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I will be announcing the TOP 25 scripts from my contest this Wednesday!

And as we get closer to the big day where worlds will be moved, lives will be changed, I can offer some thoughts on the process, a process that has given me even more insight into the system than ever before. The biggest takeaway I’ve gotten so far? That it takes a long time to get this craft right. Almost inevitably (with a few exceptions), when I like a script and go back to read the writer’s pitch e-mail, I see it mentioned that the writer has been at this for 7 years or 8 years or 9 years. Screenwriting, unlike any other form of writing, has a mathematical component. You’re supposed to hit beats by certain pages, divide things up into acts, keep the script under a certain page count. To get used to that restriction – to be able to write freely within those guideline – takes time and practice. And you can feel it on the page. You can feel that ease, that lack of fear. With new writers, they’re mostly just writing whatever comes to mind at the time. Filling up pages, hoping to have enough before they write “The End.” The stories feel unformed, random, like we’re on a bus ride to nowhere. This doesn’t mean you’re screwed if you’re new to this. But if you’re going to compete with these people, you’re going to need to work a hell of a lot harder. READ, STUDY, WRITE. That needs to be your life. READ, STUDY, WRITE. If you’re not doing one of those three things, you’re not catching up to the people who have been doing this so much longer than you have.

TWO DAYS LEFT!

  • jaehkim

    carson, are you posting just the title and loglines for the top 25, or will we be able to get our hands on the scripts to read?

    • carsonreeves1

      Just the titles and loglines. I think at some point, at least some of the scripts will be put out there, if not by the writers themselves.

  • ripleyy

    It would be cool if we got a “honorable mention” as well. The scripts that were good, but not just good enough to win the spot.

    • carsonreeves1

      Hey Ripleyy. I did one honorable mention article, as you know. Will possibly do another but not sure yet.

      • ripleyy

        Yeah, that’s what I meant, but I know how time consuming it would be :)

    • G.S.

      I would love to see reviews/critiques of those exact scripts. Understanding the more subtle differences between good and not-so-good screenplays would be very helpful.

      • ripleyy

        It would take a considerable amount of time, but it would have valuable information I think. Breaking them down, seeing what was holding them back.

  • Zadora

    Very true article. I’ve been writing for ten years. The better I get, the more I realize how much there is to learn and how much further I have to go.

    • leitskev

      She’s one of the best, but yes, still getting better!

      • Shawn Davis

        yep.

    • carsonreeves1

      The thing is, there’s so many little things to learn. That’s what takes so long. For example, the topic of character can be broken up into so many sub-topics, and you have to learn them all to be good at it.

      • NajlaAnn

        Yes, and I’m still learning them.

    • Shawn Davis

      Well said, Pia!!!

      Shawn…..><

      • Zadora

        You two have both been drinking some kind of cool-aid! Btw Shawn, your writing partner pulled an April’s fool on me. Sent me a text you two sold Chernobyl!!!!! I was so happy I was celebrating!

        • Shawn Davis

          He told me he got you good but didn’t tell me how.

          That’s really funny.

          Shawn…..><

  • leitskev

    I did not participate in the 250 thing, but excited for those that did. Hopefully someone will launch a career through this. You never know.

    My wish list for future SS topics(some of these have been addressed over the years, but there’s always more that can be learned.

    1) setting up tension…and MILKING tension. This has been a recent focus of mine, and any community insight I’ll drink up like single malt scotch.
    2) creating emotional reaction in the reader.

    I’m talking about doing these in the script, not the film, and it’s somewhat different.

    Another one:
    3) escalation of narrative. Creating a sense of building. That strikes me as one of the hardest things to do in screenplay.

    • klmn

      This contest is the best lesson in milking tension.

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

        Wendnesday is ONLY two days away, but imo Carson should have announced the winners a long time ago.

        • Scott Crawford

          Do you want it done right or right now?

          Carson wanted to do it right, and maybe overstretched himself (maybe!) but you admire his integrity.

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

            Scott, ALL you have to do is read a script ONCE and then give it a score based on how you responded to it. Have no idea what you mean by doing it “right”.

