Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Miracle that is Celtx

To write a screenplay, sure, you can use Microsoft Word if you can format it correctly. But it's much easier to use a screen writing program. Most people tell you that you "need" Movie Magic or Final Draft, but really, Celtx, a program that can be downloaded from the net, is probably all you really need. It can convert your screenplays into PDFs, it formats and it's free.

The Stages of Being a Novice Screenwriter

1. Read a few screen writing books. Basically, they all promote the idea that anyone can write the next amazing new screenplay. It all sounds extremely easy - almost ludicrously so. They may mention it's easier to win the lottery than sell a screenplay, but you think, that's them; this is me.

2.Write the first 30 pages of a screenplay.

3. Instead of going beyond page thirty, you re-edit those 30 pages like your life depends on it.

4. You tell your non writer friends about it - they all smile and nod. Because most of them think you're a lunatic.

5. You tell your writer friends about it - they all smile and nod. Because they know you are a lunatic.

6. Instead of finishing your screenplay, you lurk and troll online screen writers' forums & chat rooms. Subconsciously searching for a quick fix solution.

7. You reread those screen writing books - they claim to have answers. So, they give temporary comfort. A quick fix that doesn't solve the real problem - you are either too lazy or didn't think the concept through thoroughly enough.

8.Finally, you bite the bullet. You write . And you finish. Hindered only by the nagging desire to rewrite.

9. You finish the first draft. Relief.

10. The day later, you read it, and it's good. Nichols Fellowship good. Oscar good. Like you are looking at your newborn baby. Beautiful and perfect in your arms.

The problem is, you can stay on phase 10 for a long time. I was there for about 6 months. Who knows how long some other writers stay there.

And then ....

You find out that your beautiful baby is actually an extra from "Planet of the Apes". Strangers gape and stare. You make excuses. You say "It will always be beautiful to me". But really, you are starting to see it for what it really is. And you realize you just called the baby "it".

11a. A friend reads it. And they give you an honest opinion.
11b.A month or longer later, YOU reread it. Find it's crap. You need a long period of time to give it an objective reading.


The road less traveled by- you read real screenplays. Not crappy examples on A sold screenplay. An Oscar winner.

I think it's only when you realize that what you wrote is absolute and utter crap can you really make a breakthrough with your writing.

For me atleast, it was only at that point that I realized what I needed to do.

I needed to read. Not just the crap that I was looking through due to my misplaced curiosity or "I-can-do-better-than-that" ego, but to give a sincere attempt to learn from others. Successful others. Learn how they ensnare, enrapture and entertain an audience. Learn how to use words with a fire and vigor that makes them catapult off the page.

To accept that my words may be clumsy now, but they will one day be more than words.

They'll be a screenplay.