Spec Script Deal: “Malpractice”

February 11th, 2016 by

Endurance Productions acquires thriller spec script “Malpractice” written by Tyler Marceca. From Deadline:

Malpractice, written by Tyler Marceca (The Disciple Program), follows a disgraced surgeon operating a black market clinic in Manila, who is called into action after he is enlisted by terrorists to assist in a plot to set off a bomb at a political convention filled with international dignitaries.

This is an option deal.

Marceca’s script The Disciple Program made the 2012 Black List.

He is repped by WME and Anonymous Content.

By my count, this is the 4th spec script deal in 2016.

There were 7 spec script deals year-to-date in 2015.

Interview (Written): Drew Goddard (“The Martian”)

February 11th, 2016 by

A Creative Screenwriting interview with Drew Goddard, nominated for a 2016 Academy Award for Best Adapted screenplay for The Martian:

The first act of The Martian is dominated by scenes featuring Watney on his own, and you had to balance periods of silence and Watney’s narration. Obviously there are limits to what a character can say in narration before it comes off as too wordy or too technical, especially in this movie. What was the biggest challenge with writing that act?

I think it’s exactly what you’re saying. You want to make sure there’s a reason for any time he’s talking to the camera and that’s challenging. But that was the rules we set out for ourselves. We didn’t want it to just be “Here I am to explain the movie to the audience,” which is a trap you can fall into with narration. It was much more about the scientific experiments that is the Ares mission and Mark Watney’s decision to say “You know, even though I’m stuck here I’m going to continue my work.” In that case his work was documenting how he’s trying to survive so that once they found him they would understand what happened. That’s what sets up the prism in which we’re viewing the whole movie. Once you do that, it allows you to open up outward and get more existential in the back half of the movie. That was the challenge – committing to our structure.

What sets The Martian apart from similar “survival” stories is Watney’s confident attitude. Although there are scenes where he doubts his ability to survive, his “I’m gonna have to science the shit out of this” attitude carries the film. How important was this attitude in making the audience connect with Watney?

It was certainly one of the things that attracted me to the book right away. The optimism in the face of despair felt special, like something I hadn’t quite seen before. The despair is there, but we’re just not overtly talking about it. The hope was always that the audience would start to see that his optimism is what’s keeping him alive because if he allowed fear and despair to creep in it would be overwhelming. It is a desperate situation and he’s using humor to save himself. Matt did a beautiful job of finding that balance and letting the quiet moments tell that side of the story.

I think you have to step back when you’re looking at a screenplay and ask, “Well, what is this really about?” The optimism in the face of despair is such a key part of the soul of the movie, not just for Watney but for everyone. Refusing to give in to despair becomes bigger than Matt Damon making jokes. It becomes the point of why we’re here.

For the rest of the interview, go here.

You may download the script for The Martian here.

Spec Script Deal: “Horizon Line”

February 11th, 2016 by

Svensk Filmindustri acquires thriller spec script “Horizon Line” written by Josh Campbell and Matt Stuecken. From Deadline:

The spec is a suspense thriller that follows a couple on a small airplane which loses its way over the Pacific Ocean.

Writers are repped by UTA and Madhouse Entertainment.

By my count, this is the 3rd spec script deal in 2016.

There were 7 spec script deals year-to-date in 2015.

2016 Dialogue-Writing Challenge: Day 9

February 11th, 2016 by

Last year at this time, we did a month-long Dialogue-Writing Challenge. It was a big success with dozens of writers participating. We all learned quite a bit about this important aspect of the craft plus we had some fun in the process. So I’ve decided to bring it back!

Every Monday-Friday at noon Eastern / 9AM Pacific in February, I will upload a post with a prompt for writing dialogue. Each day, write a scene per those guidelines. If you really want to get in the spirit of things, upload your scene here in the comments section of the original post. That way you can critique others’ pages and receive feedback on your dialogue as well.

To provide extra motivation for this series — to get people to WRITE PAGES — I am giving away some of my Craft classes to Dialogue-Writing Challenge participants. That’s right: For free!