            The whole grading a script out is highly subjective. I think some people make it sound harder than it really is. It’s just someone’s opion, in this case Carson Reeve’s. It’s not like a math test that has a definative right or wrong answer.

  • PV

    Major props to Carson for taking the time to slog through all the log lines and scripts to get to this point. As an avid reader of the blog, I can say that we all really appreciate the time, effort, and care you’ve put into this contest and the blog in general. The comments section tend to get caught up in craft and debates with your opinions (as they should), but we’d all be at a loss, in terms of craft, if we didn’t have the safe space you’ve created to explore this craft with other like-minded people. So again, thank you for all your hard work.

    • carsonreeves1

      Thank you. :)

      • klmn

        Could you give us a hint of what genres made it in?

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

          Weirdly, all porn.

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

            Yeah but at least it’s “tastefully done”… ;)

          • Shawn Davis

            Ha!

        • carsonreeves1

          86% of the top 25 are musicals. Who would’ve thought.

          • Scott Crawford

            Ah, nothing like reading lyrics in a script!

          • klmn

            Musical porn.

            I almost submitted one of those.

            Just kidding. I almost submitted two of those.

    • Midnight Luck

      absolutely. I agree. A huge undertaking and accomplishment. BRAVO!

  • Altius

    Hey Carson, I know some people must have submitted more than 2 scripts…could you give us a spoiler and let us know if anyone made the vaunted double into the top 25?

    • carsonreeves1

      Nope, nobody got 2 scripts into the top 25.

  • Lucid Walk

    OT: I’ll give Zack Snyder the benefit of the doubt. Batman vs. Superman has always been an impossible movie to make, so of course it was gonna be bad. But at least he tried to do it. And when they make this movie again, and believe me they will, they’ll have something to learn from.

    • Lucid Walk

    • Thaddeus Arnold

      I wouldn’t say it was impossible if you understood the characters. The Dark Knight Batman vs.the Ray of Hope Superman. The vigilante who deals with the seedy underbelly of Gotham vs. the alien sent to Earth to show mankind the way. The conflict is right there. It’s just that Snyder had no interest in presenting Superman that way.

    • Scott Crawford

      “Batman vs. Superman has always been an impossible movie to make”

      Absolutely agree. Wolfgang Peterson couldn’t do it.

      “so of course it was gonna be bad”

      I would say “of course it was going to disappoint,” but otherwise a very good summary. And I’ll check out the video later.

    • Omar Samir

      In Snyder’s defense. It probably wasn’t a part of his ‘grand vision’ to cram all that garbage into one movie.
      The whole cameo thing probably played out in real life exactly the way it did in the movie. Some jackass sent Snyder an email with 3 videos of the mandatory cameos, only saying “PUT THIS IN”. And Snyder probably broke down because… What the shit?
      The movie had some neat moments. I liked that Granny’s Peach Tea thing… Although, I doubt Mark Zuckerberg would kill Skinny Mercy.

      • Scott Crawford

        Glad you mentioned the Peach Tea thing. No spoilers, but that was an amazingly shocking scene. And I’m kind of disappointed, spoilers aside, that more people didn’t talk about it.

        Quite liked the scene where Wayne is looking at the files and sees all those other heroes, but Wonder Woman… she’s never the best superhero. I think Scarlet Johannson made Black Widow work by injecting it with a lot of her quirky personality. I don’t think Gadot will be able to that, I don’t know.

        • Omar Samir

          Another thing is… In the original Frank Miller TDKR miniseries… Batman and Superman have known eachother and done the Justice League thing for 30 years (20 + 10). So the fight between them is all the more intense, because we know that neither of them wants to kill the other, but they might have to. In this one… They’re barely acquaintances, and they’re both completely set on killing eachother. Also, they’re both complete retards. As in, when he first sees Doomsday, Batman literally goes ‘Ah, shit’ and ACCEPTS HIS OWN DEATH. He just stays there and waits to die but Gal Gadot saves him. And Superman, who can literally move at the speed of time, fails to dodge or see so many things.
          I’d recommend you read Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Strikes Again. It’s the sequel to TDKR… Not because it’s good, but because it’s hilariously bad. Honestly, one of the worst I’ve ever seen/read. But there’s a decent story in there, covered in layers of bullshit. I never had this feeling before, where I want to like something, because it probably started with a good idea, but then it got completely killed by terrible writing and art and… One of the books, I shit you not, half of it is just Superman and WW having flying sex.

