Want to experience a new form of self-torture? Try screenwriting.
Transformers 2. Worst writing I’ve seen since “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” Supposedly, the writers of the screenplay were paid 8 MILLION for it, when the dialogue rarely exceeds anything past: LOOK OUT! or OH, NO! NO! THESE DECEPTICONS® ARE GOING TO STEAL THE ENERGY OF THE SUN AND DESTROY THE EARTH!!! NOT ON MY WATCH!
Why? Why pay those guys so much? My pet turtle could write this! Whose fault was it? Was it the writers for making this?? The actors for tainting the lines further? The director for altering them as he wished? Was it the paycheck? The ability? The stress?
Writing is certainly a difficult task. Just writing a next sentence on here is tough. I have to make it flows and the motive to get bored and stop is too strong. I can only continue with the back-in-my-mind knowledge that I won’t get another chance to write later. The same goes with brainstorming.
In an ideal world, all writers would be held under threat of these guys.
My own form of writing tends to follow a rather specific format. When I get my idea, either for a entire film or simply a single scene, I first have to identify the basic tenets of the scene, test it out with dozens of different options, and then finalize the specific timing, camera angles, and lines. If it doesn’t work out yet, then I try again. I hate shopping (unless it’s for toys) but my whole process can compared to trying on a shirt. First I measure, then I decide the style, and finally I decide the color and pattern.
A relaxing, quiet, and interesting environment helps. Teneting is done in my room, optioning is done while riding my bike or walking the D.O.G., and then I finalize in the shower. (Mom, if you’re reading this, now you know why I spend so much time doing either, so don’t get mad at me for it anymore.) If I don’t feel satisfied with the scene yet, then I simply start anew the next day. This usually works out pretty well.
But the problem still remains: I’m a nonprofessional writer. How do I know that what I’m writing is actually good? Ed Wood Jr.(director of aforementioned worst film ever) loved his stuff and I love mine. So how do I assure myself that what I’m making is good?
There’s a bit of hope for me. Even established writers like Rob Reiner(The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, Misery) have their bad days (North). As my “All About Filmmaking” book says, “No director is Midas. Nobody can turn a single movie into gold with just their touch.” So if the big guys can’t do it, what chance do I have?
Now he’s happy… Now he’s not.
The only way I can ensure a successful script is this: demand perfection. I learned this by looking at my drawings and doodles. I make a sketch, I think it’s pretty good, I put it away. When I take out several months later, I am so overcome with disgust at all its flaws that I have to stop myself from sneaking it into the barbecue and cooking into something looking far more delectable that it did when it was intact and tasting half as good as it looks.
The whole thing can be compared having an itch. So if there’s a little flaw in the script that bothers me, I have to scrape it out, because I know that the longer I leave it there, the more it’s going to bother me until I can’t stand it. But this actually a good thing! As Orson Scott Card assures me, if something you’ve written before bothers you when you read it later, that’s good because it means you’ve IMPROVED!
One example: for an film adaptation of Metroid, you need to explain: How did the Space Pirates manage to conquer the most technologically advanced race alive? The 2002 Metroid manga went with this solution: The Pirates use a micro black hole to bypass the planetary shield and enter. Since the Chozo have idealistically shunned weapons in favor of peace(including programming their bodies to be unable to attack in any manner), they can not fight back, and since they are so few in population thanks to infertility from old age, they are easily conquered. I hated this option because:
1. The Chozo are way too easy to conquer. Programming your body so it can’t fight even in self-defense? No weapons at all? No cloning in order to rebuild the fertile population? Didn’t one Chozo at the meeting where they decided this ask: “Hey, isn’t this a little suicidal?”
2. The Space Pirates ended up being more advanced, even though this should be impossible. Even though the Chozo are supposed to be the most advanced, throughout the entire comic, I did not see a single example where the Chozo could do something that the GF and the Pirates could not do better.
3. It’s terrible science and completely unrealistic. A micro black hole to suck away the shield? Another who understands how black holes really work is going to wonder why the black hole of such strength didn’t suck away the planet too or the ships that happened to be RIGHT NEXT TO IT. That and the afore-mentioned infertility scenario, which makes no sense at all.
4. At an earlier point in the manga, it’s mentioned there had been a previous Pirate invasion several years earlier. How did they get through the shield? And why did they lose there but not here?
So I had to invent another answer, one which would actually sound plausible to a nut like me who was pushing himself too hard. So here is my solution.
The Pirate bypass the Chozo planetary shield by hijacking a Federation navy fleet and pretending that their own fleet has been captured by them so that the Chozo allow the Pirate ships to pass through, thinking that they are being held prisoner. The Pirates’s plans once inside are to destroy the planetary shield generator and then call in the remaining battleships to bombard the planet. Land invasion would be suicide, as conquering the entire planet would take years and the Chozo have far more superior weaponry.
The small Pirate force on Zebes is easily captured and held hostage. But what the Chozo don’t know is that while that force was there, they planted a virus into their main computer network, giving them complete control over all of Zebes defense systems. With this, the bombardment of Zebes goes quickly and easily.
It’s not fun having to iron out absolutely EVERYTHING that bothers you. There’s always the temptation to go with route A and just have more fun creating. But I hate being itchy. So I’ll scratch ’till my skin peels away LIKE A BANANA!!
What about those times when my brain is completely dry and I simply can not think of an answer? My solution: watch movies. Somebody is going to have faced a similar scenario at some point and if you’re going to borrow, you might as well borrow from the best. And even if you don’t get what you’re looking for, you’ll at least have the energy and rush to start writing anew.
How do I know when I’ve succeeded? I know I like the scene when I keep playing it over and over in my head thousands of times, simply because it’s so fun to watch. I look forward to the day when I’ll be able to create it FOR REAL. And you guys are more than welcome to come and watch it when it’d done.
But some of you guys have your stories to write too. Don’t expect to hit gold with every try and without hard work. But we’ll go along carving our statues and I look forward to seeing you guys’s Davids.
1. The Bug on Peter Jackson’s Shoe=X
2. The Stork Brings Idea’s Too?=X
3. The Gruel of Writing=X
4. But It’s Real Life!=X
5. Child Actors
6. *Maybe* It’s Bad.
7. I Have Seen the Future and It’s Just Like Now.
8. How Faithful must An Adaptation Be?
9. I’ve Got Something New Here!
10. I Fell In Love!(Again!)
11. Why *WOULD* I Want To See My Own Movie?
12. Studio Executives Are Your Friends
14. Batteries Not Included.
15. Scathing Tell-All-Autobiography
16. For a Clownfish, He’s Not Really That Funny
17. Revisionist History
18. Actors: Someone You Hire Because You Can’t Do It Yourself
19. I’m In 3-D!
20. Beethoven’s 33rd Symphony.
21. He’s So Hot.
22. Movie Critics Are Your Friends
23. Warning: Not a Role Model
24. MPAA Does not PAAss
25. Remember, Grandma is Watching
26. Blue Screen Blues
27. I Wasn’t Invited to the Oscars(But I Still Love Myself)
28. The Dreadful Flying Dove!
29. Take My Hand, Harry.
30. Racism and Cinema: Then And Now
32. I Still Live in That Yellow Submarine
33. I Loved You. I HATE YOU!!!!
34. If I Were a Rich Man
35. Kodak Won’t Help you Here
36. What’s With the Envelope?
37. Reach For the Stars!!!
38. Duhn Duhn Duhn DUHNNNNN!!!!
39. You Gotta Have HEART!!!!!
40. Who Ever Heard of a Good Third Movie?
41. Remake: THE SEQUEL!!!