A Taste of Kat – 4/2/10



KATIE CROCKER (mid 20’s) sits cross-legged, perched on her chocolate colored couch in the middle of her living room. As she flips to the last page of yet another script, her pale face crumples into an expression of horror and frustration as she THROWS it against the living room wall. THUD!

Doesn’t anyone know how to write anymore?!

This has been me for the past week and a half and the answer to this allusive question is “No, I’m sorry. Didn’t you hear?”

I realize my opinion doesn’t mean squat because I’m not responsible for making or breaking the studios piggy bank; however, as an avid reader/writer I find poorly written screenplays insulting, because 1.) There are plenty of talented yet unemployed writers out there and 2.) How could anyone consciously shell out clams for these clunkers and 3.) I WANT these writers to be better than me, I want to learn from them, I want them to inspire me, so why aren’t they?

So, after many more excruciating hours of page flipping, the truth struck me, “AHA!” I exclaimed, pointing my defiant red fingernail to the sky, “I’ve unearthed the mysteries of the UNIVERSE… (Cough)… I mean I found the problem with most of these screenplays.”

The problem isn’t that some of these writers don’t know how to write, the bitch of the situation is that few of them can write all the components that exist within a script. A well written draft harmonizes with all of the other tones in a screenplay. You have dialogue; you have description, action, characters, plot, etc. The problem is, not many writers can do ALL of these well. I found the writers were either strong with dialogue or perhaps strong with descriptions; others had great plots or storylines while some dragged on with pointless scenes or characters.

So let me begin with a couple of things I’ve learned from the crap bag scripts I’ve been subjected to.

Number One Transgression: Descriptions! There’s so much unnecessary bullshit packed into these scripts that it’s beyond ridiculous. Why don’t you just scribble with a periwinkle Crayola and end my misery because those doodles would be more entertaining. What a waste of space to specifically tell me in a description “This guy doesn’t fuck around” No shit he doesn’t and I got that from about the first three pages of dialogue. Why would you waste the space on the page trying to reiterate this to the reader, the audience won’t hear this line when they are watching the film, it’s a description. If you wrote your character correctly, we should already know this, through his actions and the dialogue. Furthermore, I don’t need to know the entire back story of a prop flower. I don’t care if it resembles the same flower your Grandma gave to you the night you graduated college, in fact, nobody does. Pointless information gets me nowhere and takes me out of your story. Poetry descriptions also distract me. There is such a thing as over writing. While I too can appreciate the beauty of a well written metaphor, I don’t need them in every other sentence of your description; this can be so distracting and takes me out of the plot because I’m too busy thinking about how the tree’s were swaying like a well rehearsed choir.

Second Transgression: Dialogue! USE CONTRACTIONS! If you’re writing a modern character, pretty please don’t make them sound like a robot. How often do you hear yourself saying “It is done.” Say it aloud and see how awkward it sounds. So unless you’re writing for the character Spock or perhaps a period piece, please make your characters use contractions. Another problem: don’t give me information just to give me information.

How you been Scott?

Oh, you know, since I lost my job and
my wife left me, I haven’t been doing
all that well.

What? Why not just narrate the entire film from beginning to end?! It’s completely pointless and doesn’t sound natural. Oh and one more tidbit, please don’t use stiff or awkward words, such as your villain point blank telling you what he’s going to do.

I’m going to rape and pillage your body
for my pleasure.

You have got to be joking. (Eye Roll) This isn’t dialogue. It’s just stating what the character is going to do through dialogue and it’s AWFUL.

Third Transgression: Storyline! All action and no reaction. The number one thing I hated about “The Polar Express” was the nonstop hurdles placed in front of the character. First, there was the lost ticket, then there was the weirdo bum on the roof, then they struggle to get back on the train, then the train almost goes off the tracks, and on and on it went (kinda like this sentence.) I understand there has to be some conflict, either external or internal for a character. Yet using the same action sequences over and over again becomes unbelievable and even worse unbelievably boring. In reality, all I wanted was more of the hot chocolate song. Don’t pace your script with action just to keep the story moving, it has to come from somewhere honest. Another thing to keep in mind, you don’t have to go overboard to keep an audience’s attention. Overdone twists and turns in your plot don’t impress, they confuse. “So there’s this cop that’s trying to track down a serial killer but little does he know that he goes to school with his sister at the local college, and yet still the serial killer is actually just being hypnotized by the cop’s Mother because she wants him dead because when he was little boy he spit on his Dad and in result made the Dad leave his Mother and she lost her husband and here she gets her revenge.”

Need I say more? This isn’t a story or plot line; it’s just a fabricated circus of an excuse for one.
While cross-examining the flaws that riddle these scripts was somewhat disheartening for me, there were two little golden nuggets in the bunch that made it all worth while. So I’d like to thank Johnny Rosenthal for writing “Iron Jack and Chris Crocker (my wonderful husband) for writing “Paper Tiger” because they both brought the much needed laughter in my otherwise frustrating week of reading. I tip my hat to both of you.

What I Watched This Week:
Collateral: I’d been craving to revisit this chilling tale, it didn’t disappoint. I also enjoy Tom Cruise with the salt & pepper hair; I think he should adopt the look for everyday use.

(Wow, I can’t believe I only watched one movie this week, too damn busy.  )

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Katie Crocker - Associate Editor
One of the longest-serving employees of the Moviehole gang, Katie's love of film, television and celebrity is clearly evident in any and each item she writes.