Just a few random thoughts…

typing Superman
…typed at super-speed!

-Work on the low-budget comedy spec is inching forward at a rate of about 1 1/2-2 pages a day. It may not seem like a lot, but it’s proving to be much more enjoyable than expected. A big part stems from going back and rewriting the jokes to make them better (and hopefully funnier). It’s difficult to be self-analytical about it, but I think I’m getting better. The big test will be if it generates some actual laughs when people read it.

I was originally hoping to be done with it by the end of the month, but mid-May may be a little more realistic.

-More notes and feedback coming in on the western. Lots of helpful and insightful comments, including some fantastic suggestions on how to make the logline better, and a few confidence-restoring observations about the material as well as my own skills. Those are always nice to get.

Already figuring out what to work on when the next rewrite gets underway.

-Had to give notes to a newbie writer about their script. There was a lot that needed to be fixed, and I tried to be equally tactful and supportive with my comments, but they still got more than a little defensive.

Apparently I can’t recognize the genius in anybody’s work.

-When I first started my “Ask a Script Consultant!” interview series, I had no idea it would: A) go on this long, or B) spark so much controversy about whether or not it’s a good idea to use one. It’s easy for professional writers to denounce it because they’ve got a much stronger support system than those of us trying to break in. A lot of us do what we can on our own to get better, but sometimes will still need help and guidance in order to improve, and do what we can to get it.

Sure, there are some really lousy ones out there, and you might get burned. That’s a chance you have to take. It’s up to you to do the work to find the one that’s right for you.

Caveat emptor, chums.

-Enjoy the weekend. Hope you get a lot of writing done.

Ask a Most Excellent Script Consultant!

Wayne McLean

The latest in a series of interviews with script readers and consultants who would be worth your while to work with if you want to get your script in shape. Today’s spotlight is on Wayne McLean of Wayne’s Movie World.

-update on May 4, 2018 – Wayne passed away on April 30th from congestive heart failure. He provided me with some great notes for my western, and enjoyed getting my updates regarding its progress. He was very savvy when it came to writing advice, extremely generous with offering it, and overall just a very nice guy.

1. What’s the last thing you read/watched that you thought was incredibly well-written?

The Imitation Game, Nightcrawler, Whiplash.

2. How’d you get your start reading scripts?

I fell into it by accident. I was in a writers’ group. One of the guys was produced and went to Toronto for a pitchfest. He brought back 95 or 100 scripts. I read them all and called each writer to give input. No charge. After about 90 phone calls I said, “I can do this.” My 25-year career in broadcasting really helped. That was about 10 years ago.

3. Is recognizing good writing something you think can be taught or learned?

I work with writers and their scripts to provide the focus necessary to perfect the skills required for the CRAFT of screenwriting in relation to their scripts. Then, through a careful process, the writers and I work together to develop their talents to enable them to become proficient in the ART of screenwriting.

4. What are the components of a good script?

Amazing writing with a unique point of view. Compelling, riveting characters. Crackling dialogue. Powerful subtext on all levels. Scenes and situations that are fresh. Marketable.

5. What are some of the most common mistakes you see?

Clichés. Sending out a script that isn’t ready for the market.

6. What story tropes are you just tired of seeing?

Characters waking up from a dream. Fragmented concepts. Two-dimensional characters.

7. What are the 3 most important rules every writer should know?

I don’t ascribe to the idea of ‘rules’. I prefer to see a writer following guidelines and principles. The script must be entertaining, entertaining and entertaining.

8. Have you ever read a script that was an absolute, without-a-doubt “recommend”? If so, could you give the logline?

I cannot disclose loglines. All materials submitted are confidential and conform to my rules of privacy. I do have some clients with million dollar concepts.

9. How do you feel about screenwriting contests? Worth it or not?

If a writer can afford it, enter as many contests as possible. Use them as an opportunity to develop writing skills and ask if there is input available from the judges.

10. How can people get in touch with you to find out more about the services you provide?

(See note above. Wayne’s website & email have been shut down.)

Check out my website waynesmovieworld.com or email me at wayne@waynesmovieworld.com.

11. Readers of this blog are more than familiar with my love/appreciation of pie. What’s your favorite kind?


Taking comedy seriously

My objective
My objective

It’s been a long time since I attempted to write a comedy, but the process has begun and I plan to see this through to the end. (the latest – hit the page 10/inciting incident plot point as of yesterday.)

Quite a challenge, to say the least.

For the time being, my objective is to produce two pages a day. Three if I’m on a roll. “That’s all?” you may ask. Yep, because a lot of that time is spent going back and fine-tuning the jokes.

I’ll crank out a scene, which usually includes a first pass at the jokes, then rewrite them multiple times until I think each one works. I’ve yet to hit the bullseye the first time out, nor do I expect to. It takes as long as it takes. I’m not in a rush.

If you don’t write comedy, you’d be surprised how tough it is to come up with a joke that isn’t a cliche, or has been heard before. Which is why it’s been such an unexpected positive result to discover that each day it gets a little easier. Not much, but just enough to make it seem slightly less daunting.

But add to that how comedy is subjective and everybody’s sense of humor varies, and we’re right back to extremely daunting.

What”s proven to be a huge help has been reading other comedy scripts and watching a lot of comedies to study how those jokes are done. I’ve really come to appreciate the Tina Fey/30 Rock-style, in that the joke, no matter how absurd it may be, fits in seamlessly and organically. Counter to this is the old-fashioned way (“Who cares what’s going on? Here’s a joke!” (rim-shot)), which feels forced and shoe-horned in, and is often not that funny. A cautionary example of what to avoid.

I suppose it’s even possible my daily output could potentially increase by an additional one to two pages, but I don’t want to strain myself.

-Thanks to everybody who contacted me after the developments of last week. It’s nice to know you’re not alone when things get dark, and a lot of those same people are more than willing to help you pull yourself out of it. A combination of working on the comedy, plus some encouraging feedback on the western (and its logline) have really helped put me in a better mood.