The Craft classes highlight key principles and practices tied to the nitty gritty of writing a script. Here is the Craft lineup, the only time I will teach each of these courses in 2016:

January 25: Craft: Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling

February 8: Craft: Story Summaries

February 22: Craft: Handling Exposition

March 7: Craft: Scene Description Spotlight

April 4: Craft: Character Development Keys

May 2: Craft: Create a Compelling Protagonist

May 16: Craft: Write a Worthy Nemesis

May 30: Craft: The Coen Brothers and the Craft of Storytelling

Each is a 1-week online class featuring 7 lectures written by me, lots of screenwriting insider tips, logline workshops, optional writing exercises, 24/7 message board conversations, teleconferences with course participants and myself to discuss anything related to the craft of scriptwriting.

A popular option is the Craft Package which gives you access to the content in all eight Craft classes which you can go through on your own time and at your own pace, plus automatic enrollment in each 1-week online course. All for nearly 50% the price of each individual class. And special bonus content: 7 lectures on How to Introduce Characters so a script reader will immediately get a clear sense of who each character is… and be entertained in the process.

To qualify to take one of my Craft classes for free, write and submit ten [10] Dialogue-Writing Challenge posts, then provide feedback on ten [10] posts from other writers. The former to get you writing, the latter to work your critical-analytical skills.

A chance to take any of my eight Craft classes, interface with me online along with the usual stellar group of writers who take Screenwriting Master Class courses, while using writing exercises and feedback to upgrade your skill at writing and analyzing dialogue.

ISN’T THAT AN AWESOME IDEA?!!!

A couple of logistical notes:

* Limit your post to 2 pages. Out of fairness to everyone participating in the public dialogue-writing workshop, let’s not abuse anyone’s patience or time with really long scenes.

* Give your scenes a beginning, middle and end. You may enter late and exit early, but provide an arc to each of your posts. Even monologues or telephone conversations, both of which we will be doing this month.

* Don’t be concerned about proper script format when you copy/paste your pages, rather the content and execution are the important thing. So as a default mode, do this: (1) Don’t worry about right-hand margins on scene description or dialogue, just keep typing until it manually shifts each line. (2) Don’t worry about character name position, rather do this:

SCARLETT: Rhett, Rhett... Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?

RHETT: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

Today’s prompt: Saying “I love you” without saying “I love you”.

It’s easy to have a character say the words “I love you.” But what about if they can’t? Perhaps social circumstances. Or internal inhibitions. Or they prefer to convey the sentiment through some sort of subtext. What words would they use instead of “I love you”?

Focus on the dialogue, not the action to drive the scene. In most movies, it’s the other way around because movies are primarily a visual medium, however sometimes the script requires a dialogue-driven scene and we need to hone our chops at being able to do that effectively.

Write a 1-2 page dialogue-centric scene, then copy/paste in comments.

If you are interested in qualifying for 1 free Craft class with me, please note in each post you submit the number of scenes you have written. If today is your first effort, note that it is Scene 1. The next one, Scene 2. And so forth.

Also when you provide feedback on someone’s scene, please note in each reply the number of comments you have uploaded. So if today is your first response, Feedback 1. The next one, Feedback 2.

You are on an honor system, as I don’t have time to check every post, so do the right thing!

Remember: In order to qualify for one of my free Craft classes, you need to submit ten [10] Dialogue-Writing Challenge posts, then provide feedback on ten [10] posts from other writers.

FEEDBACK TIP: Come up with the wildest way of saying “I love you” without using the words. Like this:

Want to join in? Here are the previous challenge prompts:

Day 1 challenge: A young child asks an adult, “Where do babies come from?”

Day 2 challenge: Write a monologue in which a character expresses regret for something in their past.

Day 3 challenge: A scene built around the line “Give me the God damn key.”

Day 4 challenge: A stoner conversation.

Day 5 challenge: Use voice-over narration with a flashback.

Day 6 challenge: Talking aloud to oneself.

Day 7 challenge: Slang.

