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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Script Frenzy Has Begun

At some point, most people have walked out of a movie thinking, "I could have written a better script than that" (this is especially true if you just finished hearing 2 hours of wooden dialogue written by George Lucas). If you are one of those people, then the maniacs who created National Novel Writing Month have just the antidote: Script Frenzy 2011.
 
Starting April 1st, the fifth annual Script Frenzy gives would-be screenwriters the jump-start they need to make the dream of writing a screenplay a reality. Script Frenzy is based on the same premise as National Novel Writing Month: write a rough draft of a script in 30 days. Two days into this year's competition, over 17,00 writers have signed up for this epic journey at the event's website, www.scriptfrenzy.org.
 
The 5 Basic Rules have remained the same as for past competitions:
 
1. To be crowned an official Script Frenzy winner, you must write a script of at least 100 pages and verify this total on ScriptFrenzy.org.
 
2. You may write individually or in teams of two. Writer teams will have a 100-page total goal for their single co-written script.
 
3. Script writing may begin no earlier than 12:00:01 AM on April 1 and must cease no later than 11:59:59 PM on April 30, local time.
 
4. You may write screenplays, stage plays, TV shows, short films, comic book scripts, adaptations of novels, or any other type of script your wish.
 
5. You must, at some point, have ridiculous amounts of fun.
 
While it sounds easy, the apparent simplicity is exactly what could trip up a number of participants, especially those who have completed National Novel Writing Month one or more times. The word-count requirement for NaNoWriMo is 50,000 words in 30 days, or 1,667 words per day. The 100 pages in 30 days required by Script Frenzy is less than half the normal page count for NaNoWriMo.
 
The difference (and it's a big one) is that novels and long articles allow for at least some meandering wordiness. Even the best of them may run off on the occasional rabbit-trail with no ill effect on the overall story. Not so with a screenplay. In a screenplay every word matters, whether it is dialogue or description or camera direction. Of course you can write a rambling, wordy script (the British do it all the time), but good luck getting anyone to take a serious look at it.
 
This is not meant to discourage anyone, but rather to caution would-be screenwriters to do a little prep work beforehand. There are literally hundreds of books that will give you the basics of screenwriting, but one that is particularly helpful is Writing Movies, from the acclaimed Gotham Writers' Workshop. It is the best one-volume book on screenwriting available, and is as informative about the screenwriting process as their Writing Fiction is for novels.
 
So if you want to write a screenplay, go to the Script Frenzy website and register now. It should be a great month of writing, and even if you want to write only novels or short stories, the brevity demanded by a screenplay can be a valuable exercise in how to tighten up your writing. If film is your main love, then the next 30 days could help start the process of making your goal of writing a screenplay more than just a dream.
 
(And just in case you were counting, this article ended up at two pages, even without camera directions).

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