Sunday, July 26, 2015

Ray Morton #Scriptchat Transcript - July 26, 2015

Tonight we chatted with professional script reader and author Ray Morton @RayMorton1 on making your script standout from the pack. We discussed character intros, screenplay structure, breaking the rules, building tension and more. Check out his website and books on Amazon.

Read the transcript below or on the Storify site.

Ray Morton #Scriptchat Transcript - July 26, 2015

Ray Morton #Scriptchat Transcript - July 26, 2015

Tonight we chatted with professional script reader and author Ray Morton @RayMorton1 about tips to make your script standout. Enjoy! @jeannevb

  1. So for those who don't know @RayMorton1, he's a pro script reader & a contributor for @scriptmag forever. Well, close to it. #scriptchat
  2. So all those questions you have for script readers & how to get past them, shoot @RayMorton1's way. #scriptchat
  3. Too many new writers write out exposition as in a novel #scriptchat
  4. @RayMorton Q: can you tell by page 10 if you're going to like a script most of the time? #scriptchat
  5. @RayMorton1 Ray grumbled as he typed that response, recalling nights spent poring over needless paragraphs of description #scriptchat
  6. @RayMorton1 By approach, I mean, what are some of the typical ways/tips you give writers on how they can work on rewriting? #scriptchat
  7. @RayMorton1 I've heard that 2 lines of description and then a break are now the standard. Is that true? #scriptchat
  8. @ray I'm reading The Imitation Game and I'm enjoying its so much I nearly forgot to join scriptchat #scriptchat
  9. @sarah: What hooks me is some interesting or exciting event or a character doing something compelling or offbeat #scriptchat
  10. @sarah: Something that makes me want to know what happens next #scriptchat
  11. @chris H: I usually try to determine what the intent of the writer was in creating this particular story and then give him notes #scriptchat
  12. #scriptchat @RayMorton1 An idea keeps coming back to write (and back and back)...I can't seem to come up with a coherent starting point?
  13. @chris H: that will allow him to make his points more clearly and strongly #scriptchat
  14. Hi @RayMorton1, besides knowing someone who knows someone, or via agent, what are some ways new writers get specs to readers? #scriptchat
  15. @chris H: By clarifying the premise, focusing the narrative and the protag's arc, etc. #scriptchat
  16. @RayMorton1 Whose style are current writers most mimicking? Years ago they all wanted to be Tarantino. #scriptchat
  17. @jon James: Don't worry too much about line to white space ratio. That's a fake script consultant notion #scriptchat
  18. @RayMorton1 could you rate the matter of importance to you - 1st scene, 1st pg, 10thpg #scriptchat
  19. @doc: There are still a lot of Tarantino imitators out there. These days, most writers copy gimmicks rather than writers #scriptchat
  20. @RayMorton1 Q: What advice would you give for people who haven't found a way yet to simplify/strengthen a concept? #scriptchat
  21. @doc: most overused gimmick today: non-linear storytelling. Such a bore #scriptchat
  22. @RayMorton1 Like, what if the concept you've written can't be easily described in a logline, w/a hook or irony in it? #scriptchat
  23. @RayMorton1 i know that it's a sign that the story itself needs work. I'm finding myself in that situation right now #scriptchat
  24. @blueneumann I asked because I've begun reading "Save The Cat" and I just can't seem to find the "irony" in my concept #scriptchat
  25. @blueneumann And I'm frustrated because I can't seem to understand what that means, or how to apply it to my scripts #scriptchat
  26. @RayMorton1 Non-linear storytelling only works when you are only bringing in what is absolutely relevant at that very moment. #scriptchat
  27. @ray for the setup & payoffs, you like seeing dialogue, action or visuals mostly? #scriptchat
  28. @RayMorton1 One of the hardest things to master is subtext. Do you have any advice on how to write subtext? #scriptchat
  29. @chris H but it you can't describe your concept in a few short sentences, it's because there's something off #scriptchat
  30. #scriptchat @RayMorton1 What if writers threw preconceived or taught or "the now" out the door and just went for it?
  31. @RayMorton1 I've asked mainly because I started reading Save The Cat, and I can't seem to find the "irony" in my concept #scriptchat
  32. #scriptchat Main characters should arc but what about the ones that dont ripley, richard kimble, john mcclane
  33. @RayMorton1 But I definitely understand what you're saying. Would like to get the concept easy to describe #scriptchat
  34. @RayMorton1 How do readers feel about flashbacks? I've heard some can't stand them even if they're central to story. #scriptchat
  35. @jon: I tend to loathe flashbacks. I find most use of them to be incredibly lazy #scriptchat
  36. @jon a lazy way of delivering exposition or of trying to create a false sense of excitement #scriptchat