Day 8 challenge: Somebody gets fired from their job.

It’s the 2016 Dialogue-Writing Challenge! Give a jolt to your creative and writing muscles… and win 1 free online class with yours truly.

NOTE: My Craft: Handling Exposition class starts Monday, February 22. If you have done all 10 exercises and provided 10 feedback posts by February 19, you are eligible to take that class for free. It’s an important class that dovetails directly into writing dialogue, so you can use that as some motivation!

Finally if you have a suggestion for a dialogue-writing prompt, please post in comments or email me.

To see all of the 2015 Dialogue Writing Exercise prompts, go here.

Writing and the Creative Life: The Magic of Ambient Noise

February 11th, 2016 by

70 decibels. Not 50 dBs. That’s too low. Not 85 dBs. That’s too high. Nope. 70 dBs of ambient noise appears to be just right when it comes to enhancing one’s creativity.

That’s the conclusion of this study as reported in the University of Chicago Press (December 2012).

50 decibels or less isn’t enough to heighten creativity.

85 decibels or more actually can inhibit creativity.

70 decibels is the magic number.

So we know that. But what kind of ambient noise?

I know a lot of you have the habit of transporting yourself and your laptop to the local coffee shop. Somehow the background noise of baristas in action, patron chatter, and obscure instrumental music over the sound system stimulates you to write, think, create.

For a short New York Times video on the subject, go here. In it, they talk about a website called Coffitivity. Check it out. That’s right, you don’t need to go anywhere to revel in the inspirational tones of people talking and cups clinking, whiffs of virtual java wafting through your imagination.

Speaking of which, I hate working in coffee shops. I get distracted by conversations. All those people moving around distract me. The occasional hiss of the espresso machine. The inevitable crash of some klutz dropping a dish. Plus there’s this.

I don’t drink coffee.

So even if I mainlined caffeine, I would find zero creative inspiration inside a coffee shop.

But I do love ambient noise. The cleansing wash of white noise. Specifically rain.

I’ve got rain apps on my iPhone. My iPad. My MacBook Pro. My Mac Air. Strap on my Bose headphones, turn on my rain, and I am loaded for creative bear.

Seriously, when it actually rains, I will still sometimes run my rain app.

Here is a great site: Simply Rain. You can control intensity, create oscillation, even add thunder if you’d like.

And be sure to aim smack dab for the 70 dB level.

Coffee shop. Rain. White noise. If you are having trouble concentrating or want to try an experiment to give your creativity a jolt, try the magic of ambient noise.

Writing and the Creative Life is a series in which we explore creativity from the practical to the psychological, the latest in brain science to a spiritual take on the subject. Hopefully the more we understand about our creative self, the better we will become as writers. If you have any good reading material in this vein, please post in comments. If you have a particular observation you think readers will benefit from and you would like to explore in a guest post, email me.

[Originally posted June 19, 2014]

Daily Dialogue — February 11, 2016

February 11th, 2016 by

George Bailey: [gazing eyes with Mary] Well, well, well.
Freddie Othello: Now, to get back to my story, see?

In a trance, Mary hands Othello her drink, and George and Mary start dancing.

Freddie Othello: Hey, this is MY dance!
George Bailey: Oh, why don’t you stop annoying people.
Freddie Othello: Well, I’m sorr- Hey!

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), screenplay by Francis Goodrich, Albert Hackett and Frank Capra

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: Annoying.

Trivia: Othello, the annoying kid in this scene, is none other than Carl Switzer who played Alfalfa in the “Our Gang” comedy series.

Dialogue On Dialogue: When George tells off the annoying suitor, it inspires one of the most memorable moments in the movie – the pool scene.

Athena Film Festival: February 18-21, 2016, Barnard College, New York City

February 10th, 2016 by

For those of you in the New York City area, be sure to check out the 6th Annual Athena Film Festival which runs February 18-21, 2016 at Barnard College. There will be many great movies screening including features, documentaries, and shorts, as well as panels, workshops, and special events.

