Farewell, Script Frenzy

Those who know me may recall that I’ve done all six Script Frenzies to date and finished all of them, usually by writing twenty to thirty pages on the last day. In that time I’ve written three original screenplays of varying quality (2007, 2008, 2009), a musical (2010), a screenplay adaptation of my own novel (2011), and a radio play that I’m converting to a stage play (2012). I’ve made friends, grown closer to some of the ones I have, and learned a lot about writing in the process, both scriptwriting and novel-writing. So when fewer people participated over the past couple of years and I noticed the community getting quieter and less lively, my concern hat went on, to the point where I wrote a very long spiel on this in the post-event survey suggestion box. (To whoever read those, I’m sorry?)

So when I got the email from OLL executive director Grant Faulkner yesterday saying that Script Frenzy was being retired, I was simultaneously surprised and unsurprised. The event had always been operating at a loss due to lack of donations and other sources of funding, and even though I donated every year funds willing, that didn’t mean everyone was. That combined with dwindling participation and community meant that growth was likely to be slow if it happened. Even when Script Frenzy did grow, it was unlikely to make up for all those years OLL wasn’t recouping the funds it put into Screnzy.

On the other hand, this is a writing challenge I did since the beginning. Script Frenzy taught me the basics of scriptwriting and playwriting, and not just writing like this:

Sushi: Script Frenzy's been retired, I got stains on my Script Frenzy shirt, and to top it all off, the color on the shirt's wearing off because I soaked it and forgot all about it. Can this day get any worse?
Mr. Carrot Friend: What if I told you I was going stale soon?
Sushi: You'd be delicious with chicken.

Script Frenzy taught me about real formatting and how to see the world through all sorts of scripts. Thanks to Script Frenzy I have a play I really like and plan to edit and see through. (That’s the one about the gnome and the time machine, for the curious.) I’ve struggled through writing the scripts but have seen the writing process through new eyes that novel-writing doesn’t quite give me. And even though none of my scripts will be making millions any time soon, I still had a blast writing all of them.

So what next for the scriptwriter? For those still looking to write scripts in a Frenzy-like challenge, here are a few things that may be up your alley:

48 Hour Film Project: Make a film in 48 hours based on certain prompts given out in the beginning. The crew tours different cities throughout the world all year long. All the films are shown afterward, and some films get shown at other film festivals. There is a fee to enter officially.

24 Hour Comics Day: Create a full 24-page comic in 24 hours. This has a lot of in-person events. The 2012 date is October 20, 2012.

Script Race: Write a script in a month. Hosted most months (used to be every month, but there didn’t appear to be one in June 2012). Lots of smack talk, usually via Twitter. Free to participate.

April Fools: Set your own goal and complete it in April. Don’t be fooled by the URL; any form of writing is accepted. Some Screnzy writers would do this as well. Free to participate.

National Play Writing Month (NaPlWriMo): Write a play in November. This challenge has been around since 2006. Free to participate.

There will also be a Script Frenzy forum on the Nano website for Screnzy folks to keep in touch and talk scriptwriting, and the staff are looking into ways to keep the old site up. OLL folks, if you need any help with archiving any of it, Wikiwrimo is always here to help out.

A great light went out in the writing community this week, and I am sad to see it go. Script Frenzy, you will be missed.

On the bright side, I finished Script Frenzy.

I finished Script Frenzy yesterday, though I didn’t mention it thanks to the much more important Tornado Hell. The script still needs two or three more scenes before it’s finished, but they’re scenes that are mostly unchanged from the book. If inertia kicks in, I won’t feel too bad.

This is the first year I’ve finished Script Frenzy before the last day, which is a personal accomplishment. Last year I mostly stayed on track for the whole month, despite writing a musical, but I played the catchup game all the years before that. This year I bounced between falling behind and getting ahead, and the final push to the finish resulted in my cruising through the last fifteen pages.

The big lesson I’ve learned this year: No more adaptations. The idea was great in theory. I was going to use a screenplay to outline the next version of my novel, and I’d use the screenplay to fill in holes in the story. What I really wound up doing was writing some of the scenes that haven’t been written yet and then adapting what I had already written. Oops. While the script tells a story, there are huge holes from new scenes I wrote in the beginning and never developed later thanks to my development of old scenes.

Some good did come out of the adaptation. I got to see my book in a new light. Some scenes in books don’t adapt well to movies, like those with one person doing a lot of thinking. I had a lot of those scenes in the first draft, probably from writing so quickly and figuring out what should come next. Many of those scenes will be cut, but some are important, like a scene where a character is taking in a lot of information while alone. We’ll see what happens to it later, but it stands for now. My rule of thumb was “If it’s boring in the book, it’s definitely boring in the movie.” And if it’s boring in the movie, I can skip the effort and not include it.

