Sunday, February 19, 2017

#Scriptchat Transcript: Lee Jessup (@LeeZJessup) talks breaking in February 19, 2017

We had a great chat with Lee Jessup @LeeZJessup (career coach for professional & emerging screenwriters). Great tips and insights about breaking in. Moderated by @SarahAlexis4.

Read the transcript below or here or here. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

#Scriptchat Transcript w/ @timschildberger of @LiveReadLA - Scene Description February 12, 2017

Tonight we talked with Tim Schildberger @timschildberger of LiveReadLA about writing effective scene descriptions and how to cut those one-line characters. Enjoy! @jeannevb

Don't forget to check out @LiveReadLA and get $5 off with promo code "scriptchat" - details here.

Read the transcript below or on the Storify site.

#Scriptchat Transcript w/ @timschildberger of @LiveReadLA - Scene Description February 12, 2017

#Scriptchat Transcript w/ @timschildberger of @LiveReadLA - Scene Description February 12, 2017

Tonight we talked writing effective scene descriptions and how to cut those one-line characters. Enjoy! @jeannevb

  1. Don't forget to check out @LiveReadLA and get $5 off with promo code "scriptchat" 
  2. @dreamer13711 "small characters" meaning the ones with just a line or two of dialogue #scriptchat
  3. Hannah - too many writers throw in characters with one line only. A guard 'drop the gun' - type stuff. #scriptchat
  4. #scriptchat Oh wait adele's on. Hold up. Must multi-task. She's the only one that sings for real.
  5. We all write scenes naturally. So we 'see' waiters asking the leads for a drink. But in a script - they slow it all down. #scriptchat
  6. So for those who don't know, @timschildberger runs LiveReadLA. He's sharing tips he's picked up from hearing table reads #scriptchat
  7. At our last read - one writer had 9 one line characters in 30 pages! #scriptchat
  8. @timschildberger I'm trying to keep mine as simple as possible, not going into a lot of details (clothes, hair, etc.) #scriptchat
  9. @SarahAlexis4 Hey Sarah! *waves from down below* Hope you're having a fun, safe flight! #scriptchat
  10. A big standout in live reads is scene description. Too long, too clunky, etc. So, @timschildberger, let's do this! #scriptchat
  11. Resist the urge to write a novel in scene description for several reasons... #scriptchat
  12. @timschildberger what is the most consistent problem writers seem to have w/ scene description? #scriptchat
  13. @timschildberger @SarahAlexis4 @jeannevb How many lines would you devote to scene description? Most scripts I've seen use lots #scriptchat
  14. 2. Unless it's relevant, no-one really cares if the character's show color. #scriptchat
  15. 3. Production designers, costume folk HATE being limited by a scene description. #scriptchat
  16. @timschildberger What about what takes place in the background (like at an office or restaurant, etc.)? #scriptchat
  17. @timschildberger Q: Tips on achieving a good balance of white/space on the page in description for easy read? #scriptchat
  18. @SarahAlexis4 I would advise writing as little as possible, and adding if folks get confused. Not the other way around. #scriptchat
  19. @timschildberger And what are some scripts with good, lean examples of scene description? #scriptchat
  20. @filmwritr4 If the BG action is relevant to the scene - great. If you're directing extras...Definitely NOT. #scriptchat
  21. @filmwritr4 I would look at any professional screenplay - unless it's an action film - less talk, more explosions means more SD #scriptchat
  22. Anyone want to guess what the other MAJOR issue with SD is? Really common issue I'm noticing. #scriptchat
  23. @timschildberger The last script I read for my writers' meeting (La La Land) had LOTS of description, but understandable #scriptchat
  24. It's not overuse or's telling readers things the audience can't know. #scriptchat
  25. @timschildberger I've heard that a lot. Only write what the audience will see and hear. #scriptchat
  26. If you say 'Betty, 26, just returned from Hawaii and hates snakes' - and she's sipping tea at a Diner in the scene... #scriptchat
  27. It's lazy writing alas. And it's writing for the reader, not for the viewer. RESIST. #scriptchat
  28. This is a mentality I brought into the brainstorming: #scriptchat
  29. @timschildberger Better to say "sporting a fresh tan and wears a T-shirt declaring 'I hate snakes'." #scriptchat
  30. I can't tell you how often I see it. It's a pet peeve. The trick is to show us, or reveal it to the audience. It's the challenge #scriptchat
  31. If I have an idea for a character trait, I immediately think of how to express it visually or audibly #scriptchat
  32. @timschildberger pretty easy to reveal she's afraid of snakes via her actions. Just watch me when a snake slithers by ha #scriptchat