        • G.S.

          I think BvS was maybe three or four drafts away from a really good script. They had all the makings of an interesting examination about the consequences of superheroics and the ethics of vigilantism in general. You had the opposing views of two very different heroes.

          It could have been really awesome. But it looks like there may have been too many cooks in the kitchen. They couldn’t decide whether to make french onion soup, lobster bisque or chili, so they tried making all three in one pot.

    • G.S.

      DC’s animation has always been miles ahead of its live-action productions. I don’t know what their deal is…

      • Scott Crawford

        Animation is cheaper, the audience doesn’t need to be as big, so it can more be niche, esoteric. I’m not an obsessive fanboy as such, but you can see there’s a lot of compromise when superheroes become big-budget movies.

        Apart from Green Lantern, I think with that they stuck quite closely to the original… and suffered because of it.

        • G.S.

          I don’t know. I’ve found that the writing is much better. And for some of their straight-to-DVD features, I wouldn’t say they held themselves impossibly close to the source material as to make it inaccessible. There are at least three different animated features they could have just ported the scripts over and filmed it live-action and done a whole lot better than they have. But maybe that’s just me.

          • Scott Crawford

            There’s some on Netflix, I might have a look at them. Thanks for the heads up!

          • G.S.

            Check out the “Young Justice” series if you haven’t already.

    • S. Douglas

      I wrote a version of BvS in my head while I was sitting through Dawn of Justice… I put it up here… just some basic thoughts on who should have done what in the movie. For example, it would have been cooler if Wonder Woman broke up the fight between Batman and Superman. http://hambonescriptmachine.blogspot.ca/2016/04/my-batman-v-superman-movie-i-wrote-in.html

    • klmn

      Batman’s really fat. I bet he’d win the French toast eating contest.

  • Midnight Luck

    “READ, STUDY, WRITE. That needs to be your life. READ, STUDY, WRITE.”

    I completely agree with you.
    Though I want to add one small (BIG) thing to what you have said, and I believe it is very important:

    “READ, STUDY, WRITE, **EDIT/REWRITE**. That needs to be your life. READ, STUDY, WRITE, **EDIT/REWRITE**.”

    Because in my experience ReWriting and learning how to be a good Editor, ends up being at least 50% of the fight, if not a whole lot more.

  • Poe_Serling

    A few years back I set a goal for myself to try and watch the Top 100 five-star classics from A to Z in my spare time. Of course, it’s my own personal picks. I’ve been able to put a big dent in the list, but I’m still quite a few from the finish line.

    And that’s all from the comfort of my La-Z-Boy recliner!!!

    So…

    Plowing through 250 scripts (some good, some so-so, etc.) in your spare time is quite a feat.

    Carson’s effort – [X] Impressive.

  • Omar Samir

    ” With new writers, they’re mostly just writing whatever comes to mind at the time. Filling up pages, hoping to have enough before they write “The End.””
    Flashes of the bumbling idiot that is me pop into my head… Setting out to write a 50-pager and be done by 30.
    There’s always a long sigh, followed by the thought “I want this to be longer but I don’t wanna stretch it and spread it too thing.”
    GG.

  • Scott Crawford

    This Wednesday, some people will be very happy, because they won. I know how that feels because, last Wednesday, I WON, and it felt great!

    (Working hard on getting those first ten pages done, Carson.).

    But this Wednesday will be very disappointed. BUT THEY MUST NOT QUIT.

    I did not enter the 250, so I at least will not judge ANYONE who got into the top 225 but the final 25.

    So nobody should quit this site because they didn’t make the final cut. Agreed?

    • smishsmosh22

      congratulations on winning that! very cool! I was surprised to even come close, I think The Fat Pact was 3rd or 4th. Pretty cool!

      • Scott Crawford

        There were SO many scripts there, from ideas to first ten pages, that we must, MUST see on AOW in the not-too distant future.