The Black List will be there and I will be part of it for two activities:

* On Thursday, February 18 from 2-4PM, I will be doing a presentation at Barnard: “Using five archetypes – Protagonist, Nemesis, Attractor, Mentor, Trickster – we will analyze several female-centric movies including The Wizard of Oz, The Silence of the Lambs, Juno, Bridesmaids, and Mad Max: Fury Road to learn the fundamentals of Character Based Screenwriting.

* On Thursday and Friday, I will be a mentor along with Darci Picoult, Jane Grillo, and Deborah Kampmeier for the Athena Film Festival Black List Screenwriters Mini-Lab in which we will work with four talented women writers whose scripts were selected from numerous entrants. In addition to one-on-one mentor meetings and workshop sessions which I will lead, participants will attend special screenings, social events, and the festival’s awards gala.

For more information on the Athena Film Festival, go here.

Interview (Part 3): Sam Regnier (2015 Nicholl Winner)

February 10th, 2016 by

Sam Regnier wrote the original screenplay “Free Agent” which won a 2015 Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting and has been set up at CBS Films. Recently Sam and I had an excellent phone conversation in which we covered a lot of territory, his background and how he got into writing, a deep analysis of “Free Agent”, and a discussion about the writing craft.

Today in Part 3, Sam talks about the surprising route he took to figure out the sports angle in “Free Agent” and how it’s really a sports movie:

Scott:  The second point of inspiration from that interview you said for “Free Agent”, this is another quote. “My wife and I had a daughter, and that influenced me as I wrote the script. There’s a character, Taylor that comes in the middle of the central character, Bridgette, has a conflict that represents my dealing with becoming a parent for the first time.”

You mentioned earlier that you had an emotional connection to the material. Maybe you could delve into that a little bit, this Taylor character, was a surprise to you. That was one of the first instincts that you had.

Sam: I wasn’t even planning to have this character. I was planning on it being a workplace drama focused solely around Bridget having a relationship with a younger man.

I remember the moment the Taylor character came to me. I was looking at the script and I thought there was something missing. I knew the emotional journey she needed to take, and she couldn’t do it with Nick because she would be too guarded in that relationship to really experience some of the closeness that she needs, some of the emotional closeness that’s different than a romantic relationship.

I was walking to work one day, and this character popped into my head. What is Bridget was dealing with a younger version, essentially, of herself? Someone that was as driven, and as difficult as she was. What would that look like? What challenges would that person have?

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was writing about becoming a parent. This was within months of my daughter being born, and her befuddlement and lack of confidence in how handle this new interruption in her life was pretty much a carbon copy of what I was going through.

And on top of that complication aspect, there was feeling – what did I do to deserve this great thing that’s happening to me? It’s a feeling that Bridget also reaches throughout the script.

Scott:  What better way to create conflict than to physicalize some internal aspect of stuff that Bridget has yet to resolve in the form of this Taylor. So you’re walking to work, and you have this idea of this young, teenage girl. I’m assuming pretty quickly you said, “Oh, she could be the sister of Nick.”

Sam:  Yes. I needed a way, I wanted a good reason for her to be involved in the script, and honestly, the way that she becomes involved with a little bit of a cheat. You get maybe one or two cheats in a script, and I needed a really good way to make sure that they would really be in close contact.

Scott:  How would you describe Taylor’s character to someone?

Sam:  I would say she’s a precocious 15 year old girl who leads with her chin, leads with her own worst qualities, almost daring someone to reject her. Because her overwhelming desire is to convince you that she does not care what you think about her.

She’s gone through a lot. She’s lost her mom, and she’s on her own in the world. But she’s taken that feeling of being on her own and decided to flip it in her favor – make it as a testament to how strong she is.

That baseline “I don’t care” attitude tends to produce a conflict in almost every situation she walks into.

Scott:  Like, a good offense is the best defense?

Sam:  Exactly. She’s not going to wait for you to reject her, she’s going to reject you first.

A scene from “Free Agent” as read by Jimmy Smits, Freida Pinto, Kathy Baker, and O’Shea Jackson Jr.

