Dispatch From The Quest: Paul Wie

October 25th, 2013 by

Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.

Today: Paul reflects on where he is as he heads into his first draft:

This last week was a culmination of all our prep work — outlines. Writing mine took longer than I expected with numerous late-night sessions; but now that I’ve gotten some rest and feel good about what I’ve created, I’m excited to go into the page writing. Regardless of how difficult this past week has been, outlining has reaffirmed my passion for my story. It’s given me a sneak preview of my movie, and it’s a movie I’d love to watch. Outlining has also reaffirmed my love for preparation. As much fun as improvising can be, my best work comes from having a strong plan A I can riff off of. Being rigorously prepared gives me the confidence to take risks and seize inspired moments when I see it. Even when I’m directing, I love creating very detailed shot-lists and storyboards, because not only do they help sustain my vision and save time/money on set, they free me up to improve my vision when better ideas come along. And when filming or writing, beautiful accidents happen all the time. Actors will give you a great line or look you didn’t anticipate, the sun will shine a certain way inspiring you to film the scene in a whole new light, and characters will emerge on the page saying or doing things you could never have planned beforehand.

So as prepared as I can be, I dive into my scenes, excited to write what I’ve outlined and excited for the new and unforeseen to come. All in all, I look forward to these next ten weeks of creative storytelling. Best of luck and inspiration to my fellow Questers and every writer going on their own journeys. Let’s write great scripts!

Thanks, Paul, for your Dispatches!

About Paul: Director + Writer. Loves Spielberg, Truffaut, Abrams, Kurosawa, Attack the Block, cinematic stories beautifully told. @paulhwie.

Dispatch From The Quest: Troy Klith

October 24th, 2013 by

Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.

Today: Troy reflects on where he is as he heads into his first draft:

The first draft adventure is about to begin. Narrative Throughline is finished. Bags are packed. Supply lists checked.

For the most part, I think I’m ready for the journey. My biggest concern is character development. Fortunately, the Quest process is character-driven, which I’m thankful for, but I’ve learned this is my weakest area. I’m decent enough at putting my heroine in jeopardy and then throwing some obstacles her way, but I still worry if she’s likeable enough for a reader/audience to care. For some reason, I struggle to create a protagonist who opens in a state of disunity without also making her boring or bitchy or any other number of unappealing characteristics. But I’m working on it, and using the Quest process to get my protagonist where she needs to be. I’ll also lean on the other Questers to help me. For now, as Waka said, I’m taking the “I’ll fix it later” approach and moving forward.

Since this is our final dispatch, I’d like to send a huge, public “Thank you!” to all of the Questers and to Scott. Questers, thanks for your invaluable help over the last 14 weeks. And Scott, I can’t express how grateful I am to learn your process – it will not only serve as a guide for this current adventure, but will continue to chart the course for the many journeys to come. Onward.

Thanks, Troy, for your Dispatches!

Tomorrow: Another Dispatch From The Quest.

About Troy: Born Midwesterner with heart in San Francisco, but nothing beats NYC. Entrepreneur. Writer. Lover of the underdog. Grateful father of 3. @troyklith.

Dispatch From The Quest: Waka Brown

October 23rd, 2013 by

Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.

Today: Waka reflects on where she is as she heads into her first draft:

Can it be? Can we already be at the last week of Prep, our last week before FADE IN?

This week, we created our outlines for our screenplays. It was a rather daunting assignment but, having learned my lesson in Master Brainstorming List week, I plugged away early and came up with something I think I can work with. Miranda mentioned in her Dispatch that she found the subplots to be the hardest part. I agree, but I’m pretty sure in my situation, I have too many. That’s OK. Several years ago, a screenwriting instructor imparted me with this mantra to use when I’m not sure what to do:

“I’ll fix it later.”

Simple words, but I can’t tell you how many times these words have kept me going, powering me through a draft. So, my outline is imperfect, but you know what? I’ll fix it later.