    • Shawn Davis

      “So nobody should quit this site because they didn’t make the final cut. Agreed?”
      .
      If you quit the site because you didn’t make it, your heart wasn’t into writing to begin with.

      There’s a lot more rejection out there than just this website.

      As a writer, you simply have to accept it and get thick skinned.

      Shawn….><

    • cjob3

      No deal. If I don’t win it’s because the system is rigged and I will therefore run as a third party candidate. Oh, wait. I’m sorry, what are we doing?

    • Midnight Luck

      I doubt I will be in the top 25, unless I am extremely lucky, or maybe incredibly skilled, because well, I didn’t enter.
      BUT if I do win, everyone will get a free round on me, if I don’t win, I hope someone will take pity on me and buy me a poor sad lonely little drink while I sit in the corner.

      PLUS, I don’t think anyone should quit the site when they DO WIN either! Don’t run away feeling like you are now too good for all of us :)

      • Paul Schellens

        I don’t like your chances in this one.

        • Midnight Luck

          I’m always holding out hope.
          It ‘s better to believe, no matter what. Be positive. (I’m told)
          You never know, stranger things have happened I’m sure. (maybe?)

          • Paul Schellens

            Stranger things have definitely happened. Especially in the movies.

            Remember that script you threw in the waste basket two years ago? Are you sure no-one pulled it out, brushed it off and submitted it for you?

            But seriously, have you got anything out there at the moment, in contests, in the AOW queue? I loved that short story of yours a while back, so I’m curious as to when we might see something more substantial.

          • Midnight Luck

            I wrote something for the Industry Insider contest and got really high scores (I don’t say that to toot my horn, I’m just trying to make a point) along with a “CONSIDER”, so I thought I was in, and I wasn’t.
            Oh well.
            Other than that, no I don’t have much out and about.
            I do have an issue with being nervous letting my stuff out there.
            I hold it all very close to my heart.
            It actually does worry me that someone will come along and pull my charred burned ashes of pages out of the dumpster, spend an inordinate amount of painstaking time reconstructing all my pages and work, and will release it into the world where it will not only win an Oscar but also a Pulitzer Prize (they do give these for scripts right? Cause they should) while single handedly solving the Earths water crisis and meth problem, only under someone else’s name.
            Like I said, It could happen.

            P.S. Thanks for the kind words. You said you liked my Short? which one are you talking about exactly?

  • smishsmosh22

    I was thinking of maybe entering a few of my loglines into this contest. Anyone have experience with this one? I’ve never entered a writing contest before, but this only requires a logline so I thought maybe it’s worth a shot. https://scriptpipeline.com/shop/great-movie-idea-contest

  • hickeyyy

    OT: Any Walking Dead watchers out there?

    SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    That was one of the most thrilling episodes I’ve seen of the series…… until the final minute. You’re going to kill a major character off camera and make us wait for 6 months to find out who?! You’ve got to be kidding me. One of the worst decisions I’ve seen in a television show. Disrespectful to the audience. This is why Game of Thrones is the best show on TV today; they aren’t afraid of the repercussions of killing a character. This show refuses to do the same, or it could be amazing. Now? It’s just an okay show.

    • Scott Strybos

      I posted briefly on this on the last board. I agree. So disappointing. And unecessary!

      I found this funny video (which I also posted in the last comments section) of fans reacting to the last thirty seconds.

      • hickeyyy

        My thoughts exactly. A complete copout. They knew they needed to kill someone but were unwilling to just commit. Why are they afraid?!

        • Scott Strybos

          They had nothing to lose with showing who it is. This wasn’t a cliffhanger moment. Or rather it wasn’t a mystery cliffhanger moment. Seeing the bloodied beaten corpse of one of our crew would have been a cliffhanger. It would have been a powerful cliffhanger.

          Supposedly there is hidden audio. If you listen closely you can here the person being beatten cry out Maggie. I haven’t heard it, but this would suggest Glen was the one who had his skull caved in.

          DOUBLE SPOILERS!! If you don’t want to know what happens in the comic don’t read this Glen was who died this way in the comic.

          However, TWD has deviated from the comics on occasion.

          They should have shown us. Fucking, Gimple.