  37. @47young1 @RayMorton1 @filmwritr4 Tons of screenwriting opinions out there. Just write a great damn story. All else will follow. #scriptchat
  38. #scriptchat @RayMorton1 Wow! This is the fourth time I've "watched", but this is the first time I jumped in. By preconceived I mean>
  39. @matt. Usually. Most use of voiceover is very lazy. Not all, of course. But most. Esp in specs #scriptchat
  40. #scriptchat @RayMorton1 the typical things one strives to attain in a script-or any piece for that matter. I think I'm asking,"Why compare>
  41. #scriptchat @RayMorton1 why follow teachings, why not develop and be HAPPY and at peace with one's own style whether it follows this or>
  42. Q: What's the next step once you finish your screenplay? #scriptchat
  43. #scriptchat @RayMorton1 that or whatever. @filmwritr4 led me to #scriptchat.After gleaning some info,I feel my type of writing fits nowhere
  44. @RayMorton1 can we talk about structure for a bit? Any advice on nailing it? #scriptchat
  45. @RayMorton1 What techniques/tips would you suggest for writing subtext? Is it a matter of the purpose of the dialogue itself? #scriptchat
  46. @RayMorton1 @jeannevb can we talk about structure for a bit? Any advice on nailing it? #scriptchat
  47. @jenzy: I don't know if there are preconceived notions. There are genres and the concepts of #scriptchat
  48. @jenzy dramatic writing. Your work must address those things. Beyond that, it's a pretty open field. #scriptchat
  49. @Jeanne: I think the best place to start with structure is to understand the classic 3 act dramatic structure #scriptchat
  50. @Jeanne: All film writing since the start is based on that concept #scriptchat
  51. @Jeanne: If you master the 3 act structure, it will help you develop proper structure in your scripts. #scriptchat
  52. @Jeanne. Structure that can then be varied for your own purposes. But that is where to start #scriptchat
  53. @RayMorton1 what's the number 1 thing that pulls you OUT of a story when you're reading it? #scriptchat
  54. @blueneumann @IAmWindar No. I believe in the 3. But there are those who love to argue against it #scriptchat
  55. What films have you seen in the last year that you thought were strongest from a writing standpoint? #scriptchat
  56. Shakespeare used a five-act structure, but when it's staged today they usually just do it at two acts like many plays. #scriptchat
  57. @jeannevb @RayMorton1 what's the number 1 thing that pulls you OUT of a story when you're reading it? #scriptchat
  58. I've been leaning towards 3 Acts with 11 story beats, @RayMorton1 do the story beats vary by genre? #scriptchat
  59. That's just a lot of posing. All dramatic narratives follow the same basic format, no matter how things are apportioned. #scriptchat
  60. @Jeanne: Too many flashbacks too early in the script. Beginning with pretentious voice-over. #scriptchat
  61. @RayMorton1 wanted to make sure you saw @DanOBannonBook's question on what are strongest written films of past year... #scriptchat
  62. Too much pointless detail in the descriptions. Unmotived non-linear storytelling #scriptchat
  63. I changed the sex of my lead character. Story is sooo much better/powerful. Try it. Might not work but good exercise. #writing #scriptchat
  64. @mowriterdxb - I did this for a script I rewrote for a friend in school. Made a world of difference. #scriptchat
  65. @Dan/Jeanne: I thought Ex-Machina was very well written. #scriptchat
  66. @RayMorton1 - Agreed. An almost novelistic level of thematic complexity. Then again, Garland IS a novelist. #scriptchat
  67. I think that has been my favorite script of the year so far #scriptchat
  68. A theme in many of the questions tonight is what rules to follow and what rules not to follow #scriptchat
  69. Do you think the "universe-building" concept a la Marvel Studios hurts the writing of the individual films? #scriptchat
  70. I would encourage everyone to learn the basic elements of dramatic writing #scriptchat
  71. And study the basic structure and tropes of the genre you are writing in. #scriptchat
  72. @RayMorton1 Many believe if they just follow the so called rules, they increase their chances #scriptchat
  73. #scriptchat @RayMorton1 Besides the main basics, are there any "rules"? We would never read the wonderful voices of diversity.
  74. You mentioned Save the Cat earlier. Any screenwriting books you'd especially recommend? #scriptchat
  75. @RayMorton1 Exactly. I always gets bashed for saying "Just Write a great, intriguing story" #scriptchat
  76. @jenzy: You have to tell a good story. It has to be clearly and coherently written. It has to be cinematic. Beyond that... #scriptchat
  77. And there it is! RT @RayMorton1: @jenzy: This whole "rules" thing is a bit of a fiction. #scriptchat
  78. Is there a difference between "pretentious" and useful voice over? #scriptchat
  79. @windar. It's not just a "great story" because that's a subjective opinion. #scriptchat