What happens next? I’ve been challenged to write something in exactly 1667-word increments for May, meaning I should figure out an idea for that. There are a few ideas bouncing around my mind right now, but I want to save them for NaNoWriMo or the Three-Day Novel weekend. I have time to figure this out, right?

On the editing front, I know that major changes will be happening to both the pumpkin novel and the alternate worlds novel, so it’s probably time to sit down and think my way through the books before sitting down and writing yet another crappy draft. That’s right. I have to face The Outline. Everyone has to face it eventually. May it not consume my soul.

Script Frenzy: the week three update

Even though I stay far ahead during NaNoWriMo, I tend to barely stay on track during Script Frenzy and even drag behind. My page count has sagged like an old woman’s cleavage over the past few days, partly because I was writing a scene that hadn’t appeared in the book yet. This hesitation has made the process even more slow-going, especially since I plan on using parts of the adaptation during the editing process.

I caught up today, though. Okay, technically I’m a few lines behind, but I’m at the beginning of a new scene that has already been written, so it makes more sense to start that scene tomorrow and keep going from there.

The only problem at the moment is that I’m just over halfway through with the novel. I knew that this wouldn’t be a 100-page script, but what do I do now? Do I cram the remaining plot into 37 more pages, or do I keep writing past 100 pages? Both of them have their problems, the first because there’s so much plot left, the second because I barely stay on track during Script Frenzy. I could write more quickly if I set my mind to it, but do I really want to? How important is a completed screenplay that won’t be edited but will aid the editing process? At least I have time to think about this.

Some initial script observations

Let’s talk about Script Frenzy.

I’m currently at 23 pages, over twice the recommended quota for this point in the month. It turns out that writing an adaption is surprisingly easy when you’ve already written the book. It also helps that I love writing dialogue, which makes the script zip along quickly. I wrote the bulk of the script in the last two days through online writing sessions with others, notably Syaffolee‘s writing sprints.

A few things I’ve noticed about the adaptation so far:

1. While it looks like I’m on pace to finish the script at around 100 pages, this probably won’t be the case. I’m at around a fifth of the way through the novel and approaching a fourth of the way through the script. The next few scenes are very dialogue-heavy in the novel, so I’ll be taking even more liberties than I already have to include them in the script. The question is how many more liberties I’ll be taking with this adaptation.

2. I’ve definitely been taking advantage of the fact that this is an adaptation. I’ve cut several scenes that will probably stay in the novel (at least for now) just because they’d be boring in a movie. Of course, that may mean they’re boring in the book as well, but that’s for later consideration. I’ve introduced different ways for characters to meet, and the script lets me play with scene transitions in a different way than the novel does. Most notably, one continuous scene in the script is broken up into three parts in the novel and is narrated by three different people. This insight may help me organize that scene better when rewriting them.

3. I still haven’t thought of some very important aspects of the novel yet. At the rate I’m going I’ll have to think of them soon. This concerns me because the hints toward some of those aspects are coming as quickly as the next scene. I may find myself pantsing the script of a novel I’ve already written.

4. It is now very likely that I will finish before the thirtieth even if I do go over 100 pages, as I’m trying to keep this script at a reasonable script lengt. Considering I’ve neither finished before the 30th nor gone over 100 pages by more than two pages, this is an accomplishment. Hooray for accomplishments!

In other news, a few Screnziers (including one of my Twitter followings) have already hit 100 pages. Congratulations!

Script Frenzy begins in an hour.

Guess who’s simultaneously panicking and thinking, “I’ve got this in the bag?” If you guessed “This Sushi” you’d be correct. You’d think that adapting my own novel would be a piece of cake. I’ve already written the thing and am well on my way to making it good. So why would a script of the same novel be difficult at all? Shouldn’t an adaptation of my own work be considered taking the easy way out?

That’s what I thought until I considered every book that had ever been made into a movie. I usually prefer the book to the movie. This bias especially holds if I read the book first. The reason I find myself preferring the book to the movie is because the book often contains plotlines and character development and little quirks that the movie doesn’t have time to go into. Scenes get cut. Characters get cut. Twists get changed. Yes, this means your favorites.

These cuts may be good for my adaptation, though. I’m adopting the policy that if it’s boring in the script, it’ll definitely be boring in the book. There are several one-person scenes I’m still undecided about, and they most likely won’t make it into the script because nothing happens in them. They may or may not get cut from the novel if I can’t think of a good way to rewrite them, and let’s face it. I probably won’t think of a good way.