          • hickeyyy

            MORE SPOILERS!

            Yeah, I’ve been a comic reader as well. I knew that Glenn was the one who took the bat there but they’ve definitely swapped deaths around on more than one occasion. I just feel it’s a slap in the face to your viewers to say “Guess what? Someone you love just got killed! Want to find out who? See you in 6 months!”

            That’s not a GOOD cliffhanger. When I think of my favorite cliffhanger ever, I always come back to the season 3 finale of LOST. That made you reevaluate everything about the episode you watched and made you think about the future of how the show would change. It didn’t make you have to wait for the following season to find out how shit had ended.

          • Scott Strybos

            Sadly, even with this abuse, I will still tune in to next season. Neegan and his Merry Men will be a formidable foe; their number alone seems insurmountable.

            And I am looking forward to when Rick and the Alexandria crew fuck them up good. Because they have to, right? (I don’t read the comics, at least not past the prison I didn’t, so no Spoilers please).

            Do you watch Fear the Walking Dead? I finally dove into the first season this past weekend. I am only three or four episodes in and I don’t know that I want to continue…

            If you do watch it, does it get better? I heard they explain the origin of the infection, is this true?

          • hickeyyy

            I will also tune in, of course. And I haven’t watched that series to say for sure. I think one average zombie TV show is enough for me.

          • Howie428

            I’ve watched FTWD and it doesn’t get any better. I’m not sure it adds any new information or insight. I found it to be a massive blown opportunity in that we could have seen lots of cool stuff from the beginning of the outbreak. Instead, they’ve chosen to just do another POV of stuff we’ve already seen. And it’s not an especially interesting POV, not a particularly strong set of characters, and all sorts of illogical nonsense happens.

    • Howie428

      SPOILERS!!!!!
      I’ve been seeing some amusing comments about how they murdered the cameraman. However, that’s an odd way to watch something filmed in that way. They actually murdered you, the viewer.

      • hickeyyy

        Haha yeah, I’m hopeful not everyone just accepts this. I’ve seen a couple TWD apologists claiming they want “to focus on building Neegan as a threat instead of focusing on whomever died”. Come on. Now the focus is on “WHO DIED?!” instead of giving us an opportunity to mourn for a beloved character and think about Neegan being the one who did it.

        • Howie428

          I don’t think this was about building up a threat or denying people a chance to mourn. This was an arty attempt at giving them a, “Who shot J.R?” moment.
          In that respect it worked fine and will probably pull people into the next season just as planned. It’s probably too much of an arty manipulation for much of the audience, but it’s a reasonable end of season cliffhanger.

          • Scott Strybos

            Did you hear this audio I’ve read about that is supposedly the person being beaten crying out for Maggie?

          • Howie428

            I’ve not heard it, but from the description it might be a grasping at straws thing. The sound designer (editor/whatever that job is called!) probably needed to add some reaction sound and the nearest available filler sound would have been from moments before when someone said this. So it’s possible this is not intentional.

    • Lucid Walk

      On one hand, it was a well-crafted climax with one whopper of a character entrance. This could’ve worked as an episode, but as a series finale? No way!

      As to who died, it obviously wasn’t Rick or Carl. That just leaves…

      Glenn, Daryl, Michonne, Rosita, Aaron, Abraham, Eugene, Sasha or Maggie.

    • andyjaxfl

      I tuned out of the show long ago, but I saw a lot of “That’s it, I’m done!” reactions on twitter since it aired last night.

  • garrett_h

    Will the SS250 scripts be posted? Will we get a chance to read the winners?

    • Poe_Serling

      Per Carson:

      “Just the titles and loglines. I think at some point, at least some of
      the scripts will be put out there, if not by the writers themselves.”

      • garrett_h

        Drats! Was hoping we’d at least get to read the winner!

  • Levres de Sang

    I’m wondering whether Carson thinks the Top 25 are comparable to scripts on recent Blood, Black and Hit Lists — or whether there’s a way to go before SS Nation can compete at that level? Either way, Wednesday’s announcement will be nothing less than [x] worth the read!

