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Class 4, Brainstorming: Unit 3, Part 2

Welcome to Class Number 4! Brainstorming: Unit 3, Part 22014-07-19padopaper

By now you should have a stack of index cards with a ton of great ideas on them. Things like “helicopter boat chase”, “the mailman is the wizard!”, “half tango-half fight” and “narration???” Don’t worry about where any of them will go in your movie yet. Just let your mind go nuts and get those gems written down. Even if they don’t work for this particular project, they might work in the next one. There are no rules. You can even add to the pile as you continue through the next steps. That’s the beauty of 3×5 cards!

You should also have a few notions and themes written down. You think they’re pretty good but you’re not sure. Your theme is your safety net. You want to bounce around on it a little and test that thing out so you don’t crash through it after you’ve been writing for three months. How do you do it? Take out a sheet of your college ruled paper and let’s go…

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Class 3, Unit 3: Brainstorming, Part 1

2014-06-29BrainstormingPicWelcome to Class Number 3! Brainstorming: Unit 3, Part 1

I love the term “brainstorming”. It perfectly describes the hurricane between your ears while you’re trying to break a story. Now, here’s what separates this site from the gurus and theorists. This is a site for writers by writers, so let’s get down to it.

Step 1: Sit down and take out a stack of unruled 3×5 index cards and a pen.

Step 2: Write down every element that you think should be in your movie. Write down every element that you think people who hear your idea will want to see in your movie. Write down whatever’s in your head. Dump it all. One idea per card. Don’t worry about order, rhyme or reason just yet. Just get them down.

Step 3: Find out where your heart is. What?! You heard me. It’s time to figure out why you want to write this movie. But, Rob, why so early? I was just having fun. First, figuring out what your movie is about is the most fun thing in the world. Second, if you don’t figure it out now, you’re just wasting time… and perfectly good 3×5 cards.

Now, how do we do that? Can we get away without it? Why do we have to do it so early? Let’s take those questions one at a time…

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Class 2, Unit 2: Shopping List

2014-06-27Class2-suppliespic2Welcome to Class 2! Your Shopping List.

Here’s your list of supplies. I’ll be referring to them on occasion, so I’ve made this list so you’ll know what specific items I’m talking about and where to get them. I’ve also explained why I’ve listed these particular items. Feel free to use your own variations within reason but don’t get too far away from these supplies. For example, if I recommend index cards, don’t buy an index card app or a computer program and think it’s the same thing. It’s really, really not. I’ve provided links to everything you can buy at Staples. Why Staples? Because Office Depot is a hell hole.

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Class 1, Unit 1: Heart, Head & Hand

2014-06-26_sessionpicClass is in session! This is that fun first class where I mess around while you find your seats and flirt with the other people in your row. We’ll be getting down to the business of breaking your screenplays’ stories and crafting quality stories that will resonate with readers, producers and audiences soon enough.

While we’re waiting for the tardy people, I’m going to tell you how to get an “A” in my class: Make sure your work has passion, innovation and craftsmanship. That’s it. Done. Easy, right? Those three are the core elements of great art whether it’s painting, music, animation or screenwriting. It’s a concept usually referred to as “Heart, Head and Hand.” I’ll elaborate…

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Final Draft and Format, Part II

This is my second post since I got back from Singapore. Special thanks to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Asia for flying me to paradise to meet with your masters writing students. I had a ball, met some great professors and writers and ate some fantastic food. Best of all, I had some great conversations with the other professional writers and professors about the best ways to teach students how to write. It all comes down to fundamentals so I’ll be hammering those with you guys in the coming weeks.

2014-06-04PicIn Part One of this post, I got my rant on about what’s wrong with screenplay formatting. I have a rule about criticism. If you point out a weakness in something, you have to “fill the hole.” In other words, if you point out a weakness, you have to solve the problem you’ve just pointed out. It doesn’t have to be a great solution but it does have to fill the hole you’ve just created so that everybody else in the room has a place to start. So, with that in mind, let’s add some features to screenwriting software that will solve our problems, make writing easier and send us to bed with smiles on our faces!

