Monthly Series: Your feedback wanted!

June 12th, 2013 by

Even though I’ve been hosting this blog for over 5 years, it continues to evolve and I continue to learn things about it.

For example, I ran the annual “A Story Idea Each Day for a Month” series each day in April of this [the series' 4th year]. People really responded to it, getting into the spirit of brainstorming ideas.

Meanwhile I had been collecting a bunch of emails from people who had made movies, requesting I feature them on the blog. So I figured, why not make May “Moves You Made” month. So each day, I shared an original short, feature length movie or web series episode with the GITS community. Once again people seemed to really like that.

Then I dusted off something I had been meaning to run for a while: “30 Days of Screenplays” to encourage people to read scripts. And that’s what we’re doing in June to good response.

So maybe we’re onto something here and I wanted to ask what you think about us having a different monthly series? Every day at noon Eastern / 9AM Pacific, you could check in to see the next installment in the month’s series. That’s the first thing: Would that appeal to you?

The second thing is can we come up with 12 interesting series themes? I wouldn’t want to do it just to fill space, each theme would have to be of value to readers.

We already have three I think are worthy candidates: A Story Idea Each Day, Movies You Made, 30 Days of Screenplays.

Here are some other suggestions I’ve pulled from a brainstorming list created by my research assistant Wendy:

Great Opening Scenes
Character Introductions
Online Screenwriting Resources (Websites, Blogs, etc.)
Movie Story Types
Great Characters
Great Scenes
Interviews
Reader Questions
The Business of Screenwriting
Script to Screen
GITS Script Reading & Analysis

Obviously some of these would be pulling content from the archives, but I keep getting reminded by readers that they cannot believe the amount of subjects covered here, just sitting there collecting dust. This would be a way of presenting that content to newer GITS followers as well as reminders for those of us who have been around for awhile.

Here are three that would require more time from me in terms of thinking and writing, but depending upon when I scheduled them in the year, I could possibly take them on:

Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work
The Theology of Screenwriting
Writing Mantras

Finally what about something a bit more interactive: A daily scene-writing exercise? For example, are you familiar with those 24 hour short film contest where they give the filmmakers a line of dialogue and a prop, and they have to go make a movie using them? What if we did something similar? Each day, a line of dialogue, a setting, and a genre. Write a 1-2 page scene, copy and past it [don't care about format] for our general edification. Maybe a contest angle to it with some free Screenwriting Master Class courses as prizes or some such thing.

If there was a groundswell of support for this idea of monthly series, and if we could surface 12 strong candidates that we feel would benefit the conversation about screenwriting and you individually, what I could do is come up with a schedule, January-December.

Think about that for a second. That would mean every day, you could visit this site and be assured you’d be getting: Daily Dialogue, Monthly Series, Screenwriter Interview.

Those would be defaults. Then all the other information and analysis you’ve come to expect.

So I look forward to your thoughts and suggestions. If any of those listed above are particularly interesting, let me know. As always, if you have any other ideas for the blog you feel may be of value to the community, I’m all virtual ears.

Onward and upward!

29 thoughts on “Monthly Series: Your feedback wanted!

  1. Debbie Moon says:

    There’s so much great content on the site that anything that brings it back into circulation, reminds us what’s already here, must be a good thing.
    I really like the sound of Movie Story Types, but I’m open to pretty much any of the others…

    1. harryjohnquest says:

      Dear Scott Myers, Each Monthly Series topic is great. For me the RANDOMNESS is a good part of the draw. Only posting what’s up for next month, and your reasons for the choice, keeps it fresh, anticipation is focused. You can still be prepared a year in advance yet change up to roll with current trends and reader interests. It feels personal and responsive.

  2. Erica R Maier says:

    I really, really like the idea of daily writing exercises! The chance for spontaneous creativity would be a blast!

  3. Jared says:

    I find that a lot of aspiring screenwriters focus on their first ten pages to the detriment of the rest of the screenplay. So, I would suggest that instead of something like “Great Opening Scenes” or “Great Character Introductions” you do something like “Great Beginnings of Act 3″ Or “Great Midpoint Twist” or “Great Second Acts” or “Great Finale Choices” (which comes from that Michael Arndt video where he talks about endings being a “choice that leads to a conclusion”).

    I think a lot of people focus on the openings and can even construct a good opening, it’s maintaining the quality throughout the screenplay that doesn’t come easy.

    For Great Finale Choices, you could use Arndt’s Little Miss Sunshine, with Olive deciding to go ahead and perform despite the likelihood that she won’t win; and the other that comes immediately to mind is Empire Strikes Back where Luke decides to die rather than join Vader.

    It’s funny how after I saw Arndt describe endings this way that it’s now what I see when I look at endings of movies, and what I try, and struggle, to create in my own scripts.