  • Randy Williams

    Don’t forget a few winners will be invited into a writers’ group. That’s a priceless prize for those who work better with mentoring and discussion. I always think it’s better to hang your hopes on your potential than your latest script.

  • Frankie Hollywood

    Here’s an early consolation prize for the other 225. Drown your sorrows with some free curly fries. http://www.jackinthebox.com/offers/free-medium-seasoned-curly-fries

  • S_P_1

    Parallel Topic

    The year end 2015 Scroggins Report is out. This year’s report is more significant because it gives a week by week breakdown of the spec scripts that sold last year. It also gives a brief breakdown of each script that sold including project attachments.

    https://medium.com/scoggins-report/2015-year-end-spec-market-scorecard-bb572a2055fb#.ikxrdjqpm

    Major shot out to Travis Beacham for getting the very first sale of the year starting January 2015! Still the number one Reader script!

    Overall this is a testament to SS community. I foresee this Wednesday as being a major game changer for a select few.

    Only two scripts made me say WTF!!!

    Ascension
    Logline: Centers on a scientist who is tasked with saving the world after gravity is erased from the Earth’s atmosphere.

    I Fucked your Dead Sister
    Logline: A dude falls for a dead girl’s sister, but has sex with the dead girl first. Well she’s not actually dead when they have sex and they actually never had sex; we’ll find that out in the end.
    READ, STUDY and DON’T WRITE some trifling BS.

    • Scott Strybos

      I like the logline for I Fucked Your Dead Sister. It is unlike any logline I have read. Loglines always seem so polished, which they should be, but this rambling, cobbled-together string of thoughts is funny in its unpolishedness. It feels fresh… Although this mentality in script form would probably be trying….

      • S_P_1

        If this script was on AOW it would get ripped to shreds, BUT this script sold. So basically the more derivative and sophomoric you are the better chance you have to make a sale. I just know this script is oozing with Oscar worthy character arcs, tension, plot and story.

        • Scott Strybos

          I haven’t read the script, so I can’t speak to the script. All I can speak to is the logline.

          The only responsibility a logline has is to grab the readers attention.

          Today, almost every logline, grammatically speaking, is constructed exactly the same. Same sentence structure, same verbs and adjectives. They read like mad libs.

          This writer chose to go a different route with his logline. It was hilarious in its roughness. And it made me chuckle.

          The script is probably not very good. But I have no doubt this logline got him read.

          • S_P_1

            and SOLD!

  • carsonreeves1

    Yes, a script evolves. Sometimes, along the way, you realize there’s a much better story in here.

  • smishsmosh22

    Yeah, I’ve heard that. This one is from Script Pipeline, which is apparently endorsed by Scriptshadow.

  • Poe_Serling

    “I will be announcing the TOP 25 scripts from my contest this Wednesday!”

    Carson…

    Do you have a specific time in mind for the Top 25 announcement on April 6th or is it just another mystery box to keep anticipation running high on that particular day?

  • Daivon Stuckey

    I’ll reveal how long I’ve been writing AFTER I win.

  • Midnight Luck

    Michael Arndt About The 5 Steps He Learned at Pixar to Write a Good Beginning

    http://www.mentorless.com/2015/04/27/michael-arndt-about-the-5-steps-he-learned-at-pixar-to-write-a-good-beginning/

  • Midnight Luck

    I love this:
    “* The Secret Ingredient: Can you evoke wonder? It can’t be artificially invoked.”

    http://www.mentorless.com/2012/03/10/wall-e-and-toy-story-screenwriter-andrew-stanton-reveals-the-clues-to-a-great-story/

    Wall-E and Toy Story Screenwriter Andrew Stanton Reveals the Clues to A Great Story

  • Midnight Luck

    Pixar 22 Storytelling Rules from Emma Coats (animation artist)

    http://www.mentorless.com/2012/07/03/in-case-you-missed-it-pixar-22-storytelling-rules/

  • jeaux

    If you’re serious, I’d love to read it! joe_lbp at yahoo dot com
    Good luck!

  • Wes Mantooth

    I can’t believe they pulled this bs after all the viewer blowback they got for the Glenn debacle. And seeing Gimple try to defend it on Talking Dead was even more maddening. He knew it was the cheapest ploy possible.