  33. Or have her scratch her sunburn and tell the waitress Hawaii was awesome...many ways to do it. #scriptchat
  34. And for overused Voice over - but that's another scriptchat. :) #scriptchat
  35. You could go all in with the inner dialog thing and let us see different aspect of the personality argue. #scriptchat
  36. We all do it. We want to explain the character quickly and SD seems very convenient. #scriptchat
  37. Does anyone else here draw? I found that training to be very useful in creating characters and settings. #scriptchat
  38. Though, that would be more of the realm of an off the wall comedy. #scriptchat
  39. @timschildberger a lot of people use the rule "no more than 3 lines of description" #scriptchat
  40. @jeannevb @timschildberger Good rule! Once you get longer then 3 lines - worth reviewing if it's all necessary for sure. #scriptchat
  41. @timschildberger I wrote a post about polishing a screenplay full of tips I've learned from @UnkScreenwriter. I'll find it. #scriptchat
  42. @timschildberger @jeannevb Might also be a good sign to change the perspective if it's a long bridge between dialogu #scriptchat
  43. I find in my writing a huge challenge is revealing backstory. Really tempting to throw it all into SD. #scriptchat
  44. And we all write because we have the vision in our head right...some of us see shoe color and style. So I understand. #scriptchat
  45. @timschildberger How can you reveal backstory visually? What would you suggest? #scriptchat
  46. But scripts are really exercises in self discipline - especially TV. #scriptchat
  47. The best way to avoid overdescribing things: knowing someone later will have a better idea than you. #scriptchat
  48. @filmwritr4 Figure out what's really crucial first. What contributes to story and character. #scriptchat
  49. Script gets made, you got professionals coming in who will have ideas you never thought of. Tell them want you want, not need. #scriptchat
  50. @Al_1701 @timschildberger Same here, but if you follow that thread, it can lead to interesting places. #scriptchat
  51. @Al_1701 @timschildberger If you see the character's shoes clearly, what are those shoes telling you about the character? #scriptchat
  52. @timschildberger I know that visuals are important, especially in the plot of a story. If there's a close shot of an object... #scriptchat
  53. @blueneumann Exactly. Leave the set design and costumes to the professionals. just use guidelines. #scriptchat
  54. @timschildberger The invitation idea. Invite the others down the line to do their best work #scriptchat
  55. @jeannevb Thanks! Submissions are open until Friday - so you have time to hack the SD and submit. :) #scriptchat
  56. @timschildberger Like a photo, painting or other object, I'm thinking that might help visually illustrate backstory #scriptchat
  57. I'm not saying don't say anything - but 'Joe, 35, dressed in an expensive suit' is all you need. #scriptchat
  58. Backstory seems to be one of those things where you might want to resist temptation to tel the whole story. #scriptchat
  59. Front loading in SD - we'll forget anyway by the time it may be useful or relevant. #scriptchat
  60. @Al_1701 If that's important to the story all means. If it's just because you like them...then no. :) #scriptchat
  61. We're talking scene descriptions for those who just popped in #scriptchat
  62. Resisting the overuse of SD also helps you figure out your characters. #scriptchat
  63. @timschildberger It would probably only become relevant when he checks it anyway. #scriptchat
  64. How would they react to a line of dialogue, or something in a need to know that more. #scriptchat
  65. @Al_1701 @timschildberger or the alarm goes off. "Mathematical!" "Gunter, it's four o'clock! (quak quak)" #scriptchat
  66. @timschildberger @Al_1701 BB-8 watch. He hooks it up to the bomb fuse and it goes "Whooo! Uh-oh!" #scriptchat
  67. In broad terms...EVERY SCENE should either inform character or story. Nothing else. That's the starting point. #scriptchat
  68. @timschildberger How would you go about efficiently using scene description in comedy? #scriptchat
  69. @blueneumann @timschildberger I also love those little nuggets of humor. You have this one thing off about the picture. #scriptchat
  70. So that informs SD. Is my character description useful to only those two masters? If not...I'm writing too much. #scriptchat
  71. You can definitely add personality to SD - just a little - to avoid cliches. #scriptchat
  72. 'Jake, 47, walks like a constipated duck' enters the restaurant. #scriptchat
  73. Big fan of SDs having personality. Makes it more than a stage or a location. #scriptchat
  74. @timschildberger I try to use strong active verbs in action. Anything else like that you recommend keeping in mind? #scriptchat