    So you could do generalizations of what types of choices are typical at the end of movies and discuss how effective they are (i.e. choosing good v. evil, or choosing one mate over the other in a rom-com and why one choice might be great in one movie but not in another) .

    I have been struggling to find an ending to the script I’m working on now and this type of investigation might be helpful to me.

    I also like the idea of Online Screenwriting Resources that would introduce me to stuff online I don’t know about.

    1. Love this idea, Jared. I think you’re 100% right. So much time (for good reason) is devoted to the first 10 pages, but if you can’t sustain interest, make it compelling all the way through, what’s the point. I’m obsessed with listening to Arndt’s interviews and I think endings would be a great topic to cover.

  4. Despina says:

    I second the daily writing/interactive exercises! Maybe like a 3-page shorty? Because you need more work. Jeez. Write much?

    I really like the 30 Days of Screenplays. Seeing the breakdowns, to me, is so helpful. Learning beats and acts and transitions, not the hard and fast formula behind it, as I’m sure we all have our own flow, but recognizing them within movies and written pages.

    Those are my 2 main things on the fly while waiting for the kiddo to finish up at the batting cages.

  5. I’m a strong proponent for the daily writing exercises. I would love to have a place to go to and have someone lay out an exercise for me to write a scene about this or that. It would give me and I’m sure other people a chance to practice their writing in a contained environment. With everyone writing the same scene we can see different ways to approach it.

  6. I love the interactive idea, it’s always incredibly helpful to have someone critique your work, even if it’s just a page or two.
    Loglines are often something we need brushing up on, so even an exercise where you review 3-5 of our loglines we send in each day would be fun and extremely rewarding. Love all of the ideas though!

  7. Mark Walker says:

    I would be happy to see any of those topics Scott and the writing exercises. I was also wondering if there would be enough “legs” to a series looking at great set-ups and pay-offs in film?

  8. Holly Bell says:

    Movie Story Types and the writing exercise sound great. To throw one more into the brainstorm: different ways to infuse conflict into the story.

  9. Sal says:

    Yes! all of the above. Also a month where each week devote to an act (1,2,3) structure would be golden.

  10. Scott, first of all, everything that happens on The Blog is fantastic. Now you came up with yet another turning point :)

    There was your post awhile back.
    On internship at GITS. You wrote about resumé. And the thing about “defense for a movie with less then 30 on RT”, IMO it was just awesome.

    What if instead we will talk of things that not so great?

    My second ‘bright’ idea: a voting both mechanics. For example: if we readers through the course of the month will be participating in choosing some direction and topic, which would be resulted in climactic post (or two or three) with readers’ impressive feedback. However the thing must be lazy enough, maybe it’s just it: you have just two-three words to give it direction.

    And maybe some series will show just what readers think: what if we pitch you our ideas, and then the ‘winner’ will make posts of 3-5 paragraphs weekly (during the month). I think everyone have something to say.

    I’m not sure I’m going somewhere with these ideas. But hopefully they’ll spread something.

  11. iheathen says:

    Scott I think this blog is incredible as is the community of people over on the black board. I would be all for logline reviews (you review one of our submitted loglines each day for a month – for wording feedback or story feedback) and exercise ideas that provide writers with feedback on their work – but heres another crazy idea I just had is “Let’s write a movie”. Might not be a month, maybe a different way but could we crowd source an entire draft of a brand new spec script with you as moderator and Max as final decision maker? Crazy I know. Too crazy? I don’t know!

  12. I like all the suggestions already submitted.

    I’d also be interested in a month devoted to television writing. Maybe daily posts featuring different showrunners, evaluating what makes the writing on different shows successful, or providing tips specific to television structure?

    One other suggestion would be to select an unsuccessful movie (or a poorly written successful one!) each day and allow readers to participate in exercises in which we discuss what changes could have been made to the script to make the movie work.

    1. Despina says:

      I agree with you on TV writing! I forgot to mention that.

      Also, poorly written movies or poorly executed movies… yes to that, as well :)

  13. I’d love to see Anti-Heroes covered in a monthly series. Watched Taxi Driver last week for the first time in a long time (one of my all time favorite movies). And despite how twisted Travis Bickle is, I feel like you’re on his side from the start.

    It would be interesting to examine 30 different anti-heroes and see the techniques the writers used to get the audience on their side.

  14. Alan D. says:

    Hey Scott,

    I think for October, I love to see and even help contribute to a “31 Days of Horror Movie Writing Cliches.” Each day could break down a horror movie cliche and focus on the history of it, films that excelled with the cliche and ways to revamp the cliche with your own writing.

    Some examples include:

    The Creepy Phone Call
    Masked Villains
    False Scares
    Teenage Victims
    Horror Movie Weapons

    And so on. October would the most cliche, yet perfect month to feature it. This could also branch out with sci-fi movies and include like alien movie cliches.