Now to the big reason I’m nervous. I still haven’t thought of a good way to tie the second half of the novel together yet. Given my Script Frenzy track record of always finishing on the last day, this shouldn’t be a problem for at least a week, but I want to foreshadow in the beginning. The funny part is that I’ll be pantsing for a script based on a novel that I’ve already written. Isn’t that a hoot?

(Also, full disclosure: I considered writing this post and claiming that I was quitting Script Frenzy but then decided against it. I had posted too much about it elsewhere for such a joke to be believable.)

Here’s to a fifth win. Good luck to everyone out there who’s taking part!

Script Frenzy!

Script Frenzy, NaNoWriMo’s sister challenge to write a script in a month, is just over three weeks away, and for once I don’t have to worry about a lack of plot because I’m adapting my first 2010 NaNo novel. This year’s Script Frenzy is an attempt at outlining via writing a screenplay, which should work better than a regular outline for me for a couple of reasons.

I can’t stand outlining. Putting together an outline has been one of the banes of my existence for years, even when teachers made us outline for school papers. I admit that I’ve made vague outlines in college for papers and have found them helpful, but beyond that? Forget it. Outlines are too restraining and don’t give me the ability to truly be creative; I have to get started and think of what happens next to kick my brain into action. To my brain, outlines are an excuse for staying in the planning stage and not getting started.

Besides my distaste for outlining, writing the screenplay of my novel lets me write the exciting parts. The movie version will show only what goes on the screen and what can be seen and heard. I don’t have to worry about those internal dialogues or what the character’s thinking at that moment because the viewer doesn’t care. The action matters, and since I’m going to be revising the storyline a lot, concentrating on the story next month will be extremely helpful.

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Script Frenzy Status: Fini

Script Frenzy 2010 Winner

Today I wrote the hundredth page of my fourth script for Script Frenzy.

This year was completely different from the first three years of Script Frenzy. The obvious changes were writing a stage play (and a musical at that). The other big change was actually staying on track for the entire month, something I’ve never accomplished for Script Frenzy before. Blame school and research. This year I had no other responsibilities except job training on the last four days, so I wrote for the rest of the month.

The musical itself is mostly terrible. The last ten pages or so are absolute tripe. Some of the parodies aren’t too bad, though. You may see a few of them over the coming days.

Script Frenzy: Week Three

Here we are about to begin week four of Script Frenzy. I’m still barely staying on track, as I hit 70 pages today. Staying on track is staying on track, which is a lot more than I can say for the past three years, where marathon sessions to the finish line were the norm.

The musical numbers are taking up most of my time. On non-music days, I can usually write somewhat quickly if I know where the plot is going. Unfortunately, I usually don’t. I know where the story’s going to climax and what will happen just before that, but getting there is another story. I need to get there and figure out a suitable ending, all while keeping my characters singing. The singing is the hard part to write, and with other life events coming up at the end of the month, I may be struggling to pull off a win this year.

Overall, the story is still fun to write, and while it’s not quite as geeky and more political than I intended, the geeky core is still there, even if every other line isn’t a geek reference of some kind.

Script Frenzy: The Halfway Checkpoint

Script Frenzy is halfway over, and I hit page fifty of the hundred-page script today. Act One of the musical is also complete.

With a few exceptions, I’ve written the daily quota of 3.333333… pages every day, always making it up the next day when I fell behind. The musical numbers were really helpful in keeping me on track, especially the group numbers. Because of the way stage play spacing works, I definitely used my fair share of space in showing which character was singing which line. This method didn’t work quite as well for the solo numbers. Note to self for Act Two: Have more group numbers. They’re a very sneaky way to pad the page count.

The story is at a standstill at the moment. I know what will happen in the first scene of Act Two, though I have no clue what the musical number will be or if there will be one. After that I’m playing everything by ear.

Let’s do it.

Script Frenzy: Week One

Script Frenzy has been in action for nearly a week. I’ve had quite the history with the event in past years, from co-writing another feature-length script and conducting research to taking on major academic loads, all of which led me to falling behind and playing catch up to finish the script and win on the 30th. My ability to come from behind came in particularly handy last year when I wrote over half the script in the last two days.

This year, with no academia, no research, and no other plays to write, I’m determined to stay on track and not have to play catchup of more than a few pages. I start training for a temp job on the 27th, making my motivation to stay on track even more important. Catching up during the evenings of those last few vital days will not be easy. Writing the last ten to fifteen pages will be less difficult.

About the actual writing, I wish I could take showers constantly: not for the cleanliness. I’m clean enough. My scenes always fall into place when I shower. Perhaps I need some noise that imitates the noise a shower makes.