Scott:  That’s a primary nexus point for Bridget in terms of her personal transformation, this relationship with Taylor. When you’re walking to work, you came up with this idea for Taylor, I’m assuming you didn’t know, “Oh, this is where this is going to go.”

Did that trajectory and arc of that relationship between the two, how did that evolve over time?

Sam:  The next key moment is the introduction of basketball into the script. Even though that is the core plot, it was the last piece to come in.

Initially, I introduced Taylor, and there were scenes where she interjected herself into Bridget’s life, but there wasn’t a really good method or vehicle for them to connect with each other; a way of physicalizing or externalizing the conflict that they were having.

The introduction of this shared love of basketball was a way for these two people that are incredibly guarded to plausibly open up to each other.

Once I found that they had this shared love of basketball, this possibility arose that they could get onto a court with each other and essentially battle each other to emotional exhaustion. To where they can reveal something really about themselves.

There are essentially four basketball scenes between Taylor and Bridget that, in my mind, are the core of the script. You can change a lot of things around them, but those beats are the story, in my mind.

Scott:  I definitely want to get into that, because it’s a really interesting aspect of this story. Let’s talk about the NBA part of it. On the surface, someone would say, “Oh, this is a sports story,” but it’s not at all, really. The sports is a backdrop, correct?

Sam:  Yes. It’s important, in some ways; that Bridget has this somewhat outsider role, that she’s a woman in a man’s world. Also, this idea that she is stuck between rationality and emotion very much comes from that world. At the same time you never see an NBA game, or an NBA practice. You barely see an NBA player in the script. You see one high school game at the very end.

Essentially, it’s less about the NBA and more about what it means to be part of a team. Bridgette has a history that she played basketball, she loved basketball, she had a history of being on teams. But now she’s rejecting this idea of working with other people, of teamwork. She has to work her way back to trust, learning to be part of a team again.

That’s the whole point of the title. She’s chasing this free agent, and she’s acting like a free agent in life. She’s floating, because she doesn’t want to tie herself down to anything. But she can’t be a free agent forever.

Like you said, is it about the NBA? Tangentially. Is it about sports? Yes, in that it’s about connections. It’s about teamwork. It’s about that feeling that you get when you achieve something with other people.

Scott:  It’s really interesting to hear you talk about this, Sam. It speaks to the magic of the creative process. You start off the whole thing with this character, Bridget, and you’re interested in her, and the place of a woman in her early 40s, from that generation, dealing with some of those big issues.

Then you come up with this idea of Nick, and then you have the spark of this character Taylor. You’re starting to think, “How can I intersect them, and what can be the possible point of connection between these two?”

Then you take your obsession with the NBA, because you say, “I don’t want her to have a Wall Street job. I want to give her something interesting.” You said you were watching a game, and you saw a general manager for the Houston Rockets or something and said, “That’s interesting.” Is that right?

Sam:  That’s exactly what happened. They were talking about him on TV, and I thought – her story would be so much richer if that was her job.

Magic is the perfect word for it, because watching all these things, all these pieces that you suspended in the air and you’re looking at them, and you’re thinking, “No way these things fit together.” Then something happens, and they all fall together into one piece.

It’s a truly bizarre experience, because there is not a great explanation for how it all fits together, as far as I’m concerned.

Scott:  Yeah, you wind through the circuitous journey, end up at the NBA and all of a sudden you’ve got, “Wait a minute, I’ve got basketball. That’s what they could connect with, right?”

Sam:  Sometimes the pieces fit so well that you wonder how. You wonder – where did this come from? Is this something that I saw somewhere else? How could I possibly get piece Q before I get piece B, and why do they fit so well with each other?

Tomorrow in Part 4, Sam discusses his thought process on writing a project like “Free Agent” which involved making some unconventional choices.

For Part 1 of the interview, go here.

Part 2, here.

Sam is repped by Paradigm and Management SGC.

Twitter: @dadbasic.