  15. JoniB22 says:

    Wow, so many awesome ideas already!! Love notion of the Monthly Series. Love Great Opening Scenes, great endings, how about great transitions. Pacing, overwriting — really, anything with craft/mechanics is good. I LOVE LOVE LOVE all the interviews — I would like to see more interviews with managers/agents/producers, even directors — writer interviews are great, but expanding our understanding of how other industry folk make choices and what they look for, and HOW they look for and find projects, how they do/don’t like to be approached, etc. — all would be great.

    I read my GITS email every morning, but honestly, I read it then I get busy working on a script. That said, I’d prefer No Distractions like interactive stuff, writing prompts, etc. Not that it’s not fun / fun practice, but for me, it’s just one more procrastination means I’d rather avoid. So … forge on if the masses want it; I can just glean right on by.

    1. Despina says:

      i concur on non-writer interviews!!!

  16. Jon Stark says:

    The scene writing exercise is a great idea.

    I agree that openings already have a lot of coverage on the net. Focusing on other aspects of the script would be more valuable to me – like how to turn the killer opening into a solid act 2 or, as mentioned, hitting the homestretch of act 3 at full speed. That’s sort of in the vein of “same but different” and would be extremely helpful.

    The carrot of competition + prize with real value (a class!) is serious value added. Talk about motivation for real writers…

  17. sarahbarnesharris says:

    I check in every day and always find something amazing to read and learn. I love the interviews, the script analysis, the dialogue excerpts. The idea of a writing exercise is a particularly exciting challenge. I am so grateful for this kind of website and for your enthusiasm.

  18. Scott, quickly browsed through the list – one thing I just thought of that I am very curious about is what should you be prepared with, material wise once you finish your scripts and are ready to market it (besides the script itself)? Should all writers have treatments or synopsis for their scripts before they put it up on the market? Could you give us some tips on how to prepare to meet, say, an agent and what are the things we should know (aside from the market, etc.)? Thanks

  19. hobbs001 says:

    Definitely the screenwriting exercises with prizes on offer!
    Something about the “Nuts and Bolts” of screenwriting – this can either be things like whether people prefer laptops/longhand, printouts to clean read instead of on a screen etc.
    “Writing Processes” – I never tire of hearing how other people go about just getting the damn work done on a daily basis. This can be as detailed as you like, including workspace, musical motivation etc.
    And of course I realise the “Processes” could be contained within a “Nuts and Bolts” series…..
    Once again, thanks for all the genuinely interesting and above all useful content.

  20. I think all would be amazing topics and themes, especially:

    Great Opening Scenes
    The Business of Screenwriting
    Daily/Weekly Writing Exercises

    I can’t wait to see what you (and we as a community) do next!

  21. Adam says:

    Wow, I think a daily scene writing exercise would be incredible:

    1. When I get writer’s block, something like a scene writing exercise can help get my juices flowing again.

    2. It would be fascinating to see how a simple scenario/scene assignment can influence a variety of writing styles and ideas from different writers. The metaphor of a tree comes to mind – the scene assignment is the root from which we branch out our own unique scenes, ultimately forming something beautiful.

    3. The best stories often arise when you ask “what if…” I think a daily scene exercise strengthens that creative muscle. By writing and reading the scenes of others, it would really help to train us to realize there are an infinite number of ways to write a scene, story, script, etc… and most importantly, it can become second nature to explore those paths.

    1. Adam says:

      SECOND IDEA: Anything related to tackling the second Act. Maybe something similar to scene writing exercises… Provide the beats of the first and third act of a made-up script, and we can practice constructing the beats of how we would construct Act 2.

  22. BobByrne1 says:

    Two suggestions:
    1 – More entries in the “How to Read a Screenplay” series. If including all the steps is too work-intensive, perhaps two or three of them.

    2 – A systematic look at Joseph Campbell’s monomyth. I suspect a lot of people have only read Christoher Vogler and other interpretations. I wonder how many have really dug into ‘Hero With a Thousand Faces’ itself?

    Thanks!

  23. 14Shari says:

    I’m currently watching ‘Why did I get married’ written by Tyler Perry, my first movie I see from him. The first thing that I noticed was: too much exposition.
    1) This brought me to the idea of ‘Fix this…” : it can be anything: a scene description, too much exposition, character development, etc…

    2) I would love to see a series about ‘the greatest directors’, those who have made it to an official top 100 list of greatest directors or have received an Academy Honorary Award. I mainly am interested in the ‘lesser known’ directors like Satyajit Ray and many others.

    3) I would love to see a series on popular Indie films like ‘Like Water for Chocolate’ , Eat man drink woman, and others.

  24. Simon Littlefield says:

    I also check into GITS daily. There is already a mine of invaluable help and information here but, personally, I would also like to see series on:

    Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work
    The Theology of Screenwriting (especially if this is more on mandalas!)
    The Business of Screenwriting

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