Go On Your Own Quest — Week 8: Time

September 2nd, 2013 by

The 2013 version of The Quest starts Week 8 today. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by because you can Go On Your Own Quest by following the structure of The Quest to dig into screenwriting theory [Core – 8 weeks], figure out your story [Prep – 6 weeks], and write a first draft [Pages – 10 weeks]. It’s a 24-week immersion in the screenwriting process and you can do it here – for free!

Plus you can join The Black Board, the Official Online Writing Community of the Black List and Go Into The Story, another free resource to help keep you inspired and on target at you Go On Your Own Quest from FADE IN to FADE OUT on the first draft of your original screenplay.

This week, we are reflecting on the subject of Time mirroring the content the Questers are engaged with in Core VIII: Time. They are working through six lectures I have written building off the 8th Essential Screenwriting Principle: Time = Present. The lectures: Present: Being in the Moment and Writing in the Moment; Present-Past: Backstory and Non-Linear Storytelling; Present-Future: Destiny and Narrative Drive; Set-Ups, Payoffs, and Callbacks; Montage and Series of Shots; Flashback and Flashforward.

Apart from voices decrying the use of flashbacks and the typical advice to enter a scene late and leave it early, I rarely see anything written about time in relation to a screenplay. Yet movies have the power to manipulate time like no other narrative medium. Moreover because we write screenplays in the present tense, a whole host of dynamics flow from that foundation. But have you ever thought about time in relation to the stories you write? You should as it’s a powerful dynamic we can use to a story’s benefit.

For those of you who plan to Go On Your Own Quest, let’s begin this week long conversation about Time with this question:

* What implications derive from a screenplay being written in the present tense?

Why not use the structure of this 24-week workshop to Go On Your Own Quest? That was an idea that gathered energy among many members of the GITS community which I described here:

The first eight weeks, we will focus on eight essential screenwriting principles, reflecting the content of what the participants in The Quest will be learning. The content I present publicly won’t be nearly as in-depth as that in The Quest proper, but the subjects and some of the ideas will be the same. What I’m hoping is that each week as we work through these eight subject areas — Plot, Concept, Character, Style, Dialogue, Scene, Theme, Time — the GITS community will engage in a wide-ranging conversation that will deepen and perhaps even change your understanding of screenwriting theory.

During this phase, I will be challenging you to do two things: (1) Generate story concepts with the goal of coming up with a killer idea for you to write as you Go On Your Own Quest. You may think you have a good idea now. Fine. Use these next eight weeks to come up with a better one. (2) Read scripts and watch movies that are similar but different to the story you want to write. This is not only about research, it’s also about priming your creative juices and centering your energy in that specific story area.

Here is the schedule for the first eight weeks of Go On Your Own Quest:

July 15-21: Plot

July 22-28: Concept

July 29-August 4: Character

August 5-August 11: Style

August 12-August 18: Dialogue

August 19-August 25: Scene

August 26-September 1: Theme

September 2-September 8: Time

Then on September 9, you can move into the next phase of Go On Your Own Quest, where you spend six weeks prepping your story.

And on October 21, you can type FADE IN, then over a ten week period write your first draft.

Again all of this is free.

If you plan to participate in the Go On Your Own Quest challenge, you have 1 week before we move into the Prep part of the process. Time this week to ask yourself: Why is time so important in a screenplay and what are ways I can effectively manipulate it?

If you’d like to access the same Core content as the writers participating in The Quest, I will be teaching Core VIII: Time starting Monday, November 18. More information on that 1-week online class here.

Why wait? You can have immediate access to the content of all eight Core classes by signing up for The Core Package. This enables you to go through all of the Core lectures (48 total, each written by me), tips, techniques and optional writing exercises on a self-paced basis as well as take any of the 1-week classes as I offer them. Plus The Core Package offers a nearly 50% savings compared to if you took each Core class separately. For more information on this unique offer, go here. And now is a great time because last week, I just began the entire cycle of 1-week Core classes, starting with Core I: Plot.

Meanwhile I encourage you to head to comments to discuss today’s questions. And for a related discussion on The Black Board, check out these topics:

For more information on Go On Your Own Quest, go here.


4 thoughts on “Go On Your Own Quest — Week 8: Time

  1. Debbie Moon says:

    I’ll go for – immediacy. It’s happening right now, in front of you, and you the writer have get it all down on paper swiftly and succinctly if you’re going to keep up…

  2. 14Shari says:

    You can only show what’s going on in the moment.

  3. bolo boffin says:

    It’s a great reminder of how the audience will experience the film. The movie happens for them in the present. So we write in the present tense.

  4. Scott says:

    All three of you got the main point: There is an immediacy to the present tense where things are unfolding NOW. But the implications go beyond that. There is also writing in the NOW where we experience the action as it plays out. Then the characters making choices and saying things in the moment, which gives them a vitality and spontaneity not present in the past tense.

    If we can embrace the power of the Present, we can imbue our stories with a special kind of energy.

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