Interview (Written): Phyllis Nagy (“Carol”)

February 10th, 2016 by

A Creative Screenwriting interview with Phyllis Nagy, nominated for a 2016 Academy Award for Best Adapted screenplay for Carol:

It’s been almost twenty years since you began writing Carol. What enabled you to persist with the project for so long?

Carol was the first script I was hired to write, in 1997, and the first script I said “yes” to as an adaptation.

Initially, it was that I knew Pat, and this project came to me a couple of years after she died. So I felt a strange responsibility to take it, and to make sure that it wasn’t screwed up in some fundamental way, because she so disliked many of the screen adaptations of her work.

Some quite good, famous films, she just had no time for, because they fundamentally changed the nature of her source material, which to me is a huge no-no in adaptation. If you’re going to go out of your way to take on the translation of a vision of a piece of underlying source material, and you’re going to change that so profoundly, why don’t you just write a story with the same plot? Because that’s essentially what you’re doing, you’re borrowing plot: the least, least interesting element of any piece of dramatic writing. And, making a novelist, poet, or whoever you’re taking from very unhappy. So I felt that burden—and not a negative burden, just a burden—to Pat.

Also, the story held personal resonance for me; I found its treatment of the sexuality of the two female characters quite radical, especially for something that had been published in 1952. There’s not an ounce of guilt, there’s not an ounce of regret, over the nature of their attraction for each other. I also found Highsmith’s notions of what makes a good mother to be quite radical—the choices that people have to make in order to make the lives of their children better seemed really fresh, and radical. And still do, to this day, actually.

In choosing or agreeing to adapt a book, what are you looking for? Are you repeatedly drawn to anything?

I think it’s just quite tricky books where other people say, “Oh, I can’t see how you could ever put that into a film!” I’m like, “Oh, I’ll read that one!”

I’ve done one of those recently, which is a novel called The Lüneburg Variation, which is an Italian novel, which is, I don’t know how to describe it—a very slim volume written almost in aphorism. It is a Holocaust revenge thriller set in the world of international chess, and it’s full of men. So, this is quite different, obviously, from Carol. But it’s another “problem” novel.

And I’ve just taken one on for TriStar, a “problem” thriller—which is yet to be published in English, but will be next summer—a novel called The Trap, by a German novelist, about a woman who hasn’t left her house in twelve years, but has to, in order to elicit a confession from the man who murdered her sister. So, it’s quite an interesting psychological thriller.

So, when you say tricky, you mean not only psychologically—

Structurally. Yes, because again, there is a lot of interiority going on in The Trap. And a lot of reverse positioning. The point of view shifts as it does in Carol. And plus, I like where I can—not improve the book, that’s not what I’m trying to say—in some way, enhance the experience of the book for people who know the material. And if people don’t know the material, then it’s an entertaining, hopefully meaningful, ride.

For the rest of the interview, go here.

You may download the script for Carol here.

2016 Dialogue-Writing Challenge: Day 8

February 10th, 2016 by

Last year at this time, we did a month-long Dialogue-Writing Challenge. It was a big success with dozens of writers participating. We all learned quite a bit about this important aspect of the craft plus we had some fun in the process. So I’ve decided to bring it back!

Every Monday-Friday at noon Eastern / 9AM Pacific in February, I will upload a post with a prompt for writing dialogue. Each day, write a scene per those guidelines. If you really want to get in the spirit of things, upload your scene here in the comments section of the original post. That way you can critique others’ pages and receive feedback on your dialogue as well.

To provide extra motivation for this series — to get people to WRITE PAGES — I am giving away some of my Craft classes to Dialogue-Writing Challenge participants. That’s right: For free!

The Craft classes highlight key principles and practices tied to the nitty gritty of writing a script. Here is the Craft lineup, the only time I will teach each of these courses in 2016:

January 25: Craft: Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling

February 8: Craft: Story Summaries

February 22: Craft: Handling Exposition

March 7: Craft: Scene Description Spotlight

April 4: Craft: Character Development Keys

May 2: Craft: Create a Compelling Protagonist

May 16: Craft: Write a Worthy Nemesis

May 30: Craft: The Coen Brothers and the Craft of Storytelling

Each is a 1-week online class featuring 7 lectures written by me, lots of screenwriting insider tips, logline workshops, optional writing exercises, 24/7 message board conversations, teleconferences with course participants and myself to discuss anything related to the craft of scriptwriting.

