank, you’re quite the shit, aren’t you, Michael?
      The comment was darn useful, and quite, well, inspirational coming from one of us rather than a professional or someone who analyses scripts instead of writing them.
      So, I’d like to say thank you.
      For even skimming over this reply, for writing that WICKED piece of advice, and for the record…. I better get a mention in that Oscar speech of yours. Stranger to stranger.

  • Citizen M

    I literally just got in from watching “Gravity” to find a post from Drifting in Space.

    I think the Universe is trying to tell me something.

    • drifting in space

      I hate to disappoint but I look nothing like Sandra Bullock or George Clooney. :(

  • ThomasBrownen

    I read some of this comment when it was originally posted, but I didn’t realize just how epic it was. And I want to repeat what Half-Robot said—this website really does have a great community of people in the comments.

    • drifting in space

      That’s what I love about this place.

  • Auckland Guy

    Thanks Drifting. Your enthusiasm really shines through, it’s inspiring. Great advice too. You certainly have been productive, keep pouring it out.

  • Eddie Panta

    Intensely accurate. Inspiring and truthful.
    Very well done sir.


  • blue439

    I like this. Especially: “Write INTERESTING CHARACTERS doing INTERESTING THINGS that makes us want to KNOW WHAT HAPPENS.”

    On the other hand, I get the sense of an extremely impatient writer who wants things to happen NOW. If one idea doesn’t work, throw it out and try another. Throw a lot of ideas against the wall and see what sticks. While at first I liked the logline, I realized the tones of rom-com and horror are completely at odds. If you emphasize the comedy, it hurts the horror and vice versa. While it makes for an attractive logline, I think pulling off the script would be difficult.

    • drifting in space

      I can definitely agree with this. At times, I find myself very impatient with writing. I have a notebook full of ideas and stories I want to write, and I write chunks of each one at a time. Not the best method, but I can’t stop my brain from thinking. And at this rate, I’ll either burn out and have a stroke… or have a few completed scripts for a portfolio.

      I usually table each one, come back with fresh ideas (and a better understanding), and take another look at it with a new perspective.

      The rom-com/horror is definitely a tough one, but it can be done. Shaun of the Dead and Warm Bodies come to mind (with varying success).

      But on the other hand, that’s why I’m writing it. It’s a challenge. I want to convey emotions that relate to relationships, which are terrifying in their own right, while combining the story of the end of the world. What would you do with a short amount of time, fighting for survival? Knowing the end is near. These feelings go past the “zombie” aspect and push into the feelings of when a relationship is towards the end of its run. Or isn’t going as smoothly as you thought. We’ve all been there.

      It may be a flaming pile of shit, but the challenge is pushing me to write something that’s “the same but different” in a way that I connect and in genres I like. And I hope it connects with readers.

  • jlugozjr

    Never understood the whole lack of motivation.

    I wrote my script in 2 months. Spent about 8 months rewriting. I still rewrite. Always working on it. For me, it’s exciting. It’s fun. I enjoy working on it. There was never an issue of lack of motivation. Forcing myself to write? That doesn’t sound like fun.

    It’s the same as going to the gym. Some people will alway make excuses.

    I don’t have a great article on motivation, but I have a finished screenplay.


    • klmn

      I read the first 20 pages and it’s well written and intriguing. This could be a good one for Carson to review.

      TIP: Download the script rather than read online. Mediafire tends to lose pages if you read online.

    • Tom London

      I couldn’t agree more. Some people are forcing themselves into this industry. “If you don’t want to write, then maybe… don’t?”

  • Poe_Serling

    Since drifting in space has everyone’s creative juices flowing, here’s a link for 20+ scripts that the studios have just made available on PDFs for the upcoming award season. Includes 12 Years of a Slave, Dallas Buyers Club, The Butler, etc.


    **Courtesy of the folks over at Go Into The Story

    • jlugozjr

      The Place Beyond The Pines. Loved the movie, glad to have a copy of the script.

      Love the cut to 16 years later on page 69.

      I have a similar cut in my script. It’s all about bold choices.

    • drifting in space

      Thank you for posting this! There are a few on here I’ve been looking for. Cha-ching.

    • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

      Thanks, bro

      • Poe_Serling

        You’re welcome. ;-)

  • Malibo Jackk

    The robot has a winning attitude.
    And to say he’s only been writing for 5 months doesn’t tell the whole story.
    What’s surprising is not only what he’s accomplished in that short time
    — but also what he seems to understand.

    (And I think Carson agrees.)

  • Linkthis83

    My feeling is that in five years he will only be on SS to visit the old stomping ground where he got his start :)

  • K.B. Houston

    This is fucking brilliant. What an outstanding diatribe. I never understood people who need motivation to write. If that’s the case, you’re not a writer. End of story. Fade out.

    I will say this to Drifting in Space though — you might want to reconsider the short nights of sleep. Mental Floss had an article this past month about how people who get a good night’s rest are able to solve problems and tap into their creativity much better than those who sleep less. It depends how invested you are in your job, but if you’re able to find a job that pays close to what you’re earning now with a closer commute, you might want to consider it.

    • Citizen M

      Sleep deprivation has been linked to depression. As a long-time sufferer of depression, I’m not taking any chances. When I feel tired, I go to bed, finish and klaar.

      • drifting in space

        That’s the issue I have… I never really feel tired. If I start to doze, I usually go to bed. That just happens to be after midnight most of the time.

        I think the key is my lifestyle and diet. My job isn’t necessarily stressful, and my wife turned us on to a vegetarian diet in January. I’m not preaching it because I don’t really care what people eat, I’ve just found that I have a lot of energy from it, so that’s a plus.