  75. @filmwritr4 Sitcom scripts are masterful displays of 'less is more' - you have 22 pages to tell everything. Don't waste a word. #scriptchat
  76. Wirh SD less is more See too many scripts come across our desk that reads like a novel... #ScriptChat
  77. The personality of the scene ideally complimenting or contrasting with the characters in the scene. #scriptchat
  78. @SarahAlexis4 I was told once no SD should have a word ending in 'ing' No 'drinking', 'running' etc. She drinks, runs, etc. #scriptchat
  79. @timschildberger I've read a lot of sitcom scripts myself. Everything is tight and compact, and of course, funny #scriptchat
  80. @GorillaProducer Aren't they hard work? Worst is when the writer feels very proud of themselves for being a novelist! #scriptchat
  81. @timschildberger Regarding verbage, I've seen scripts where one action is either like "stops, turns..." or "Stops. Turns." #scriptchat
  82. Flowery language, vivid scenes, deep unseen emotions...great...and wrong medium. #scriptchat
  83. It's amazing when a script is read live - all this stuff becomes super obvious. #scriptchat
  84. We've had writers at the read shrink in their chair, saying they had no idea they wrote a novel. #scriptchat
  85. You see bored audience, hear too much from the person reading the SD - it's super obvious super fast. #scriptchat
  86. @timschildberger Q: any thoughts on how to effectively use scene description to transition from one scene into the next? #scriptchat
  87. Something I've realized is we don't have many main characters on there really on the spectrum. #scriptchat
  88. Novelistic language is like showing your work in math. If you want, do it in your brainstorming. Script is answer sheet. #scriptchat
  89. We've had shows and movies about autism, but from the perspective of the neural typicals around them. #scriptchat
  90. @SarahAlexis4 Again Sarah - I would encourage the Keep It Simple Stupid plan (KISS) #scriptchat
  91. Economy of words takes practice… but is an extremely valuable skill to develop. #scriptchat
  92. So no...'sweeping crane shot on suburban street, smash cut to Billy skipping on the sidewalk. #scriptchat
  93. @dwacon Oh yeah. I was a TV news Journalist - 30 seconds of copy had to be exact. Amazing what can be done. #scriptchat
  94. @Al_1701 There aren't too many times that happens...but yes definitely. Can still be done simply. #scriptchat
  95. @dwacon Please NO! Until you're Tarantino, and no-one will tell you to cut anything. #scriptchat
  96. @timschildberger Use sparingly. Definitely since there won't be many times it will be in that position anyway. #scriptchat
  97. You waste valuable time getting a waiter to ask a question. And you have to pay another actor. It's all too messy. #scriptchat
  98. @timschildberger What's been among the most interesting/informative feedback you've experienced in table reads? #scriptchat
  99. These skills will rapidly make your script look more professional - which makes people keep reading. #scriptchat
  100. @filmwritr4 Hmm...characters that resonate/or don't. Hearing jokes land/fail, people missing the plot/story. #scriptchat
  101. Waiter appears… “The usual, and she’ll have a nicoise with a cabernet.” #scriptchat
  102. It's interesting when listeners get something I didn't see in my script, like a character vibe. #scriptchat
  103. @dwacon Exactly. Money and time saved. (apart from the extra who's moment has gone) :) #scriptchat
  104. @timschildberger I had a table read once at one of my writers' group meetings. Very informative, and very helpful. #scriptchat
  105. @timschildberger @dwacon Def. something I think about when making micro-characters: let them all have a moment. #scriptchat
  106. @dwacon You missed earlier - a liveread last month - 30 pages of script - 9 one line characters. #scriptchat
  107. @timschildberger Have you ever had web series scripts read? I know you're accepting them for submissions... #scriptchat
  108. @filmwritr4 It's incredibly helpful Chris. More than you realize beforehand. #scriptchat
  109. Animation let's you be a little more liberal with one line characters because the voice talent for more primary characters... #scriptchat
  110. @filmwritr4 we haven't yet - but we're hopeful. We've had a few plays was a finalist. So soon I hope! #scriptchat
  111. @filmwritr4 Oh yes. It's such a quick way to see if your script is heading where you want. #scriptchat
  112. @timschildberger Awesome. I've been working on a web series for the past few years. I'm considering submitting. #scriptchat
  113. Live reads in front of strangers also good to test if your story has 'legs' - I've shelved a few after several reads. #scriptchat
  114. @Al_1701 I would caution against that thinking. Extra speaking parts risks confusing the audience. #scriptchat