In addition to this being our last week of Prep, can this really be our last week of required Dispatches? I must say, I had no idea what “weekly Dispatches” entailed at first but I’ve actually really enjoyed writing them. I don’t think I’ve ever reflected so much on my writing in my life! I’ve appreciated all of you who’ve reflected alongside me, tolerated my tangents, and offered words of encouragement. Many thanks also to Scott for letting us use his blog as our weekly soapbox. You may hear from me again at the very end of this Quest (I don’t even want to think about it, sniff, sniff), but goodbye for now – the next time you hear from me, I’ll have a first draft! Wish me luck and best of luck to all of you, too. Now…. pages!!!

Thanks, Waka, for your Dispatches!

Tomorrow: Another Dispatch From The Quest.

About Waka: Kansan turned Californian turned Oregonian. Fan of Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, Richard Curtis, Tina Fey (who isn’t?), & I still use a $30 Tracfone @wakatb.

Dispatch From The Quest: Miranda Sajdak

October 22nd, 2013 by

Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.

Today: Miranda reflects on where he is as he heads into his first draft:

Wow, outlines. So, this week was serious outline week. And, boy, did it prove how helpful the last few months have been in narrowing down our full story. When we sat down to do our outline, the biggest element of fear was subplots. We felt we had the overall skeleton there, but subplots were the hardest part – and we’re still not entirely sure we have them fully locked down.

Once again, our trusty Questers were exceptionally helpful in pointing out areas that needed to be fleshed out, places where we might need some set-up to assist in our ultimate pay-off, and other arenas that might be useful to our final story. All in all, we feel pretty good about getting down to pages – but, of course, there are always those last-minute doubts before the words actually begin (ok, to be honest, there are doubts even AFTER the words are on the page).

Fortunately, the outline should be helpful in guiding us on our journey, and I’m actually feeling more prepared than I anticipated, and, finally, ready for FADE IN.

Thanks, Miranda, for your Dispatches!

Tomorrow: Another Dispatch From The Quest.

About Miranda: New Englander turned Angeleno by way of New York. Enjoys: high-powered action films, dark dramas, and ’90s legal thrillers. Does not enjoy: the dentist. Mushrooms. @ScriptChix.

Dispatch From The Quest: Christian Fontenot

October 21st, 2013 by

For the last 14 weeks, the Questers have been sharing their experiences with us through weekly Dispatches. Now that they are typing FADE IN and plunging into the page-writing part of the process, I have absolved them of this responsibility in order to focus on the task at hand. If inspired, they may post an occasional Dispatch over the next 10 weeks… or not.

Today: Christian reflects on where he is as he heads into his first draft:

This week’s quest was discovering our Narrative Throughline / Outline.  As someone who gets paid for his project management skills, I see great value in planning.  In fact, spending more time in planning makes for the smoothest execution.  Through this process I have learned that the same is true for screenwriting. That being said, the final step in planning is the project plan or the outline.  Surprisingly, this has been the most difficult for me.  My left side brain feels like it takes some of the magic out of the process; but my right side brain loves having a road map.

My left side brain keeps trying to sabotage this process.  He really wanted to “zen” out; just “let it happen” and let the magic flow.  My right side brain isn’t any nicer to my outline.  He sits in his high pulpit judging everything I write down: “Is that a strong enough open?” “Does that capture the theme?” “Would my protagonist really do that?”  “Do you need that character?” “Is that funny enough?”

In the end, my arbitration skills failed miserable as I wasn’t able to get the brain halves to come to any agreements or compromises and so my outline is lacking.  SHIT!  New voices in my head, and now this; might be time to talk to my doc to up my meds.  So my only nugget of wisdom this week is to quote screenwriter Barbie, “Outlines are hard.”

All right, 14 weeks are in the books and “Fade In” starts this week.  This could be my last dispatch; unless of course there is some need to vent or share other random observations / pseudo-wisdom with you fine people of the internet.   Here are some quick hits for you before I disappear back into Shadowlands of the Ethernet:

+ Rereading my dispatches and according to my daughter, I sound like a drunk.  Truth is I haven’t had milk, caffeine, or alcohol in about 6 months, and honestly, milk has been the hardest.  Try drinking sparkling water with a brownie.

+ I got a lot of shit from my family about the “shanty” reference in my first dispatch.  So to clear that up, I was raised in a wooden townhouse about a mile away from a swamp, and actually, outside of the Audubon Zoo, I’ve probably seen maybe 4 alligators “in the wild” and maybe a couple were really a floating log or something.

+ I really do totally think that tubas rock!