A popular option is the Craft Package which gives you access to the content in all eight Craft classes which you can go through on your own time and at your own pace, plus automatic enrollment in each 1-week online course. All for nearly 50% the price of each individual class. And special bonus content: 7 lectures on How to Introduce Characters so a script reader will immediately get a clear sense of who each character is… and be entertained in the process.

To qualify to take one of my Craft classes for free, write and submit ten [10] Dialogue-Writing Challenge posts, then provide feedback on ten [10] posts from other writers. The former to get you writing, the latter to work your critical-analytical skills.

A chance to take any of my eight Craft classes, interface with me online along with the usual stellar group of writers who take Screenwriting Master Class courses, while using writing exercises and feedback to upgrade your skill at writing and analyzing dialogue.

ISN’T THAT AN AWESOME IDEA?!!!

A couple of logistical notes:

* Limit your post to 2 pages. Out of fairness to everyone participating in the public dialogue-writing workshop, let’s not abuse anyone’s patience or time with really long scenes.

* Give your scenes a beginning, middle and end. You may enter late and exit early, but provide an arc to each of your posts. Even monologues or telephone conversations, both of which we will be doing this month.

* Don’t be concerned about proper script format when you copy/paste your pages, rather the content and execution are the important thing. So as a default mode, do this: (1) Don’t worry about right-hand margins on scene description or dialogue, just keep typing until it manually shifts each line. (2) Don’t worry about character name position, rather do this:

SCARLETT: Rhett, Rhett... Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?

RHETT: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

Today’s prompt: Somebody gets fired from their job.

Old person firing a young person. Young person firing an old person. Does the person firing the other person relish this moment or regret it? And how to handle the person losing their job?

Focus on the dialogue, not the action to drive the scene. In most movies, it’s the other way around because movies are primarily a visual medium, however sometimes the script requires a dialogue-driven scene and we need to hone our chops at being able to do that effectively.

Write a 1-2 page dialogue-centric scene, then copy/paste in comments.

If you are interested in qualifying for 1 free Craft class with me, please note in each post you submit the number of scenes you have written. If today is your first effort, note that it is Scene 1. The next one, Scene 2. And so forth.

Also when you provide feedback on someone’s scene, please note in each reply the number of comments you have uploaded. So if today is your first response, Feedback 1. The next one, Feedback 2.

You are on an honor system, as I don’t have time to check every post, so do the right thing!

Remember: In order to qualify for one of my free Craft classes, you need to submit ten [10] Dialogue-Writing Challenge posts, then provide feedback on ten [10] posts from other writers.

FEEDBACK TIP: Is there a non-conventional, off-the-nose way to approach this scene? An inventive way to approach firing someone? Brainstorm some ideas and toss them out to the writer whose scene you critique.

Want to join in? Here are the previous challenge prompts:

Day 1 challenge: A young child asks an adult, “Where do babies come from?”

Day 2 challenge: Write a monologue in which a character expresses regret for something in their past.

Day 3 challenge: A scene built around the line “Give me the God damn key.”

Day 4 challenge: A stoner conversation.

Day 5 challenge: Use voice-over narration with a flashback.

Day 6 challenge: Talking aloud to oneself.

Day 7 challenge: Slang.

It’s the 2016 Dialogue-Writing Challenge! Give a jolt to your creative and writing muscles… and win 1 free online class with yours truly.

NOTE: My Craft: Handling Exposition class starts Monday, February 22. If you have done all 10 exercises and provided 10 feedback posts by February 19, you are eligible to take that class for free. It’s an important class that dovetails directly into writing dialogue, so you can use that as some motivation!

Finally if you have a suggestion for a dialogue-writing prompt, please post in comments or email me.

To see all of the 2015 Dialogue Writing Exercise prompts, go here.