Back from Vegas… It can’t be in your head.

Just came back from a week in Las Vegas. UNLV brings me out as an artist in residence from time to time. It’s great. I like the teachers, like the students, and like going out to eat. Who doesn’t? Didn’t visit the Double Down Saloon this trip. A flaw in my personality. Did check out the Cosmopolitan hotel. Wow.

What did I learn about writing that I can pass on to you? This.

Beware that it’s all in your head.
And not on the page.

That’s a killer.
I talked with several students about their scripts — scripts they were on the verge of shooting. First thing I asked them was, “Tell me your story.”
They would tell me their story. They were very good at it, too.
I’m sure, so are you.

But, the problem was, often, that story WASN’T ON THE PAGE. What they thought they were describing, wasn’t what had ended up on the page. This means the crew didn’t know what the movie was about and neither did the actors.

Just because you, the writer, know what your story is… doesn’t mean you have actually put that information on the page. I can’t tell you how often I see this happen. Makes me want to pull out the script I am working on and make sure that what I am assuming is actually on the page is actually what is on the page!

“It’s about this guy who…”
No it isn’t.
“Yes it is.”
Read it, dude.
SOUND OF READING
“Oh. My.”

So, how the hell are you going to shoot your script and make a movie that resembles the movie in your head if the movie in your head STAYS IN YOUR HEAD? There’s no cable from your brain to mine, yet. You can’t beam the movie from your head to mine, yet. It has to be filmed first. And it has to have a script first. And that script has to actually say what you want.

Be aware that this is a problem. Check your script. Tell the story to a friend or two. Let one of them read it and see if the story you told matches the one on paper. Woe unto you if it does not.

Get it out of your head.
Get it on the page.

Now, excuse me while I go look at my script in progress!

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3 Comments

Filed under Bad Writing, Details, Screenwriting

3 responses to “Back from Vegas… It can’t be in your head.

  1. Melody Lopez

    I make it a habit of allowing writers to tell me their story before I read their script to give them notes. This is how I end up always giving the note “you didn’t deliver that story you told me”…however I promise their screenplay ALWAYS shows glimpses of GREATNESS

    the one time I read a story without prior knowledge of the plot (and this writer was a great writer)…the notes I gave him helped him elevate the story he’d intended to write.

    I’m able to see these things cause I really care about these writers and their stories…and I know they don’t mean to leave things out because I’ve read your book and frankly I’ve DO the same thing DAILY!!

    Getting a story out of your head is NOT EASY. The real talent is getting it out BEAUTIFULLY. Those are Oscar Winners. God Bless them…only one given out a year… don’t we all know why by now?!

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Excellent plan! It’s not easy to wrest it from brain to page, and any encouragement helps. It’s hard to be a good listener / reader and the people you give notes to are lucky to have you.

    • Vik

      Hey,
      I wonder if there is a way to get your blog via RSS. I think you are a Guru of Screenwriting and wish to read your blogs.

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