  80. @windar> It has to be an interesting story. It has to be cinematic. If you want a studio to make it it has to be genre. #scriptchat
  81. @RayMorton1 What advice do you have on writing visual descriptions? I know there are a lot of scripts that are very detailed #scriptchat
  82. @Jeanne: For your first script, write a story that has personal meaning for you and don't censor yourself. #scriptchat
  83. @filmwritr4 @RayMorton1 I think that is the problem. A lot of folks try to imitate other commercial successes #scriptchat
  84. @Jeanne: That is the best way to find your voice. And then you can bring it to your next scripts #scriptchat
  85. @filmwritr4 @RayMorton1 - If you're already established, I think you can fudge conventions a little more. #scriptchat
  86. @filmwritr4 @RayMorton1 - I saw the first page of Amy Schumer's TRAINWRECK script, and she had descriptions a dozen lines long. #scriptchat
  87. @RayMorton1 Instead of writing in their own commercial voice/style #scriptchat
  88. @chris H: Write sparely. Use descriptions that capture the essence of a set or a character, rather than detailed descriptions of #scriptchat
  89. @DanOBannonBook I see. I don’t try to do huge blocks of description (just the bare essentials, etc.) #scriptchat
  90. @chris H; furnishings or the clothes a person is wearing or how many freckles they have #scriptchat
  91. @RayMorton1 Thanks Ray. :) I was thinking about that a lot. I'd only describe something aesthetic if it's relevant to the story #scriptchat
  92. #scriptchat @RayMorton1 The subtleties of Ex Machina and the superb writing and dialogue will not be such a commercial success?
  93. RT @RayMorton1: @Jeanne: For your first script, write a story that has personal meaning for you and don't censor yourself. #scriptchat
  94. @RayMorton1 Because I usually find myself writing character descriptions w/hair, wardrobe, etc. #scriptchat
  95. @filmwritr4 note that the hairdresser and wardrobe designer are more qualified to figure that stuff out. #scriptchat
  96. @RayMorton1 Is it off-putting to read scripts containing colloquialisms you're unfamiliar with? British slang, etc. #scriptchat
  97. @Jeanne: For building tension, I think a linear build is vital -- to increase the stakes as the story goes forward #scriptchat
  98. @blueneumann Definitely. And that's also why I don't do camera directions. DP's/camera operators know more about that stuff #scriptchat
  99. #scriptchat @RayMorton1 @filmwritr4 I compare that to the author known as Anne Rice. I picture Stevie Nicks with scarves a' flowing.
  100. Don't interupt the flow of the story with flashbacks and asides unless they are absolutely necessary (and most times they arent) #scriptchat
  101. And don't allow the audience to get ahead of the characters. We should only learn info when the characters do #scriptchat
  102. @RayMorton1 - What about something like Hitchcock's famous bomb-under-the-table-example? We know it's there; characters don't. #scriptchat
  103. #scriptchat @RayMorton1 @filmwritr4 Less is, in many cases, more. Chris knows me too well. I talk way too much. It's true in many cases.
  104. #scriptchat anyone know if john wick was linear in the script ot was that the director moving stuff around?
  105. @matt: that would be suspense. A different thing. But you can't go wrong with Hitch #scriptchat
  106. @ Walter. Not ones I'm unfamilar with, but ones the writer clearly is (lots of non US writers try to write in American slang) #scriptchat
  107. It usually doesn't work. And vice versa (americans trying to write British idiom can be quite amusing) #scriptchat
  108. #scriptchat @RayMorton1 Have you read Amusing Ourselves to Death by Postman? I think much of what he says pertains to the talk tonight.
  109. I'm off to watch Ray Donovan on Showtime. Need to take a break from the computer. #scriptchat
  110. @RayMorton1 @DanOBannonBook Since you mentioned Music on Film, I should also mention I write about film music for @FSMOnlineMag #scriptchat
  111. @RayMorton1 Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, and for contributing your great insight on screenwriting #scriptchat
  112. @writeranthonydp I think just the beginning was an in media res teaser. The rest was still traditionally linear... that I recall #scriptchat
  113. @RayMorton1 Me too. I've done features for them for 2 years, along with reviews. #scriptchat
  114. @RayMorton1 My interviews with Lorne Balfe (Terminator: Genisys) and Gabriel Mann (Rectify) are in this month's issue. #scriptchat
  115. Thanks for having me guys! Thanks @jeannevb for inviting Ray to be on! Love you guys! See you next week! #scriptchat
  116. If anyone has any questions I can help you with, email me at and I'll try to help #scriptchat
  117. @47young1 Thanks for being here Jen. So glad you participated and would love to see you come back each week! *HUGS* <3 you #scriptchat
  118. #scriptchat @RayMorton1 Thank you so much. You are a delight and down to earth person. Thanks again. Honored.

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