        I have also experienced depression at an earlier stage in my life and if I ever got close to that again, I would change my habits immediately. I agree, it isn’t something to mess with at all.

  • Zapotage

    This really whipped me into shape, which I desperately needed. I was intimidated by the 10 scripts I still have to write after the first I’ve rewritten 8 times already. It can be daunting, but then how do you eat a whale? One bite at a time. You’ve reminded me to focus on the project at hand.

    I recently saw some interview program with Steven Spielberg and John Williams where an audience member asked for advice to be successful in the film industry. John Williams recommended not focusing on the big picture, but rather each project one at a time. He said to think of them as postcards and if you focus on them alone to completion, you’ll have quite an accumulation before you know it and success may follow. Something like that anyway…

    You have great points here and I’m inspired to jump back into the writing trenches. You’d make a great drill sergeant.

  • BradZuhl

    I’ve been playing baseball for 5 months and the NY Yankees haven’t drafted me yet. I’ve also been playing violin for 5 months and the NY Philharmonic hasn’t called. Thanks for realizing that it actually takes hard work to achieve something, even in screenwriting.

  • Ezra Sherman

    Bukowski said, “find what you love and let it kill you.” I die every morning at 4:30 when I wake up to write before the kids are up and I have to go to work. If you aren’t dying then you aren’t living.

    Thanks for putting it so nicely.

  • Kirk Diggler

    And what would William Goldman say except “No one knows anything”. And probably “Get off my lawn.”

  • http://the-movie-nerd.com themovienerd

    Heard it in my head read by ‘The Wire’s’ Omar. Best. Post. Ever.

    • wlubake

      I heard Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross.

  • Breezy

    The best way I can tell sleep to go fuck itself is if coffee tells it for me.
    Sitting to write really takes discipline, and thankfully it can be trained. For me, nothing trained like coffee. It doesn’t make me hyper and I don’t crash afterward. I just feel alert and Im still able to sleep afterward, and get up early. I don’t rely on it, but it really weaned my ass to that chair in front the computer.

  • klmn

    But could a half-robot beat a half-llama?

  • Trek

    Man alive! You nailed it!

    The other folks here have already said far more than I ever could, but I did want to say that your two points about having a tough script reader and writing compelling character struggles are right on target.

    First off, I’ve always said that the number one thing that makes a script better is having that one friend who edits/reads for you and always finds something wrong with your script. That’s the person who can really challenge you creatively. No, their opinion won’t always be what you wanted to hear. And half the time, when they’re done with you, you’re gonna feel like the dumbest writer to ever grace the planet.

    But by George, they’re right 9 times out of 10. Because this person is your potential AUDIENCE. Audiences tend to know what they’ll enjoy. And they also tend to cry foul when your characters and plot are full of holes that need fixing.

    My best writing work has always occurred after a very critical person looked my script over, and bluntly told me what they thought.

    Folks, don’t ever underestimate the power of this sort of reader. EVER.

    Secondly, your point about finding a character struggle/theme and building it into your story is a good one. And I wholeheartedly agree with you… HOWEVER. As a writer who struggled with this in the past, I would urge everyone to prioritize your characters and story FIRST, and your theme second.

    Don’t use your theme as a weight in your story. Don’t try to make your audience get those “feels” by ramming a theme down their throat. And the BIGGEST don’t of them all… don’t EVER try writing allegorically with your theme. (That last one was my big struggle, that I thankfully overcame. If anyone would like a written example, let me know…) In general, trying to write your story allegorically hampers character development, and produces a very crappy final product.

    The sooner a writer get over major mistakes like that, the sooner they’ll start feeling less like an amateur and more like a pro.

  • Trek

    And you’ve made exactly ONE comment on this site before. Maybe you should come back after you’ve been commenting for 5 years. (To quote another: “Sorry if this post came across as mean or aggressive, but come on, man…”) ;)

    Drifting in space had guts and spirit in his advice. To me, that completely justifies Carson putting it up. (Not to mention the fact that his comments about writing were spot on.)

    This false idea that amateurs aren’t qualified to learn writing advice from other amateurs is one of those trends Scriptshadow has always been out to buck, and it really gets me riled up when people like you take cheap shots at other writers who are very much like yourself.

    If you don’t agree that amateurs should be giving advice and encouragement to one another, then you quite frankly shouldn’t stick around these parts.

  • drifting in space

    I’m sorry you feel that way. You’re free to get advice from wherever you’d like. No one forced you to read it.

  • drifting in space

    I SUPER agree with you. I play hockey at least once a week and just recently got into yoga.

    I expect to hit walls, but the support and stories I’ve read from people here are inspiring. That’s why we’re all here, to support each other on this tough road.

  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

    lol someone down voted almost every one of my comments — someone doesn’t like positivity lol

  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

    You invested $15,000 on research?? Damn. I’d probably have spent that making a film, even if it’s just a short film lol ;) but Rodriguez wrote did his more for $7k. Of course, he did almost everything himself.

    Anyway, it’s easier just to email me a_fathersluv@yahoo.com

    • davejc

      It was fun research.

      • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

        That’s all that matters :)

  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

    Just email us. But yeah, don’t know how effective it is if it’s too large of a group. But as with all things, people come and then within a short time fall away, so maybe it’ll stay small anyway. Or if someone isn’t pulling their weight.

    I’m in a screenwriting group in Malibu, and people will come a couple times, we’ll read their script, and then they never show up again lol

  • carsonreeves1

    Hey, don’t knock the chemistry between Owen and Vince!