How's My Writing? 1-800-WRITE-NOW

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How's My Writing? 1-800-WRITE-NOW

Post  Ethan Ramey on Thu Apr 01, 2010 2:37 am

About half a year ago, I bought a scriptwriting program. I've used it abundantly for my own use, but that's about all. Since I first bought it, I've been receiving emails from the company that created it. Up until a few weeks ago, I ignored these entirely; however, looking back over them, that might have been a mistake.

Apparently, there are monthly (and sometimes bi-weekly) screenwriting contests. Prizes and entry fees range drastically, but some of them are truly substantial. I'm considering entering a few, and here's where this community comes in.

I feel like my writing has come to a good place (especially compared to old ToP, for those of you who know of it), but outside opinions are always helpful. If I could get a little feedback on what people like/dislike about my style, as well as any advice on making it better (characters and dialogue, especially), it could very well go a long way in helping me get a shot in these scriptwriting contests.

Now, I'm not asking for an academic evaluation of every post on this site, but if you're scanning along and something catches your eye, or if you just have some encouragement, criticism, or advice, then please, by all means, let me have it.
Ethan Ramey
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Re: How's My Writing? 1-800-WRITE-NOW

Post  Mr. Pearse on Mon Apr 12, 2010 2:11 am

It's criminal no one's hit you back on this yet. Generally, I'd say your writing is strongest in exactly the areas that will most aid a screenwriting endeavor. Your characters interact believably, your storytelling is tight and disciplined, and you have a way of highlighting the significant actions of a character (he fiddles with his watch) while successfully deemphasizing the boring ones (he walks from one side of the room to the other).

In terms of your writing on this site, but not as applicable to screenplay writing, let's look at an excerpt.

It was growing dark, and he was tired of waiting. He rubbed out the cigar on the boarded walls and started back towards the first of three town crossroads. His hand moved to make sure the small cigar case was concealed; his mother, huddled in the whorehouse with the rest of the town, would not approve. The cigar case was tucked into the top of his overalls and out of sight, but he noticed the absence of the matches immediately.

This is a great example of a superficially mundane situation communicated in a compelling way. You show more restraint with the adjectives and complex sentences than I do, and I think that's a good thing. The first sentence adeptly communicates both time of day and state of mind. The second's use of "boarded" adds an immense amount to the imagery, and the only questionable part of the paragraph - the elaboration of the three crossroads - is justifiable in that you are creating a workable world for the rest of us. The third sentence is my favorite (maybe because it's the longest), that way you communicate momma's location is inspired. Finally, the fourth sentence creates a believable problem (oh shit, the matches!) which leads into an awesome introduction of the raiding party.

I haven't taken an English class since high school, so I'd encourage you to take everything I've said with a grain of salt. That said, I think you have a short and snappy way of writing which perfectly complements your screenwriting ambitions. Were I to offer any criticism, I'd encourage you to invest in more poetic experiments - have fun with alliteration, and don't be afraid to drop more adjectives where you think they'll be effective.

Hope this post makes up for the long wait you've had for a reply!
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Re: How's My Writing? 1-800-WRITE-NOW

Post  Jessamine Blake on Tue Apr 13, 2010 12:10 am

One might expect that I would have been the first to reply. In my defense, however, doing so seemed a little bit redundant, considering that Mr. Ramey's my roommate.

At any rate, I would say your writing is in the best place it's been in awhile. Not only are your character interactions believable, but you have managed to get beyond two major pitfalls of the writer:

1) the inability to write convincingly in different voices
2) the inability to write in voices other than your own

Believe it or not, these are different. I've read a lot of your writing in the past, and although I've said this before, I can't stress enough how impressed I am with how far you've come, not only in writing fleshed-out characters with distinct personalities and voices, but also in writing people that are nothing like you. I don't read Ethan Ramey, Two Cents, or Bloomer and get the sense that I'm reading just another facet of your own personality, and that's pretty impressive.

Also, I am positively envious of your ability to round out a character with little to no pure exposition, and in a way that feels organic, more like watching the character move around than reading about him. In the short introduction you gave to Two Cents, I felt I had a very clear picture in my head; you had fully and successfully described the character to me. And this original assessment bore up later, because further writings of the character simply add to that original picture without causing confusion, disorientation, or the sense that maybe I've missed something vital.

Lastly, I admire your use of negative space. That is, I love how you're able to give a sense of some things simply by describing the events and people around them. Your treatment of Ethan Ramey up until the point that we actually meet him was brilliant. Oddly enough, you simultaneously managed to make it seem inevitable and extraordinary that the cause of all this commotion could be so utterly without merit for it. I don't know how you did it. I wish I did.

So those are my thoughts on your writing. I agree with Mr. Pearse that your abilities in dialogue and character interaction will probably serve you the best in your scriptwriting. But I also think your ability to really give a sense of place and character in very few words will come in handy, since such descriptions are usually expected to be brief and to the point in scripts. I think you're at a place where you can be that as well as very thorough in your descriptions of scenery, characters, events, et cetera.

Just remember not to direct from the page! I hear directors get pissy when you do that.

Last edited by Jessamine Blake on Tue Apr 13, 2010 12:13 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : I used Two Cents as an example where I had used Bloomer, because Two Cents is cooler)

"[These]...settlers are churlish types who are accustomed to live apart from each other, as neither fathers nor sons associate with each other."
--Fermín de Mendinueta, Governor of the New Mexico Territory, c. 1776.
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