  115. @timschildberger Though I'm hoping to get feedback on it from my group, as well as my cast/crew. I might come up with another #scriptchat
  116. @timschildberger It depends on the talent. Some people have a thousand voices. Some have just one. #scriptchat
  117. One line characters like 'Ill have what she's having' in 'Harry Met Sally' work. So think like that! #scriptchat
  118. @timschildberger Are the scripts that are usually submitted in first draft form? #scriptchat
  119. If you're going to throw in a random for one line...make it memorable. And valuable. Otherwise... NO NEED. #scriptchat
  120. @Al_1701 True - but you're still dealing with a confused audience if you load up on random characters. #scriptchat
  121. @timschildberger I remember they had to pay an extra the speaking rate because she screwed up and said something. #scriptchat
  122. @filmwritr4 Hard to tell. Most scripts still need work...but then don't most scripts in the world? :) #scriptchat
  123. It was in Star Trek IV. However, it the line was so good that they ate the expense to leave it in. #scriptchat
  124. @Al_1701 I'm sure that happens...which is awesome...but way beyond where we are. #scriptchat
  125. @Al_1701 I don't think "nuclear wessels" would be as iconic if that woman hadn't put that button on the scene. #scriptchat
  126. Can I tell you a secret? The whole 'learn the rules before you can break them' - I hated and resisted for years... #scriptchat
  127. And you know what happened? I wasted YEARS as a writer, not willing to learn, grow, develop. Don't waste time with exceptions. #scriptchat
  128. @timschildberger You don't break the rules. You bend them until they scream for mercy. #scriptchat
  129. We can find examples that don't fit. Like we can find the one bartender who's first draft got sold. EXCEPTIONS. #scriptchat
  130. These are 2 simple tips that will make your script look so much better, tighter, more professional quickly. #scriptchat
  131. @timschildberger I've always hated contrarianism, in both script and prose. Things work for a reason. Don't go against them... #scriptchat
  132. @Al_1701 I've learned there's a time and place for your originality. Mostly in a kick ass story/characters. #scriptchat
  133. @jeannevb Yes, please. And use the discount code!! Save money! Use it for free flash feedback! #scriptchat
  134. Also - being more disciplined in SD will make the lives of readers like me...much better. And we'll love you. #scriptchat
  135. @timschildberger did you want to touch on character descriptions at all? Things that have stood out during the live reads? #scriptchat
  136. And when we're casting for a LiveRead - not making actors read one line...they don't enjoy that. #scriptchat
  137. @jeannevb character description...they're tricky. I tend to go super lean. Because no-one remembers details. #scriptchat
  138. I don't enjoy reading lengthy costume lists. Or educational background, or who they're related too. #scriptchat
  139. I like gender, age, a few vague words on wardrobe, and if there's something relevant - like walking with a limp,or size #scriptchat
  140. It's a game with character description - as few words as possible to convey as much as possible. #scriptchat
  141. I know the issue of race has come up recently. Where a character is supposed to be ethnic but they just cast white actors. #scriptchat
  142. Words like 'weary', or 'worn', gives the actor in the read enough of a cue, so it will inform the reader too. #scriptchat
  143. @Al_1701 That's out of our hands David. Just make the race clear...same with gender. #scriptchat
  144. @timschildberger Thanks so much for joining us tonight, Tim! Thanks too to @jeannevb for having him! Will check out @liveReadLA! #scriptchat
  145. @timschildberger 1 tip I always keep in mind is not to insult the actor w/ too much detail. Let them do their job. #scriptchat
  146. And if down the line it's changed...hopefully you've been paid...and you can afford to drown your sorrows. #scriptchat
  147. @jeannevb exactly true! Exactly. Man do they hate being led into obvious town. #scriptchat
  148. @timschildberger @jeannevb @liveReadLA Really enjoyed hearing from you about description, and thanks for sharing your knowledge! #scriptchat
  149. @blueneumann @timschildberg @jeannevb @timschildberger I would say character description is more for the benefit of the casting #scriptchat
  150. All yall, may I recommend trying your hand at drawing? Really trains the eye, which helps with SD and CD #scriptchat
  151. Thanks to all! I hope it was helpful. Remember... LESS IS MORE. :) #scriptchat
  152. And I hope you'll check out our LiveRead - submit, come along March 6, or watch online! #scriptchat
  153. Let me know of topics or guests you want for upcoming #scriptchat.