+ And last, working with a group of writers and with Scott “work-shopping” my story has been an amazing process.  My story would not be a hundredth as good without these awesome people.  I’m looking forward to spending the next ten weeks writing with them.

Ready, set, “FADE IN.”

Thanks, Christian, for your Dispatches!

Tomorrow: Another Dispatch From The Quest.

About Christian: From Louisiana, now in Seattle. Turns off street lights with his mind. Regrets not learning the tuba – TUBAS ROCK! Storyteller. @cmfontenot.

Dispatch From The Quest: Christian Fontenot

October 19th, 2013 by

Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.

Today: Christian confronts a nebulous Act Two:

Trust the process.  Trust the process.  Trust the process?

On the eve of “Fade In”, I doubt my ability to pull this thing off.  Don’t get me wrong; trusting the Quest process, I probably know more about my main characters and theme at this stage of the game than I ever have before. I also have a pretty clear vision of my “tent pole” scenes.  I even may have even finally cracked a true unique, narrative tone.

However, connecting all these dots into a Narrative Themeline has been much harder than I ever expected.   I have a rock solid outline for Act 1 and Act 3, but Act 2 is still in it’s Jell-O phase and could go in so many different directions, and the unknown of all that is causing an anxiety fueled explosion of great feels.  But I can hear Scott’s voice in my head (not that I need another voice in my old coconut)– “let your characters guide the way”.

So come on characters, tell me your stories.  Let’s get this going!  Time for a walk.

Trust the process?  Trust the process.  Trust the process!

It’s always Act Two. That’s the bear.

Anyone can write a first act. That’s primarily setting up the story.

Almost anyone can write an ending. The drive to FADE OUT can compel us to pound out those final pages.

But the middle of the story? That’s a challenge. All those scenes. Subplots. How to build and sustain narrative drive? How to handle cross-cutting the action?

Sometimes the middle of the story feels much more like a muddle.

So yes… trust the process. Reach out to your characters. See where they take you. It helps if you have a clear sense of the Protagonist’s metamorphosis as that can help steer the psychological arc of the story.

At some point, give yourself over to page-writing. The first draft is a journey of discovery. Commit to finishing that draft no matter what. Eventually the story will become clear to you.

Good luck, Questers, and everyone else who will be typing FADE IN on Monday.

Go wrangle some magic!

Starting Monday, the last week of Dispatches From The Quest, this to allow the Questers a chance to focus on their writing.

About Christian: From Louisiana, now in Seattle. Turns off street lights with his mind. Regrets not learning the tuba – TUBAS ROCK! Storyteller. @cmfontenot.

Dispatch From The Quest: Paul Wie

October 18th, 2013 by

Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.

Today: Paul Wie ponders a new generation of storytellers:

For the past twenty years, I’ve been a cinephile, immersing myself in a century of movies up to its present day, so I could understand the art form inside and out and one day be part of its future. The future of film excites me more than anything, because I believe cinema has yet to reach its artistic peak, it has yet to go through its true Renaissance. With new technologies and bigger canvases, the freedom of cinematic storytelling has now become synonymous to the freedom of writing — the limits of our art are only defined by the limits of our imagination. So the question I’ve often asked myself, especially in these last two weeks of prepping my story, is how can we, a new generation of storytellers, make movies that will be richer, more compelling, more beautiful, and more powerful than those that have come before us?

I believe a part of the answer lies in the great achievements of our older art forms: music, literature, and painting. In works such as Mozart and Bach’s concertos, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Carvaggio’s The Calling of St. Matthew, and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, a common thread seems to bind them together. At a glance, these masterpieces are beautiful expressions of the human experience; they capture with incredible artistry and feeling the joys and pains of living in this world. But what elevates these works to another level is their ability to fulfill our profound need for transcendence — to go beyond ourselves and be in union with something or someone greater than our own lives. Regardless of one’s religion or faith, I believe this spiritual sensibility, this very human longing for a transcendent love and understanding will make a work stand the test of time.

