It is important that we learn from our mistakes

It is important that we learn from our mistakes

It seems I have made the rookie mistake of trying to write a shooting script. This is because, when I cribbed the formatting standards from other scripts, I was looking at relatively late revisions of Drive and Firefly (I try to emulate success!), so all the SHOTS and CONTINUEDS and SCENE NUMBERS and things like MUSIC CUES were already written in.

In Microsoft Word. That’s right: I was actually inserting SCENE NUMBERS with manual margins, two-hundred and forty pages worth of finished copy, with another two scripts in pieces, another series’ two-hour pilot, and pieces of a movie script.

Uh-uh. Nope. Bad idea. All wasted effort, except that each time you touch your material you wind up improving it. And, after years of formatting footnotes in both Latin and English, it’s not nearly as tedious for me as it might be for a sane individual. But, lesson learned.

If you’re writing a script on spec (or, in my stupid case, three whole fucking series on spec), your sole consideration should be making your story idea and characters clear. The previous advice I’d had was to avoid too much direction. Now, as I understand it, if your vision is not transparently obvious from your ACTION and dialog, you just might be wasting your time with all those other details.

So, I got this open source project software called CELTX, which has a pretty decent script editor. Apparently, movie format and TV-2 have pretty much merged, which may be due to the creeping 16:9-itis I was talking about. You can enter your existing script text in the SCRATCHPAD mode, edit it in SCRIPT, and then count your pages and check formatting in TYPESET mode.

Very gratifying.

So I immediately banged out a teaser for the pilot of that cold war series that I really need to set aside right now, a simple scenario with a really creepy twist, and my wife actually liked it.

Success!

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