Here are some things I’d love to see in a new screenplay format and its corresponding software.

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Interview With Kelly Jo Brick

One of the most fun things that’s happened over the past few years is that I’ve gotten to do more interviews.

A few weeks ago, I sat down with Kelly Jo Brick at Urth Cafe for a fun conversation about writing. In the spirit of “being a filmgoer first and a filmmaker second,” I always try to give the answers I’d want to hear if I was a writer who had just started out and stumbled onto an interview with Rob Edwards.

Enjoy the interview. If you feel like Kelly Jo missed any questions, feel free to ask them below.

Next up, we’ll get back to part two of my piece on how to improve screenwriting software and then we’ll check out part two of Kelly Jo’s interview. Until then, enjoy the interview!

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Final Draft and Format

ScriptpageGreetings! I just returned from Singapore where I was teaching screenwriting students at the Tisch Asia School. If you see any typos, blame the mojitos as I began writing this post poolside in the Lion City. Also, I’m sorry you guys may have to wait a few more weeks for my series on outlining. As you know, we take an Amish barn raising approach to this website. Pick up a hammer and get busy and eventually there’s a barn. If things aren’t happening fast enough for you, hang tight, our small team is hammering away.

Now, if you’re not already a fan of the Scriptnotes Podcast then I want to remedy that right now. John August and Craig Mazin are spitting science on the weekly and you ignore the show at your own peril. They have been attempting to slay the dragon—that is, screenplay formatting. And, if you know me, you know they’re singing my song. This week, I’m going to add my voice to the conversation and put out some complaints about current screenplay formatting as well as some suggestions that I think could help bring movie software and screenplay formatting into the 21st Century.

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Script Magazine Interview!

Next week, we’ll get back to suggesting fixes for the current screenplay formatting system, but this week I wanted to share with you an interview I did with Jerry Flattum of Script Magazine. Jerry asked some great questions and I hope you guys get something out of the answers I gave. Let me know what you think.

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A New Look At INC/INCs

crazyphoto_orig First off, I want to thank Tina Price, Margarita Sweet, and all of the wonderful people who came to my Master Class at the Center Stage Gallery on the 8th and 9th.  I’d also like to thank Scriptwriters Network’s Melessa Sargent, Erica Dozier, and all of the fantastic writers who joined me at CBS Radford Studios for my talk on Pitching.  I hope you guys had as much fun as I did.

Not to gyp those people, but I made a discovery while I was putting together the slides for the Master Class that I’d like to share with everybody else.  As you know, I’m all about the “5 Keystones”.  The INC/INC, MP, EA2, SB and S!  If you don’t know what those mean, click 5-Keystones and get up to speed.

Now, for years, whenever anybody asked me about Inciting Incidents (“INC/INCs“) the conversation would go something like this:

YOU:  Hey Rob, I’m curious about these Inciting Incident thingies.
ME:  Well, you’ve come to the right place.  What do you need to know?
YOU:  What are they?  What do they do?  And where do I find them?
ME:  Okay, so everything.
YOU:  Uh yes.  But lunch is on me.
ME:  Okay.  Inciting Incidents are the incidents that incite your characters into the action of the movie.  They take the characters from their happy inertia on page one and propel them to do the things that entertain us during the course of the movie.  You can find them just about anywhere in the first 30 or so pages but, if you twisted my arm I’d say you should start your search somewhere around page 12 (or minute 12 if you’re watching a video).

Then I drop the mic and leave the stage.  And thus, it has been since I started answering these questions.  Why have I answered it this way?  Mainly because it’s all I’ve ever read ever since I started reading about screenwriting and listening to scriptwriting gurus.

Have I always written Inciting Incidents like this?  No!

In fact, let’s look at the INC/INC for THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG.  Is it (A) when the Fenner brothers tell Tiana that they’re going to sell her restaurant to somebody else or is it (B) When Tiana kisses Naveen and turns into a frog?

Take a second and answer the question yourself before you continue reading.
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