In recent memory, I can point to three movies that have had this impact on me: Schindler’s List, The New World, In the Mood for Love. These films, now timeless classics of cinema, left me in an emotional state of awe after watching them. Even today, moments and moods from these movies linger in my memory, because they struck some deeper chord in me that I can’t even fully articulate. So what separates these works from a movie like The Avengers (which I enjoyed immensely in theaters, but can now hardly remember the story or even one truly memorable scene) is that these storytellers, Spielberg, Malick, and Wong, working at the height of their artistic powers, crafted a cinematic experience that transported their audience beyond the emotions of their characters and elevated their journeys to a higher plateau where their lives resonated beyond their time. Because these stories chose to end their films with this spiritual, more universal view of the human experience, I felt the stories had a bigger, deeper impact on me than they would have had otherwise.

Three of the greatest filmmakers in the last century — Andrei Tarkovsky, Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman — came to similar conclusions about the spiritual fabric of films. Tarkovsky stated, “I believe that an enormous task has been entrusted to art. This is the task of resurrecting spirituality.” It’s clear from Tarkovsky’s films such as Andrey Rublev and Mirror that he made movies with this sense of purpose — he wanted his work to reflect a spiritual view of the world that was both relevant to his time and went beyond it. Fellini also expressed this idea. He said: “What is an artist? A provincial who finds himself somewhere between a physical reality and a metaphysical one. It’s this in-between that I’m a calling a province, this frontier country between the tangible world and the intangible one — which is really the realm of the artist.” Fellini’s films such as 8 1/2 and La Strada lie very much in this province — where a man’s personal concerns are dramatized and juxtaposed against the expanse of time and memory. So in this vision and spirit, Fellini’s films have gone beyond their own time — they ring true today as they did in the past. Lastly and ironically, it’s Ingmar Bergman, an atheist, who gives the most detailed statement about his spiritual approach to movies. He said:

“People ask what are my intentions with my films — my aims. It is a difficult and dangerous question, and I usually give an evasive answer: I try to tell the truth about the human condition, the truth as I see it. This answer seems to satisfy everyone, but it is not quite correct. It is my opinion that art lost its basic creative drive the moment it was separated from worship. It severed an umbilical cord and now lives its own sterile life, generating and degenerating itself. In former days, the artist remained unknown and his work was to the glory of God. Today the individual has become the highest form and the greatest bane of artistic creation. The smallest wound or pain of the ego is examined under a microscope as if it were of eternal importance. The artist considers his isolation, his subjectivity, his individualism almost holy. We walk in circles, so limited by our own anxieties that we can no longer distinguish between true and false, between the gangster’s whim and the purest ideal. Thus if I am asked what I would like the general purpose of my films to be, I would reply that I want to be one of the artists in the cathedral on the great plain. I want to make a dragon’s head, an angel, a devil— or perhaps a saint— out of stone. It does not matter which; it is the sense of satisfaction that counts. Regardless of whether I believe or not, whether I am a Christian or not, I would play my part in the collective building of the cathedral.”

Bergman’s cathedral was an incredible body of work that grappled with almost every idea from death to war to love to familial struggles, but through this attitude of revering not the individual, but a narrative experience that could enlighten and expand our understanding of life, Bergman left one of the most enduring legacies in cinema history.

So my point of all this is that the future of cinema will be a great one if we can do two things: 1) master storytelling — the craft of entertaining an audience and 2) use that mastery to tell universal stories with genuine beauty, power, and meaning — meaning which can only come from a deep, spiritual appreciation of life. So with in this mind, I really have big hopes for our new generation who now have the ability to tell any story they want, on any size canvas, with any tool imaginable. We owe it to ourselves and the world to make works worthy of this amazing artistic freedom, to create the new masterpieces, to build the Sistine Chapels and Notre Dames of the future.

Interesting to see how the Questers have gotten quite reflective with this last set of Dispatches, posting about Big Issues. I wonder if this is the result of them ending Prep and getting ready — on Monday! – to type FADE IN. Having gone through the rigorous process they have, now a chance to put things into perspective to help them find the proper perspective for the page-writing part of the process.

To Paul’s point, I do think there is a new wave of talented filmmakers and storytellers. It’s an exciting time to be involved in the entertainment business.

Here’s to the Questers and everyone who will Go On Your Own Quest. May you nail your script and find your way into Hollywood.

Tomorrow: Another Dispatch From The Quest.

