KATIE CROCKER (mid 20â€™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!
Doesnâ€™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 â€œNo, Iâ€™m sorry. Didnâ€™t you hear?â€
I realize my opinion doesnâ€™t mean squat because Iâ€™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 arenâ€™t they?
So, after many more excruciating hours of page flipping, the truth struck me, â€œAHA!â€ I exclaimed, pointing my defiant red fingernail to the sky, â€œIâ€™ve unearthed the mysteries of the UNIVERSEâ€¦ (Cough)â€¦ I mean I found the problem with most of these screenplays.â€
The problem isnâ€™t that some of these writers donâ€™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 Iâ€™ve learned from the crap bag scripts Iâ€™ve been subjected to.
Number One Transgression: Descriptions! Thereâ€™s so much unnecessary bullshit packed into these scripts that itâ€™s beyond ridiculous. Why donâ€™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 â€œThis guy doesnâ€™t fuck aroundâ€ No shit he doesnâ€™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 wonâ€™t hear this line when they are watching the film, itâ€™s a description. If you wrote your character correctly, we should already know this, through his actions and the dialogue. Furthermore, I donâ€™t need to know the entire back story of a prop flower. I donâ€™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 donâ€™t need them in every other sentence of your description; this can be so distracting and takes me out of the plot because Iâ€™m too busy thinking about how the treeâ€™s were swaying like a well rehearsed choir.
Second Transgression: Dialogue! USE CONTRACTIONS! If youâ€™re writing a modern character, pretty please donâ€™t make them sound like a robot. How often do you hear yourself saying â€œIt is done.â€ Say it aloud and see how awkward it sounds. So unless youâ€™re writing for the character Spock or perhaps a period piece, please make your characters use contractions. Another problem: donâ€™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 havenâ€™t been doing
all that well.
What? Why not just narrate the entire film from beginning to end?! Itâ€™s completely pointless and doesnâ€™t sound natural. Oh and one more tidbit, please donâ€™t use stiff or awkward words, such as your villain point blank telling you what heâ€™s going to do.
Iâ€™m going to rape and pillage your body
for my pleasure.
You have got to be joking. (Eye Roll) This isnâ€™t dialogue. Itâ€™s just stating what the character is going to do through dialogue and itâ€™s AWFUL.
Third Transgression: Storyline! All action and no reaction. The number one thing I hated about â€œThe Polar Expressâ€ 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. Donâ€™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 donâ€™t have to go overboard to keep an audienceâ€™s attention. Overdone twists and turns in your plot donâ€™t impress, they confuse. â€œSo thereâ€™s this cop thatâ€™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 copâ€™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.â€
Need I say more? This isnâ€™t a story or plot line; itâ€™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 Iâ€™d like to thank Johnny Rosenthal for writing â€œIron Jack and Chris Crocker (my wonderful husband) for writing â€œPaper Tigerâ€ 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: Iâ€™d been craving to revisit this chilling tale, it didnâ€™t disappoint. I also enjoy Tom Cruise with the salt & pepper hair; I think he should adopt the look for everyday use.
(Wow, I canâ€™t believe I only watched one movie this week, too damn busy. ïŒ )