What do YOU want to know?

I am giving a five hour seminar on writing in about a month and I want to change up what I normally do… and wanted to know what you think I should talk about… what is it you want to know about, in the world of writing…?

These are mostly beginning writers. What do you wish someone had told you early in the game? What do you wish you understood better? Heck, I can write about what you want in my blog, and you won’t have to wait for the seminar!

What is missing from seminars, lectures, screenwriting books or your brain? I would love to hear what you would like me to tell you, assuming I can…

That’s my thought for the moment. I’d like to hear from you!



Filed under Screenwriting, Writing Process

12 responses to “What do YOU want to know?

  1. Melody Lopez

    I had a great opportunity to attend a Q&A with John Lee Hancock during a screening of A Perfect World. (I live in Austin and the AFF sponsored the event- it was funded in part by “The Academy”– Kevin Reynolds attended one also for “Fandango”… anyway…enough name dropping…I asked Mr. Hancock a question that got him so animated…and excited!…I felt like it was a “smart” question…but what I had done…was a question about something he was “passionate about”… Talk about what makes you passionate about telling a story!

    (My question was- For a spec writer, like myself, and anyone who is “not” writing to direct, like yourself, when is it okay to write cinematic elements into a story? Like “POV”? I promise you he flailed his arms with his passionate answer and gave thoughtful examples…Short answer was “avoid it but only do it…if it helps to tell the story”….)

    I think the reason Mr. Hancock got excited was cause I didn’t ask a typical “what is your writing routine” (which the lady before just asked him…and that lady was a friend of his! LOL)… and it was on a subject that I realize he’s really passionate about…he just finished telling us that he got to do “The Rookie” because he had “nothing” to lose and pitched it by saying “he’d direct it like John Ford Western”…and anyone who knows anything knows…John Ford was one serious cinematic story teller…

  2. Sequences. I picked up the 3-act structure from books on screenwriting, but I had to find the 8-sequence structure online, and I’m still finding things out about it – like ending each sequence with a set-piece (action for action movies, suspense for thrillers, etc.). So I wish someone had told me about sequences earlier.

    • Melody Lopez

      Patrick Sweeney… thanks for the reference…I got a lot out of the blog you mentioned about 8 sequence structure…

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      What’s the blog that talks about 8 sequence structure? There’s a book about it, called SCREENWRITING THE SEQUENCE APPROACH by Paul Gulino. It’s good.

      • Melody Lopez

        Attached to Patrick’s name was a blip about the following blog:
        A great post by Alexandra Sokoloff on the three-act, eight-sequence structure. I picked up three-act structure right away when …

  3. JBC

    I would suggest talking about motivation. Why are you writing? It seems to me there are two types of writing: A. writing for self and B. writing for profit. Occasionally these two will marry up so that you are able to write about something you love (or are emotional about) and make a living at it. But, I would submit that this is rare.

    New writers should think about why they are writing. Once they have an idea about this it is easier to guide their own writing process. Those writing for profit will want to think about market, genre, audience, story format and other practical expectations.

    Those writing for self don’t have to worry about any of that. But they shouldn’t be dissapointed if no one else is interested in reading it.

    Of course these two categories can be merged with proper editing but it saves a lot of time to know what your expectations are at the beginning.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      I just talked about this in class yesterday… if you’re writing a poem and you give it to somebody and they read it, it’s had its life. If you’re writing a screenplay, for it to have been a success and had a life, it should, ideally, get made. It should at least earn you money. So, you HAVE to write something you think someone is going to buy. Make it easy to be sold. That’s the hard part, figuring that out. What will be easy to sell… that you still want to write? A VERY tough call. We all have less time to write than we think, and we’d better figure out a way to write stuff we like, that makes us feel good, and that someone will buy. At least that’s what I feel about screenplays. A poem, at least, can get you laid.

  4. JBC

    The other thing, I just thought of, is sales. How to actually sell what you write?

    I have talked with and read about many working writers and it seems the only way to do this is through some accidental situation. They all say… “I spent years sending my work to agents and publishers with no result, and then one day I bumped into this guy at Starbucks…”

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Trying to think if I’ve sold anything to a stranger. Sure I have. But it was through my agent or someone I knew, who handed it to them and asked them to read it. Last job I got, was ’cause a producer (who had read a script of mine and liked it) read my book and asked me to do a rewrite on a script he had. The scary thing about screenwriting is, once you’ve got a great script written, you have an equally difficult journey getting someone to read the damn thing. It’s agony.

  5. Just finished reading your book. (Which, by the way, was the most helpful screenwriting book I’ve ever read. Thank you for writing it!)
    Anyway, in your book you mention selling screenplays to dentists quite a bit. Is this a joke that went over my head, or should I go make an appointment to get my teeth cleaned asap? Something I’d like to know more about would be who to pitch to, and how to find them. I live in Chicago, probably far away from any major producers. Should I move? Can a screenwriter ‘make it’ not living in Hollywood?

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Very very very pleased you found the book useful. That was my fervent hope when I wrote the thing. Glad I wasn’t totally out to lunch.

  6. Melody Lopez

    how to write clear, concise scenes with multiple dialog/and or action: akin to Blake Snyder’s discussion about “Pope in the pool”…where exposition is beefed up by action…

    slug lines- how to use them and when

    techniques that resemble actor direction or camera angles…but are just close enough that its not quite actor direction or camera angles…

    how to check if the pacing of your writing is spot on for the intended tempo of the scene/and sequence

    my prior entry was too long…hope this was more on point…but still do talk about what you are passionate about…

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