About Paul: Director + Writer. Loves Spielberg, Truffaut, Abrams, Kurosawa, Attack the Block, cinematic stories beautifully told. @paulhwie.

Dispatch From The Quest: Sandy Leviton

October 17th, 2013 by

Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.

Today: Sandy reflects on her experiences thus far in The Quest:

As we wind down our final weeks of prep and head into FADE IN, I’ve been reflecting on the process of The Quest. It’s been a thrilling ride; Intellectual, emotional, and illuminating. My background is predominantly in television – I’ve worked at agencies and at a network for a number of years. I’ve been the gatekeeper, the note-giver, and the messenger of both good and bad news for writers. This is my first time on the other side of the coin and thanks to Scott and the other Questers, I’ve learned so much about myself and my writing style.

I’ve learned just how much my television background informs my writing in terms of pacing, subplots, and character. I like to get into stories quickly, have big moments early on, and not waste time on any scenes or characters that don’t propel the story forward. Tangents are a pet peeve of mine; I’m waiting for the next meaty scene. It’s been great having the others remind me (us) that there can be value in these moments.

Being on the receiving end of notes has also been a great experience. It’s like an extended brainstorming session and I wholeheartedly enjoy it. Debates and new ideas infuse such life into our stories. Even when we don’t agree, those moments will always spark something new and exciting.

I’m so happy that I have had this opportunity to work with everyone and cannot wait to jump head first into our script. Miranda and I both have itchy fingers and FADE IN cannot come soon enough. Thank you to everyone for making the prep process so wonderful!

Beyond all the screenwriting theory and workshopping that goes on in The Quest, there is this: My attempt to convey to writers the degree of commitment, time and focus required to write professionally in Hollywood.

There are between 20,000-30,000 scripts funneled into and through the Hollywood development system each year. And 95% of them are substandard, most of them considerably so.

There are many reasons why this is so including obvious one such as lack of talent, lack of experience, and so on. But one thing I see over and over is that the writer has delivered an undercooked story. There very well may be ‘something’ there, but the writer needed to spend more time digging into the characters, generating more and better plot elements, more nuanced and well-handled dialogue, and on and on.

So while the Questers are all champing at the proverbial bit to get to FADE IN – and justifiably so! – part of the method to The Quest madness is simply to keep pushing them and pushing them to go deeper into the story.

That is not a guarantee of success, but it’s likely no script sells unless the writer has committed ample time – and then some — and then some more – before handing in a final draft.

So to all the Questers – and any of you involved in the Go On Your Own Quest initiative – beyond what you have learned about your stories, and hopefully will bring to bear in the writing of this first draft, I trust you have also come to understand even more the necessity of going beyond the call when you write a script.

Tomorrow: Another Dispatch From The Quest.

About Sandy: Bostonian that learned how to pronounce “R’s” upon moving to LA. A lefty that loves the unusual. Dreams of owning a taxidermy dodo bird. @scriptchix & @lil_sjl.

Dispatch From The Quest: Waka Brown

October 16th, 2013 by

Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.

Today: Waka details some movies she loves:

Our assignment this week was describing our 10 plot points. Because of our extensive prep, this came together pretty easily. In this past week’s teleconference, Scott mentioned to us that there’d be only two more weeks of dispatches, and then we concentrate completely on pages. I’ve been thinking about what to write—and I thought at this close-to-jumping-off point, I’d write about what motivates me, i.e. movies I’ve loved.

When I was little, my dad would take us to movies. Sometimes age-inappropriate (Jaws), sometimes a little over our heads (Chariots of Fire), sometimes scary (trash-compactor scene in Star Wars). As a parent, I realize now that my dad probably wanted to see these movies himself and that it’s pretty easy to babysit kids at a movie theater (especially a kid like me who went slack-jawed and didn’t blink once a movie started). I remember these movies so much better than a lot of material I read when I was a kid. For instance, I’ve been re-reading the Narnia Chronicles to my boys and honestly I have NO recollection of anything that’s happened in about half of them. The best movies, though, have stayed with me. Although I didn’t understand everything that was going on in Chariots of Fire, after watching it as a kid, I was sure that I was going to become an Olympic runner. I even woke up at 6 AM for several weeks to train by running around the neighborhood – pretty amazing that a movie could have that kind of effect on an 8 year-old. After watching Breakfast Club during my tween/early teen years, I wrote in my diary about how much this movie “got” what I was feeling. My friends in high school thought I was a little odd when I told them I had a crush on Tommy Lee Jones (based on his performance in The Fugitive). That speech, “What I want out of each and every one of you is a hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in that area…Your fugitive’s name is Dr. Richard Kimble. Go get him.” Forget Harrison Ford—at that time of my life, it was all about Tommy Lee Jones.

