Monday, May 21, 2007


My writing buddy JTR and I are doing ScriptFrenzy in June. The idea is to write a 20,000 word screenplay in a single month. That's right, I am a:

Script Frenzy is an international writing event in which participants attempt the creatively daring feat of writing an original, full-length screenplay—or stage play—in a single month. Spurred by a wild deadline and buoyed by a community of countless other writers, Script Frenzy participants can't be bothered with self-doubt—or editing. They're too busy writing by the seat of their pants, typing out beautiful, flawed stories that no one else could have dreamt up.

When JTR first sent me the link two weeks, I didn't even respond, because the idea was so foreign. I know nothing of screenplays. I've never even read one.

"Perhaps you should read one before rejecting the idea," JTR said.

We were sitting in a Mission district coffeeshop, for a regular meeting of our writing group (which is comprised of just the two of us). I found the The Sixth Sense screenplay via Google, and started reading it.

I couldn't stop. I ignored JTR for the next two hours, while I read through the script.

When I got to the section where Cole tells his secret to his mother in the car, I started crying. It's the first time I've ever cried from reading something. I leaned over to get a kleenex from my purse, and JTR looked up. "Oh, wow," he said.

"We have to do scriptfrenzy!" I blubbered back.

So now we've bought the Screenwriter's Bible, and we read another screenplay about a knight playing chess against Death.

We were discussing writing techniques. Professional authors do a great job of reinforcing the environment. If it's raining, the author will describe the tapping sound of the rain against the roof, then later the scent. On the next page the characters will debate whether the rain will flood the crops, as they put on their raincoats and galoshes.

In my writing, I'll mention once that it's raining. Four pages later, I write, "...then he went out into the rain," and the reader says in shock, "What? It's raining?"

"This is due to being a programmer," said JTR.

I chuckled.

"No, it is. You declare something once, and the computer doesn't forget. Humans forget. You go back and say, 'Look, I clearly defined this on page 176.' but that doesn't work for humans."


John said...

Yes, humans forget! Your years at Google have driven the human element out of you! You are not an algorithm.

Funny, I was talking to a Googler who moved over to the YouTube side, he said the concept of human selection of videos would be totally foreign at Google Video when selecting videos for "Mobile Video" ( )

vermilion said...

Maybe you should author a supplemental booklet titled Scoping Rules for Humans. Let it be self-referential, such that the booklet becomes a shining example of its own creative advice. :)

Anonymous said...

I recommend McKee's Story.

Jia yo, N!


Jim Miles said...

Presumably the screenplay "about a knight playing chess against Death" was for The Seventh Seal. I have a Swedish poster for it in my room. It's one of my favourite films.

Good luck with the screenplay!

John Reese said...

Your friend JTR talks like a robot. Is he a robot?