Before Sunrise, Lost in Translation, Hoosiers, Dead Poets Society, Shawshank Redemption—these were the types of films I’d watch and take a breath only when they were over. When Harry Met Sally, Say Anything, Almost Famous, Clueless, Four Weddings and a Funeral, American Beauty, The Descendants, Jerry Maguire—they completed me. There are some in my list of favorites that are a little more obscure. Take, for instance, Mystic Pizza. I watch it now, and sure, it makes me cringe a little. But as a teenage girl, I loved that movie. Shakespeare in Love was the one, though, that made me realize, I want to do that.

So, two weeks before FADE IN, I am thinking again about all these movies I love. I’ve been told that Breakfast Club wouldn’t be made if it were pitched today. That the romcom is dead. That Shakespeare in Love and Four Weddings and a Funeral were British productions that would never have been made in the U.S. That working in Hollywood is called “show business” and not “the artists’ colony” for a reason. That being said, I’m still going to write something I love. If at some point my movie is made, and there’s a person in the audience who goes slack-jawed and doesn’t blink for the entirety of the film, and is… changed at the end… well, I think that would be one of the best feelings in world, don’t you?

(I should also mention that my crush on Tommy Lee Jones had waned considerably over the years, and ended quite definitively after watching Hope Springs.)

Some nostalgia may be setting in with the Questers as they only have 1 more week of Dispatches before I ‘release’ them from that obligation to allow them to focus exclusively on pounding out a first draft.

So Waka’s post today offers a great opportunity to reflect on this question: What movies inspire you as a writer?

Tomorrow: Another Dispatch From The Quest.

About Waka: Kansan turned Californian turned Oregonian. Fan of Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, Richard Curtis, Tina Fey (who isn’t?), & I still use a $30 Tracfone @wakatb.

Dispatch From The Quest: Troy Klith

October 15th, 2013 by

Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.

Today: Troy deals with outlines and getting sick:

This was a tough week because our whole family got sick. My son went down first, then the rest of us quickly fell like dominoes. This usually happens maybe once a year, but this is the second time this summer so it felt especially grueling (must be Central America). Anyway, in addition to caring for kids, I spent most of the week sniffling, achy, exhausted and grumpy. Fortunately, everyone’s on the mend now and feeling a lot better. And back to school!

In the Quest, we finished our 10 major plotline points. We’d actually completed most of the work in previous exercises, so the assignment was relatively straight forward. Given my condition, I was happy I didn’t have to think too much. This won’t be the case next week.

When I opened the document describing the Narrative Throughline  assignment, it was clear that it’s going to take a lot of thought. It reminded me of opening the box to the lego castle set I tried to build this week with my sick sons. All the little components have been organized and lined up for assembly, but putting them all together could get ugly.

Of course, the Narrative Througline is just a set of instructions for a blueprint of a final product (a movie), but still, it’s our first attempt to go from A to Z, which is exciting but also induces a little anxiety.

Here’s hoping that my assignment comes together as neatly as the lego set ultimately did, and that my finished screenplay is more entertaining than the castle was for my sons… hours of assembly and it ends with a curt “Hm. Is that it?”

Outlines are funny things. Some writers take to them like ducks to water, happy to break a story in prep, then leap into the page-writing part of the process. Other writers loathe them, preferring to discover the story after typing FADE IN.

As I say, there is no right way to write.

But if you have never worked from an outline, you owe it to yourself to do it at least once. Even if you’re reticent to do an outline, maybe you’ll surprise yourself as many of my students have over the years in discovering how helpful they are.

Tomorrow: Another Dispatch From The Quest.

About Troy: Born Midwesterner with heart in San Francisco, but nothing beats NYC. Entrepreneur. Writer. Lover of the underdog. Grateful father of 3. @troyklith.